PHILIP SIMPSON ROSS*
1827-1907

From: "Canadian Men & Women of the time 1898"
Ed. By Henry James Morgan, Toronto, William Briggs, Richmond Street West, 1898


Ross, Philip S., chartered accountant, was born of Scottish parentage, at Belfast, Ireland, August 1827. Educated at Glasgow, Scotland he received his business training in the service of the Monkland Iron and Steel Company, Scotland, and came to Montreal June 1851. 

Following a mercantile career there for some years, he retired there from his appointment as Official Assignee under the Insolvent Act, 1874. On the organization of the Chartered Accountants into a separate body, he was chosen V.P., and since then has been elected president of the Association. 

He is an active member of the Montreal Board of Trade and he holds commissions. from nearly all the Provincial Governments, empowering him to take affidavids for use in their respective provinces. Among other offices held by him, he is secretary of the Sailor's Institute. Politically he is a Conservative.

Address: 26 University St., Montreal


From: "The Ross Clan"
by: John Alistair and Rosemary Ross, c1978
Reprinted with permission from Ian Ross

They tell the story of how Philip Simpson Ross arrived on this side of the Atlantic and immediately wrote to his Minister in Scotland. He explained that he wished to get married and that there were two girls in Scotland, and it really made no difference which one he married, but would the Minister please talk to them and send one out so he could be married.

Quite a few months passed and then Christina Chalmers Dansken arrived and they were married in Portland, Maine, U.S.A. in 1856. The Old Boy was quite provoked that she took so long to come out and demanded the reason. Her reply was - "Could not make up my mind whether to marry your brother back in Scotland or come out and marry you."

Nearly 150 years ago, in 1827, Philip Simpson Ross was born in Ireland of Scottish Parents, his Father being stationed there at the time in the Army. The Family originally came from the banks of the Forth, where they had lived for many generations.

He and his Family returned to Glasgow where he lived until he left for Canada in 1851 at the age of 26 where he arrived as a complete stranger with only five (5) Pounds in his pocket. He heard of an opening for a young man in Perth, Ontario, and he journeyed by boat up the Ottawa River and hiked the remaining distance. It makes the plight of the modern immigrant seem very unimpressive. He secured the position and received the then handsome sum of three (3) Pounds per week. About a year later his Fiance came over from Scotland and they were married in Portland, Maine.

After a few brief visits to other parts of Canada, Philip and his wife, Christina Dansken, settled in Montreal and opened a Ship's Chandlers Shop, selling rope and other Ship's Supplies on Grey Nun Street in Old Montreal, by the Harbour. In the long winter months, however, when the St. Lawrence River was frozen over, his business was idle.

Fortunately, he had been trained in Bookkeeping in Glasgow and so he decided to offer, to a few of his friends, his services in writing up Accounts, passing goods through Customs, etc. The business flourished to such an extent that in 1858 Philip Ross decided to retire from the Ship's Chandlers Shop to devote his time to the more profitable Accounting. There was in those days no formal Auditing Profession in existence in Canada and it is rather an interesting commentary on the casualness of early days to note that the engraved announcement he sent out to his friends in 1858 spelt his name incorrectly.

Philip Ross from that date, devoted himself entirely to the Accounting Business which was the earliest Accounting Firm in Canada and was one of the Founding Members of the predecessor to the Quebec Institute of Chartered Accountants which was the second such Institute in the world (after Scotland).

His Shop was kept by two of his Brothers, William Ross and James Ross, who had come from Scotland to join him. This business continued for many years under the name of "Ross Brothers & Co."

The following Ad is of interest but I don't know where the "Bro." came from.
 

THE GAZETTE - MONTREAL - JULY 1, 1867 - VOL XC### NO 155

FOR SALE - Sail canvas, 24, 27, 38, 40, 42 inches wide : Sails made to builders' draught : cordage white and tarred, all sizes : oakum, rosin, pitch tar, prime Chicago tallow, oils, paints, varnish, flags, packing, Indian rubber, delivery hose, grain bags.

P. S. Ross & Bro
8 & 10 Grey Nun Street

At that time there was no formal Accounting Profession in Canada. In fact, it was not until 1879 that the Association of Accountants in Montreal was formed. This Association of which Philip S. Ross was one of the original members, was the first Professional Body in Canada and the predecessors of the present Order of Chartered Accountants of Quebec. The Association of Accountants in Montreal held its' first meeting on December 5, 1879. The Association obtained the status of Incorporation in 1880 and was the first to be Incorporated in Canada, later becoming the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Quebec.

Philip Simpson Ross had five sons, all of whom were to have long business careers. The eldest, Philip D. Ross, entered the Newspaper business on graduating from McGill University in Engineering, moved to Ottawa and Founded the Ottawa Journal (or took it over when it was struggling), one of the most influential Newspapers in Canada. For over sixty (60) years he was its Publisher and Editor-in-Chief. He died in the summer of 1949, aged 92 years.

