A cyclopedia of Canadian biography: being chiefly men of the time.
edited by George Maclean Rose, Rose Publishing Company, 1886, 807 pages
Allen, Thomas, Alderman, Toronto, was born in the County of Armagh, Ireland, on May 31st, 1831, and was a son of William Allen, a worthy and highly respectable farmer, who from his fine and imposing stature was known to his neighbours and the country folk around by the sobriquet of “Big William Allen.” Thomas Allen was sent to the Irish National schools, and his studies comprehended the ordinary branches of reading, writing and arithmetic. The knowledge received at these schools, however, in the case of the ambitious young Allen, was only a foundation upon which to rear a structure of practical experience. As soon as the lad had completed his studies he went to work upon his father’s farm, and strove there faithfully till he was nineteen years old.
Then came the failure of the potato crop in Ireland, with its attendant famine and horror. With the thousands who fled from the stricken land was young Allen, and he turned his face westward, and sailed for Canada in 1850, but was not long out from land when there came violent weather and the ship was tossed about for fourteen days. Then she returned into the Cove of Cork, and our subject, glad of the rescue from almost total shipwreck, retired to his home, where he remained for nearly a year.
The following year he set out again, and arriving in Toronto, went to his cousin, Samuel Piatt, who kept a brewery where the gas works now stand. In this establishment he learned the brewing and malting business, and at such occupation has he, in the main, been engaged from that day to this. Here he took engagements as brewer and foreman. He was likewise for a time in the establishment of W. Copeland. In 1868 lie joined in partnership with Hugh Thompson and leased the East End Brewery. In 1875, he purchased his partner’s interest in the business, and continued the establishment alone.
He has not accumulated a very large fortune, but Mr. Allen now retired from the business with a very considerable income. He belonged to the volunteers over a quarter of a century ago, and again volunteered in 1866 when the Fenians were crossing over to Ridgeway. He went to Thorold as sergeant of No. 10 Company, Tenth Royals, but the company’s services were not required. Shortly afterwards he retired from the regiment. Mr. Allen is now serving his sixth year as alderman, and is popular and respected, not for much speaking, but for honest, straightforward and well-judged conduct. Mr. Allen has grown up with the city, and thoroughly understands its needs…
In politics Mr. Allen has always, been a consistent Conservative. He has been twice married, first to Miss Margaret Brown, whose family belonged to the county of Grey. They were married in 1857, and she died in 1873. He married again in 1877 his present wife, who was a daughter of the late Edward Beckett, the well-known ironfounder and temperance advocate. Our subject has had twelve children, and ten are living, and two are dead. Mr. Allen, though well advanced in years, devotes his whole time to the interest of the people, and is a staunch supporter of the Episcopal (ie Anglican) church.
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