James White owned and saddled Don Juan, the first winner of the Queen’s Plate in 1860, and Touchstone, the winner in 1863, at the Toronto Turf Club’s Carleton Race Course, a track that was located five and a half miles from Union Station. The track covered land in the West Junction, which now occupies the highly developed area of Keele and Dundas Streets. James and his brother, John, a fiery politician who owned numerous tracts of land, farms and sawmills and was the first reeve of Milton in Halton, were the first family to dominate the Queen’s Plate, as well as racing and breeding in Ontario.
Described as “the real pioneers of breeding in the province”, James and his brother John owned, bred and/or trained twelve Queen’s Plate winners. James White was listed as the owner and trainer and co-breeder with his brother John of Don Juan, the five-year-old gelding and maiden who won the inaugural Plate and Queen Victoria’s Fifty Guineas. For the next 25 years the Whites influenced the growth of racing in Ontario. Their flaming scarlet silks appeared for the last time in the Plate’s winners circle in 1886 with the victory of Wild Rose. It was the influence of the mare Yellow Rose and the sire Terror, both inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1996, which were most responsible for the Whites’ success.
Irish born, from Omagh in County Tyrone, the two brothers complemented each other. John was a successful lumber merchant and the owner of the first privately-owned race track in all of Canada -Woodlands. The 320-acre spread on the Bronte Side Road was operated by James. The Whites had a stable of 60 thoroughbreds. While his brother was the flamboyant and an eloquent speaker, James in contrast was reclusive by nature and was an invalid and bed-ridden for the final 20 years of his life. He died at age 90 in 1899 in the family’s farm house adjacent to Woodlands.
Terror, which the Whites bred and owned, dominated the breeding sheds in Ontario, siring four Queen’s Plate winners -Vice Chancellor (1881), Fanny Wiser (1882), Williams (1884) and Victorious (1891), Joseph Seagram’s first Plate winner. In 1876 Terror was a winner at Woodbine and came home from the World Exposition at Philadelphia with a silver medal as the fair’s finest thoroughbred. Yellow Rose, which the Whites imported from Virginia, was the dam of Don Juan and Wild Rose. One of her daughters, Liberty, produced Plate winners Touchstone and Palermo, whose sire Royal George, interestingly enough was a trotter. Between 1860 and 1886, Yellow Rose appeared in the pedigree of eight Plate winners, a feat no mare has come close to equaling since. The last fanfare for the Whites and their son-in-law, David Watson Campbell, came in 1886 as another horse named Wild Rose, a great grand-daughter of Yellow Rose – scampered home the winner.