In 1883, Philip Ross was joined by his next two sons, William Gilles Ross and James George Ross, and it is interesting to read the brief Partnership Agreement of that day -
 

"It is this day agreed between the following parties that a Parternership shall be entered into for the purpose of carrying out the business of Accountants in this city, viz :- Philip S. Ross, James G. Ross, and William Gillies Ross under the style and Firm of "Philip S. Ross". The said parties shall have an interest in the business conducted as follows - The said P. S. Ross shall receive a salary of $2,000.00 per annum. The said James G. Ross shall receive a salary of $500.00 per annum. And the said William G. Ross shall receive a salary of $500.00 per annum. And the Net Profits after all disbursements in connection with the business including the salaries above shall be divided to Philip S. Ross four sixths and to the others J. G. Ross and W. G. Ross one sixth each. Each Partner shall have the privilege of signing cheques, Bills Payable and endorsing all Bills Receivable as follows -
          P. S. Ross will sign Philip S. Ross
          James G. Ross will sign Philip S. Ross (per Jas. G. Ross)
          W. G. Ross will sign Philip S. Ross (Per W. G. Ross)

This Agreement is terminable by three months notice to the other Partners in writing by the resigning Partner or by the death of one of them. Said Partnership shall take effect from 1st January 1883.

In witness whereof we have signed at Montreal this third day of April One Thousand Eight Hundred and Eighty - Three."

          (Signed)  Philip S. Ross
          (Signed)  James G. Ross
          (Signed)  William G. Ross

In 1884, the Firm became known as P. S. Ross & Sons.

Letter to J. G. Ross from P. S. Ross on the occasion of J. G.'s proposed trip to Scotland :

P. S. Ross & Sons
126 St. James Street, Montreal

CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS, AUDITORS, ARBITRATORS, TRUSTEES, ETC.

COMMISSIONERS FOR :- Massachussetts, U.S., Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec
                                                                                                        1889
Dear Jim,

In visiting the older continent I would like to give you some of my experiences. Land at Londonderry, see the walls of the City then proceed by rail to Belfast. There I was born an Irishman by birth but Scottish by descent. My Father was in the 79th Regiment - which Regiment was located in Belfast when I was born - was nevertheless an unmistakable Highlander of Scotland and so I claim notwithstanding the accident of my birth in Ireland, I am a Scotchman. Scotland, Glasgow, the great commercial City - the most worthy of notice in Scotland as a progressive city - I came to it in 1832, 5 years old and lived in Miller Street for a time. That Street now is a business one. Long since then the habitations of the people have removed Westward. Subsequently, my Father removed to the South side of the River Clyde having his residence amongst virtually gardens, now studded with houses. I well remember going to shoot birds with a key on which we had filed as muzzle hole for the priming - there were no Colt revolvers in those days and we were too poor to buy a gun. We stole potatoes from the farmers' fields, dug a pit and made a house - had a fire and roasted the potatoes but the farmer caught us, cuffed our cheeks and filled up our pit. When you see the Clyde you will find noble wharves and magnificent docks on the South side, commencing at the Brooniclaw Bridge for miles and miles where, when I was a boy, there was nothing but a fair green sloping bank where I used to play, sailing on a plank and sometimes overturned and got wet and wearied, very happy.

Subsequently we lived at the head of Hope Street until I left for Canada.

I wish you to visit the Forth where my Father's young days were spent - it is about 20 miles from Glasgow. There there is a piece of land which my Grandfather bought and subsequently I inherited, I have donated it to Phil. It is not worth too much - perhaps $200. - but there my Grandfather lived and my Grandmother. At present it is in the care of my cousin John McKendrick who receives the rents and looks after it. It belongs to Phil but it is not worth much, but I would like you to see it as it is in the midst of a mining country. Bleak and bare but I love it as being the residence of our family for 100 years. And here you will see some of the homes of the Scottish people from whom you are descended. The train from Glasgow will land you at Wilsontown about a mile from the Forth.

Forth is on the mail coach road between Lanark and Edinburgh - if you can find time to run down to Lanark you will see the falls of Clyde - one of the great sights of Scotland. From Glasgow you should take a sail down to Greenock, Dunoon, Rothesay, through the Kyles of Bute to Orran or Inverary and the scenery of the Clyde you will find the most inspiring that can be imagined.

It would be worth your while to lay off and see Dumbarton Castle and Wallace's sword, etc.

Then Edinburgh - it is to the world what Athens was to Greece. There is the castle - Arthurs Seat, Carlton Hill - Holyrood Abbey with the portraits of the Stewart Kings of Scotland and numberless interesting memorials of history. It is a City which Phil saw and says is one of the sunny spots in his memory. Call at Sterling to see the castle and armoury, go up to Perth and see Scone Palace - the old residence of the Kings of Scotland and the scene of some of Sir Walter Scott's novels. Then to Inverness, down the Caledonian Canal to the West of Scotland and back to Glasgow by the Clyde.

Probably London is the only place in England worth visiting and there you can spend a week easily seeing the British Museum, House of Parliment, London Bridge, Tower, Exchange and so on.

Paris, France, I don't know anything about never having been there. Rome ditto.

