I love old books, I love books really, but old books are a fascination.  So when I stumbled upon this book – National Reference book on Canadian Personalities with other General Information for Library, Newspaper, Educational and Individual Use, eighth edition, 1947-1948 – I had to buy it.  Going through its pages I was hooked.  These are biographies of the not so famous – but probably not badly off Canadians of the period.  I have no idea what was the criteria used to include or exclude people.

Anyway going through the pages I realised that some of these people, mostly men, might have been members of the St Andrew’s Society of Montreal.  Thing was, in the biographies, only one person mentions he was a member…. So I went through the first part of the book to see who was a member, and what they said of themselves.

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So who said he was a member of the St Andrew’s Society?  Capt Thomas Morgan Forrest was the managing director of the Consolidated Oka Sand and Gravel Co, and was born in Perth, Scotland, and moved to Canada in 1907.  His biography states:  “Clubs: Canadian Societies: AF and AM (Westmount Lodge, Life member [Mason]) St Andrew’s (Montreal).  Protestant,  Residence:3777 Cote des Neiges Road, Montreal PQ.”

But what about the other members?  Why don’t they mention that they are members of the St Andrew’s Societies?  I cannot answer the why, but they will mention other clubs…

  • JA Fuller, VP and Director of the Shawinigan Water & Power Co : University Club, Royal Montreal Golf Club, Montreal Badminton and Squash Club, Laurentian Golf Club in Ste Agathe, and the Royal Canadian Golf Association.
  • DeGaspe Beaubien, Consulting Engineer at DeGaspe Beaubien and Company: Canadian Club of Montreal, Cercle Universitaire, Rotary Club of Montreal, Royal Automobile Association of Canada, Laval-sur-Lac Golf club, Engineering Institute of Canada, Association of Consulting Engineers, Corporation of Professional Engineers of Quebec.
  • John Pearson Copland, Real Estate Broker: MAAA, Royal Montreal Curling Club, Canadian Club of Montreal, Royal Automobile Club.
  • George Eric McCuaig, Stock Broker: Welfare Federation, Montreal, Canadian Club of Montreal, Canadian Red Cross.
  • James Muir, General Manager and Director of the Royal Bank of Canada: St James, Mount Bruno Golf Club, and the Mattawin Fishing Seignory.
  • Alexander Ferguson, Port Manager – Montreal Harbour: Royal St Lawrence Yacht Club.

Other observations:

  • A lot of the men in the book seem to volunteer with the Boy Scouts – a lot
  • Military service is important –either that of the subject of the biography, or if they had children serving in the military in the First or Second World Wars
  • There are only a few women mentioned in the book, and their biographies are different, as they are usually framed in relation to a male relative, either a father or husband. Their achievements regardless of how amazing, or how self-made they were, are discussed in relation to their role as women in the lives of others – long live the patriarchy!
  • Few of those featured are politicians
  • There is a strong representation of French Canadians in the book, including those who live outside of Quebec [I have no idea where this book was published – the information is not included in the publishing information]
  • Everyone’s faith is listed – although most Protestants are listed as Protestant, Catholics are distinguished between Orthodox and Roman Catholic.

The book is fascinating stuff –and all this reflection is just a beginning!

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