JOHN MARA AND FAMILIES
John Mara and his brothers, Andrew and Thomas, all emigrated to Toronto, presumably directly from Ireland. There were also two other brothers and two sisters in the family, the children of Andrew and Mary (nee McMann). Andrew Mara, the father, was a farrier (shoeing-smith or horse doctor) by profession. Since it is recorded that one of his sons, Thomas, was born in Carrick-on-Shannon, Leitrim, Ireland, in 1808, it seems likely that all the children were born there. Andrew and Mary did not emigrate to Canada but died in Ireland, presumably in County Leitrim.
Unfortunately, nothing more is known about the Maras of Carrick-On-Shannon or their forebears. Professional research in Ireland failed to uncover many details. The parish register of the Church of Ireland (Protestant) in Carrick-on-Shannon did record the baptism of Andrew, son of Andrew and Mary Mara, on December 26, 1818. He was born on December 17. Although the parish registers in question covered the period 1811-1827, this is the only baptism recorded. Nor were any other records or tombstones located. (In many cases records have been lost; in some cases Protestant records were either not kept or else only kept sporadically due to religious persecution.)
In the town records for 1858, a Sarah Mara is listed as leasing a house on Church Lane in Carrick-on-Shannon. There was a yard and small garden attached and the house was valued at (pounds) l.5.O. She could possibly have been one of the sisters of Thomas, Andrew and John.
At this stage it might be of interest to record the information on the names of O'Meara, O'Mara, which appears in the history "Irish Families, Their Names and Origins" by Edward McLysaght (Dublin, 1958):
Thomas Mara emigrated to Toronto in 1832. He worked at shoemaking with a colleague for a few years and then opened a shop at 244 King Street West. He was there for ten years and then in the real estate business for 35 years.
Thomas served under Captain Ross in the Rebellion of 1837 and was a member of City Council during 1845-46. He was a member of the old fire brigade for 15 years and a Captain f6r seven of these years. He was also a member of the Irish Protestant Benevolent Association. He was a Methodist and his politics were Conservative. There is a Mara township named after him in Ontario north of Whitby and south and east of Lake Simcoe.
No further information is available about Andrew Mara who came to Toronto with his brother, John. (Family history relates that they were shipwrecked en route.) It is believed that he emigrated to the United States not long after. He is not mentioned in Rowsell's Directory for 1850-51.
In the same Directory, John Mara is listed as a shoemaker on Queen Street, west of Spadina. His brother, Thomas, was by that time a house agent on John Street near St. George's Church and was also a Collector for St. Patrick's Ward. Comparable information is recorded in the Canada Directory for 1857-58.) it is recorded that John drowmed at Cobourg, Ontario, on September 15, 1859. According to a letter from Mabel Wallace to George Mara, Senior, family history recalls that John had been attending a fair in Cobourg. 'While waiting at the wharf in Cobourg that evening for the boat to Toronto, he fell through a hole in the wharf and drowned. In the distress of the moment, he was buried in his father-in-law's plot in the Necropolis Cemetery in Toronto. His death is not recorded in the Toronto Leader, the Globe, the Canadian Freeman or the Patriot. Nor was there any last will and testament.
Cemetery records indicate John was 40 when he died. This would establish his year of birth as 1818 or 1819. However, we know that Andrew was born in December, 1818. In addition, according to the biography in Robinson's '1History of Toronto and County of York" (1885 - Volume II), Thomas Mara was born in 1808 and was the third of four boys and two girls. It is possible that John could have been the youngest boy in the family and he could possibly have been born in the late summer of 1819. However, his exact year of birth and, therefore, his age at death are somewhat in doubt.
John had married Ann Smyth but the date and place of marriage could not be located. In the Census for 1861, Ann Mara is listed as being 43 on her next birthday. Her sons, John Andrew, Edward and William, were all listed as clerks aged 21, 19 and 14 respectively. Her daughters attending school were Elizabeth, aged 12, and Charlotte, aged 7. The family were Wesleyan Methodists and owned a two-story frame house at 382 Queen Street West;. Apparently Ann carried on the shoe business since Mitchell's Toronto Directory for 1864-65 records the business under her name'. It also records that her son, William, was a clerk in the Wesleyan Methodist Book Room at 80 King Street East.
It was not possible to verify precisely the dates of birth for most of John and Ann's children. On the basis of the details provided in the 1861 Census, it would seem that John and Ann were presumably married between 1836-40.
