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Riverside County









            The sterling traits of his Scotch forebears have been exemplified in the career of Charles M. Shiels, county sealer of weights and measures since 1917 and a resident of Riverside for nearly a half century.  He was born in Kingston, Ontario, April 24, 1867, a son of John Shiels and a grandson of William and Elizabeth (Montgomery) Shiels.

            A native of Prescott, Ontario, Canada, John Shiels there pursued his education until he reached the age of fourteen and in 1849 removed with the family to Maitland, Ontario.  For one and a half years he worked on farms in that locality and then became a tinsmith’s apprentice at Kingston, Ontario, where he mastered the trade.  At Kingston he established a shop of his own and was engaged in that business in that city for thirty-four years.  While living in Kingston he married Miss Emily Woods, a native of the north of Ireland, and in 1883 came with his son, Charles M., to California, arriving in Riverside on the 1st of March of that year, at which time the city had about three thousand people.  Later, in 1888, the family came to Riverside.  With a limited capital he opened a small shop on Main Street, near Ninth, and soon found his facilities as a tinsmith taxed to the utmost.  Extending the scope of his activities, he began to take contracts for the installation of heating and plumbing systems and gave his personal direction to every detail of the work, which was so efficiently performed that his became recognized as one of the leading establishments of the kind in Riverside.  In 1891 his business was moved to a substantial building at Tenth and Market streets.  When his sons reached manhood they joined him as partners and the style of John Shiels & Sons was then adopted.  This form was retained until the death of the founder of the enterprise on October 25, 1911, after which the business was continued by the firm of Shiels Brothers until June, 1919.

            The wife of John Shiels preceded him to the home beyond, passing away June 16, 1904.  She was the mother of five children:  Charles M.; William F.; Emily E. and Mary F. Kirby of Ottawa, Canada; and Margaret E. Shiels, of Riverside.  The second son, William F. Shiels, was born in Kingston, Canada, and there resided until the family settled in Riverside.  Here he was married to Miss Lydia Wildes on the 29th of January, 1905, and a daughter, Frances, was born to them.  The death of William F. Shiels occurred December 14, 1914, about three years after that of his father.

            Charles M. Shiels supplemented his public school education by attendance at the Model Schools in Canada and when a youth of sixteen years came with his father to Riverside.  Completing his apprenticeship as a plumber in 1888, he immediately took charge of that department of his father’s business and eventually made plumbing the most important feature of the work done by the firm.  After his father and brother passed away he became sole owner of the business and successfully carried it forward until the summer of 1919, securing for the firm many large plumbing and heating contracts.

            In 1917 Mr. Shiels became deputy county sealer of weights and measures and no better testimonial to his worth could be given than the fact that he has been retained in the office to the present time, a period of fifteen years.  He represents the authority of the state department of weights and measures and has given most thorough and painstaking effort to the discharge of his responsible duties.  His official jurisdiction covers a very extensive territory in Riverside County, extending as far as Blythe and the Colorado River.

            Mr. Shiels is a stalwart Republican and a charter member of the Calvary Presbyterian Church.  A Mason in high standing, Mr. Shiels is a life member of Evergreen Lodge, No. 259, F. & A. M.; a life member and a past high priest of Riverside Chapter, No. 67, R. A. M.; a member of Valley Council, No. 27, R. & S. M.; Riverside Commandery, No. 28, K. T., of which he is a life member; and Al Malaikah Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Los Angeles, of which he is also a life member.  He is a member of Ungave Chapter, No. 106, of the Order of the Eastern Star; is a veteran member and past noble grand of Riverside Lodge, No. 282, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows; a member of the Rebekahs; a past chief ranger of Court California, No. 451, of the Independent Order of Foresters; and a past commander of Riverside Tent, No. 19, of the Knights of the Maccabees.  In these fraternal organizations he has many sincere friends, and an exemplary life has established him high in the esteem of all who know him.  Mr. Shiels’ sister, Miss Margaret Shiels, resides with him in Riverside.  She has also been active in religious and fraternal work, serving as secretary of the local chapter of the Eastern Star and as secretary of the Sunday school of the Calvary Presbyterian Church.



Transcribed by V. Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: California of the South Vol. III, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 57-59, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles,  Indianapolis.  1933.

© 2012  V. Gerald Iaquinta.