Edward Biggings - My Great Great Grandfather

Synopsis of Edward Biggings’ life. Written by his Granddaughter, Irene Hockridge Biggings. Irene is the daughter of Edward & Eliza’s son, John Cornelius Biggings.

Special Thanks to Donalma Shoust for sharing so many articles, photos, letterhead, etc., collected through the years 💕

“1830 – November 4, Born in a city (maybe Truro) Cornwall, England. The last of his line having had seven uncles killed in the French wars. 

1854 – Left England, arrived in Montreal. Left there after a short stay, for Oshawa, Toronto and Bowmanville. 

1859 – April 27th. Married Elizabeth (Eliza) Ann Hockridge of Plymouth, Devon, England, in Oshawa.

This Marriage certificate says that he was born in Ireland...

This 1861 Census says Edward was born in Ireland. Documentation afterwards states he was born in England.

Edward is 28, Eliza is 20 & Robert William was born Feb 27, 1860 – 1 Years old 

April 27, 1861 – John Cornelius was born in Bowmanville

1862 – Edward, Eliza, Robert & John move to Bruce Mines.

1866 – Served as Clerk of the Court for Judge (Col.) Prince in Bruce Mines. This same year his name appears in the Processor’s Book as having served a summons Oct 31, 1866 in Sault Ste Marie. Also another entry Aug 19, 1867. 

Edward Biggings Medal

While in Bruce Mines, they had 5 children ~ Aug 27, 1862 – Catherine (Charlotte Lottie), Nov 8, 1863 – Emily, Aug 7, 1865 – Samuel Edward, Mar 24, 1867 – William Edward and Feb 18, 1869 – Julius Charles. 

1869 – Moved his family from Bruce Mines to Sault Ste Marie — Occupied the residential quarters of the new 1866 gaol. He served as “Gaioler” “Governor of the Gaol”. He held this position until 1884.

Sault Ste Marie Jail & Courthouse

1871 Census shows that Robert Hartley was the Turnkey and also occupied the Residences at the Sault Ste Marie Jail & Courthouse. (This building was replaced with the Courthouse that stands today.)

1870 – Superintendent of the Methodist Sunday School.

1871- Member of the first school Board; was sometimes chairman and quite often Secretary Treasurer. He remains on this board until at least 1884. In 1887 Mr. Falkner was Treasurer.

1872 – Dec 24, was presented with a large pulpit and family bible by the Sunday School. All through the following years he acted as a lay preacher in Sault Ste Marie and the surrounding townships.

1875 – Friday Jan 8 (possibly Jan 1) presented his newspaper the “Algoma Pioneer and General District Advertiser” to the public. There is a copy No. 2 Vol. 1 in the Centennial Library and we assume the January 1st copy No. 1 Vol. 1 was given away as an advertisement. This was the usual procedure in the newspaper world. 

Algoma Pioneer Edward Biggings

(1885 – Edward Biggings and William H Plummer were founders of the Masonic Lodge in Sault Ste Marie)

"The Pride of the District " A letter written on the Algoma Pioneer Letterhead. Written by Edward Biggings (Editor and Proprietor), on April 22, 1891, addressed to Sir John MacDonald, the Premier of Canada.

Algoma Pioneer Letterhead

April 21, 1876 – Birth of son, Frank Adams, shows Edward’s occupation as “Gaioler” 

1877 – Built a larger home for the family on the north east corner of Biggings Ave. and Queen St. He still held the office of Governor of the Gaol and Clerk of the Court of Division. 

Edward and Eliza’s house (photo from a negative) on the corner of Front Street (Queen Street) and Bigging’s Lane. It faced the river. The foundation was ruined in 1900 when Edward tried to upgrade the plumbing. (It was demoed years later.)

Edward Biggings House

1885 – Edward had given up the office of Governor of the Gaol and was established in a large real estate business in preparation for the boom that would come with the building of the Canadian pacific Railway and its great international Bridge and its completion in 1887.

1888 – Jan 1, 1888 to Dec 31- 1889 he was Mayor of Sault Ste Marie, Ontario.

1889 – As Mayor he turned the first sod for the Water Power Plant. This was needed especially in preparation for the building of the Sault Ste Marie Ship Canal.

Edward Biggings Turning Sod

Photo titled “Laying the Last Stone” 1893 (We believe Edward is 4th from the right)

The Last Stone for Soo Locks

1895 – Saw the completion of these great projects.

