Nov 19, 2009

John J. Manley (1854-1933)

John Joseph Manley (my great Grandfather) was the first surviving child of Edward and Margaret Manley. He was born in Port Dalhousie, ON on the 18th of November, 1854. His life began in a humble shanty town built by Irish canal workers and ended as a highly respected and prosperous contractor. Certainly, a testament to the values and work ethics passed on by his parents who knew too well the meaning of hardship and struggle.

John J. Manley (1854-1933)
My Great Grandfather

During his childhood, the family moved out of the shanty town and attained permanent residence in Thorold, ON. John began working on the Welland Canal as a young boy pulling a mule train and progressed over the years until he was a self employed contractor.

On the 28th of Jan, 1885 John married Margaret (Maggie) Flynn at St. Patrick's RC church in Merritton, ON. The Rev Father Finan officiated and the witnesses were Joseph Battle and Mary Ann Foley. Maggie Flynn was the daughter of Thomas Flynn and Cecily Reynolds who had immigrated to Canada from Co Cavan, Ireland.

Maggie Flynn (1857-1894), wife of John J. Manley
My Great Grandmother

Over the next nine years, John and Maggie had three sons and then tragedy struck when Maggie passed away on the 12th of Aug, 1894. The youngest boy (my grandfather) was not quite one year old at the time of her passing. John never remarried and raised the boys on his own with the help of Maggie's sister Sarah and her brothers, Thomas and John. John and his boys remained very close to the Flynn family for the remainder of their lives.

Aunt Sarah Flynn with Manley boys, Thomas, Edward and John Jr.

In 1913 John moved to Toronto and became a partner and vice-president at the C.S. Boone Dredging and Construction Co. In 1917 several of the partners from this company along with Harry Dixon of Port Dalhousie formed a new company called The Toronto Drydock Co1. John was involved with both of these concerns until his retirement in 1930. In August of 1932 the third Welland canal opened and John was interviewed for an article in the Toronto Star about the opening which he attended.

In May of 1933 just prior to his death John traveled by ship to Rome, Italy (reason unknown).  John's sons Edward and John Jr both follwed in his footsteps and worked all of their lives in the dredging and canal construction business, while his middle son Thomas became a man of the cloth who would rise to prominence within the Catholic church. John died at his home on the 25th of November, 1933 at the age of 79.

Obituary, The Toronto Star, Nov 25, 1933 (Front Page)

John J. Manley Widely Known for Welland, St. Lawrence Canal Work

The death occurred today of John J. Manley, who from 1913 to 1930 was vice-president of the C.S. Boone Dredging and Construction Co., and treasurer of the Toronto Dry Dock Co. Limited, at his home, 348 Wolverleigh Blvd, in his 80th year. Born in Port Dalhousie, Mr. Manley was one of the best known dredgemen in the Dominion, having done a great deal of work on both the Welland ship canals and on the development of the St. Lawrence canals. He had also helped with harbor development of Toronto and Port Arthur. He retired about three years ago. Mr. Manley's kindness and geniality had endeared him to a host of friends. He was made a life member of the Knights of Columbus by the St. Catharines council a year ago. He was also a member of the Holy Name Society. Surviving are three sons: Rev. Thomas J. Manley, pastor of St. Joan of Arc parish, Toronto; Edward J., Toronto and John Jr., Merritton, Ont. The remains are resting at the home of his son Edward, 40 St. Clair Ave. W. The funeral will be held Tuesday, with mass at Merritton at 11 am. Interment will take place at Thorold Cemetery.
Funeral, St. Catharines Standard, Nov 29, 1933

Widely Known Dredge Man and Contractor Buried at Thorold

The funeral of the late John J. Manley, dredgeman and contractor of Dominion -wide prominence was held yesterday to Thorold. The late Capt. Manley passed away at his home, 348 Wolverleigh Boulevard, Toronto. The funeral cortege proceeded from Toronto to St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Merritton where solemn high mass was sung, and Interment later took place in Lakeview Cemetery, Thorold. At the church, where a large concourse of friends of the deceased had gathered to pay their final tribute of respect, the chief celebrants of the mass were Rev. Father Thomas J. Manley, Toronto as celebrant, assisted by Rev. Father Cullinane of Fort Erie as deacon and Rev. Father J.A. Morgan of Port Colborne as sub-deacon. Among the visiting priests were Fathers O'Brien, Lawly and Ryan of Toronto; Mgr. Morris of St. Catharines; Father Battle of Port Dalhousie and Staley of Thorold. Visiting priests were also present from Kingston, Fort Erie, Port Colborne and other points in the dominion. The guards of honor were members of the Knights of Columbs, St. Catharines. The pall bearers were all close friends of the deceased; Messrs. E. Miles, J. Cowan, Harry Dixon, Toronto; Thomas Flynn, Niagara Falls; Charles Curley, St. Catharines; Dr. T. J. Sexton, Merritton. Friends were in attendance at the service from as far west as Goderich and Windsor, including many representatives of contracting firms. Beautiful floral tributes completely covered the gravesite in Lakeview Cemetery.
John and Maggie are buried together at Lakeview Cemetery in Thorold, ON next to John's parents Edward and Margaret.

Children of John Manley and Maggie Flynn:
Edward Joseph (1886-1939)
Thomas Joseph (1889-1947)
John Joseph Jr. (Jack) (1893-1936)

Parents of John Manley:
Edward Manley (1819-1903)
Margaret Dixon (1821 - 1881)

Parents of Margaret (Maggie) Flynn:
Thomas Flynn (abt 1807 - abt 1869)
Cecily Reynolds (abt 1818 - 1882)

1. Scanner, v. 8, n. 6 (March 1976), John N. Bascom, editor, Maritime History of the Great Lakes, Toronto Marine Historical Society

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