JAMES GEORGE ROSS*
1861-1956

From: "Montreal, Pictorial and Biographical"
The J.S. Clarke Publishing Co., 1914


Lieutenant Colonel James George Ross, president of the Ross Realty Company Ltd., and favorably known in Montreal as a prominant figure in financial circles, was born in this city, October 18, 1861, a son of the late Philip Simpson Ross and Christina Chalmers Dansken, both of whom were natives of Scotland. His early education was aquired in private schools, with latter attendance at the High School of Montreal and subsequent attendance at the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph, from which he was graduated with the class of 1881.

Mr. Ross went to the northwest upon an extended trip with a view to settling there, but returned to Montreal and associated himself with his father, who was a representative of the profession of chartered accountant. Shortly afterward he was admitted to partnership with his brother, the business being carried on under the firm of P.S. Ross & Sons, and on the death of his father he became the head of the firm. He is a chartered accountant and a member of the Association of Accountants and is a fellow of the Dominion Association of Chartered Accountants. Aside from his business in that connection he is president of the Ross Realty Company Ltd., and as such figures prominently in real estate circles, negotiating and managing many important property transfers.

Mr. Ross has always evinced a great interest in military matters. In 1879 he joined the Ontario Field Battery, retiring in the year 1883. In 1884 he held a commission as officer in the VictoriaRifles, retiring in 1891 with the rank of captain. In 1898 he joined the Fifth Royal Highlanders and in 1899 was gazetted captain while in August 1906, he was promoted to the rank of major and in May 1909 was made lieutenant colonel.  In 1907 he received the Long Service Medal for officers having served for twenty years. 

He is in active connection with the Montreal Board of Trade and is a director of the Crown Trust Company. His interest and support extend to charitable and benevolant projects and he is a life governor of the Montreal Western Hospital. Fraternally he is a Scottish Rite Mason, while in club circles he is widely and favorably known, his membership beng in the St. James Club, Canada Club, Beaconsfield Golf Club, Canadian Club, Montreal Curling Club, Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club, Montreal Amature Athletic Assoc., Westmount Athletic Club and the Junior Army and Navy Club of London England. In his younger days he was very active in athletic sports, especialy running, and he handled the snowshoe with expert skill. In 1887 it was claimed that he was "the best man in Canada who ever strapped on a racing shoe." In the winter of 1888 he accompanied Lieutenant Schwatka in the explorers trip through the Yellowstone Park and was the only man who came out in as good shape as he went in.

In March 1891, Mr. Ross married Miss Alice Margaret Monk, daughter of the late John Monk, an advocate of Montreal, and they have two daughters; Alice "Marjorie" Ross and Evelyn Ross, [wife of Dr. D. Sclater Lewis].


From: "The Ross Clan"
by: John Alistair and Rosemary Ross, c1978
(this segment written by Ross Newman)
Reprinted with permission from Ian Ross

More familiarly known as Jim, J. G. or "The General", was born in the Family Residence on Grey Nun Street, near the banks of the St. Lawrence River, not far from Montreal Harbour.

Downstairs, the store P. S. Ross owned, was known as Ross Bros. Ships' Supplies. The family soon moved to Hanover Street, just below Dorchester, (now named University Street) which ended at Belmont Street. The new residence was within easy walking distance of the store, there was also the added convenience that the family could tell the time by the clock on the spire of Christ Church Cathedral from their bedroom windows.

The family's summers were first spent at Langs farm near Chateauguay Basin and then later, at Beauharnois. These summer visits led to a life-long interest in the Woodlands area. Most of the boys in the family established summer houses there.

As J. G. grew older his interest in sports rapidly increased. Each brother seemed to have a specialty and J. G.'s was snowshoeing, with a very active participation in football, canoe racing, running, rifle shooting and golf. His interest in sports was paralleled by his interest in things military and after being turned down by the Victoria Rifles, who didn't want "kids", he joined the 6th Fusiliers.

He became outstanding as a snowshoeer racer, winning the first steeplechasse ever held. The course was from the McGill gates, up over the mountain, across the R. C. cemetary to Lumkins Inn, the famous Inn on Cote des Neiges Road.

His many beautiful medals and cups were later donated to the M. A. A. A. of which he was an Honorary President. Soon after his death they were stolen from the Club, along with those of George Hodgson, a son of one of the Ross - Hogdson inter-family sporting competitors.

