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Random Historical, Social and Cultural Moments

A Giant Machine, Outremont, 1910

Le Devoir, 28 Jan 1910 page 2

Une machine geante

MM Laurin et Leitch on mis en operation depuis quelque temps le plus puissant concasseur du monde.  On soit que cette compagnie d’entrepreneurs a sous contrat la construction d’un immense reservoir de 300 pieds de long et de 400 pieds de large que la Montreal Water and Power Co fait creuser aux flancs de la Montagne du cote d’Outremont.

L’une des difficultes de l’entreprise consistait a se debarrasser le plus promptement et le plus economiquement possible de l’accumulation des quartiers de roc detaches de la montagne, et les entrepreneurs comanderent ce concasser ni resoudra la difficulte de la facon la plus satisfaisante.  Cette puissante machine coute $200,000.


Lost or Failing Manhood, 1893

Glengarrian, 11 August 1893

Lost or Failing Manhood

General and Nervous Debility


Weakness of body and mind, effects of errors or excesses in old or young.  Robust noble manhood fully restored.  How to enlarge and strengthen weak, underdeveloped organs and parts of body.  Absolutely failing home treatment – benefits in a day.  Men testify from 50 states and foreign countries.  Write them.  Descriptive book, explanation and proofs mailed (scaled) free.

Erie Medical Co, Buffalo, NY

Newall Auction, 1817

Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser, 2 Aug 1817, page 4

Sales by Auction

At Archibald Newall’s office, Virginia Street, Glasgow

On Wednesday the 6th instant at ten

The following goods, viz

736 boxes white, and 524 ditto Brown and yellow, Havannah sugars, now landing.

Also three puncheons West India Shrub

For particulars apply to Arch Newall, broker

[Note – Archibald Newall was the brother of Dumfries architect Walter Newall.  West India Shrub is the source for the Indigo dye.]

Ashes of Highland Mary moved to a new Grave, 1920

The Globe, 15 Nov 1920 page 1


Ashes of Highland Mary moved to a new grave

Old burial ground at Greenock Taken in by Industrial Expansion – Burns Societies at Ceremony

Greenock, Scotland, Nov 14 – The ashes of Burns’ Highland Mary were reinterred in Greenock cemetery yesterday. Mary Campbell, the Highland girl whom the poet loved, was buried in Greenock old West Kirk burying ground, but the old church is being removed, and the burying ground taken in as part of large extensions which the well-known firm of Harland & Wolff are making their shipyard on the lower reaches of the Clyde.

Accordingly the remains of Burns’ sweetheart were reverently exhumed and yesterday in the presence of a large assembly, which included representatives from Burns’ clubs throughout Scotland, the reburial took place.  The coffin was carried to the grave on the shoulders of members of Burns’ clubs, and impressive service was conducted.

The love of Burns for Highland Mary was the deepest emotion in the poet’s life.  She inspired his sweetest and saddest song, “To Mary in Heaven.” Mary Campbell was born at Campbelton in Argyllshire.  Burns met her when she was a dairymaid in the service of Colonel Montgomery of Colisfield, Ayrshire.  They fell deeply in love with each other and became engaged to be married.  It was arranged that Mary should return to her home to prepare for the union, but before parting they met on the banks of the Ayr and solemnly plighted their troth.  Standing on either side of the little stream and holding Bible between them, they exchange vows of eternal fidelity.  Mary presented the poet with her Bible and he gave his in exchange.

The lovers never met again.  Mary after spending some time at home paid a visit to her uncle, Peter Macpherson, ship carpenter in Greenock.  There, while nursing her brother, she contracted a fever and died in October 1786.  Admirers of the poet erected a monument over her grave in the old burying ground in 1843 and this monument has also been removed to the new grave in Greenock cemetery.

Burns Ceremony at Allen Gardens, Toronto, 1929

Globe 23 Jul 1929 page 13


Burns’ praises are sung and monument decorated: More widely known and read than any other poet, declares literary society president – anniversary of death marked.

The immortal genius of Robert Burns was again demonstrated yesterday when, more than a century after his death and thousands of miles away from his native Ayrshire, the songs and poems of this plowman poet enkindled the hearts and imagination of some 500 people gathered in Allen Gardens.

There is a saying that a man cannot be called famous until he has been dead 100 years, said Gordon C Campbell, President of the Burns Literary Society, in addressing the gathering. “Robert Burns has been dead 133 years.  He has stood the test of time and today he is more widely known and read than any other poet.”