Then Egypt, Alexandria, Cairo, Pyramids, Jerusalem, Bombay, Calcutta, China, Japan and America.

(Note J. G. never made the trip)

William retired from the profession in 1896 and proceeded to a rather dramatic business career, during which, among other positions, he became President of the Asbestos Corporation of Canada. Three sons remained in the Accounting business : James, who took time out during World War I to act as Paymaster General of the Canadian Forces overseas and John and Alexander (the fourth and fifth sons who were identical twins) were active in the Firm until they died in the 1940's. They were both over six feet in height and habitually wore Morning Coats and Silk Hats and must have made a conspicuous pair at the various Accounting gatherings they attended, their fame consequently spreading as they were apt to take advantage of their similarity by playing tricks on unsuspecting folk.

By the year 1900, Philip S. Ross had retired from the Accounting business and he died in Montreal in 1907 at the age of 80.

Philip Simpson Ross and George A. Touche had began what is now one of the largest Firms of Accountants in the world - Touche Ross & Company. Both Scots who travelled far from their homes, they were eventually to cross paths after which each had founded his own Firm, Philip S. Ross in Canada and George A. Touche in the U. K., the U. S. and Canada.

In the 1950's Lybrand Ross Bros. of the U.S.A. were looking around for a Firm in Great Britian with whom they could make a working arrangement. J. G. Ross and his brothers had met the Ross Bros., in the U.S.A. back in the early 1900's and had entered into an arrangement whereby P. S. Ross & Sons did all the U.S. work in Canada for Lybrand Ross Bros., on a commission basis. They did not think our English Accounting Firm was large enough and so they made a working arrangement with Cooper's Accounting Firm which was making a name for themselves in opening Branches throughout the world. Cooper's representatives in Canada was McDonald, Currie & Co.

Lybrand and Coopers then suggested that P. S. Ross & Sons and McDonald, Currie merge in Canada and become part of Coopers and Lybrand. After considerable thought and discussion between the Partners of P. S. Ross & Sons, this was turned down for various reasons, one being that we were both large in various Cities and neither of us had very many Offices across Canada.

Later Howard Ross got talking to Bill Munroe of George A. Touche of Canada about working together. P. S. Ross & Sons then merged with George A. Touche of Canada under the name of Ross Touche & Co. When Touche Niven, Baily and Smart of the U.S.A. heard of this they suggested that we consider joining with them and George A. Touche of England, in an International Parterership. Each Country to still control their own affairs in their own Country, but to do any International work in all other Countries under the name of Touche, Ross Baily and Smart. This International Firm then asked Accounting Firms all over the world to work with them on the same basis, that is, they would retain their names and control of their own work in their own Country. However, any work sent to them from Canada, Great Britian or the U.S.A. would be done under the International name. Most important in this was the fact that they were to do the work under our standards of Audit requirements. Later the name was changed to Touche Ross & Co. The Consulting Associates connected with the Firm work under the name of P. S. Ross and Partners.

In March 1975 the Montreal Office of Touche Ross & Co., signed the Financial Statements of the above Company which marked the 100 consecutive years in which they had been the Auditors of the Sun Life Assurance Company.

The Sun Mutual Life Insurance Company had been founded on March 18, 1865 by Matthew Hamilton Gault, who later became Managing Director.

When the 1875 Financial Statements were presented to the Shareholders on March 26, 1876, the Chairman stated "The books of the Company have been subjected to a most sifting examination by P.S. Ross Esq., who is acknowledged to be a very competent Auditor." Here follows his Report -
 

To the President and Directors of the Sun Mutual Life Insurance Company, 
Gentlemen,

According to instructions, I have Audited and Certified the General Statement of the Sun Mutual Life Insurance Company.

I have also given a most searching and exhaustive examination of the Cash Book, or as it is called the Cash Book Journal, comparing all the Disbursements with the vouchers for them.

I have examined the Agent's Accounts and Monthly Statements, giving my attention to the additions and to the commissions charged, and generally to the bearing on each other of the consecutive Monthly Accounts.

I have verified the Lapsed and Cancelled Policies for 1875, whether cancelled by non-payment of premium, by purchase or by maturity - a list of which your Secretary will present.

I have verified the list of Policies issued during 1875, as presented in your Secretary's Statement, and also the List of Policies in force at the commencement of the year 1875.

Having gone through all this investigation in a thorough manner it affords me much pleasure in stating that the books are kept in a more correct manner than I usually find books to be which I have been requested to Audit. The enteries are carefully and correctly made. I am sure that it will give you as much satisfaction as it does me to have this stated.

          I am, Gentlemen,
          Yours respectfully,
          PHILIP S. ROSS
          Auditor

Philip Simpson Ross was elected to the Canadian Business Hall of Fame in 1984. He was in the first 30 persons so honoured. This Canadian Business Hall of Fame is situated in the C.N. Tower in Toronto.

The Firm, which he started with his two sons as a "Montreal based" Company, has developed into a National and International organization, one of the "Big Eight" Firms in the Chartered Accountant field.


*Researching Philip Simpson Ross...........
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