Thursday, January 14, 2016

Dream 20 "Worts & The Well" (James Worts, 1834)

In the miller’s dream, his wife Elizabeth fell into the well. He was there when it happened. He heard the splash and rushed to save her: took a deep, deeeep breath and dove in. Shocked by the cold of the black water, he swam down and down and down into the murk further and further until he found her there at the distant bottom, sinking into the mud. Already, she was almost gone; only her pale face was still visible above the silt. Her eyes were wide with fear. He dug at the mud with his hands, frantic, but try as he might he couldn’t pull her out of it, could only keep it at bay, and soon his burning lungs forced him back to the surface for another gulp of air.

By the time he dove again, she was gone.


James Worts was born in England and moved to Toronto in the early 1800s to start a mill with his friend William Gooderhman. It would go on to become the famous Gooderham & Worts distillery — which produced the most whisky in the world and is now the historic Distillery District — but Worts didn't live to see it. He committed suicide by drowing himself in the mill's well in 1834 after his wife died giving birth.

Learn more about his true story here. Explore more Toronto Dreams Project postcards here.

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