DICK, THOMAS, shipbuilder, shipowner and captain, and hotelier; b. 1809 in Scotland; d. 7 Nov. 1874 in Toronto, Ont.
Thomas Dick went to sea as a youth and earned his master’s certificate. He emigrated to Upper Canada about 1833 and took employment in Niagara-on-the-Lake at the Niagara Harbour and Dock Company, which commenced operations in that year. Dick was sailing the schooner Fanny by 1835, and he commanded hms Experiment at the battle of the Windmill, 12 Nov. 1838.
During the 1840s and 1850s Dick had command of several popular passenger steamers, some of which are said to have been built under his supervision. In 1850 he purchased the City of Toronto, the first of a number of ships he was to own and command in a day when steamboat skippers enjoyed considerable prestige in the community. He and his brother James are said to have inaugurated in 1858, with the steamer Rescue, the first mail service between Collingwood and Fort William (Thunder Bay).
Dick also built a contiguous row of four large houses in 1844 on property now the site of the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. These were occupied by Knox College and the Toronto Academy before becoming Sword’s Hotel and, later, the Revere House. Famous in its time, the row was further enlarged and, in 1862, opened under Dick’s management as the Queen’s Hotel, which became one of Canada’s leading hostelries.
Dick served as alderman for St George ward, 1871–72, and as a director of the St Lawrence Bank and the Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railway. He died in 1874 at the Queen’s Hotel.
Canada, Province of, Statutes, 1853, c.148; 1857, c.168; 1858, c.122. Globe (Toronto), 7 Nov. 1874. Mail (Toronto), 7 Nov. 1874. Patriot (Toronto), 25 July 1837, 6 April 1838. Weekly Leader (Toronto), 13 Nov. 1874. Cherrier, Kirwin & McGown’s Toronto directory for 1873 . . . (Toronto, 1873), 291. Fisher & Taylor’s Toronto directory for the year 1874 . . . (Toronto, 1874), 374. Rowsell’s city of Toronto and county of York directory for 1850–1 . . . ,ed. J. Armstrong (Toronto, 1850), 37.
Landmarks of Toronto (Robertson), II. Middleton, Municipality of Toronto, I, 212, 487; II, 742, 802. Scadding, Toronto of old. A. G. Young, Great Lakes’ saga; the influence of one family on the development of Canadian shipping on the Great Lakes, 1816–1913 (Owen Sound, Ont., Toronto, and Montreal, 1965), 96–98.