It is here that conflicts in information first appear. According to Robinson again, John and Andrew came to Toronto in 1842. This would mean that John and Ann had probably been married in Ireland and also that Ann and their first, and possibly second, child came to Toronto shortly after. However, the Canadian Directory of Parliament (1867-1967) records that their first child, John Andrew, was born in Toronto on July 21, 1840, and an article in the Daily Colonist of Victoria on March 4, 1951, also records his birth as taking place in Toronto in 1840. Moreover, family information seems to indicate' that the Smyth family was probably resident in Toronto prior to John's arrival. On balance, it would seem most likely that John and Andrew arrived in Toronto in the mid-1830's and that John and Ann were married there subsequently. (No immigration records were found for John and/or Andrew Mara at the National Archives or the Province of Ontario Archives.)
Using the 1861 Census again, it would seem that Edward was born in 1842 or 1843. In the 1871 Census for Biddulph Township (encompassing Lucan, Ontario, where we know Edward settled), Edward Mara', a merchant, is listed as being aged 27 (it also records that he was a Wesleyan Methodist). That would make his year of birth 1843 or 1844. Finally, it is recorded that he died on May 28, 1917, at the age of 75 which would indicate 1842 as the year of his birth.
With regard to William, the data from the 1861 Census would indicate 1847 or 1848 as his year of birth. However, his family Bible records his birth precisely as occurring on March 28, 1848, in Toronto.
Elizabeth Janet's son, Alan Bateman, advises that she was born in Toronto in 1852 even though the 1861 Census would suggest 1849 or 1850.
Charlotte Sophia died in Toronto on November 16, 1933, 4 and her age at death was recorded as 85 in the records at the Necropolis Cemetery. However, we know she was the youngest child and, on the basis of the 1861 Census, she would have been born in Toronto in 1854 or 1855'.
Since we know precisely the dates of birth for John Andrew and William Mara, and since these dates are in accord with the 1861 Census, it would seem reasonably safe to say that Edward was born in 1842, Elizabeth Janet in 1850 and Charlotte Sophia in 1855, all in Toronto.
(Since the family was listed as being Methodist in the 1861 Census,
their church would have been the Toronto Second and, subsequently, the
Toronto Fifth. The latter was known as the Queen Street Church. Unfortunately,
the Church records no longer exist in the present United Church at 423
Queen Street West or in the archives of Victoria University in Toronto.)
John Mara's Family
John Andrew Mara, the eldest child, was born on July 21, 1840,
and spent his youth in Toronto. When he was 22, however, he left for British
Columbia where he made his home until he died in 1920 at the age of 80.
He had a lively and a pioneering life in a number of pursuits. It would
be best to quote here at length an article by Jim Nesbitt which appeared
in the Magazine Section of the 'Daily Colonist of Victoria on March 4,
"They always said, back in Toronto, that John Andrew Mara would never stay still 'til the day he died.
"And how right they were!
"Before he died he walked across a continent, he crossed a mountain-top on showshoes, he battled blizzards, he fought in political wars, he defiantly sailed the ocean. And when he was old, and physical adventure beyond him, he put his energies into affair's for the betterment of Victoria. No - as they said back in Toronto - he' wouldn't stay still 'til he died - and he didn't die 'til he was 80 - so he had a good many years in which to expend his restless drive, to use the tremendous surges of activity that swept through him for the good of many people and for the betterment of his country.
"He was sailor and prospector, politician and parliamentarian, businessman, explorer, adventurer, good husband and father, home-builder and a man who loved to grow a good lawn and prune rose bushes - a citizen interested in promoting the welfare of Victoria, helping the sick, building a club, seeing that everyone was happy as possible and that this province which he loved progressed.
"Mara often came to Victoria and he was a friend of F.J. Barnard, who ran the mail express in the Cariboo. They were pioneers and adventurers together. First mention of Mr. Mara was in The Colonist of May 13, 1867 : 'A gentleman in this city received a letter by the last express from Mr. J.A. Mara, French Creek, dated April 13, from which we have been permitted to make the following extract: "The weather is fine and the snow is going off rapidly. The season is at least two weeks earlier than last. Most of the miners on the river claims are at work - claims that were being prospected on the bench had to be stopped for lack of water, the diggings being too deep to be worked by hand. In one, the 'Scotch Canadian', we are down 96 feet. We had to work 15 men four-hour shifts to keep the water down. As soon as we can get water we will put on machinery and hoisting gear and test the bench. The Blue Nose Company in front of us have good ground. Last week they took out over $150 in one barrowful of dirt. We have had a mild Winter and altogether a jolly time. The great drawback has been the want of mails. We had only one all Winter."'
