From: "Montreal, Pictorial and Biographical"
Pub. by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Montreal, 1914

No man in Montreal and very few in Canada have had a fuller, riper and more successful career than the ‘man of peace,’ as he is known in business circles.”  So writes the Toronto Globe of  Richard Bladworth Angus, and there is little to add that would describe the man more accurately.  A purposeful man, a deep thinker, a man of the highest principles, Mr. Angus is representative of the empire builders of Canada.

Beginning his career in a humble station, he has climbed the ladder of success rung by rung until he reached the ranks of men like the late Lord Strathcona, the present Lord Mount Stephen, with whom he labored in building the most important railroad lines in the Dominion and with whom he stood for all that which has made Canada the great empire it is today.  Not only has Mr. Angus been prominent as a builder and financier of great rail lines, but he has given of his time and means toward the establishment of great institutions to care for the sick, to bring education to all those who may seek it, to promote and disseminate a thorough understanding of art – in short, to promote the intellectual as well as the material welfare of that most enterprising of all British people – the Canadian nation.

Richard B. Angus was born in Bathgate, Scotland, May 28, 1831, and educated there.  While in his native country he was employed by the Manchester & Liverpool Bank for some time and in 1857 entered the office of the Bank of Montreal in Canada.  To the present generation the name of  R.B. Angus has been rightly considered a synonym for the financial activity instituted by the Bank of Montreal, for he has been connected with that institution since 1857, having come out from Scotland to accept a position in the bank in which at a later date he was to be for many years the guiding hand.  His keen mind, his adaptability to new conditions, his shrewdness and his careful weighing of important questions assured him of quick promotion and four years after he became connected with the institution he was placed in charge of the Chicago agency, in 1861, and in 1863 was agent for the bank in New York.

During his sojourn in Chicago Mr. Angus became acquainted with the spirit of the great west and what it was hoped might be accomplished there.  He saw the states of Illinois and Iowa budding forth from prairie to splendidly developed communities and reasoning by analogy he recognized what the future had in store for the Canadian west following the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway.  The splendid financial standing of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company today is also in a measure due to the wisdom of this man, whom no doubt Sir Thomas Shaughnessy considers one of his wisest counsellors.

In 1864 Mr. Angus returned to Montreal to become second assistant manager of the Bank of Montreal, was later appointed assistant manager and became manager in 1868.  In 1869, or two years after the union of the British North American colonies, Mr. Angus was appointed general manager of the Bank of Montreal, a position which he held until November 1, 1879.  It is said that during these ten years his advice was sought many times by the different finance ministers of the Dominion not only as regards federal loans but also concerning the general financial policy of the country. Although a native of Scotland, where free trade exists, Mr. Angus looked with favor upon the protectionist program, which triumphed in Canada on the 18th of September, 1878.  He saw therein a means whereby the Dominion could become a great manufacturing country, and he has lived long enough to see the splendid fruition of that policy.

After his ten years’ tenure of office as general manager of the Bank of Montreal Mr. Angus was called to another sphere of usefulness.  When several prominent men connected with the Bank o Montreal bought out the Dutch interests in what was then called the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railway, those interested, realizing the ability of Mr. Angus as a financier and organizer, asked him to leave the bank and become the representative of their interests in St. Paul.  Accepting the management of the railway, his great success during the two years of his residence in the American northwest has become a part of  the history not only of the American but also of the Canadian northwest.  Mr. Angus was one of the first promoters of the Canadian Pacific Railway.  He was among the earliest to recognize the stupendous success which would attend the project if there was carried out an enlightened policy of settlement and industrial expansion.  A syndicate was formed, with Mr.George Stephen, later Lord Mount Stephen, and Mr. Donald A. Smith, later Lord Strathcona, as its leading spirits.  Mr. Angus was one of  the original body and he has remained in connection with the incorporated company ever since as one of its directors.  He advised upon the strategic points where the chief entrenchments of the first transcontinental road should be laid out and he pointed out the spots where the Bank of Montreal could most effectively plant its branches.  This policy of his had a great deal to do with the expansion which has brought the capitalization of the Bank of Montreal and the Canadian Pacific Railway up to the present colossal figures.

