Crooker’s legacy

Frederick William Crooker was born in Waterdown on December 28, 1862, the only son of William Harris Crooker and Sarah Jane Rymal. He was educated at the Waterdown Public and High School on Main Street South and, during his youth, he regularly attended the Wesleyan Methodist Sunday School on Mill Street North, where in later years he became a teacher and superintendent.

After completing his schooling, Frederick Crooker probably went to work for his father, who had been in business in Waterdown since 1857 and was listed as the village druggist on the 1871 Census Returns for East Flamborough Township. In 1894, following his marriage to Alice Elizabeth Davis of Burlington, Crooker and his wife went to live in a large brick house on Dundas – almost certainly built for them by Waterdown builder, John Reid.

Soon after his marriage, probably about 1896, F. W. Crooker established his own business in the village. He built and operated a general store in Waterdown for over 30 years, dealing in dry goods, groceries and hardware. Located on the northeast corner of Main and Dundas Streets, the building also contained the village library and post office, where Crooker served as postmaster until his retirement in 1922. Known as the Crooker Block, it was an extraordinary structure for the size of the village and because of its imposing size and grandeur was considered the finest mercantile building in Waterdown, rivalling the commercial buildings on King Street in Dundas.

The building survived the 1906 village fire, but was destroyed less than a decade later, on May 25, 1915 when another major fire broke out at the corner, destroying almost the entire building, including the village library located on the upper level. Crooker rebuilt the corner and continued to operate his general store for a short period. However, after a third village fire in 1922, he retired from business and entered politics.

In 1924 he ran in the local municipal elections. On January 10, 1924, The Hamilton Spectator recorded the result of the election reporting that F. W. Crooker had been elected Reeve of Waterdown, having polled 60 more votes than his opponent. He only served one term as reeve, but he appears to have been a popular politician as he was described as “always a capable leader.” He proved himself a man of foresight, as largely through his efforts, the waterworks system was installed in the village – possibly after seeing his business destroyed in three village fires, he believed it was time Waterdown had an efficient water system in place for such catastrophes.

Sylvia Wray is the former archivist with the Flamborough Archives. She can be reached through the Archives at

This article was originally published in the Flamborough Review, 14 March 2008.


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