James Austin (businessman)

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For other people named James Austin, see James Austin (disambiguation).
James Austin.jpeg

James Austin (6 March 1813 – February 27, 1897) was a prominent nineteenth century Toronto businessman.

He was born in Tandragee, County Armagh, Northern Ireland to a Methodist family. He immigrated to Canada at age sixteen along with his parents and became apprenticed to a printer. He spent ten years as a printer travelling through Canada and the United States and becoming involved in the Reformist movement of William Lyon Mackenzie.

Entering business he joined with Patrick Foy to found the Austin & Foy Wholesale Company at the corner of King and Jarvis in Toronto in the Daniel Brooke Building. He also was involved in the Consumers' Gas Company being one of its founding directors. The wholesale company was successful, but Austin was interested in pursuing other ventures and it was dissolved in 1870 leaving Austin with a fair amount of money.

He became a central player in the Toronto financial world. In 1871 he founded The Dominion Bank, ancestor of today's Toronto-Dominion Bank. He remained president of that institution until his death, but was also involved in many others. He became president of the Queen City and the Hand-to-Hand insurance companies, and chairman of the North of Scotland Canadian Mortgage Company. In 1881 he increased his control over Consumers' Gas also becoming president of that company.

In 1844 he married Susan Bright and they had two children. He built Spadina House, which is now a museum, in 1866 to house his family. He retained all of his positions up until his death, despite suffering from deafness late in life. He died after several months of illness at the age of eighty-four. At his death he had a fortune of some $300,000 which was divided between his son and daughter. His business interests and his home passed on to his son Albert William Austin.

Albert William Austin[edit]

Albert William Austin (1857-1934), by John Wycliffe Lowes Forster.

Albert William Austin (1857-1934) was an Olympic class golfer (St Louis, 1904), co-founder of the Lambton Golf and Country Club of Toronto, and the son of James Austin from whom he inherited a fortune and home. Albert W. lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba from 1880 to 1894 to run the Winnipeg Street Railway, the company which he founded.[1] Albert Austin later returned to Toronto where he died in 1934 and the fortune inherited by his daughter Anna Kathleen Austin Thompson and grandson and author Austin Seton Thompson.[2]


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