Captain David Sylvester
Search the ports of the Great Lakes from Fort William to the seaboard, and no truer gentleman than Captain Sylvester, of Toronto, can be found. He is as honest as the daylight, and as kind-hearted as the famous good Samaritan. Scores of people claim him as a friend, and they are never disappointed in the goodness of his nature. He is a younger brother and partner of Capt. Solomon Sylvester. The two eldest children in the family are girls, followed by Solomon, David and another brother. Their father was Samuel Sylvester, a farmer, whose place was within nine miles of Toronto, and who died while his children were comparatively young.
David Sylvester was born in Scarborough, York county, in June 1839, the most delightful month in the year, which perhaps accounts for his genial disposition. His education was acquired in the public schools, and at an early age he began sailing. The first vessel on which he shipped was the schooner Clarissa, owned and sailed by his uncle, Capt. Archibald Taylor. This was in 1848, so that he was barely nine years of age at the time. His novice trip was made from the mouth of the Humber river to Oswego, N.Y., where the Clarissa was bound with a load of flour. After three seasons with his uncle, young David went on to the schooner Belvidere, belonging to Sherwood, as cook, which place he filled for two months, then returned to his uncle's vessel. His following season was spent on the schooner Hope, of Hamilton, succeeding which he was for four seasons on the schooner Atlantic. Afterward he went on the schooner Maid of the West, under Captain Brothers, and on leaving her joined the schooner Shickluna, under Captain O'Brien, and later shipped on the schooner Jolly Farmer. Having made several trips on the Jolly Farmer, Captain Sylvester was promoted and given charge of her in 1855. During 1856 he sailed her for part of the season, but left her because the owner's manager interfered with his mate. For some time he acted as mate in the schooner Eliza Wilson, under Captain Gordon part of the time, and with Captain Goodfellow subsequently.
Now came the time when Captain Sylvester was to strike out for himself. In 1857 he and his brother Solomon bought the schooner Atlantic, which they sailed as captain and mate until 1860. That year they bought the schooner Sweet Home, and our subject became captain of the Atlantic, while Solomon took charge of the Sweet Home. In 1865 they disposed of the schooner Atlantic, and bought the schooner Eureka, which Capt. David Sylvester sailed.
Throughout all his trips about that time he was strongly attracted toward Cleveland, Ohio, which finally culminated in the winter of 1866, when he married Miss Robertson, of that city. His wife died, however, in the winter of 1867, and an infant daughter soon followed her mother. This blow so distracted the Captain that he ceased sailing, and eventually went into the commission and brokerage business with his brother and his cousin, Mr. Hickman, on Front street. In 1869 they leased the Church street wharf and elevator, and carried on the vessel owning, wharfinger and grain storage trade, which they still pursue. Their schooner J.G. Worts was cast away near Georgian Bay in 1895, and they lost their propeller L. Shickluna in the spring of 1897. They now own the steamer Eurydice and the schooner St. Louis.
In 1871 Captain Sylvester was married a second time, his wife's maiden name being Miss Forbes. She is a daughter of Mr. Alex Forbes, of Aberdeen, Scotland. Everyone who knows Mrs. Sylvester finds her to be a comely, intelligent and fond wife, and she is the mother of four sons, and a finer quartette [sic] of young men cannot be found in the country. They are Henry S.P., of Winnipeg; and David Forbes, Samuel A. and William J., all of Toronto.
Politically, Captain Sylvester is a Liberal, and religiously is a Presbyterian, and attends old St. Andrews' church, on the corner of Jarvis and Carlton streets, Toronto. He is well liked by his minister and all the members of his church, but no one values him more than do his friends in business. In social organizations he is known as a member of the Order of Sons of Temperance, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and the Ancient Order of United Workmen.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.