The occasion of the gathering was the annual decoration of the monument to Robert Burns in Allen Gardens by officials of the Burns Literary Society, which ceremony for years has recalled the anniversary of the death of the poet in 1796.  The wreath was placed upon the monument yesterday by Mr Cameron in the presence of a large group, including members of the society and visitors.

After placing the wreath the gathering went to the shade of one of the large, leafy trees.  Here, in surroundings that Burns himself might have sung, with nature in her fullest raiment, the great poet was remembered in songs, poems and speeches.

The addresses were varied by musical selections, George Neale singing the “Star of Rabbie Burns,” Jessie Davidson “Coming through the rye,” and two artists giving a duet, “Ye banks and braes.”

Duncan MacNeill, a Past President, introduced John McLaverty, whose talk on Burns mainly centred on his poem, “the twa dogs.” By introducing the two dogs into poetry, said Mr McLaverty, Burns had broken the rules of literature, but he had left the dogs real dogs, expressing at the same time the heart of the poet.  He had tried, through this poem, to bring before the reader’s mind that, although there were rich and poor, the time was coming when man to man the world o’er would brothers be.  Burns, he said, wanted to tell of the sorrows and joys of his own people. “He sings the sentiments of himself and his compeers in his and their native language.”

Phineas McIntosh, in the following address, also emphasized the human note so strong in the poet’s life and works: “Like a golden thread running through the warp and woof of his works is the ideal of the brotherhood of man,” said Mr McIntosh.  He referred to the kindly helpfulness and sympathy, one for another, depicted by Burns in the Cottar’s Saturday night.  It sometimes irked to see the very opposite side of this disposition shown in certain phase of Canada’s life, as, for instance, the snobbish distinction of men according to their occupations.  The differences of position, race, religion in this country made the more imperative the example of those worthy folk at the cottar’s fireside, “and each other for the other kindly speir.”

Villa Maria Commencement Ceremony, 1871

Journal of Education – July-August 1871 p127


Villa Maria, Montreal

The school and college commencements are unusually quiet this year all through the diocese of Montreal, as the Bishop addressed a circular to each of them several weeks ago, recommending that, on account of the great affliction of the church, and her supreme pontiff, no public display should be made; furthermore, that the pupils of the different institutions should sacrifice their premiums in order that the sum that would have been expended on them should be sent to the Holy Father.  This has been done accordingly, but in Villa Maria, the pupils having given their premiums last year for the sufferers by the Saguenay fires, were not permitted to sacrifice them a second time. They, therefore, received their premiums as usual, although the distribution was strictly private.

On the eve of the distribution however, the young ladies entertained their friends with the operetta of `La Dame Blanche,` in that style of grace and high finish for which Villa Maria is justly famous. The scene being laid in the Highlands of Scotland, the young artistes were all attired in Scottish costume, the historical tartan of some ancient clan.

Hon Peter McGill, Obituary, 1860


Globe, 2 Oct 1860 page 3

Death of the Hon Peter McGill

Death has been busy of late among the leading men of Montreal. Within a few months the Hon John Molson and Sir George Simpson have been borne to their last resting place, and to-day we have to perform the mournful duty of announcing the decease of the Hon Peter McGill.  Few men have been longer in business in Montreal, few have occupied a more prominent position among her public men, and  none, we venture to say, have been more beloved. Mr McGill was born in Galloway – at Newton Stewart we believe, in August 1789, and was consequently in his 72nd year at the time of his decease. He came to this country in the year 1808 and has consequently been a resident here for fifty-two years.  He then bore the name of McCutchon.  He became a clerk in the counting house of Messrs Parker, Gerrard, Ogilvy & Co.  Later he entered business on his own account as member of the firm Porteous, Hancox, McCutchon & Cringan.  In 1819 he became a director of the Bank of Montreal.  In 1824 upon the decease of his uncle, the Hon John McGill, a member of the Legislative Council of Upper Canada, he became heir to his large estates in the Western Province and assumed his name. About the same time he formed a new business connection with Mr Dowie of Liverpool, and with him carried on business for some years as McGill & Dowie, the name of the firm being subsequently changed to Peter McGill & Co.  the disastrous times succeeding 1847, followed by the failure of a friend and business correspondent for a large amount, brought its share of evil to this great house, though its resources were always more than ample to meet all claims.  During the last eight or nine years, however, its business has been limited to an adjustment of old affairs.  In good or bad times alike the credit of the house was unimpeachable.  In 1830 Mr McGill became vice-president of the Bank of Montreal, and in 1834 President, an office which he held for 26 years – until June last.  In 1832 he was called to the Legislative council of Lower Canada, and later, 1838, became an Executive Councillor for United Canada.  In 1843 he was offered the Speakership of that body by Lord Metcalfe.  The Hon Messrs Viger and Quesnel waited upon him at the time and stated his acceptance would be received with favour by the French Canadian members of the Council. The offer was then declined for private reasons, but was accepted in 1847 when offered by Lord Elgin with a seat in the Cabinet, and was held till 1848 when Mr McGill retired with his colleagues of the Conservative government.  In 1836 he was elected President of the Constitutional Society, and continued to serve in that capacity during the years of strife which followed.  During the rebellion, in his capacity of Executive Councillor and magistrate, he was in constant communication with the government respecting the measures to be pursued, and was an active promoter of the subsequent union of the Provinces. In 1840 a new city charter was granted to Montreal, under which the mayor was appointed by the Crown. Mr McGill being urged to accept the office, at first declined, upon which the then Governor General Mr CP Thompson, wrote to him as follows:

