LARKIN, PATRICK JOSEPH, ship’s captain, businessman, and politician; b. 1 March 1829 in County Galway (Republic of Ireland), one of three sons of Thomas Larkin and Ann—; m. 21 Jan. 1861 Ellen Maguire in Hamilton, Upper Canada, and they had eight children; d. 31 Aug. 1900 in St Catharines.
In 1837, at the age of eight, Patrick Joseph Larkin immigrated with his parents to Quebec. His father died shortly afterwards, on a ship, and in July 1837 his mother brought the family to Toronto. Five years later Larkin took up a mariner’s life, eventually becoming a captain. In 1847 he began sailing out of St Catharines, to which he moved in 1853. He made his first investment in ships in 1858. A local directory for 1865 lists him as captain and probably owner of the schooner Jessie built by Louis Shickluna. Larkin was an original stockholder of the Lake and River Steamship Line of Hamilton, organized in 1871. It is possible that he was involved in constructing two vessels for the company in 1872, one by Melancthon Simpson at St Catharines and the other by Andrews and Son at nearby Port Dalhousie. Larkin supervised Simpson’s construction of another ship for the Lake and River Line, the 375-ton Lake Erie, launched the following year. At least two vessels were built for Larkin himself: the schooner Emerald by George Hardison in Port Colborne in 1872 and the 400-ton barque Sampson, by Simpson in 1874.
Larkin became interested in municipal affairs in 1874, serving as a councillor for St Andrew’s Ward on the St Catharines town council. When, the next year, a commission was formed at the instigation of Dr Lucius Sterne Oille to establish a waterworks, the town’s first, Larkin was appointed to its board, sitting until 1885 as the representative of St George’s Ward. During that period he was also deputy reeve of Lincoln County (1875), president of the Reform Association of Lincoln (1876–82), and mayor of St Catharines for two years (1882–83).
In business Larkin’s interests had become highly diversified. Prosperous in shipping, in 1875 he formed the contracting firm of Larkin, Connolly, and Connolly; its first contract was section 1 of the third Welland Canal. The company went on to construct a graving dock and harbour-works at Quebec, a graving dock at Esquimalt, B.C., harbour-works at Owen Sound, Ont., and portions of the Ontario and Quebec Railway, the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway, and the Shuswap and Okanagan Railway, in addition to other projects. In St Catharines Larkin had become the agent in 1875 for the British America Fire and Life Assurance Company and the Royal Canadian Insurance Company; by 1887 he had retired from those positions. In 1884 he invested in the grocery business, engaging in it for a number of years and supplying timber for the Quebec market. He served on the boards of the Lincoln Paper Mill Company and the St Catharines Electric Light Company, of which he was president at his death in 1900. He was then in the midst of another construction contract, secured in 1897 in partnership with Alexander Sangster, for the enlargement of the Iroquois section of the Galops Canal on the St Lawrence River.
Larkin was the last of St Catharines’s “Big Four,” the others being James Murray, Sylvester Neelon, and James Norris. Survived by his wife, five daughters, and a son, he left an estate valued at about $245,655, which included a livery stable and hotel in St Catharines, land in Spallumcheen, B.C., and his interest ($57,359) in the Iroquois contract.
AO, RG 22, ser.235, no.2252. St Catharines Public Library, Special Coll. (St Catharines, Ont.), Patrick Larkin file, copy of entry in St Mary’s Cathedral (Hamilton, Ont.), reg. of marriages, 1861. St Catharines Water Works Commission, Report, 1879, 1898. Globe, 13 May 1874. St. Catharines Evening Journal, 26 April, 19 June, 2 July 1872; 22 May 1873. Standard (St Catharines), 1 Sept. 1900. Cyclopædia of Canadian biog. (Rose and Charlesworth), vol.1. Lincoln and Welland counties directory, 1879. Prominent men of Canada . . . , ed. G. M. Adam (Toronto, 1892), 372–74. St. Catharines directory, 1865–95.