"About this time Mr. Mara found himself deep into the political questions of the day. He was a handsome man, with a flowing black beard and deep blue eyes - and he had a voice and a command of the language that could sway people when he worked himself up on the public platform. He was almost a fanatical believer in Confederation - and he worked day and night to have the Crown Colony of British Columbia join Canada His cause won. He had the satisfaction of seeing British Columbia become part of Canada in 1871 and he promptly ran for the first Legislature and was elected - in Kootenay constituency. Later he represented Yale constituency and from 1883 to 1886 he was Mr. Speaker. Then he was elected for Yale to the House of Commons and remained in the federal Parliament until beaten by Hewitt Bostock in 1896.
"Mr. Mara was often a guest at Duval Cottage, the home of Mr. and Mrs.
Barnard, in Victoria. He was good friends with the Barnard sons, Frank
and Harry - and there was a pretty, petite, shy daughter, too, Alice. She
was much younger than Mr. Mara but they became good companions and eventually
they became engaged.
"After he was beaten for the House of Commons in 1896, Mr. Mara felt lost, though he could have retired and enjoyed his years. He tried it, but was unhappy.
"Two years later the.Klondike Gold Rush came along. Hadn't he walked
across Canada? Hadn't he been in on the pioneer development of British
Columbia? Why shouldn't he find more excitement and fulfilment in this
great rush of gold-hungry folk to the last great frontier of North America?
He would go back to the waters. he ordered a vessel. He would carry freight
to Alaska and the Yukon.
Story in Diary
"His diary tells a fascinating story of those days. He came to Victoria in February of 1898 and attended the opening of the present Legislative Buildings. He wrote: 'Showery and cloudy. The new Parliament Buildings opened by Lt. -Gov. McInnes at 3 p.m. Dr. Helmcken and I occupied seats on the Throne with Mr. Speaker Higgins. There was a big crush and a great deal of confusion. The chamber looked well, but some of the arrangements were out of place.'
"On May 4, 1898, Mr. Mara's ship left the ways:
'Launched the steamer at 5 p.m. She slid off the ways easy and gracefully
and as she entered the water Nellie christened her "Stikine Chief". Besides
Alice, Nellie and Lytton, a few friends were on board and after launching
we drank success to her in champagne.'
To The North Country
"Mara was impatient to be heading North. He lost little time. May 7 he left Vancouver, headed up the coast to Wrangell and reached Telegraph Creek. From there he decided to go farther north, out into the ocean to the ports of Alaska. July 21 that year he noted in his diary: '58.years old today and can't say that I passed a pleasant birthday.'
"The Stikine Chief was a stern-wheeler, built for river And so she had to be towed on the ocean by a tug, the Fastnet, on which Mr. Mara travelled.
… "August 1 - 'Cloudy and foggy, with light rain. Seas running heavy. Stikine Chief signalled several times to slow down. At 1 p.m. starboard forward log chain parted. Fastnet stopped. Shortly afterwards all the forward log chains broke. Mate of Stikine Chief called out that she was making water. Got crew and baggage off by 8 p.m. She was then settling. At 11 p.m.. she broke up. Stern went down first. Fastnet then left the wreck.'
"Mr. Mara's wife and two children at this time were in Weimar, Germany.
The local newspaper, in German, carried the news of the Stikine Chief's
loss - and for several days Mrs. Mara was beside herself with worry. She
felt sure she was a widow. Then came a cable to say all was well.
"Back in Victoria, Mr. Mara busied himself building a fine home. He would retire. He bought part of the Barnard acres - and his home went up on what is today Pemberton Road. Today his daughter lives in the fine old place, set in its garden of lawns and flower-beds and ancient oaks.
'But sorrow soon came to this lovely home, for in April of 1906 Mrs. Mara died, a young woman. It was then that Mr. Mara plunged himself once again into hard work. He interested himself in the Board of Trade, the Jubilee Hospital and the Anti-Tuberculosis Society. He worked for the Union Club and it was largely due to his efforts that the present fine club building was erected. To show their appreciation of what he did, the members of the Union Club brought the noted artist, Wyly Grier, to Victoria in 1913 to paint Mr. Mara' 5 portrait. It hangs today, in a place of honor, in the Union Club.
