Montreal Standard, 6 May 1911, page 27
Late Mr Ogilvy a Loveable Man of Generous and Retiring Disposition
Scottish societies in Montreal lost a warm supporter, and Scottish immigrants a friend, when the death of Mr James A Ogilvy, the founder of the great firm on St Catherine Street, which bears his name, and which will remain a monument to his wonderful business capacity and powers of organisation.
The late Mr Ogilvy seldom came into the limelight of public affairs. He divided his time between his home, his religion and his business, to each of which he was devoted, and the only social organisations which he was connected were the local Scottish societies, the Caledonia and St Andrew’s. he took a keen interest in these societies, but here as in all his good work he tried to avoid publicly as much as possible and though often pressed to accept office he always declined.
“He strove to be useful rather than an ornamental member,” said an officer of the Caledonia Society, this morning.
“He was on our charitable committee,” remarked a prominent member of St Andrew’s Society. And though always generous and ready to help in every way was particularly anxious that anything he did should not be talked about.”
Another gentleman who was with Mr Ogilvy on the board of management of Stanley Street Presbyterian Church, said: “Many people wonder how a small congregation like that of our church could do so much to the mission field. Why we have five missions running in the Northwest and several in China. We were enabled to keep them going through the generosity of a few men, of whom; James Ogilvy was the moving spirit. By his death the last big contributor to our church has passed away. He was ever ready whenever his help was needed and gave with a princely hand. He has given many a generous subscription of which, at his special request, only the church officials ever knew anything.
Started Building Society
Mr Ogilvy was an ardent lover of the home, and was anxious to help others to homes of their own. He was much interested in building societies, and was responsible for starting the People’s Mutual Building Society which proved so successful.
An intimate friend who knew Mr Ogilvy for many years, and had every opportunity of studying his career, when seen by the Standard reporter this morning, paid the following tribute to the deceased gentleman: “If there is one word in which I can sum up James Ogilvy’s life, it is the word ‘straightforward.’ That was his policy in business- always upright, straight and fair. I remember in his early days when he was laying the foundations of the business which has now grown so much, he made a rule never to sell an article which he could not honestly recommend as value for the money asked. And if a dissatisfied customer brought back a purchase, Mr Ogilvy would give the matter his most earnest consideration and try to find on which side lay the error. Then again, he was always generous, but never ostentatious.”
Though Mr Ogilvy did not take part publicly in politics or in municipal matters he was known to have strong views on different topics affecting the interests of the city and the country at large, though he never spoke much about them. Once he made up his mind which candidate was the better, nothing could change him from recording his vote in that man’s favour.
A Link with Barrie
Between the merchant prince, James A Ogilvy, of Montreal and the world famous novelist and dramatist, James A Barrie, one would not expect to find much in common. Yet romance was an element in the career of both, and romance was not the only thing that linked them.
Both were born in the little Scottish town of Kirriemuir, which Barrie has immortalized as “Thrums” and in the veins of both ran the same blood.
Barrie’s mother was Margaret Ogilvy, as those who have read his book of that name will remember, and although the relationship was not a very close one, the late James A Ogilvy was proud of it. He knew Margaret Ogilvy and he knew James M Barrie, and with his great interest in Scottish affairs and Scottish literature. It is not surprising that he should have been in correspondence with Barrie, and that a message of sympathy from the novelist to his overseas relatives is expected, and is probably on the way.
The late Mr Ogilvy did not often speak of his relative, because with his sensitive disposition, he feared to be thought to be vain glorious, but he often spoke of “Thrums” of the charm of his native village, and members of the local Scottish societies have heard him lament Barrie’s abandonment of the “Thrums” novel for the drama.
“Barrie has done one good thing, though, that I was unable to do,” he remarked one day to a Scottish friend. “He has not only made his native town famous, but he has built his home there.”
The statement was challenged by a literary man, who argued that the dramatist’s principal residence was in London.
Let’s look up Who’s Who? Said Mr Ogilvy.
They did, and, sure enough Barrie’s address was given as Kirriemuir.
It’s as good a place