Charles Jenkins was born in 1840 near the village of Bannockburn, Scotland where, by every indication, he received a classical education before immigrating to Canada in 1869.
According to the writings of J.H. Fairbank, Jenkins arrived in Petrolia in the spring of that same year and shortly thereafter engaged in the business of crude oil production.
Jenkins obviously met with considerable success in a short time, his industry enabling him to build a beautiful five-bedroom brick home in Petrolia’s exclusive Crescent Park, which today is an historically designated home.
Fairbank also noted that some years later Jenkins, in partnership with prominent Petrolia oil man John D. Noble, founded, built and operated the Petrolia Crude Oil and Tanking Company, of which he remained general manager until the time of his death.
A contemporary Canadian publication titled “Who’s Who and Why,” also makes reference to Jenkins as the manager of the Ontario Land and Oil Company as well as a director of the Northern Life Assurance Company.
On November 13, 1872 in Peterbourough, he married Annie, Elizabeth Kirkpatrick (deceased 1895), daughter of Stafford and Henrietta Kirkpatrick of that town. This union produced one daughter: Jean Helen, born in 1975 who married Arthur Loftus, a bank clerk, of Port Hope, Ontario in 1895.
Charles Jenkins had a long history of public service. In politics he was a Liberal and was a long-time member of the Ontario Liberal Association. He served on Petrolia council for eight years, was a member of the local public school board for two years, and a member of the high school board for 12 years.
In the Dominion election of 1904 he unsuccessfully contested the electoral riding of Lambton East and his name was subsequently mentioned in connection with a Canadian senate seat.
In religion, Jenkins was a devout member of the Church of England and was a zealous worker on behalf of the church. According to his obituary, he was a delegate to both the general and provincial synods of the Anglican Church; a mission of the mission board; in 1906 became a member of the general committee for a revised hymnal for the Church of England in Canada; and in 1910, was a member of the national committee Anglican laymen’s missionary movement.
Jenkins died in Petrolia ----- and is interred at HillsdaleCemetery. The Petrolia Topic described his funeral as a “simple but impressive ceremony” attended by residents from all parts of Western, Ontario as well as Petrolia and Sarnia.
Service were conducted at his home in CresentPark under the auspices of ChristChurch, Petrolia. It is interesting to note that the opening hymn and blessings were conducted by Cannon Davis of Sarnia, who would later have a well-known Sarnia church named in his honour.
The eulogy was delivered by His Lordship Bishop Williams who, as described by the Petrolia Topic, paid a wonderful tribute to Jenkin’s untiring efforts on behalf of the Anglican Church.“It is given to few people to accomplish such work for the Church of England,” said the bishop, adding that Charles Jenkins was a man of exquisite literary taste which he combined with a musical talent.
A list of mourners at Jenkin's funeral reads like a "who's, who" of Petrolia's political and business elite of the day.
Honorary pallbearers were John Walker, John Fraser, W.G. Fraser, James Peat, W.M. Lowery, and F.F. Pardee, M.P. Active pallbearers were Dr. C.O. Fairbank, Charles Egan, G.M. Carey, A.M. McQueen, Hugh Simpson and George Bennet.
Jenkins was said to be a man of great intellect and a veracious reader of the philosophies of both the modern and ancient worlds. His mastery of the works of Shakespeare was said to have been unrivalled.