Messrs. Patrick and Andrew Tasker were for a number of years Managers of
this concern. They were long and honourably identified with Free Masonry
and one of the local lodges bears their name. Another very old firm was
that of Rennie Stewart & Company, whose principal hailed from Glasgow, and
his descendants are to-day prominent in St. Johnís. McBride & Kerr was an
old Greenock firm which afterwards changed to that of Goodfellow &
Company. The partners of Messrs. R. & J. Rutherford acquired their
business training with Hunter & Company, as did also their brothers,
George and Andrew, who located at Harbor Grace, and the well known sign
"Rutherford's Rain," is spoken of to this day.
For upwards of one hundred and fifty
years, the name of Baine, John-stone & Company has been associated with
the trade of Newfoundland, and it is notable that during that long period,
the high standard set by their ancestors has been most worthily upheld by
each succeeding generation. In 1780 their business was conducted at Port
De Grave, an important fishing center, under the name of Lang, Baine &
Company, and in 1800 was transferred to St. Johnís. The present managing
director is Mr. Walter Baine Grieve, who in addition to his vast business
interests has served Newfoundland in both branches of the Legislature,
with honour to himself and great benefit to the colony. His father, the
late J. J. Grieve, was one of Her Majestyís advisers in Newfoundland
before responsible government was inaugurated. Many Scotsmen of ability
and kindly personality have been connected with this old establishment,
not the least of whom is John C. Hepburn, who is still with them. John
Munn, one of the founders of Punton & Munn, afterwards John Munn &
Company, was at one time a bookkeeper with Baine, Johnstone & Company. His
descendants are still connected with the trade of the country, among them
being John Shannon Munn, a director of Bowring Brothers, Ltd., and W. A.
Munn, who carries on a commission and oil business.
On May 15, 1915, passed away a man
who for about sixty years was at the forefront of commercial activity.
Hon. James -Baird was born at Saltcoats, Ayrshire, November 30, 1821, and
when but a lad of sixteen came to Newfoundland and became connected with
the firm of Wilson & Company. In 1852, in conjunction with his brother
David, he started the firm of Baird Brothers, which afterwards became
James Baird. Some years later his three sons, J. C., Hugh and David, also
his nephew, the late James Gordon, were taken into partnership. The firm
then became Baird, Gordon & Company. On the death of Mr. Gordon the name
was again changed, and the firm is now knowrn as James Baird, Limited.
Messrs. James C., Hugh and David Baird are the present partners of a
concern which ranks second to none in the island. Their ships ply to all
ports which have trade connections with Newfoundland, and during the busy
season, when the staple product is being handled, great activity may be
seen on their extensive premises. The late Mr. Baird was for many years
prominently identified with many manufacturing concerns, and held the
Presidency of the Newfoundland Boot and Shoe Manufacturing Company until
within a short time of his death. For fourteen years he sat in the
Legislative Council, and often gave his adopted country the benefit of his
exceptional ability and sound judgment. For a long period he was the
honoured President of St. Andrew Ďs Society.
William Frew was born at Saltcoats,
Ayrshire, in 1843, and came to Newfoundland when but seventeen years of
age. Since 1881 he has conducted a large dry goods business in the same
block as that of James Baird, Limited. Mr. Frew has found time for other
interests, and at this writing is President of the Newfoundland Boot and
Shoe Manufacturing Company. His brother-in-law, the late John Syme, was
born at Irvine, Ayrshire, in 1843, and came out to the well-known firm of
J. & W. Stewart,. known as the "Dundee Co.," which was the first to
commence trade connections between Brazil and Newfoundland; and thanks to
their initiative, within one hundred years Brazil has become Newrfoundland
Ďs chief customer. James Stewart was a man of many parts and in 1812 was
appointed one of the advisers to the resident governor.
A prominent figure in commercial
life is W. H. Davidson, who conducts a large commission business. He was
born at. Aberdeen, December 21, 1843. and for many years served Messrs. J.
& W. Stewart in the capacity of buyer. The late Sir Robert Thorburn was
born at Juniper Bank, Peebleshire, March 28, 1826, and came to
Newfoundland in 1852. He received his business training in the old
establishment of Baine, Johnstone & Company, then under the management of
his uncles. He became a partner in the firm of Grieve & Company at its
formation in 1862. On the death of the senior partner in 1887, the
business merged into that of Thorburn & Tessier. From 1870 to
1885 he was a member of the
Legislative Council, but resigned in the latter year to accept a seat in
the House of Assembly, and the office of Premier of the Government, which
he held until 1889. At the Colonial Conference held in London in the
"Jubilee Year" of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, he represented Newfoundland,
and as senior member of the Conference, he had the honour of reading the
address presented to the. Queen by that body at Windsor Castle, May 4,
1887. He received the honour of Knighthood in the same year.
Thomas McMurdo & Company, the
well-known drug finn, was established at St. Johnís in 1823 by the late
Thomas McMurdo and associated with him was his son-in-law, the late John
McNeil, father of the present head of the establishment, who is ably
upholding the integrity and business ability of his predecessors.