As general manager of the Bank of Montreal Mr. Angus served under four presidents, namely, T.B. AndersonE.H. KingDavid Torrance and George Stephen, now Lord Mount Stephen, and he and the latter are the only ones of the number yet living.  He also sat director with Lord Strathcona and Sir George A. Drummond, succeeding the latter to the presidency of the bank July 22, 1910.  All admit that no one of that galaxy of financiers who have year after year sat at the historic round table ever rendered greater service to the institution than R.B. Angus.

At an age when most men throw off official cares and responsibilities to enjoy the leisure which prosperity has brought them Mr. Angus in his octogenarian prime took up as cheerfully as would a man of forty the principal position in Canada’s foremost financial institution.  In November, 1913, on account of advancing years and a desire to be relieved of all financial burdens of a public character, Mr. Angus resigned the presidency of the Bank of Montreal, but remains a member of the board and continues to give the institution the benefit of his ripe, wide and valuable experience.

That worth hath its reward is evident in Mr. Angus’ career, who is rated today as one of the richest men in Montreal. However, he seems to consider himself more in the light of a steward of his vast property interests, for he freely and liberally has given of his means and made handsome contributions to numerous institutions.  Among these is the Montreal Art Association, of which he was formerly president and to which he gave money and several valuable paintings.  He also supported McGill University with a considerable sum and gave to the Alexandra Contagious Diseases Hospital of Montreal, of which he is a governor and was a founder.  He was president of the Royal Victoria Hospital, which institution he also has liberally supported, and is a vice president of the royal Victorian Order of Nurses.  The Charity Organization Society, of which he is a director, has also benefited in a material way and by his timely advice.  Mr. Angus was also a governor of the Montreal General Hospital.  An honor to his race and one of the foremost representatives among Scotchmen in Canada, he served several times as president of the St. Andrew’s Society of Montreal.  Mr. Angus was governor of the Fraser Institute Free Public Library and is an honorary member of the Antiquarian and Numismatic Society of Montreal.

Among commercial and financial institutions with which he has been or is connected are the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, the Laurentide Paper Company, the Dominion Coal Company, the Dominion Iron & Steel Company, the Dominion Bridge Company, the Royal Trust Company, the Grand Falls Power Company, the Pacific Coal Company, the Canadian Salt Company, the Northwest Land Company and the London & Lancashire Assurance Company.

Mr. Angus has always taken a deep interest in public institutions and was one of the chief promoters of the Board of control in Montreal, which was founded in 1909.  He has ever placed his services at the disposal of such affairs as have made for a greater and better Canada.  In 1910 knighthood was offered to him, but he declined the honor.

Among the clubs of which Mr. Angus is a member are: the St. James Club, of which he was formerly chairman; the Mount Royal Club, of which he was a founder and of which he has served as president; the Montreal Jockey Club; the Auto Club and Aero Club; the Forest and Stream Club, and the Winter Club.  He also is a member of the Rideau Club of Ottawa, the Toronto Club, the York Club of Toronto and the Manitoba Club of Winnipeg. 

On June 13, 1857, Mr. Angus was married to Miss Mary Anne Daniels, who died March 13, 1913.  To them were born three sons and six daughters, two of the latter being deceased.

In religious matters Mr. Angus adheres to the stern faith of his fathers, being a Presbyterian.  It may be said of him that in all fields in which he has exerted his activities he has excelled.  Quiet in demeanor, he is purposeful and unconsciously exerts an influence which makes for domination.  That this domination is always used to good purpose and for the benefit of his country and its people stands to his high credit. 

Sir Sanford Fleming paid him high compliment as a banker in the words that he is a man who “in every way is a credit to the great institution over which he so worthily presides,” and the Montreal Star characterizes him as “one of Canada’s prominent and most highly respected financiers.”  Mr. Angus is a true Scotchman, a truer Canadian, but best of all – a man worthy of the name.

From: "Canadian Who Was Who 1875-1933"
Ed. Charles G. D. Roberts, Toronto, Trans-Canada Press 1934 

He died in his beautiful country home at Senneville, Quebec, 17 September, 1922. His wife had predeceased him by ten years, while he was survived by all his children, save two: Catherine Angus, who died as a child, and the late Mrs.F.L. Wanklyn, who died in 1907. The others are: Mrs. W.W. ChipmanMrs. Robert D. Patterson, Donald Forbes Angus, Mrs. Charles MeridethWilliam Forbes Angus, Mrs. C.F. Martin and David James Angus.

Return to Notable Montrealers
Back to the homepage
Questions, Comments or Suggestions?
Patty Brown
coordinator of the MontréalGenWeb