Waterloo Region Generations
A record of the people of Waterloo Region, Ontario.

William Alfred Geddes

Male 1847 - Yes, date unknown


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  • Name William Alfred Geddes 
    Born 3 Apr 1847  Galt (Cambridge), Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Gender Male 
    Interesting life, business 
    Residence 1861  Galt (Cambridge), Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Church of England 
    Eby ID Number Waterloo-71621 
    Died Yes, date unknown 
    Person ID I71621  Generations
    Last Modified 26 Jun 2022 

    Father James William Geddes,   b. 1807, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 11 Sep 1870, Galt (Cambridge), Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 63 years) 
    Mother Ann Rachel Abbott,   b. 1806, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1 Oct 1883, Guelph City, Wellington Co., Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 77 years) 
    Married St. Martin's Church-in-the-Fields, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F262621  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • WILLIAM ALFRED GEDDES
      Toronto, Ont.

      WILLIAM ALFRED GEDDES, who by persistent efforts and close attention to business has placed himself at the head of Toronto Steamship Agencies, was born at Galt, Ontario, April 3rd, 1847, and is the youngest son of James and Ann Rachel Abbott Geddes; her English ancestry moving in the highest London society. His father was born in London and was educated there, afterwards being married in St. Martin's Church-in-the-Fields, one of the oldest places of worship in the city, having been built before the modern city extended its limits to the surrounding country. In 1818, he went to Georgetown, Demerara, South America, where he was a supply wharfinger and general agent, and remained there until 1835, when he came to Canada, settling on a farm at Jerseyville, near Hamilton, Ont. Here he remained some years, when he removed to St. George, and in 1850 to Galt, where he engaged in a general commission business, appraiser, auctioneer, legal advisor, conveyancer, etc. He died in 1870, his wife surviving him thirteen years. His family consisted of ten children; George, the eldest boy, is now in business at Glen Morris; James died when young, and William A. is the subject of our sketch. Emily, the eldest daughter living, is married, and resides at Gaines, Mich., U.S.; Annie is Mrs. W. Cooper, of Guelph; Mary married Walter Strowger, and Adelaide, the youngest, is still unmarried. William A. spent his younger days in attending one of the ward schools at Galt, and finished his education at the central school of that town. At thirteen, he entered a general store in his native town as an "all-round" handy boy, and served in the same capacity successively at Guelph, Doon, and Barrie, and in September, 1866, went to Hamilton, where he clerked in a grocery store for two years. In 1869 he began life as a purser on the steamer Osprey, plying between Hamilton and Montreal. He remained with this boat two seasons, and was after this with the Bristol, St. Lawrence, and City of Chatham, each a season. In 1873, he came to Toronto, and entered the office of G.E. Jacques & Co., general forwarders, of Montreal, representing them here for four years. In 1874, he took charge of Higinbotham's wharf at the foot of Young Street, which position he filled till the financial embarrassment of Higinbotham the following year. Mr. Geddes and Fred. Mowat, now sheriff of York county, succeeded to the business, and conducted it till 1877, when Mr. Mowat retired, the entire enterprise reverting to his partner. This was continued for then years, when the C.P.R. expropriated the land, since which time Mr. Geddes has leased it from the railway. This is the best and most popular dock in the city, more than two-thirds of the traffic, both passenger and freight, that is done in Toronto emanating from this point. In addition to this, Mr. Geddes has established a steamship ticket agency in this city, devoted exclusively to water routes, except where railway tickets are sold in connection therewith, and has built up a most important trade and connection. Among the lines which are represented at his office are the Merchants', trading on the great lakes; Niagara Falls line, Hamilton Steamboat Co., Cunard, Beaver and Wilson of ocean fame; North-West Transportation Co., and the Immediate Transportation Co., which has offices in the large cities, London, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, Paris, New York, Chicago, etc. By the routes represented, tickets can be sold and freight transported to any part of the world, while the amount of business transacted and patronage of the office steadily increases. Mr. Geddes has not had a long military career, but for two years was a member of No. 2, Galt light infantry. Among the enterprises in which he has been engaged was a part ownership in the steamer Cuba, plying between Chicago and Montreal, which he bought in 1877; also interests in the high grade vessels California, Aylmer, Munro and Ocean. The Rosedale, in which he has also an extensive interest, was built in the winter of 1887-8 at the Sunderland Ship-Building Co.'s yards in the north of England, and was the first steamer to cross the Atlantic and carry freight from England to Chicago without trans-shipment. The promoters of this enterprise were three Toronto gentlemen, W.A. Geddes, J.H. Haggarty, and Capt. S. Crangle. The first trip was made in June, the trip occupying seventeen days, and the success of the enterprise fully demonstrated. In 1885, Mr. Geddes, with two or three other Toronto gentlemen, organized the Canadian Marine Association, which is highly appreciated by marine interests, and he has, since its inception, held the position of Sec.-Treas. In 1872, he was initiated into the mysteries of Masonry, joining St. George's Lodge, No. 4, Montreal. A year later he affiliated with St. Andrew's, No. 16, Toronto, and has passed successively the Lodge of Perfection and Scottish rite, and now into Rose Croix Chapter. Politically, he is, like his father and grandfather, a Conservative. His travel has been quite extensive, but mostly confined to his native country, believing it essential to the interests of his business that he be familiar with its different sections. He has been in many parts of the States as well, and in 1883 took a pleasure trip to Europe. He is a consistent Episcopalian, and attends St. Peter's church. December 22, 1870, he married Matilda J. Trowell, daughter of the late Capt. John Trowell, Kingston, Ontario, who was a lake captain for over forty years. Of the children born to this union, four are now living; Isabella Matilda is attending the Conservatory of Music in this city, while Emma Charlotte, William Alfred and Agatha Louise are attending school. When Mr. Geddes began in life as an errand boy, his only stock in trade were willing hands and a determined will. Steadily he has climbed from one landing to another, until the position he now holds, both socially and commercially, and the amount of business transacted at his office, place him prominently among the successful and self-made men of the country.


      Prominent Men of Canada, a collection of Person Distinquished in Professional and Polical Life, and in the commerce and industry of Canada edited by G. Mercer Adam. 1892

  • Sources 
    1. [S313] Census - ON, Waterloo, Galt - 1851, Div 1 Pg 11.

    2. [S1838] Census - ON, Waterloo, Galt - 1861, Galt 1861 Div. 2 Page 23.

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 3 Apr 1847 - Galt (Cambridge), Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - Church of England - 1861 - Galt (Cambridge), Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
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