Francis (Frank) J. Phillips of Toronto Bio,.

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Francis (Frank) J. Phillips

Of interest:  Phillips & Bacon families; Phillips Thorne; Cobban; Phillips Manufacturing; Phillips Toronto Ltd; 63 Queens Park, Toronto; Wistowe Island, Lake Rosseau.

Francis, was born on 25 Jul, 1847 the 3rd son of William Hayes Phillips and Anne Peyton of Enniskeen, parish of Kinneigh, county Cork, Ireland.  He immigrated to Canada, via /New York City, in 1856 and first settled at Kingston, Ontario, Canada.  His uncle, Barter Phillips, the first to immigrate may still have been at Kingston and his brother, William Peyton Phillips, had been there since 1852.

After Kingston, he arrived at Toronto in 1864.  In Toronto he worked for John McGee, Iron Foundry (later E. C. Gurnery).  In 1871 Francis was living at 139 Church St., Toronto.  The following year, 1872, he married, on 20 Aug., Harriet Bacon the daughter of John Bacon and Harriet Roberts of counties Waterford and Queen's (Laois), Ireland.  John Bacon had immigrated to Canada with his Uncle, Ogle Robert Gowan, in 1839.  In 1872, John Bacon was living on Dundas, Rd, Toronto and Francis and Harriet were married at this home by the Rev. Canon Baldwin.

John Bacon and Francis Phillips purchased the business of Hurd & Leigh, a crockery and china import and sales.  This company changed to Bacon & Phillips and operated at 72 Yonge St.  In 1876, John Bacon retired from this company and Francis formed a new partnership with C. E. Thorne which formed the business of Phillips Thorne and this company operated at 23 Front. St., West, Toronto.  Francis was living at 21 Grosvenor St.

Phillips Thorne

Cobban Mfg, Toronto Cobban Delivery

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In 1878, the Phillips Thorne partnership dissolved and Francis associated with C. G. Cobban which company was founded in 1874.  The company manufactured mouldings, looking glasses, picture frames and all kinds of cabinet work.  There factory was located at at the southeast corner of Teraulay (present Bay St.) and Hayter St. and had a branch office at 148 McGill St., Montreal, Quebec, Canada..  At this time Francis's younger brother, Charles R. Phillips, arrived from Ireland.  In 1879. William Charles Phillips the son of Francis's older brother William Peyton Phillips joined Cobban Co.  In 1880, Francis was the manager of Cobban Manufacturing Co.   At some time prior to 1882 John Bacon was involved or became involved with Cobban.  In 1882, John Bacon was the proprietor and Francis was the manager.  John Bacon was living at 159 George St. 

In 1882, Cobban received a silver medal for mirrors at the Industrial Exhibition, Toronto.  I have several small silver-like coins that are of the Exhibition but no dates or to whom they were given is noted.  Also, I have a large bronze-type coin that was given to the 'Cobban Mfg, Company Ltd.' at the World Columbian Exposition.  This Exposition, I believe, was held in 1893 at Chicago, USA.  By the list it appears that Canada was well represented but I have yet to find specific Cobban mention.

1885 the following were involved with Cobban:  John Bacon, proprietor;  Francis Phillips, manager;  Edward Bacon, son of John Bacon, clerk;  Frank R. Phillips, son of William Peyton, and William Charles Phillips, son of William Peyton Phillips.  Charles Richard Phillips was now with Rolph Smith Co and living at 3 Wilton Ave., Toronto.

In 1889, John Bacon died.  Francis was living at 63 Queens Park Cresc.,  William Charles Phillips was living at was living at 21 Grosvenor St.

1890 shows Francis the President of Cobban and William Charles Phillips as Vice-President.   The advertising of that day was Phillips Manufacturing Co. Ltd., late Cobban, manufactures of fine mouldings and frames, curtain poles and fittings.  Also, mirror plates and framed mirrors, glass bevellers and silverers.  Direct importers of and dealers in polished plate glass and Belgian and English picture glass.

In 1893 the Toronto Board of Trade tells that Frank J. Phillips was Presidents of the Cobban Manufacturing Co and the Consolidated Plate Glass Co. of Canada, whose offices are in Toronto with branches in Montreal, London and Ottawa.  Frank joined the Board of Trade in 1884 and at the time of the writing he was a life member.

At least in 1904 the company was located at the corner of Lake & Lorne Sts. (near the present day Harbour Commissioners' Building - near the foot of present day Bay Street).  During the Great Toronto Fire of 1904 it has been told that William Charles Phillips and his foreman ran from lumber stack to lumber stack with a trickling water hose in order to save the lumber and the factory.  They succeeded. 

In 1905, Cobban Mfg. was changed to Phillips Manufacturing Co. and in 1907 the firm bought the Carlaw building for $16,733.00 and in 1908 moved to 258 Carlaw Ave., Toronto.  The smokestack on the Carlaw building still shows the name of Phillips Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (2004)  Later the company name was change to Phillips Toronto Limited and produced mainly picture frames. 

