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Biography of Charles F. Gildersleeve

Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Canada | No Comments

Charles Fuller Gildersleeve, Mayor of Kingston, and one of the leading business men of this city, was born here on the 17th of October, 1833, his parents being Henry and Sarah (Finkle) Gildersleeve. His father came from Portland, Conn.; settled in Kingston in 1816; was a ship builder and steamboat owner, and an energetic business man. His maternal grandfather was a United Empire Loyalist.

The subject of this notice received his literary education at the High School of Ontario, better known as the Upper Canada College, Toronto; prepared for the profession of law, partly in Kingston and partly in Toronto; was called to the Bar in 1859, and practiced in Kingston for five years.

Since March, 1864, Mr. Gildersleeve has been in the steamboat business on Lake Ontario; he owns the steamer Nor email, running between Rochester, N. Y., and Port Hope, Ontario, and the Hastings, plying between Kingston and Belleville. He is, or has been, identified with various public interests; has been President of the Kingston and Pembroke Railway Company since the enterprise was started in 1871, and was for some time Vice President of the Canadian Navigation Company. Probably no man in Kingston is more active in pushing forward local improvements; he was for several years in the City Council, and in January, 1879, was placed at the head of the city government, making a very efficient Chief Magistrate.

The Kingston and Pembroke Railway mentioned above, and which enterprise he took a chief part in initiating, has added largely to the advancement of Kingston. It constitutes the shortest route between the principal lumbering rivers of Ontario and the American market, and opens a considerable extent of country for settlement. No other single enterprise has ever given such an impetus to the growth of Kingston.

Mr. Gildersleeve belongs to a family of very enterprising men, prominent in ship building, the sixth generation of Gildersleeves being engaged in that business at Portland, Conn. When the father of our subject came to Kingston in 1816, he assisted in building the Frontenac, the first steamboat on Lake Ontario, which boat was launched in August of that year. Soon afterwards he built the Charlotte for a company, he being the principal owner, and was the manager until his death in 1851. The eldest son, Overton Gildersleeve, was Mayor of Kingston several years; then continued the business till he died in 1864, when the next son, Charles, took it in charge, and continues it, thus representing the oldest existing steamboat interest in Canada, if not on the continent.

In politics Mr. Gildersleeve is a staunch Reformer, and has been Vice-President of the local association of his party.

He is a Master Mason, and a member of the Church of England; has held the office of warden in the latter body, and his standing in the Church and in the community is high.

The wife of Mr. Gildersleeve was Mary Elizabeth Herchmer, daughter of Charles L. Herchmer, of Belleville, Ontario. They were married in June, 1863, and have two children.


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