STORY OF A COMPANY, A BUILDING, A GREAT FIRE, AN OFFICER AND A CAREER
When one is told that his or her time is coming soon, one's mind starts to wonder and remember places we have been, worked, people we knew and where we lived. So it it is with me. My non physical career with CN Express began when in the final summer after graduating from high school, I was posted to the Bond department located in the bowels of 20 York Street. Here I covered for three weeks or more the Bond department "runner". The job entailed delivering to a variety of steamship companies in downtown Toronto, original ocean bills of lading and checks covering the owed freight. In return I would be given advice notes which could be used to Customs clear and deliver the goods in question or remove the merchandise "In Bond" to a final destination in Canada by the use of CN Express. I thoroughly enjoyed my short time here so when the time came to enter full time
|The Foy Building, 32 Front St.W.|
|The Gillett Bldg occupied 32 Front St prior to the fire|
Now, 47 years after my hiring: the company; the building; the "Major"; and my career are all long gone! 32 Front Street West, Toronto was at one time near the hub of a thriving dry goods and grocery distribution and manufacturing area of the City. However a tragedy occurred in 1904 with the Great Toronto Fire. A night watchman, making his rounds on a cold and windy night, discovered a fire in a 4-storey brick E&S Currie, neck wear factory at 58 Wellington Street West. He ran up Bay Street and pulled Box 12, located at King, at 20:04 hrs. A normal assignment of 5 hose companies, two steamers, an aerial, the water tower, a ladder truck and a couple of chemical wagons, and the salvage company under the command of Fire Chief
|Rebuiulding on Front St. after the fire 1904|
|George J. Foy Memorial Mount Hope Cemetery|
|The Gillette Building on Front Street, Toronto|
The Gillett Company's ad in The Globe on April 21, 1904, read, "Our entire plant (building and machinery) was totally consumed by the awful conflagration which swept part of Toronto on Tuesday night, April 19th, and we must therefore ask your indulgence for a few weeks. Fortunately we have a duplicate set of machinery stored safely in another building, and this will enable us to turn out goods within a reasonable time. Every Wholesale Grocer in the Dominion has a stock of ROYAL YEAST, GILLETT'S LYE, MAGIC BAKING POWDER, Etc., so we are hoping, by the careful use of goods now in their hands, that no one will be inconvenienced. 'Gillett's Goods Are the Best,' and will be more popular than ever."
|Obituary for Bill Heath|
Heath Ltd. Customs Brokerage, who prior to the fire, had resided at 14 Melinda Street (nearby).
William Livesay Beverley Heath, the Major", came from a very privileged family with ties to other prominent Toronto families. His father, Stuart Beverley Heath, was a Lieutenant in Toronto's 123rd (10th Royal Grenadiers) Battalion in World War One. According to my friend, Dan Mowat, author of a new book One-Two-Three, The Story of the 123rd Overseas Battalion, Royal Grenadiers, CEF, Lieut. Heath went overseas with the Battalion in the Fall of 1916. Here is his report:
"I do not have much on Lieutenant Stuart Beverley Heath, except that he was one of the first officers to sign up with the 123rd Battalion in December 1915, assigned to 'D' Company, under Major Robert Ferrier Burns Wood, and had a couple of years prior service with the QOR as a Private. I had guessed that family money got him a commission in the 123rd. Just after the 123rd arrived in England, he was transferred to the Canadian Engineers Training Depot at Crowborough, but I don't have enough details to know why (he doesn't appear to have any specialized skills or training to have been transferred as an instructor). He transferred back to the 123rd just as they were getting ready to mobilize to France in January 1917, but for some reason also beyond my grasp at the moment, it appears that he departed the 123rd Battalion for an unknown destination shortly after asschendaele."Robinson & Heath moved several times eventually moving to the Airport and being absorbed into the U.S.A. company Fritz. The Foy Building was torn down in the 1980's for the Hockey Hall of Fame. In the 11 years I worked at Robinson & Heath Ltd., I started my career in Customs and Freight Forwarding being taught skills that remain life long, met a lovely lady at Robinson &; Heath that I have been married for 44 years, fathered two beautiful daughters and purchased a house that was the home of our family for 35 years.
However we have also found that the mentioned Major Robert Ferrier Burns Wood had married Elsie Heath, sister of Lieut.Stuart Beverley Heath, July 1916, just before the Battalion moved overseas. Elsie was the only sibling of Stuart Beverly Heath. They in turn were the children of Stuart Beverley Wallace Heath ( 1849-1918) who in turn was one of four sons of Captain Charles Wallace Heath, India Forces. In 1837 the Elmsley family sold
the southern 40 acres of Lot 21 to
Agnes Heath, a widow, shortly after she and her children immigrated to Canada. Her husband
Colonel Charles Heath of the Honourable East India Company Service had died in India. Following his death she relocated her children from India to Switzerland
where they were educated before moving to Italy and finally to
Canada. On purchasing the 40 acres she named the property Deer Park, lived there
until 1846 when she sold the property to her son Charles Wallace Heath. In 1874 Charles
Heath sold the property to Weymouth G. Schreiber. Schreiber subdivided it into 52
lots with three streets (one of which he named Heath Street) and registered it as Plan 365. Thus it was into this family that Bill Heath was born.
|Major Robert Ferrier Burns Wood, 123rd Btn.|
For more information and photos of the Great Toronto Fire visit Archives Toronto HERE.
For more information on the 123rd (Royal Grenadiers) Battalion visit Dan Mowat's excellent website http://siteinfo.ca/123rd