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Kingsmill's Limited

Kingsmill's Limited
Plaque no. 32
Date of plaque unveiling
5 July 1988
Speakers
Netta (née Kingsmill) Brandon and T. Fred Kingsmill
Location
130 Dundas Street, London, Ontario

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History

Sometime before 1840 in the town of Templemore in Tipperary, Ireland, Thomas Kingsmill opened a dry goods business. It failed ten years later, a casualty of economic hardship, famine, and epidemic. Kingsmill and three of his children died soon after. His oldest son, Thomas Frazer, was apprenticed to a store owned by the family of his mother, Mary Frazer. He married a widow, Anne Ardagh Buriss, and emigrated to New York and then briefly to Georgia.

The poor import trade resulting from the American Civil War forced the Kingsmills to move again, this time to Toronto, where Thomas’ uncle, George Kingsmill, and a niece of Anne’s had settled. After working for a Toronto company and considering various locations, Kingsmill established his store in London in 1865, chosen because of its growing prominence as an educational, industrial and military centre.

The Kingsmills’ three daughters attended Hellmuth Ladies College, and their eldest son, Thomas Frazer Kingsmill Junior, graduated from Huron College, but left the ministry to work in the store. Another son was a graduate in medicine from Western University’s Medical School.

In its early years, Kingsmill’s specialized in the sale of imported carpets, cashmeres and linens as well as embroidered gloves and handkerchiefs. Its range of retail goods was later expanded to include china, furniture, housewares and lamps. In addition to their role as local merchants, members of the Kingsmill family are well known for their contribution of time and resources to charities, church functions, community events and service clubs.

The original Kingsmill building was demolished except for the facade in 2016.  A new 6 storey building was constructed on the site  beginning in 2016 and is now occupied by Fanshawe College.