"In February of 1920, when he was 80, Mr. Mara died, and The Colonist commented: 'By his business talent and force of character - he - was destined to become one of the leaders in affairs, both colonially, provincially and federally."'
"J.A. Mara was a driving force in the C.K.S.N., as it became known, and he set about development with energy.
Alexander Watson, a well known Victoria ship-builder, was brought to Revelstoke. Watson laid the keel of the "Lytton'1 in Revelstoke in December, 1889, and launched the 131 feet by 251/2 feet vessel in May, 1890. This ship, of 125 t:ons burden, cost the company about $40,000. But haste was in order, for the mineral output of the Kootenays was to rise from under $74,000 in 1890 to more than $731,000 in 1894 and to more than $6,500,000 in 1898.
"The Lytton, under Captain Frank Odin, made her maiden voyage on July 2, 1890, with distinguished Canadian Pacific officials aboard, including W.C. Van Home. Even as the Lytton was under construction, the C.K.S.N. purchased the stern-wheeler "Kootenai" as a running mate for the Lytton. The Kootenai was ~ 140 feet long, of 371 gross tons and was rated slower than the Lytton's 12½ miles per hour average speed. The Kootenai was used mostly on the 150 mile route between Robson, near where the Kootenay River joins the Columbia, to Revelstoke; and the Lytton steamed the swifter water south from Robson to Little Dalles, connecting there with the Spokane Falls and Northern Railway.
"By 1891, expanding business forced the C.K.S.N. to put another stern-wheeler, the "Columbia", on the western route; and at the same time the C.K.S.N. entered the steamboat competition on Kootenay Lake with the 496-ton "Nelson", the largest ship to that date on Kootenay Lake.
"The Columbia was designed to relieve the Lytton on the tricky run south from Robson and was built at Little Dalles by Alexander Watson. She was 152½ feet long, 38 feet wide and 554 gross tons. At the time the Columbia was queen of the river. She was fitted with electric lights, plushly furnished and cost the C.K.S.N. $75,000.
"With additions to the fleet it became necessary to find an experienced steamboat man to act as fleet superintendent and Mara persuaded Captain James W. Troup to act in this capacity. Troup was famous as a white-water pilot, ship designer and business manager. His capability had been ably demonstrated on the Lower Columbia where he had risen to the post of superintendent of the river lines of the Union Pacific Railway. Troup in turn persuaded Captain John C. Gore, an able skipper, to act as captain of the Columbia.
... "Steamboating on the Arrow Lakes was not without its tragedies, however, and 1894-95 seem singular in this respect. First in a series of disasters for the C.K.S.N. occurred on July 26, 1894, when the Lytton was caught in a squall in Nakusp Bay. Before lines to the barge she was towing could be cast off, she was washed into the rocks along the shore. The hull stood the shock but the upperworks were knocked out of line. Though badly needed to haul steel for the Nakusp and Slocan Railway extension beyond Slocan Lake, she had to be laid up at Nakusp for overhauling.
…"The Lytton saw heroic service on the Columbia and was not laid up permanently until 1902."
The papers of Sir John A. MacDonald include several pieces of correspondence with John Andrew. A number deal with appointments of various kinds. One interesting note was sent to John Andrew in Victoria on April 3, 1879, by E. Dewdney, a federal Cabinet Minister:
John Andrew sent two cables in particular to Sir John A. MacDonald in February, 1887. The first on the 19th reads as follows:
Correspondence with John Andrew also appears in the papers of Sir J.J.C. Abbott, Sir Wilfred Laurier and Sir Charles Tupper. There are presently a whistle stop on the Canadian Pacific Railway line as well as a lake in the interior of B.C. between Enderby and Sicamous, both named Mara after John Andrew.
Unfortunately, little biographical information is available on Edward. In the 1871 Census for Biddulph Township., Edward is listed as, a merchant in Lucan, Ontario. He was a bachelor at that time, aged 27, and his religion was listed as being Wesleyan Methodist.
Some members of his family indicate that he, was a general merchant, and some have referred in particular to his hardware and liquor business. It is also understood that he subsequently became active in the Anglican Church. He and his wife are buried in St. James Cemetery, Clandeboye.
