Jones, Chilion

JONES, Chilion (1835-1912) was best known as a civil engineer and later as a prominent manufacturer in Gananoque, Ont. but his notoriety in architectural circles in Canada is derived from his brief association with Thomas Fuller, first in the firm of Fuller, Messer & Jones from July 1858, and then as Fuller & Jones from 1859 until 1863, who were the architects awarded First Premium in the competition for the Parliament Building in Ottawa in 1859 (built 1860-64; burned 1916). Jones was born in Brockville, Upper Canada on 10 October 1835, and was the sixth son of Chief Justice Jonas Jones (1794-1848). Little information can be found on his early education and training, but by 1857 he was residing in Toronto and had formed a partnership in March of that year with Robert Messer, a civil engineer (Globe [Toronto], 17 March 1857, 1). Thomas Fuller, the talented designer from England, had emigrated to Canada and had taken up residence in Toronto that same year, and it may be presumed that Jones invited Fuller to join the partnership of Messer & Jones, adding a new and important dimension to the range of services offered to commercial and ecclesiastical clients in the Toronto area. While Jones may have contributed engineering and technical advice to the winning design for the Parliament Building submitted in the summer of 1859, the genius behind the 'civil Gothic' scheme is clearly that of Fuller, a fact confirmed by an editorial article printed in the journal Construction which noted that 'Mr. Jones was associated with Mr. Fuller for business purposes in connection with the start of construction (of the Parliament Building) and had nothing to do with the plans' (Const., v, June 1912, 79).
By 1863 Jones had returned to Brockville to work as a tavernkeeper (NAC, MG 29, Henry Sims Papers, B36, entry for 18 Oct. 1863), and later was employed as builder of the Carillon Canal and various harbour works at Toronto. He ' was interested in large manufacturing concerns, and in Montreal was a familiar and respected figure, recognized in business circles as a man of unswerving integrity...' (Montreal Herald, 2 April 1912). His knowledge of engineering was frequently called upon by owners of railway companies in the United States, and he became President of both the Spring & Axle Company, and the D.F. Jones Manufacturing Co. in Gananoque, Ont. after 1890. Jones was 'crippled with gout for upwards of twenty years', and died in Bermuda while recuperating from illness on 1 April 1912. He was buried in the family plot at the Brockville Cemetery (obituary in the Evening Recorder [Brockville], 1 April 1912, 1; Brockville Times, 3 April 1912, 1; Globe [Toronto], 2 April 1912, 7; inf. from Stephen A. Otto, Toronto; Christopher Thomas, Victoria, B.C.)