About this time in his career P. S. Ross left the Ship Supply business to his brothers, Jim Ross and William Ross and started an Accounting Firm which J. G. & W. G. joined and they were later followed by J. W. & A. F. C.

J. G. had become curious and he felt the urge to travel. He made a couple of extensive trips to the West. He went to Winnipeg, the railhead of the C. P. R. and by chance, during the land boom, purchased a piece of property there which was expropriated 70 years later for extension of the City, Eastward. The amount received by expropriation did not quite equal the taxes paid over the seventy years!! At this time he rented some property slightly West of the City and was advised by the train conductor to light a fire as a signal for the train to stop and pick him up on his way back. A year or two later he went through Yosemite Park to California and up to Vancouver. He describes the City of Vancouver as "a great aching void". He sailed up to Yale on the Fraser River and watched the building of the C. P. R. from that side of the Rockies.

Apparently he was considering a trip to Europe which resulted in a letter from P. S. Ross to him which the Lewis family now have. It indicates Scottish nationalism was not far below the surface even in those days. P. S. describes at great length the beauty of Scotland and the places of national and family interest in exhaustive detail and then ends - "seeing you are over there you perhaps should see London too".

About this time J. G. went to O. A. C. where he became an Officer in the 1st Ontario Field Battery. He continued his military interest later by joining the Victoria Rifles, and his agricultural interest in farming at the Woodlands Property at Ross Point.

In middle life his summers were spent at Woodlands. There the morning and evening Malone Train would be met by his Victoria carriage, drawn by Prince. Many were the hours he used to spend at the farm or in the orchards. When he was not checking on the farm, he was spending much of his time either playing the four minature golf holes around the house or batting a ball around the Indian Mound in the Pasture - cows or no cows.

J. G. was a member of the Boathouse Boys and their happy years on the Lakeshore must have been filled with hilarious anecdotes and pranks. J. G. relates one incident when he and Jim Taylor took a canoe into the City on a train. There had been severe flooding in the Harbour Area. The train had to stop at Guy Street due to the flooding as they paddled down town. Passing the old Bonaventure Station they noticed the doors were open, so they promptly paddled through the Station and out the other side. Another anecdote is one where one of the members of the Boathouse, complying to the "no alcohol on premises" law, hid his bottle in the woodpile for the night. There was great consernation in the morning - the bottle was empty! But they soon found out that the cook had had a ball!!

His football activities included playing for the Britannia Football Club. The Club grounds were just East of the back of the Church of St. James the Apostle (Bishop and St. Catherine Streets). Their main opponents were the Montreal Football Club and McGill, occasionally Toronto, Harvard and Ottawa. Once they played the British Football Club of New York.

For a while he was an officer in the Victoria Rifles and then transferred to the 5th Royal Highlanders where he became Lt. Col. He was always very interested in rifle range firing, thus at the outbreak of World War I he was Commanding Officer of the Canadian Bisley Rifle Team then competing in England. On his return to Canada he became appointed Paymaster General. He returned to England and was a member of the Canadian Military Overseas War Council, the top Administrative committee of the Canadian Army Overseas, with Rank of Brigadier General. He was awarded the C. M. G. After the war he was appointed Honorary Colonel of the Canadian Army Pay Corps. He was officially retired with rank of Major General. J. G. took an active part in the formation of the United Church of Canada.

At one time he was Senior Partner of P. S. Ross & Sons and Past President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and Director of several prominent companies. Like his Father, he was appointed Auditor for the Sun Life Assurance Company for many years.

There were a couple of happenings in his later life that are amusing. About 1950, when he was approximately 90, he complained that the O. A. C. 1886 Class Secretary never seemed to get in touch with him. Another concerned Aunt Daisy. J. G. always enjoyed needling Aunt Daisy, particularly about her adherance to Christian Science and it's belief of healing through prayer. I remember one meal at Woodlands when Aunt Daisy was being teased by her older brother about having had her appendix removed. This led to a discussion of God, whereupon Aunt Daisy said God was everywhere, in the air, in the trees, even in the wood of the dining room table. This observation caused J. G. to use his favorite expression "My dear woman you are behaving like a sweetie wife". Aunt Daisy, now irritated said, "I suppose you think God looks like you?" The rejoinder of "I can't think of anyone better." drew a final grunt and a change of subject from Aunt Daisy.

Another time J. G. and his life long friend Charlie Hodgson, decided the "spirits" were conducive to hold a duet. As they were both then over 90, it was a quite humerous rendition of the "Old Tuque Bleu".


*Researching J.G.Ross...........
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