As noted earlier, William Mara was born in Toronto on March 28,, 1848. His earliest full-time employment would appear to have been as a clerk in the Wesleyan Methodist Book Room since he is recorded as working there in 1864, at the age of 16. Around the age of 20, he started a grocery business called the William Mara Company which was located at the corner of Queen and John Streets in Toronto. An article in the November, 1965, issue of Bar refers to this business being established in 1871. However, the Province of Ontario Gazeteer for 1869 records William as being in the grocery and wine business then. The following notes appear on page 358 of J. Timperlake's - "Illustrated Toronto: Past and Present", published in 1877
The following are excerpts from an article on the William Mara Company which appeared in the November, 1965, issue of Bar
"The prices quoted in some of the advertisements are interesting. One advertisement in "The Mail" of April 10, 1893, says - "The perfection of old Canadian whiskey, matured in sherry casks O.C.B. 7 years old - $3.00 per gallon; V.C.01B. - $3.75 per gallon. The finest old whiskies on the market for medicinal purposes. This was Mara's Special Blend and was sold in one gallon stone crocks. That the company sold a considerable amount of this whisky is evident in the number of these stone crocks that h4ve been showing up in recent years at auctions and antique sales.
"It was in 1915 that the Ontario Temperance Act was invoked, and this closed up all hotels and licensed establishments including wholesalers and retailers. At this point the Mara Company had stores in Toronto, Montreal, and Niagara Falls, NY, and a warehouse in Toronto known as Bonded Warehouse No. 14.
"It was about this time that Harold Mara became associated with Colonel John Michie which led to the formation of the Michie Mara Company, with a branch in Montreal. Michie's, as a good many people will remember, had a magnificent store at the corner of King and Yonge Streets in Toronto. This store '~s still in existence until the late 1940's and handled a number of lines of gourmet food unobtainable anywhere else.
"The Ontario Temperance Act was repealed in 1919, and George Mara Sr. became a member of the Ontario Government Dispensaries Board which was the fore-runner of the present Liquor Control Board of Ontario. The Act was repealed only far enough to allow the public to purchase spirits on a doctor's prescription, commonly known as scrips in those days. The Ontario Government had eight stores throughout the province where these purchases could be made. These stores were known as Ontario Government Dispensaries.
"At first each doctor was only allowed to issue fifty of these scrips per month to their patients or clients. This was later increased to one hundred and then to two hundred and one can almost hear the drys of that era screaming their heads off."
79 YONGE STREET (3rd DOOR NORTH OF KING STREET), TORONTO
The Wine Vaults occupy the whole cellarage
under the JANES' BLOCK, from Yonge Street to
8 King Street East, and from King Street North to 79 Yonge Street
Special Attention paid to CLUB, DRUGGJST,
and FAMILY TRADE.
Orders for Wines or Spirits from any point in
Canada, in any quantity. either by' the Gallon,
Dozen, or Cask, will receive prompt attention.
PRICE LIST ON APPLICATION.
The Public are Invited to Inspect our WINE
William married Emmaline Mary Gibbons at 229 Spadina Avenue on November 16., 1881. They had four sons, the eldest two of whom were involved in the affairs of the William Mara Company after William's death on January 16, 1896. William Harold Mara took over as head of the firm in 1907, shortly after his marriage. George Sutton Mara became Secretary of the company c~ few years later. He succeeded his brother as President in 1921 and ran the company until his death in 1942. The business was then run by Miss Ruth Rody, the late George Mara's secretary until his son, George, returned in 1945 from serving in the Navy during the War. The William Mara Company is still thriving in Toronto under the leadership of the second George Mara who has also recently become the President of Maple Leaf Gardens.
According to his obituary, William was educated at public and model schools. He was a member of the Methodist Church and attended Broadway Tabernacle. He was active in the work of the Masons, Odd fellows and the Irish Protestant Benevolent Society. He apparently retained a seat on the Toronto Stock Exchange until his death. He was a member of the Public School Board and also served on the Public Library Board. His politics were Conservative. His last residence was at 212 Huron Street.
It is worth recording that his wife, Emmaline, was very active in the affairs of the Church of the Messiah at the corner of Avenue Road and Dupont Street. The Great Window was given to the Church in 1929 by her four sons.
Unfortunately, no biographical information is available on Elizabeth Janet Mara Bateman or on Charlotte Sophia Mara.
George Arthur Bateman was an insurance and real estate agent in Kingston. Charlotte Sophia was apparently very active in Church and charity work. She was residing at 273 Runnymede, Road in Toronto at the time of her death.
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