Ernest Thompson Seton was born on August 14, 1860, in South Shields, England, the eighth of the ten sons of Alice Snowdon Thompson and Joseph Logan Thompson. At the age of 21 he took the surname Seton in the belief that his father was the true heir to the lands and titles of Lord Seton, Earl of Winton. After an appeal from his mother in 1887, he resumed the Thompson surname and began using the nom de plume Ernest Seton-Thompson on his published works; in 1901 he changed his name legally to Ernest Thompson Seton. These changes have caused confusion in identifying his earlier work. Joseph Thompson owned a small fleet of merchant sailing ships, but when forced out of business by competition from steam-powered ships in 1866, he emigrated to Canada with his family to become a farmer. The Thompsons, however, were unsuccessful as farmers, and after four years they moved to Toronto; here Seton discovered the wildlife of Toronto Island and the Don River valley.