Government House, Aug 17, 1840

My Dear Sir – I am very unwilling to press you, after the very handsome manner in which you met my proposal this morning; but if upon reflection you can undertake the duties of Mayor, I should be certainly obliged to you, as I think it would give the Corporation a start which would ensure its success.

Believe me,

Very Truly Yours,


He finally accepted the office, and served in it till December 1842, when the office was made elective by council. During his term of office many great improvements were made in the city, and on his retirement the following resolution was passed:-

“On the motion of Alderman Bleury, seconded by Councillor Bourret, it was unanimously resolved,-

“That, whereas the present council will from and after tomorrow, cease to exist, the present is a fitting moment to convey to His Worship the Mayor, the Hon Peter McGill, the most sincere and unanimous thanks of the members of this Council, for the very gentlemanly and courteous manner in which he has at all times conducted and performed the high and important duties connected with his office as Mayor of this city; and it is with deep regret they have learned that he is determined not to be put in nomination at the ensuing municipal election, to sit again at this board, where his acknowledged ability and services have been so pre-eminently useful, and that the loss of such invaluable services cannot fail to be felt by the citizens generally.

In 1834 he was elected Chairman of the St Lawrence and Champlain Railway Company, and served in that capacity until the completion of the road between Laprairie and St John’s, in 1838.

In 1835 the Montreal St Andrew’s Society was formed and Mr McGill elected its first President, and annually re-elected till 1842 when he declined re-election.  The Society passed him a vote of thanks for services and regret that he declined to continue to serve.  He was, however, re-elected by acclamation in 1845, again declining re-election in 1846.  Mr McGill was a warmly attached member of the Scottish National Church and had been president of the Lay Association of Montreal, annually re-elected since 1845.

He was elected President of the Montreal Auxillary Bible Society in 1834, and served as such till 1844, when, declining re-election, a vote of thanks, and regrets was passed by the Society and he was made the first Honorary Life Governor.

He was for 16 years a Governor of the University of McGill College, Montreal, and was also a trustee of the University of Queen’s College, Kingston.  He had been for many years a Governor of the Montreal General Hospital; and was a President of the British and Canadian School Society of Montreal. He was a director of the Grand Trunk Railway Company, and Chairman of the Canada Branch of the Colonial Life Assurance Company.  He served for one year, 1848, as President of the Montreal Board of Trade, declining re-election in 1849.

Mr McGill was for many years a zealous Free Mason, and in 1846 was appointed, by the Earl of Zetland, Grand Master of England, Provincial Grand Master for Montreal, and William Henry, and in 1847 Provincial Grand Superintendent of Royal Arch Masonry in the Province of Canada. He resigned the former appointment in February 1850, in consequence of impaired health that he brethren manifesting on the occasion much fraternal regard and regret.

For several years past Mr McGill had been suffering from diseased action and enlargement of the heart. Within the last three years the disease had so impaired his strength as to unfit him for active business. In June last he finally retired from the position he had so long and ably filled in the bank.  A few days ago it became evident that the end of his sufferings was approaching. On Thursday evening the Rev Mr Snodgrass was within him offering the consolation of religion.  He was in full possession of his faculties up to the last, and at about one o’clock yesterday am he passed peacefully resignedly and hopefully away to his final rest.

