In 1879, at the age of 19, William Swinton departed England to settle in Orillia where his uncle John Dean had established a boat building business. The next year he obtained employment as a cabinet maker building wooden coffins with the T. B. Mitchell Furniture Co. located on the North West corner of Colborne and West Streets.
William continued working for Mitchell and by 1898 purchased the business that also sold pianos, organs, musical instruments, sewing machines and furniture of every description.
In 1907 William Swinton expanded his business by buying a furniture store from Johnston E. Ogle, located on the west side of West Street two doors down from Mississaga Street. His son Robert had joined the family business and they operated two stores for a while. He also purchased an undertaking business from Thomas Swain in 1909 including a hearse, equipment and goodwill.
T. B. Cramp operated a grocery store on West Street and in 1912 had purchased a large lot on Mississaga Street across from the Library. Cramp persuaded William Swinton to purchase 54 feet of it and they built two stores with an alleyway between them. William had formed a partnership with his son in 1910 and on November 13, 1913 William Swinton & Son Furniture had its grand opening at its new location at 27 Mississaga Street West.
That year he sold the funeral business to H. A. Bingham and it was subsequently taken over by J. A. Mundell. T. B. Cramp operated next door and had an opportunity to sell his building three years later. Cramp then purchased the Brewery building a few doors west on the corner of Andrew Street and moved there.
William Swinton died in 1924 and his son Robert continued to operate the prosperous business until both the building and business were sold to the Adams Furniture Company in 1947.