William Henry Davies (entrepreneur)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

William Henry Davies (23 June 1831 – 21 April 1921) was a British-Canadian businessman. He established a business packing and shipping salt pork from Toronto, Ontario to the United Kingdom. The William Davies Company grew to be the largest pork packer in the British Empire, giving Toronto its nickname of Hogtown, and introducing peameal bacon.


Davies was born in Wallingford, England, the son of Charles Davies and Rachel Smallbone. He left school at 12 to become an apprentice. Within a decade, he had his own meat-curing and retail business in Reading, England. He married Emma Holtby in 1853 and two emigrated to Toronto in 1854. He started the William Davies Company in 1857. In 1860, he began exporting bacon to England. In 1864, he had his own building for cutting and smoking meats. In 1874, a new building was built near the mouth of the Don River. In 1892, he took on Joseph Wesley Flavelle as a partner in the business. The partnership flourished to the point where the business slaughtered 500,000 pigs per year and the two became millionaires. In 1909, Davies retired from the business, but retained a share of the company. In 1919, Davies' grandson Edward Carey Fox bought the company but it faltered and was merged into Canada Packers (now Maple Leaf Foods) in 1927.[1]

Davies and Emma Holtby had twelve children. After Holtby died in 1906, Davies remarried in 1907 to Rosa Bessie Talbot. After his retirement in 1909, Davies tended to a farm in Markham, and later a farm in Scarborough Township. He was a philanthropist, donating to McMaster University, Brandon College and several hospitals that treated persons with tuberculosis, an affliction his own sons had. William Davies died in 1921, after injuries sustained by being butted by a goat.[1]

Once one of Canada's largest food producers, the William Davies Company not only graced its home city with the "Hogtown" nickname (or epithet), but William Davies also introduced peameal bacon, which continues to be popular in Canada.[2]


  • Bliss, Michael (2005). "Davies, William". In Cook, Ramsay; Bélanger, Réal (eds.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. XV (1921–1930) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  • William Henry Davies; William Sherwood Fox (1945). Letters of William Henry Davies, Toronto, 1854-1861. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. OCLC 41696451.
  1. ^ a b Bliss.
  2. ^ Points of Interest Along Lost Streams: Toronto Pork Packing Plant. Lostrivers.ca. The Toronto Green Community and the Toronto Field Naturalists. Retrieved 2007-12-03.