William Hawker (1840-1937), druggist in Saint John, New Brunswick, was born in Little Barrington near Burford, Oxfordshire, England, the son of Samuel Hawker (b. before 1814) and Mary Anne Townsend (b.ca. 1816). He was taken out of the village school before the age of 10 as he was self-willed and would not study. After several unsuccessful attempts to acquire a trade, William joined the army at age 17. He flourished in the army and was promoted very rapidly. William took a course in medicine, became a hospital sergeant and dispenser and was given charge of hospitals in Ireland and later in Saint John and Fredericton, New Brunswick.
He met his wife, Loveday Thomasine (or Thomasine Loveday) Dale (1845-1921) in Saint John. She had been born in Cornwall, England the daughter of Henry and Alice Day and died in Saint John. They had the following children: Samuel Hawker; Elizabeth (b.1868); Ethel; Mary Alice, (b. 1864); Joseph (b. 1872 or 1873); Mabel; and William C.
Their sons were all involved in the drugstore business. Samuel married Clara A. Mills in 1888 and had his own drugstore in Portland which burned in December 1919. Samuel managed W. Hawher & Sons from 1920 onward. Joseph, fluent in languages, assisted sea captains from abroad in replenishing their medicine chests when they came into W.Hawker & Sons. He had originally enrolled in medicine in Montreal but had to drop out when he became ill with rheumatoid arthritis. Joseph died in his 50s. William C. owned a drugstore in Maine, U.S.A. and divided his time between Maine and Saint John until the late 1920s when he returned permanently to Saint John to work in W. Hawker & Sons. It is believed he married a woman who was born in Maine.
Two years after his marriage, William Hawker retired from the army to take charge of the new hospital under construction in Saint John. The construction was delayed, so William took a clerkship with R.D. McArthur, a druggist who had opened a branch on Prince William Street in 1866 with Hawker in charge . By the time the hospital was completed, Hawker was no longer interested in the job, as he was doing well in the drug business. Instead he purchased the Prince William Street branch. William Hawker was a genius at compounding medicines and invented a croup syrup which was later sold widely by the Canadian Drug Company. He did not take out patents on the products of the Hawker Medicine Company which included: Tolu and Wild Cherry Balsam; Nerve and Stomach Tonic; liver pills; cures for catarrh and piles; and Dr. Mannings German Rheumatic and Neuralgia Cure.
William Hawker was burned out during the Great Fire of Saint John in 1877, losing the business with complete stock as well as the home and personal possessions. He was on his feet again quickly at a new location in Portland but moved the business back to Prince William Street 3 years later where he remained for many years. After he began manufacturing his remedies, William moved the business to larger premises. Adjacent to the drugstore, William Hawker set up an ice cream parlour and soda fountain selling prize-winning ice cream. W. Hawker & Sons was formally incorporated in 1920. William retired from active work in 1926 but remained as president of the company with his sons assuming other executive positions. The incorporation of the company was cancelled in 1955.
William and Samuel were both founding members of the New Brunswick Pharmaceutical Society and William served on Council of the organization for at least two years and as secretary for 1905-06. He and one of his sons, most likely Samuel, were instrumental in getting legislation enacted to standardize education for pharmacy students across Canada and ensure the diploma of pharmacy was acceptable across the country without additional examinations for individual provinces