1897 – Again Mayor from Jan 1, 1897 to Dec. 31st 1898.

1898 – Was instrumental and very persistent in the founding of the General Hospital, the corner stone of which he laid.

1898 - Mayor Edward Biggings laid the first cornerstone for the General Hospital

Sault ste Marie General Hospital

1900 – The death of his youngest son Albert (age 18), the tragedy of Philip’s drowning (age 21), and in 1901, the sale of the newspaper and the home, the renovation of 118 Biggings Ave., intended to be their new home, all took their toll of his fading strength and on

1903 – July 11th he passed away aged 72 years and 8 months.

A public funeral service was held in the new Methodist Church on the corner of Spring & Albert. 

During his life in Sault Ste Marie, 1867 to 1903, he saw many great changes. Just across the St. Mary’s River, in Sault Ste Marie Michigan; the building of the Weitzel Lock 1881 and the demolition of the old 1855 Harvey Lock replaced by the Poe Lock 1896.

He saw the shipping industry develop from side-wheelers and sailing-ships to propellor driven, luxurious passenger boats and iron ore-carriers. It was a marvellous and interesting time. 

Further away from home, there was the Diamond Jubilee of queen Victoria and its emphasis on the might and influence of the Great British Empire.

Family Birth & Death dates

Edward Russell Biggings  – Born in either England or Ireland on November 4, 1830. Died on July 11, 1903, In Sault Ste Marie

Eliza Ann Hockridge – Born in Kilkhampton, England on Oct 11, 1840. Died on June 22, 1928 in Tacoma, Washington

Married in Oshawa, on April 27, 1859

Robert William Biggings – Born in Bowmanville, on February 27, 1860. Died on Jan 22, 1935 in Ramsey County, Minnesota

My Great Grandfather – John Cornelius Biggings – Born in Bowmanville on April 27, 1861. Died on April 29, 1937 in Sault Ste Marie

Charlotte Biggings – Born in Bruce Mines on Aug 27, 1862. Died on Aug 5, 1935 in Tacoma, Washington. 

Emily Biggings – Born in Bruce Mines on Nov 8, 1863. Died on Apr21, 1879 in Sault Ste Marie.

Samuel Biggings – Born in Bruce Mines on Aug 7, 1865. Died Nov 20, 1951 in Sault Ste Marie.

William Edward Biggings – Born in Bruce Mines on Mar 24, 1867. Died on Dec 31, 1909 in Medford, Oregon.

Julius Charles Biggings – Born in Bruce Mines on Feb 18, 1869. Died Sept 29, 1941 in Sault Ste Marie.

Mark Henry Biggings – Born in Sault Ste Marie, on Apr 21, 1871. Died Oct 14, 1930 in Tacoma, Washington.

Jane Elcoat (Daisy) Biggings – Born in Sault Ste Marie on July 27, 1873. Died Jan 23, 1949 in Tacoma, Washington.

Frank Adams Biggings – Born in Sault Ste Marie on Apr 21, 1875. Died August 4, 1876 in Sault Ste Marie.

James Biggings – Born in Sault Ste Marie on Apr 9, 1877. Died Sept 9, 1883 in Sault Ste Marie.

Philip Hockridge Biggings – Born in Sault Ste Marie on Feb 1, 1880. Died July 15, 1901, in Sault Ste Marie.

Albert Thomas Biggings – Born in Sault Ste Marie on Apr 18, 1882. Died May 20, 1900 in Sault Ste Marie.

Some info on Edward & Eliza's Children -

My Great Grandparents, John Cornelius Biggings & his wife, Bessie Todd lived on 50 Wellington Street West, SSM. They had 3 Children – My Grandmother Meta, Irene & Cornelius.

Julius Biggings & his wife, Minnie Delayer lived at 137 Biggings Ave. They had 4 Children – Alma, Russell, Verne & Edna.

Samuel Biggings lived at 66 Wemyss Street with wife, Lillian Gibson & thier Children, Emily, Eva, Hilda & Edward.

Irene rented an apartment there, and mailed something to herself from Oriek California in 1949.

Philip Hockridge Biggings Drowns on July 15, 1901 

Their Granddaughter, Irene Biggings takes a 9,000 Mile Trip with 120 Ontarian School Teachers in 1949