The brief record we have given above will tell readers who were strangers to him how much of the esteem and confidence of his fellow-citizens and of the government of the country he possessed, but it cannot tell them what all who enjoyed his acquaintance knew – how kindhearted and benevolent he was.  No one ever solicited his aid to a good cause and went away rebuffed.  One who knew him long and well used to say of his – his only fault is that he cannot say no to those people.  An evening contemporary (the Witness) truly says of him:-

“Of unsullied honour and integrity in all his transactions, Mr McGill was one of those merchants of whom it is emphatically said, their word is as good as their bond.  And his expenditures and subscriptions on all occasions were characteristic of a Merchant Prince.  Mr McGill always cherished a deep respect for sacred things, and at a time when working on the Lord’s day was common in almost every counting house in Montreal, he would not give in to pernicious custom, but took his place in the little Presbyterian church, of which he was a member, and we believe, an elder.”

There are none in Montreal who would not at any time have rejoiced at any accession of good fortune to Mr McGill – none who will not hear of his death today with deep regret.  He was bound up with the interests of the city by almost innumerable ties.  His active business life here covered more than half the period which has elapsed since Canada became a British colony.  In his death one of the few remaining golden links that bound us to the business and public men of the last generation is broken.  It is for us to mourn; but for himself we have good cause to hope, that the many earthly honours he won here during a life prolonged beyond the Psalmist’s allotted “three score years and ten”, have been exchanged for a greater reward which will not pass away.  The only relatives he leaves behind him in Canada are his brother James McCutchon Esq of Toronto and two sons, both officers in the Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment, the elder of whom served with credit in the 60th Rifles at the siege and capture of Delhi.  Fortunately stationed in this city, they have both been enabled to be near him and do all that filial love could prompt .to bring comfort and peace to the months of suffering which preceded his death.

Scot Clan Changed Long Ago, Montreal, 1962

Globe and Mail, 6 October 1962, page 22

Scot Clan Changed Long ago


Montreal – Oct 5 – A MacGruder by any other name may be a member of the Clan MacGregor but he has to prove it if he wants to belong to the American Clan MacGregor Society, said Lady MacGregor of MacGregor, who visited here briefly enroute to a dinner of the society, Oct 19 in Richmond Virginia.

Since her husband’s death three years ago, Lady MacGregor has lived at Craggan House, Lochearnhead, Perthshire, near the family home, Edinchip, which now belongs to her son Sir Gregor MacGregor, head of the clan.

Lady MacGregor is the only woman member of the amenity committee of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board.  She is the only woman member of the Royal Fine Art Commission.

The dinner at Richmond will be attended by MacGruders as well as MacGregors.

“Some 300 years ago, by act of parliament, the Clan MacGregor was deprived of its name.” Lady MacGregor said.  “Many of the MacGregors changed their name to MacGruder.  But they have to prove they were originally MacGregors before they can join the society.”

Caledonian Association Meeting, Toronto, 1897

Globe, 13 Aug 1897, page 8

Caledonian Association

Annual Convention Held in Toronto Yesterday

No changes in the rules for Caledonian Games – other societies to be recognized – hospitality received


The North American United Caledonian Association went into annual session at the Walker House at 10 o’clock yesterday morning. President James Wright of Montreal was chairman and there were delegates from several American and Canadian cities.  This association was founded in 1871 in New York City, people interested in Caledonian games coming from all parts of the continent in order to provide a uniform set of rules to govern the conduct of the games.  The association is not now so strong as it was a few years ago, several local societies deeming continued membership unnecessary now that a standard for the games has been set.  The Toronto society was one of the last to withdraw, and at yesterday’s meeting general regret was expressed at their decision.  The delegates present were decidedly opposed to the disbanding of the association, on the ground that it would not be long before it would have to be reorganized to again overhaul and unify the rules of the games.  A movement has been begun to increase the membership of the association in the hope of rendering it more effectual.  At present only Caledonian societies are represented, each society sending one delegate for every fifty members. It is now proposed to extend membership privileges to the Sons of Scotland, Scottish clans and other societies holding Scottish games. Messrs DM Robertson and Daniel Rose of Toronto, Dr Ross of New York and W Gardner of Chicago were appointed a committee to deal with the matter and report to the next convention.

Officers for the coming year were elected as follows:- James Wright, Montreal re-elected President; AG Andrews, Detroit, Vice President; L McMillan, Scranton, Second Vice-President; Peter Ross, LLD New York, Secretary; P McEwan, Chicago, Treasurer; P Kinnear, Albany; David Walker, Toronto, and Wm Gardner, Chicago, Managing committee.

No change was made in the rules at this session, several suggestions being referred to a committee for consideration at next meeting.

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