Thomas N and William Henry Gibbs are sons of Thomas and Caroline (Tate) Gibbs, who emigrated from Kingsbridge, Devonshire, England, in 1819, and settled at Terrebonne, Province of Quebec, where both of the sons mentioned were born, Thomas Nicholson, March 11, 1821, and William Henry, November 29, 1823. In 1832 the family removed to Oshawa, where the father of our subjects engaged in the grain and flour trade, dying here in July, 1871. They are cousins of Frederick W. Gibbs, C. B., formerly tutor to the Prince of Wales.
Thomas N. Gibbs was educated in England; and since his return from school there, has been continually engaged in the grain and flour trade and manufactories of Oshawa. Since 1842 he has been at the head of the firm of Gibbs Brothers, dealers in produce and proprietors of the Oshawa Mills, manufacturing as high as 100,000 barrels of flour a year.
He is a Director of the Confederation Life Association; President of the Standard Bank and of the Dominion Telegraph Company, and Chairman in Canada of the English and Scottish Investment Company of Canada. Mr. Gibbs was the first Reeve of Oshawa, elected in 1850, and the first warden of the county, elected in 1854. He has been very active and influential in promoting the progress of the town and county.
He contested North Ontario unsuccessfully at the general election in 1854; sat for South Ontario in the Canadian Assembly from January, 1865, until the Union (1867), when he was returned to the Commons, continuing to represent South Ontario until the general election in 1874, when he was defeated. June 1, 1876, upon the death of the sitting member, Hon. Malcolm Cameron, he was again returned from South Ontario, and was defeated in the same constituency in September, 1878.
He was sworn of the Privy Council, June 14, 1873, and was Secretary of State for the Provinces from that date until July 1, when he was transferred to the Inland Revenue Department, where he remained until the resignation of the Government on the 5th of November of the same year. He is a Conservative.
He is a member of the Canada Methodist Church, and a Trustee and Steward of the same. In August, 1843, he married Almira, youngest daughter of Joseph Ash, Esq., of Cobourg, Ont., and they have seven children.
William H. Gibbs came with the family to Oshawa in 1832; was educated in a private school at Montreal; worked in the mills at Oshawa a few years; has been in the produce and manufacturing business since 1840; went from Oshawa to Columbus, six miles north, in 1845; returned in 1856, and has been a resident of this town since that date. He is President of the Oshawa Cabinet Company, which usually employs from 200 to 250 workmen; has been Reeve of Oshawa, Deputy Reeve of Whitby township, Warden of Ontario, and is now (1879) Mayor of the town the first that Oshawa has had, making a very efficient chief magistrate. He is a Director of the Confederation Life Association.
Mr. Gibbs was first returned to Parliament from North Ontario at the general election in 1872; was defeated in 1874; re-elected in 1876 on the death of the sitting member, Adam Gordon, and again defeated at the general election in 1878. Like his elder brother, he is a Conservative, and, as will be seen above, the political fortunes of the brothers have risen and fallen together, according to the ups and downs of parties. They are both practical men of most industrious habits, and make valuable legislators.
Mr. Gibbs has long been a member of the Wesleyan, now Canada, Methodist Church, is Recording Steward of the same, and has been Superintendent of the Sunday school for seventeen or eighteen years.
The wife of Mr. Gibbs was Frances, second daughter of George Wells Colton, Esq., West Whitby, married December 23, 1845. They have four children living, and have lost three.
Oshawa is a solidly built brick town of nearly 5,000 inhabitants, indebted chiefly to the energy of a few public spirited and sterling men for what it is today; and owes, among others, much of its growth and present status to the Gibbs Brothers, who, it is seen, are foremost men in almost every enterprise having a tendency to advance the material and moral interests of the town.