Phillips Toronto Company
262 Carlaw Ave. Toronto


Sticker that was placed on the back of pictures
(Also in gold & red)

Phillips Toronto

Passport of 1906 for Frank Phillips with son William and nephew Norman Gooderham

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A 1906 Canadian passport for Frank shows also his son, William F. Phillips and his nephew, Norman Gooderham.  A daughter of Francis & Harriet, Lillian, married William Gooderham and one of their issues was Norman.  Both boys are shown to be of 18 years of age.

The home at 63 Queen's Park Crescent was a very large Victorian dwelling with a coach-house at the rear of the property.  It remained in the Phillips family after Harriet's death.  After her death in 1917, Lawren Harris, who married Beatrice Phillips, daughter of Francis and Harriet, moved in for a few years but he disliked the darkness of the old home and the home was sold to the University of Toronto.  The home is no longer and the land was used for the U of T's buildings.  It would have been at the north end of present day Queen's Park circle.

Francis (Frank) John Phillips
63 Queen's Park Cr, Toronto, 1895
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Coach House
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Annie Bacon Phillips

During the 1890's Frank was caught up in the 'opening of the Muskoka District' of Ontario.  In those day it was a day-long train ride to Gravenhurst.  Frank had been a member of the Muskoka Lakes Assoc. when it began in 1894.  He was Vice-Commodore in the years 1898 & 1899 and was President in 1900-1901.  He was a member of the Toronto's Royal Canadian Yacht Club and was vice-president of the then Muskoka Lakes Navigation Company.  One of his daughters was involved in the christening of the steamer, Oriole.  Circa 1897, Francis bought from John Sanson, the first owner, Sanson Island in Lake Rosseau for a rather high price of $1,200.00.  The Sanson Island was just shy of 10 acres and contained a small cottage on brick footings near the waters edge.  The brick footings can still be seen to this day.  The island was renamed 'Wistowe' by the Phillips family.   From all my research I have yet to determine why it was named Wistowe.  Internet searching shows, during this time,  two other places: a village in England and an estate in Bermuda.  There appears to be no connection with England.  Without any other reference I tend to lean toward the Bermuda connection as the Wistowe estate was owned at one time by  Reginal Aubrey Fessenden (of radio fame) who was from Toronto and these two men may have known each other (pure speculation!!).  Shortly after the purchase and most likely in 1898 Frank had his rather large 8 bedroom two storey cottage built with attached kitchen and servants quarters.  The cottage had a veranda that rapped around three sides of the building.  A wide staircase led down from the veranda to the ground but is no longer present.  Inside is a huge brick fireplace and the walls and ceilings are all of tongue an groove basswood.  There is very ornate staircase that leads from the main floor to the second floor and it's bedrooms.  Some of the furniture may date back to the Phillipses but certainly the long dining room table and chairs for if one looks underneath one can read "Deliver to FJ Phillips, Muskoka Wharf".  There are several outbuildings and of them are two boathouses.  The smaller one was mainly for canoes and sails.  The Phillips owned the 'Naniwa' which I believe means 'fast water' in Japanese and this vessel was a 12 ton gross ( 7ton net) steamer with a 8.9 horsepower engine.  It was built at Kingston, Ontario.  It had been reported that the Naniwa could be seen on the lake with many young and happy people aboard.  The boat house which contained the Naniwa was struck by lightning in 1911 and the boat house and the Naniwa were destroyed.  Today, there is a large boathouse which was built after the Phillipses era in order to accommodate the steamer, "The Rambler" which can be seen on the lakes to this day.  There was a supply dock on the other side of the island where supply boats would stop and the purchase of fresh vegetables and other store goods could be made.  This dock was either burned or simply sank over the years but some of the cribs can still be seen.  Near the present dock and near the old brick footings was a line of changing cabanas.    Wistowe was sold in 1912 to the Whitcomb family of Detroit and it was this family who owned the Rambler.  Subsequently the island had one more owner before the present owners.  My deepest appreciation to the Wilson family who presently own Wistowe Island and the effort they have made and continue to make in maintaining the originality of the property.

Main Cottage Front Steps Dining Table Canoe House Naniwa
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There have been a number of articles written about Wistowe.  One of which can be found in
 Old Muskoka -Century Cottages & Summer Estates
by Liz Lundell
Boston Mills Press- ISBN:1-55046-285-7

After Frank's passing the Phillips Toronto company was owned and operated by his daughters and sons of whom Heber was President and William was Vice-President.  The firm was sold in the late 1930s.  My father, Philip Dwight Turner, was the manager of the company until his death in 1961.  The company moved to Strathroy, Ontario in 1953.  The firm moved to Richmond Hill, Ontario in 1962 and was later known as Oxford Picture Frame Co.

Francis, due to health reasons, was at the Battle Creek Sanatorium and drowned in the nearby Lake Goguac on  11 Apr, 1910.  Annie died  Dec, 1917 and both are interred in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Plot "L", Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Francis was a member of the Toronto Board of Trade, a member of the National and Royal Canadian Yacht Clubs, a member of St. John's Masonic Lodge, an Anglican in faith and member of the Church of the Redeemer (Toronto) and a Conservative in politics.

Phillips Plot "L" in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto, Ont. Canada


Frank had been visiting cousins at Kingston and had been lent a copy of the "History of Bandon'.  After his death the book was sought but no one of his family knew of the book or it's whereabouts.

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