Robert T. Davies
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|Robert T. Davies|
|Born||May 19, 1849
|Died||March 22, 1916
|Resting place||Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto|
|Residence||"Chester Park," Toronto|
|Education||Upper Canada College|
|Spouse(s)||Margaret Anne Taylor|
|Children||George (b. 1875), Robert (b. 1879), Louise (b. 1882), Norman (b. 1886), Adelia (b. 1888), Wilfred (b. 1889), Melville (b. 1891), Leslie (b. 1895)|
|Honors||Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame (2001)|
Born in Toronto, Ontario, he studied at Park School and Upper Canada College, in the early 1870s Robert Davies married Margaret Anne Taylor, the daughter of John Taylor, owner of paper mills in Todmorden Mills, Ontario, just north of Toronto. By the turn of the century, they had eight children and owned a large home at 244 Don Mills Rd (now Broadview/O'Connor) in Todmorden Mills they called "Chester Park."
Davies' brother Thomas Davies owned the Don Brewery at Queen Street at the Don River, which Robert helped manage. In 1877, Robert Davies founded the competing Dominion Brewery only two blocks to the west on Queen Street. Ten years later, his success led to the selling of shares in the company to a group of investors arranged by a London, England banking house. After his wife's family encountered financial difficulties, in 1901 Davies acquired most of the Taylor family holdings in the Don Valley, including two paper mills and the Don Valley Brick Works. By the time of his death in 1916, Robert Davies was one of the wealthiest people in Toronto.
As a boy, Robert Davies developed a love for horse racing and for a while was on jockey in Thoroughbred flat racing. In 1865 at the racetrack in London, Ontario, the then sixteen-year-old rode in that year's edition of the Queen's Plate. He soon turned to training his own horses and at age twenty-two raced and trained Floss who won the 1871 edition of the Plate. The following year, a horse he bred named Fearnaught won the Plate. As of 2008 Robert Davies is the only person to ever ride in the Queen's Plate as well as own, train and breed winners of that race.
Davies purchased the filly Southern Maid from Kentucky breeder, John E. Madden. A daughter of 1898 Kentucky Derby winner, Plaudit, Southern Maid was voted the retrospective American Champion Two-Year-Old Filly of 1913. As a broodmare for the Davies family, she produced 1922 King's Plate winner, South Shore.
In 1888, Davies purchased a large property in the Don Valley from his father-in-law on which he established a breeding operation he dubbed Thorncliffe Farms. He raced horses both in Thoroughbred flat racing and in harness racing under the nom de course, Thorncliffe Stable.
Davies served as president of the Canadian Horse Breeder's Association. A vice-president of the Ontario Jockey Club from 1895 to 1904, he unsuccessfully lobbied for the lifting of the rule that prevented horses foaled outside of the Province of Ontario from competing in the King's Plate.
Robert Davies died in 1916 at "Chester Park" and was buried in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto. For his contribution to the industry, in 2001 he was inducted in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in the Builders category. His estate sold Thorncliffe Farms to a group of investors from Baltimore, Maryland who built a horse Thorncliffe Park Raceway.
Davie's Dominion Brewery complex at Queen Street East and Sumach Street continued until 1936, but the brewery complex was renovated from 1987 to 1990 and is now Dominion Square (and used by Vistek as commercial office space) and the old Dominion Hotel is now home to the pub Dominion on Queen.