Challenges Overcome, 1881-89

AuthorC. Ian Kyer
M C hapter N
I O L L proclaimed that t he judicial system had been
“completely revolutionized” by the Judicature Act, which merged the cour ts
of Common Law and Chancery into “one Court of universal jurisdiction in
civil cases.” Law courts could now hear cases that had t raditionally been
changeswere alsob eingmadei nthe lawrm butthey hadnothi ngtodo
with this judicial revolution. They were rooted in several deaths.
Ital lbega non  August when William Gooderham died at age
ninetyone In and ofitself his death was oflile more than symbolic im
He had remained the nominal head of the Go oderham and Worts businesses
but de facto control had passed to others several years before, when his
health began to fail. The burden of leading the extended family had fallen
largely upon Beays fatherinlaw James Gooderham Worts and upon
William’s third son, George, twelve years younger than Worts. George had
beenselected forthis rolebyh isfather twentyveyearsearlierin August
 after it had become obvious to William that neither hi s eldestson
William Jr., nor his second son, James, had the business acumen or desire to
run the disti llery and its related businesses.Jamesrsta ndthen Willia mJr
had become Methodists, joining thei r campaign against the consumption of
alcohol; they did not wish to be partners in a busines s so heavily involved in
liq uor George had been made a full par tner in the core business operated as
the Gooderham & Worts partnership.Hesoonconrmedhisfathersjudg
ment, bringing energy and a cla rity of vision that contributed to a major
expansionof thebusine ssBeaywould latersayth atheheld thehighest
opinionofGe orge His judgmentonquest ionsofbusi nessand nance
wasexceedinglysoundAlthoughaqu ietandundemonstrativemanhewas
a master of detail and a man of consta nt industry.”
Thus when William Sr. died, there were no problems with succession.
Asa maerof lawthe partnership between William his nephewandh is
sonwasdissolvedbutthispresentednopracticaldiculty William’s inter
est in the partnersh ip passed to George in accordance with his wil l and on
FebruaryWortsandGeorgeGooderhamformedanewpartnersh ip
continuing tooperate withl ileor nodisrupt ionAs forthe related incor
poratedbusinesses such asthe Bank ofTorontoWortsassumed the oce
of president previously held by William Gooderham, while George Gooder
hamas sumedt hevicepresidencies that Wortshad held Again there was
William Gooderham’s death nevertheless signalled the end of an era and
was marked with much formality. The funeral was held in the afternoon
ofAugust Thepreviousday theBoard ofTradepublisheda notice
in the Globe requesting thatmembers ofthe Board aendthe funeral ina
body” to honour an “old and much respected member of th is Corporation.”
Amemorialservicewas alsoheldatLileTrinityChurchonSunday
August. The Reverend Alexander Sanson presided and delivered a glow
ingt ributet hatwas subsequently publishedHe commented on thema ny
things that Willia m had achieved in his life and noted that “for nearly half a
centuryeverydaywaslledupwithenerget ictoilanddil igentaentionto
business, occasionally performi ng such civic duties as were entrusted to him
byhisfellowcitize nsandhabitual lykeepingin viewthe careandgovern
ment of his large family, growing up under his paternal shadow.
William had indeed cast a lengthy shadowinuencing Wortshi sson
Georgea nd Beay in many waysBut that shadow had been weakeni ng
for some time and few could have expected his death to be the harbinger of
troubles that would bring dramatic changes in t he family businesses a nd in
thermthatservedthei rlegalneeds
The law rm was the rst to experience troubles On  March 
Nicholas Miller and Charles Biggar left. Each had been a part ner for six
years and each was in the prime of his legal career. Miller had just the year

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