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Robert Hay


Hay, Robert, M.P. for Centre Toronto is a Scotchman by birth. His parents were Robert Hay and Elizabeth Henderson, and he was born in the parish of Tippermuir, Perthshire, on the 18th of May, 1808. His father was a small farmer in anything but affluent circumstances, and had a family of nine children. At the age of fourteen, Robert had to push for himself, and he became an apprentice to a cabinetmaker in the town of Perth. After faithfully serving his apprenticeship, he worked for some time as a journeyman, and then in 1831 he sailed for Canada, and landed in Montreal, in June, and after spending two months in that city, he came to Toronto on the 11th of September the same year, where he found employment. In 1835, he formed a partnership with John Jacques, a native of Cumberlandshire, England, under the name and style of Jacques & Hay, and commenced business as cabinetmakers, etc. The capital possessed at this time by the firm only amounted to about eight hundred dollars, but they had pluck, and with two apprentices and their own willing hands,  they laid the foundations of a business which at this time is one of the largest of its kind in Canada. After being in business about twenty years, they were twice burnt out, and lost about two hundred thousand dollars worth of property and machinery. But this did not discourage these persevering men. They rebuit their workshops, and since then fortune has smiled on them. In 1870, Mr. Jacques retired from the business with a competency, and Charles Rogers and George Craig, two worthy men who had long worked for the old firm, were taken into partnership, and the name changed to R. Hay & Co. This partnership continued until 1885, when Messrs.  Rogers and Craig retired, leaving Mr. Hay in entire possession of the business, which is still carried on in the extensive workshops on the Esplanade; and the magnificent show rooms, corner of King and Jordan streets. The furniture manufactured by the firm is of the finest description, and not only finds a ready market in Canada, but a good deal of it finds its way to Great Britain. Some prominent English families have adorned their homes with the furniture made by R. Hay & Co. in Toronto, among others Lord Abinger and Mr. Bass, M.P., the great English brewer. Mr. Hay, though always a busy man, yet he finds time to do something outside his workshops and office. In September, 1878, he was elected to represent Centre Toronto in the Dominion Parliament, and again at the last general election he was returned by the same constituency. Mr. Hay at one time allied himself with the Reform party, but during the depression in trade, he supported the National Policy, and since then has cast in his lot with the Liberal-Conservatives. Mr. Hay favours the temperance reform, and would rejoice to see a prohibitory measure passed by parliament. On November 18th, 1847, Mr. Hay married Mary Dunlop, a native of Glasgow. This lady died in 1871, having borne eight children, six of whom at the time of her death survived. Of these, one son and three daughters still live. Mr. Hat is in all respects a self-made man. Relying on his own strong arm and indomitable will, he set out in the world, and has by frugality and untiring industry raised himself to a position which ought to merit the crown of well-earned success.


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