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Allan Gilmour


Gilmour, Allan, Sr., City of Ottawa, was born on the 23rd of August, 1816, in the parish of Shotts, Lanarkshire, Scotland. His father was a fanner, and. the family consisted of five children, Allan being an only son. Of the sisters one is dead, and the others still live near the place where they were born. The father died at the ripe age of ninety-three, and the mother in her sixty-fifth year. Allan received a common country school education, taking one year at Glasgow, with which to conclude his course. Allan Gilmour had an uncle named Allan Gilmour, after whom our subject was named, and it is meet that we should have something to say about his career. This uncle was brought up to the trade of a house carpenter, but the occupation did not fit itself to his taste or his ambition, and he formed a partnership with two young men of his neighbour-hood, John and Arthur Pollack, by name. These possessed some capital, and together they commenced business as lumber merchants, in Glasgow, under the firm name of

" Pollock, Gilmour & Co." They soon added to their lumber operations the shipping business connected with that trade, establishing branches of their house in Quebec, Montreal, Miramichi and other points. They built many ships at Quebec, and gradually added to their fleet till they became one of the largest sailing-ship owners in the world. The Miramichi business was cornmenced about 1820, under the conjoint management of James Gilmour, (an uncle also of our subject, and a brother to Mr. Gilmour of the Glasgow house), and Alexander Rankin, the firm being known as Gilmour, Rankin & Co. Both of these gentlemen have been long since dead. The Quebec business was commenced in 1828, and was known as that of "Allan Gilmour & Co." under the management of Allan Gilmour, nephew of Mr Gilmour of the Glasgow firm, and cousin of the subject of this sketch. In 1830 the manager was joined by his two brothers, John and David, as assistants; and these two gentlemen afterwards, in 1840, became partners in the business when their elder brother, Allan, left to take the place of his and our subject’s uncle, in the Glasgow firm. This uncle retired in order to become a landed proprietor in Renfrewshire. He died not long afterwards, leaving his estate of "Eaglesham" to a nephew of. the same name, he having elected, like the subject of this sketch, to live a bachelor’s life. The Montreal firm, we may say, was established at the same time as that of Quebec, under the management of William Ritchie, a nephew of Mr. Gilmour of the Glasgow firm. This house was known as "William Ritchie & Co.," and it carried on for many years a wholesale dry goods and grocery business, besides supplying parties engaged in the manufacture of square timber on the Ottawa river and its tributaries. To this firm was Allan Gilmour, the subject of this memoir, sent out with his cousin James, in 1832 the first year of the dread cholera period. The two young men entered the house as clerks, and remained in such capacity with it till 1840, when Mr. Ritchie retired from the business, and they assumed the management, the firm changing its name to that of " Gilmour & Co." An agency was then established at Bytown (the present city of Ottawa), that place being the centre of lumber operations in the Ottawa region, the object being to procure timber and sawn lumber from that region for the Quebec market The particular duty of Allan Gilmour was to personally superintend the operations; and to this end he paid occasional visits from Montreal to Bytown, and to the forests where the business was being carried on. In 1853 he took up a permanent residence in Bytown, the Montreal business having subsequently been reduced to the position of an agency upon the retirement of James Gilmour, and so continued for a number of years, when it was closed. Besides the square-timber business carried on by the firm at Ottawa, there were the large saw mill establishments of the Gatineau water-mills, and the Trenton steam mills; and both of these are still operated by the sons of the late John Gilmour of the Quebec firm. The firm of "Gilmour & Co. ," under the management of Allan Gilmour, also established and worked for a number of years saw mills on the North Nation and Blanche rivers, tributaries of the Ottawa, retiring altogether from the business at the close of 1873. For a long period it may be stated that the lumbar trade of Canada was so troublesome, fluctuating and unprofitable, and made such constant demands upon the attention of the subject of our memoir, that for a long period of years he was not permitted to be absent upon personal recreation save for the briefest time. But the tide turned at last, and with more prosperous times he had more leisure to devote to his tastes. And finding much enjoyment in shooting, fishing, and steam-yachting, he has indulged himself in these recreations for a number of years. He has visited the prairies of the western States and our Canadian lakes and marshes for the sport that they afford. Mr. Gilmour has also been, for many years, a member of the widely-known Long Point Shooting Company, but for the past two or three years he has had his. shooting in the companionship of this most enjoyable association, done for him by willing proxies. Although hale and active, he is not so devoted now as in other years to quick tramping and the rough-and-tumble that fall to the lot of the professional sports-man. He has spent no fewer than twenty-one seasons salmon-fishing on the river Godbout, north shore of the St. Lawrence, near Point des Monte, head of the
Gulf, missing only one year in the consecutive series. But Mr. Gilmour has not confined his travels to Canada and the United States. He has been all over Scotland, through parts of England, and in 1874-75 visited France, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, and parts of Germany and Austria. He has also travelled in Egypt as far up as the island of Philoe at the head of the first cataract, over which he ran in a row boat of about 16 x 5 feet. None of his own party would join him in the dangerous experiment, so, accompanied by five Nubians, he dared the rapids and had a splendid run over them. He describes them as somewhat resembling the St Lawrence rapids at Lachine and Long Sault. The old tombs, temples and pyramids, most of which he visited, he found the most interesting of all the remains of an ancient civilization that he had ever looked upon; and "Wilkinson's Ancient Egypt" he says will be found to contain the best accounts and. illustrations of these wonderful and most interesting structures. Nothing, he declares, but a persona! examination will convey an adequate idea of these monuments of the thought and the civilization of that wonderful land. After spending about six weeks in Egypt, he started away with six of his companions of the Nile trip for Palestine, visiting the greater part of that hallowed land on horseback. The route of travel commenced at Beirout and lay along the Mediterranean shore to what remains of the cities of Sidon, Tyre, Acre, with Mount Carmel; from this point he proceeded to Jaffa, thence to Solomon’s Pools, Hebron, Bethlehem, along the Dead Sea,  the Jordan, to Jericho and the Fountains of Elisha. In Jerusalem and its neighbourhood the party spent a week and thence returned to Jaffa, taking ship at that port for Naples, the point from which they had started. The weather was propitious, and the passage was marked by no mishap. Mr. Gilmour holds the rank of major in the militia, though one frequently hears him named "Colonel Gilrnour." He obtained his rank while drill and organization were proceeding to repel the threatened Fenian invasion. Mr. Gilmour was born and brought up in the Presbyterian faith, Church of Scotland, but for a long time he has been very much broad church, thinking well of all denominations and creeds who exercise an influence for good over the lives of their membership. Mr. Gilmour has always been a lover of everything beautiful and grand in nature, and to this fact we trace his admiration for art. For years he has purchased pictures that attracted his taste, and he now has in his residence, overlooking the Ottawa river, at the Capital, one of the best private collections of pictorial art in Canada. Many of the pictures are the products of first-class artists; and all classes of subjects are represented, from the bare, majestic walls of Scandinavian fjords, with chill, clear water rippling at their feet, to the soft, sensuous blue of Italian skies. Our own scenery, that alternates so swiftly from gorgeousness to gloom, is not neglected either; and there is hardly a picture in the collection that will not delight whomsoever has the true instinct and the gift to appreciate. In his handsome residence, so beautified with art, Mr. Gilmour spends his most enjoyable hours, devoting himself to reading, and the recreations of a cultured retirement. Those who have the pleasure of enjoying the personal friendship of the subject of this sketch could not say enough to you of the generosity of his heart, and of his fine and manly character.


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