MOORE, DENNIS, manufacturer, capitalist, and philanthropist; b. 20 Aug. 1817 at Grimsby, Upper Canada; m. first 1 June 1842 Susan Tyson; m. secondly 1 Aug. 1854 Mary Hunt, and they had one son and four daughters; d. 20 Nov. 1887 at Hamilton, Ont.
In 1831 Dennis Moore moved to Hamilton from Grimsby where he had spent his boyhood. He entered an apprenticeship with Edward Jackson*, a tinsmith who had started business in 1830, and in 1833 Jackson took Moore and several other apprentices into the firm as partners. From then until Jackson’s death in 1872, the business was conducted by changing and complicated partnerships, although for much of the time the firm operated under the name of D. Moore and Company.
The firm had begun by manufacturing tinware but, probably some time in the 1840s, added a foundry and diversified into the production of stoves and machine castings. Financial details of the company’s operations are difficult to uncover: in 1862, 40 men were employed and $50,000 in raw materials used; three years later goods worth $125,000 were made; by 1869 the value of production had increased to $150,000 and 50 men were employed. Information is lacking but it is clear that Moore accumulated considerable wealth from the company’s business. In 1848 he owned real estate in Hamilton worth between $10,000 and $15,000 and D. Moore and Company owned nine profitable stores. He also speculated in western Canadian real estate. In 1882 with Edward Gurney, the Toronto and Hamilton stove manufacturer, and John Edward Rose and Alexander Sutherland of Toronto, he became associated with the promoters of the Saskatchewan Land and Homestead Company, one of the many firms incorporated in that year for the purpose of settling lands in Manitoba and the North-West Territories. Moore’s investments in other manufacturing and financial institutions led to his election in the 1870s and 1880s as director of several companies, most located in Hamilton, including the Canada Life Assurance Company, the Bank of Hamilton, and the Hamilton Bridge and Tool Company.
This prominence was also reflected in Moore’s public and political activities. In February 1851, for example, he had been one of the 24 leading Hamilton citizens – including Sir Allan Napier MacNab*, Edward Jackson, Robert William Harris*, partner in the largest wholesale importing firm in the Province of Canada, Robert Reid Smiley*, proprietor of the province’s largest printing firm, and James Osborne, the city’s leading grocer – who petitioned the federal government to send troops to put down a strike by workers on the Great Western Railway. Moore, who could not accept violent protest from a class to which he had belonged, believed that the government ought to “overawe the turbulent, afford protection to the peaceable and industrious, and in case of necessity, aid the civil power in enforcing the laws.” In the federal election of 1882, when he ran as a Liberal candidate in the two-member riding of Hamilton, Moore was labelled as a defender of the manufacturing class by his Conservative opponents, though he spent much effort upon the labour vote, which was crucial. He shared Edward Blake*’s qualified acceptance of tariff protection for manufactured goods and low or no tariffs on raw materials, and was open to the Conservative charges that such a policy was clearly in his interest as a manufacturer. These charges probably helped to defeat both Moore and his fellow Liberal candidate in Hamilton.
A sincere Methodist, Moore was a benefactor of several Hamilton churches and of Methodist philanthropic activities. In 1851 he was a trustee of the MacNab Street Third Wesleyan Methodist Church, in 1856 a trustee of the First Wesleyan Methodist Church, and in 1866 a founder of Centenary Methodist Church, of which he was trustee and class leader until his death. Also in 1866 he was listed as a director of the Hamilton branch of the Upper Canada Bible Society. In 1861 he had been one of the several prominent Hamiltonians, including Edward Jackson and Calvin McQuesten, who sought the incorporation of the Wesleyan Female College and in 1872 he became vice-president of the institution. For many years he contributed $1,600 annually to Victoria College in Cobourg for a chair in the sciences. He was also a regent of Victoria and on his death left $25,000 for the endowment of a professorship in chemistry and physics. His will provided $6,000 for the missionary society of the Methodist Church and smaller sums for several Hamilton benevolent institutions.
The career of Dennis Moore contains many of the elements of the myth of the mid-Victorian self-made man. By hard work and righteous living, he rose from humble origins to become a successful businessman who left an estate of about $200,000. The Reverend Hugh Johnston, a friend who had also been one of his pastors, said in a funeral oration that although “possessing no dazzling qualities, a man of straightforward common sense and few words, he made life a great success.”
Christian Guardian, 30 Nov. 1887. Globe, 27 May 1882. Hamilton Spectator, 5, 12, 15 Feb. 1851; 26 June 1882; 21, 24 Nov. 1887. Monetary Times, 4 Feb. 1876. Cyclopædia of Canadian biog. (Rose, 1886). Wallace, Macmillan dict. Nathanael Burwash, The history of Victoria College (Toronto, 1927), 237; Memorials of the life of Edward & Lydia Ann Jackson (Toronto, 1876), 7–11. The Centenary Church, the United Church of Canada, 24 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, 1868–1968 ([Hamilton, Ont., 1968]), 5–6. Hamilton, the Birmingham of Canada (Hamilton, 1892). M. B. Katz, The people of Hamilton, Canada West: family and class in a mid-nineteenth century city (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1975), 177, 179, 195. V. Ross and Trigge, Hist. of Canadian Bank of Commerce, III: 155. C. B. Sissons, A history of Victoria University (Toronto, 1952), 195.