From the archives of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library:
The Hollingsworth family has been prominent in Sault Ste. Marie for many years. Over the years they have demonstrated great pride in the community and have spent much of their time and money trying to make it better.
The patriarch of the family, Fremlin Edward (Lynn) Hollingsworth became a partner in the lumber company in 1914 and then the sole owner of Soo Mill & Lumber Co. Ltd. in 1921. His interest in the community led him to join the Rotary Club in 1920 and was a founding member of the first Community Night in 1922. He maintained his Rotary Club membership and was honoured by the organization in 1973 at the age of 86 as being the oldest living member of the Rotary Club.
Due to his friendship with James Curran, Fremlin became known as Algoma’s wolf man. He was a leading character in many of Curran’s wolf stories which were written throughout the 1920s and 30s. In one memorable story, Curran related that Fremlin reached into a wolf’s den on Dawson’s Isle, pulled a wolf out by the tail and threw him up into the air. Luckily for the wolf, and unlucky for the hunting party, the wolf escaped!
With his enjoyment of hunting, he served as the president of the Algoma Game and Fish Association for several years. Fremlin was the first president of the Welfare Federation which later became the United Appeal. He was Chairman of the committee responsible for fundraising for an addition to the General Hospital.
Fremlin also served on the Board of Trade which later became the Chamber of Commerce, serving as the President from 1931-1932. He was also a prominent figure in the Victory Bond drives after the Second World War to help development in the area.
After his retirement from Soo Mill, he began a new career in 1952, becoming president of Great Lakes Power at the age of 65. He continued as chairman of the board until 1970. Fremlin Hollingsworth died In April of 1978 at the age of 90.
This sense of community involvement was passed on to his children. His eldest son, F. Simpson Hollingsworth served the community in a number of areas including taking on the role of President of the Kiwanis Club, the Plummer Hospital and the Multiple Sclerosis Society. In addition he also served as Chairman of the Algoma District Health Council.
E. Lynn Hollingsworth joined the Rotary Club in 1949 and like his father served as Rotary Club president. He also was the Director and Finance Chairman of the General Hospital and served on the Board of Trustees for Algoma University College. He was Chairman of St. Andrew’s United Church fundraising campaign.
Ian Hollingsworth was an Alderman on City Council for two years in the early 1960s. He has been a longtime member of the Kiwanis Club. He was also a director of both the Chamber of Commerce and Group Health Centre Board. He spent many years as a member of the 49th Pipe Band.
In 2006, the Hollingsworth Family received the Medal of Merit for their various works in the community, particularly their financial donations to Sault Area Hospital. The family donated $4 million in 2006. For this donation, the family was acknowledged by having the new cancer wing named the “Hollingsworth Family Algoma District Cancer Centre”.
In 2015, Soo Mill celebrated its 100th Anniversary by giving away $100,000 to projects and charities in Sault Ste. Marie and Elliot Lake. Ann Melville was quoted as saying, “We know there are many people working quietly in our community making a difference in the lives of others . . . but they need financial support to continue their good work.”
The next generations of the Hollingsworth family have continued the example set for them by their parents and grandparents by working in the community to make a positive difference. The Hollingsworth family and Soo Mill have helped build this community over the last 100 years not only with their business expertise but also with their charity work. “Service to the Community” is not only their business slogan but seems to also apply to their personal lives too.
Each week, the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library and its Archives provides SooToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.