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David Morrice


Morrice, David, Montreal, was born in Perth, Scotland, and is descended from Scottish ancestors on his father and mother’s side as far back as they can be traced.. He enjoyed the advantages of careful Christian training in his home, and received a thorough secular education in the High School of his native place, where he first entered business. He afterwards went to Ireland, spending some time in Dublin, and Cork, and thence to England, residing chiefly in London, Liverpool and Manchester. At an early age he thus gained a very complete knowledge and wide experience of mercantile affairs, which he has since turned to such good account in the country of his adoption. When about twenty-three years old his mind was attracted to the new world, where so many of his fellow-countrymen have accumulated wealth and achieved distinction. He selected Canada as the field of his enterprise, and arrived in Montreal in 1855. Here he remained for a short time, and afterwards took up his residence in Toronto, where, for several years, he acted as buyer for a large wholesale establishment. During his stay in the western capital, and ever since, he has been pre-eminently distinguished for christian liberality and activity. In Toronto he was for some time an earnest and successful Sunday-school teacher in Knox church. Afterwards he became a leading spirit in a small group of zealous christian workers who gathered around the late Rev. Dr. John Taylor in founding Gould street United Presbyterian Church, now St. James’ square Church. In addition to the pastorate of this little flock, Dr. Taylor was sole Professor of Divinity in the United Presbyterian Hall, and performed the duties of his chair with much learning and ability. For his church it was, however, the day of small things, and the struggle for existence was hard and protracted. In this good work Mr. Morrice expended time, thought and money, with-out stint, indeed, he gave all that he acquired, except what was absolutely necessary for personal support. He acted as Elder, Sunday-school teacher, member of the board of management of the church, and a. director of the United Presbyterian Magazine. In all these capacities his services were abundant and invaluable, and before leaving the city he had the satisfaction of seeing the congregation slowly emerging from its weakness and difficulties. In the fall of 1863, Mr. Morrice removed to Montreal, and it is here that his greatest works have been undertaken and accomplished. The enterprise and large movements of this commercial metropolis afforded full scope for his rare business capacity, and he soon founded the firm of which he is head. As general merchants, manufacturers and manufacturers’ agents, they carry on the largest business in their line that is done In Canada. They have warehouses in Montreal and Toronto, and deal exclusively with the wholesale trade. They control about forty cotton and woollen mills, in different parts of the country from Halifax to Sarnia, and several of these are the largest in the Dominion, more than one of them being capable of turning out, per annum, manufactured goods to the value of over one million dollars. On his arrival in Montreal, Mr. Morrice was attracted to the Free Church, Cote street, by the preaching of the Rev. Dr. MacVicar, now Principal of the Presbyterian college. He was called to office as an Elder, and in 1863 was appointed Assistant Superintendent of the Sunday-school. The church was then crowded, and the scene of much Christian and missionary activity, to which he contributed more than a little. On the retirement of the Hon Justice Torrance from the office of Sunday-school superintendent, he was called to that position, which he has held for over twenty years. In 1876-77, he took a very active and generous part in the erection of the Crescent street Presbyterian Church, an edifice which was found necessary to meet the wants of the Cote street congregation, and which for costliness and magnificence is prominent among the mamy ecclesiastical buildings of Montreal. Mr. Morrice is Treasurer of this church, and has contributed very largely to its building arid other funds. His great and most widely influential work, however, is in connection with the Presbyterian college, Montreal. As chairman of its Board of Management he has displayed wisdom, energy and liberality, which have earned for him the admiration and gratitude of thousands, and will hand down his name to posterity as one of the great benefactors of our country. From the very inception of the institution he was its warm friend and supporter, and a firm believer in its future success and usefulness. He contributed freely to its endowment and scholarship funds, and witnessed with unfeigned satisfaction its rapid progress. On the 25th November, 1880, he addressed a letter to the Rev. Principal MacVicar, intimating his decision to erect for the college a convocation hall, library, dining-hall, and additional dormitories for students. These extensive buildings, all of stone, and which are beautiful and admirably adapted for their purposes, were proceeded with at once, and finished, at a cost of over eighty thousand dollars, and opened, amid universal rejoicing, on the 28th November, 1882. Mr. Morrice received cordial thanks and congratulations from Christian people of various denominations from all parts of the country, and from far beyond it. Professors, students, ministers, elders, and the General Assembly, the supreme court of the church, all heartily united in a similar recognition of his munificence, which has been followed by large arid generous endowments to the institution by other friends. The press far and wide, took occasion to commend in emphatic terms this noble benefaction. One city journal truly said, "Mr. David Morrice, while of a retiring disposition, has been so generous a giver of the good things with which he has been blessed, that this, his latest act of liberality, was little more than was to have been expected. He had only to discover the educational needs of the church to which he belonged to be impelled to give of his bounty, and help forward an enterprise second to no other work. Not onIy did he pray that ‘the Lord of the harvest would send forth more labourers into his vineyard, but he supplemented these prayers by contributions, and implemented them with the educational machinery of whose operation the David Morrice Hall is to be the scene." It would be a mistake to suppose, however, that Mr. Morrice has confined his efforts to any one channel. On the contrary, he has shown himself to be truly public-spirited, manifesting a practical interest in everything that affects, the weal of his city and country, and materially aiding many Christian and benevolent institutions, such as the Young Men’s Christian Association, the General Hospital, the Sailors’ Institute, House of Refuge, etc. In June, 1861, he married Annie S. Anderson, of Toronto, a lady whose social and benevolent qualities have made her home the scene of true domestic happiness, and won for her the warm esteem and love of ail who know her. She has admirably seconded him in all his undertakings, as have also his sons, the two eldest of whom are now members of his business firm, and the third an undergraduate in arts. in Toronto University, preparing for the legal profession. Mr. Morrice’s family consists of seven sons and one daughter. He is still in the prime of life, and with his distinguished ability, courage, energy and philanthropic spirit, the church and his country may fairly expect much from him in future as in the past. He is not the style of man to abandon great enterprises before he sees their proper completion. In combining commercial activity with truly practical Christian effort, and in freely and wisely dispensing his bounty during his own lifetime, he has set an example which our merchant princes, and wealthy men generally, would do well to follow. While his time is necessarily much absorbed in directing extensive and wide-spread business operations Mr. Morrice devotes spare hours to the gratification of his literary and scientific tastes, and is a member of the Montreal Microscopic Club and similar institutions. He is a ready and effective speaker, and carries much weight in religious gatherings, and in the General Assembly of which he has been frequently a rnember.


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