Sunday, February 13, 2011

The many firsts of George Taylor Fulford

By : Dennis Stein

  Born in Brockville in what was then Upper Canada in 1852, George Fulford became a successful businessman and a politician, serving in the senate representing Brockville for five years until his death in 1905. He registered a business in Leeds in 1887 in patent medicines, and in 1890, was sold the rights to 'Pink Pills for Pale People' for $53.01. It would go on to make him very rich...He marketed it in over 87 countries worldwide, in ads which resembled news headlines, citing testimonials of miraculous recoveries by customers. It was little more than an iron supplement, but Fulford's mass-advertising techniques turned the patent 'medicine' into a gold mine.
  He had married Mary Wilder White of Wisconsin in 1880 and had three children, Dorothy, Martha, and George Taylor II. Fulford attended business college in Belleville, and took over his brother's apothecary in 1874, which he built on to form the patent medicine company. He became a friend in political circles with Sir Wilfred Laurier, who appointed him to the Canadian Senate representing Brockville, after first serving as an alderman of Brockville's town council. His wife Mary was a believer in the occult, and held seances at their residence in Brockville, attracting the interests of William Lyon Mackenzie, who enlisted Mary's help at one point to attempt to contact his deceased mother. George was also the first Canadian fatal automobile accident victim on record, when a streetcar sideswiped the car he was riding in while on a trip to Massachusetts in October 1905. He died at the age of 53. He had given generously to The Rowing Club, Churches, and the Brockville General Hospital, and at the time of his death, was the largest shareholder in General Electric. He was considering buying a company named General Motors...He also had a 138-foot steam-powered yacht named the magedoma, named after his family (MAry, GEorge, DOrothy, MArtha). It was for entertaining, and did so on several occasions to none other than several Canadian Prime Ministers, the Prine of Wales, the Duke of Kent, and the British Prime Minister. It was loaned to the Canadian Navy during WWII for training purposes, but returned in 1947 heavy damaged. It has changed hands several times, but today has been retored to its former beauty.
  The Fulford Mansion was constructed beginning in 1898, George having selected what was originally a 10 acre spot on the edge of the St.Lawrence, just east of Brockville on the King's Highway. It was completed in 1901, having 35 rooms, and encompassing 20,000 square feet. Highlights of the estate included a Grand Hall, a 50-seat dining room, spacious verandah, as well as a Drawing Room for the ladies, and Smoking Room next to a Billard Room for the men. It is widely rumored that Mary Fulford, who was known to be fearful of thunderstorms, still haunts Fulford Place...
  The mansion was bequeathed to the Ontario Heritage Foundation, and has since been restored with its original lavish contents. It was opened to the public in 1993 as a house museum, and remains an important tourist attraction to the area...  

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