The Reid Newfoundland Company was
founded by the late Sir Robert G. Reid, noted railway contractor and
bridge builder, whose birthplace was Coupar Angus, Perthshire. His
crowning achievement was the construction of the Newfoundland railway
which is operated by the company bearing his name. His sons, Sir W. D.
Reid, and Messrs. H. D. and R. G. Reid, control and operate the various
activities of the company, which also includes a steamship service, a dry
dock, and the electric lighting and street-car system of St. Johnís.
Hon. John Anderson, who is
extensively engaged in the dry goods business, was born at Saltcoats,
Ayrshire, January 27, 1855, and the "land of the thistle" is responsible
for his early education. He entered the employ of Messrs. Baird,
afterwards becoming senior partner in the firm of Anderson & Lumsden;
three years later the partnership was dissolved, and he now does business
under his own name. Mr. Anderson is a member of the Legislative Council,
and at one time served on the Municipal Board of St. Johnís.
One of the Scottish names well
linked with the trade of Newfoundland is that of MacPherson. The history
of the family dates back to the landing of a Captain MacPherson at Port De
Grave. He was born at Greenock, the great-grandfather of the present
generation, and acted as agent for one of the fish firms. His son Peter
conducted business at St. Johnís for a number of years. Connected with him
was his son, the late Campbell MacPherson founder of "The Royal Stores,"
which is now one of the largest concerns doing business in the island. it
was mainly due to his great executive ability that the firm has attained
such marked success. The present principals are Messrs. Archibald and
Harold MacPherson. Besides the parent house at St. Johnís, they also
operate branches at Grand Falls and. Milltown two inland towns built up by
the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company, where pulp and paper
manufacturing is conducted on an extensive scale. The elder son of
Campbell MacPherson, Major Cluny MacPherson, M.D., C.M., is serving his
king and country in France. He is a knight of grace of the Order of St.
John of Jerusalem, also a commissioner of the Supreme Court of
Newfoundland. When "D" company of the First Newfoundland Regiment was
drafted to England, Dr. MacPherson went across with them, as medical
officer. He was afterwards attached to the war office, experimenting in
the laboratories; and while assisting there devised the medicated helmet
adopted by the British and French armies.
In the forefront of manufacturing we
find the establishment of G. Browning & Son, biscuit manufacturers, the
founder of which was the late Gilbert Browning. He was born in Ayrshire,
October 19, 1821. After the great fire which swept St. Johnís in 1846, he
went there to rebuild the premises of Baine, Johnstone & Company. The
present head of the firm is John Browning, a son of the above named ; he
is also President of St. Andrewís Society in Newfoundland.
Other Scotch names prominent in the
mercantile life of the colony are Marshall, Stott, Rodger, Templeton,
Rankin, Bryden, Murray, Smith, Sciater, Paterson, McRae, Duff, Palmer,
Fletcher, Coates, Cathrae, Jarvis and Cron.
Newfoundland has been singularly
fortunate in the choice of governors many of whom were Scotchmen. In the
Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, we find such names as Cochrane,
Montague, and others, and in recent years we have a shining example in the
person of Sir William McGregor, afterwards Governor of Queensland,
Australia. The present governor, Sir Walter E. Davidson, is also a
Scotsman. Some of the most notable names connected with the church are
Scottish, or of Scottish origin. A few must suffice, such as Fraser, Boyd,
Graham, Archbishop MacDonald, Robertson, Sutherland, also such educators
as John Irving Roddick, Adam Scott, and Robert Stott are well known. It
has often been said that Scotsmen are to be found taking the initiative
wherever they go, and it would appear so in Newfoundland, as the
geographical survey was started and organized by a Scotsman, Alexander
Murray. To another, named Hamilton, belongs the credit of starting the
first custom house. His work was later taken up by Alexander Dunn of
Aberdeen, who was also the first to commence mining in the colony. Then
again, in the field of medicine and surgery we find such names as Dow,
Allan, Carson, Forbes, Scott; and I might continue enumerating many other
notable Scotsmen in all walks of life, to whose achievements Newfoundland
owes much of her present prosperity. Each of these stern yet kindly
characters of Caledonia, whose word has always been their bond, and whose
deep sense of the duties of life were so well and ably exemplified, have
given and are giving to the coming generations an inspiration to achieve
The tartan they "richt weel" wore,
and far across the foam,
Did foster the old traditions of the dear loved Highland home.
The land of Burns and Wallace is proud it gave them birth,
For all have played a noble part in proving Scotlandís worth
St. Johnís, Newfoundland.