Our business was established in 1804.
We have been pleasing and displeasing people ever
We have made and lost money.
We have been cussed and discussed, knocked about and
talked about, lied to, held up, robbed, etc., to the end of the chapter.
The only reason we are staying in business is to see
what will happen next.
I have endeavoured
to write the foregoing pages in an impartial
and, I trust, not too flippant manner. They are
intended only for the very few whom I consider
interested; and I should be sorry if they
reached any quarter where even after this lapse
of time they could wound any susceptibilities.
Of course, I can only write of what I saw,
heard, or have obtained information upon. In comparison
with the New Brunswick businesses, I lack much information about the
Canadian. While I came somewhat in touch with Mr. Allan Gilmour of Ottawa,
it may be said, with Mr. John of Quebec, I came in 'collision.' The other
Canadian partners were anterior to my time.
Of the home concerns until I
entered upon this work I had almost forgotten that I was myself for three
years a partner in Pollok, Gilmour & Co. That is far back: and when I say
that I never signed that firm's name; was never during the three years
within the Glasgow office; that the yearly balance sheet of the business
there would only be submitted to me in the most Pro forma manner; and that
during the co-partnership I never saw the resident partner, Mr. Sheriff; I
may be excused for having been so oblivious. As an instance of the lack of
inter-communication, I can almost vouch that with Mr. Strang, during the
same period (except in the matter of balance sheet) the same position
obtained. About my brother, the other alien partner of the then Scotch
firm, I think it would only be through the accident of his wife's illness
at Ashton-on-Clyde that he, being in the neighbourhood, might call at the
If I have
accorded more prominence to the earlier regime it is not that I have, in
degree, the less enthusiasm for my immediate predecessors— but some one
has said that no man is quite a hero to his valet. I served under, and was
in some slight degree of the third generation of the firm, and may
possibly not correctly focus them in conjunction with their predecessors.
'We have received a goodly heritage,' and it must not be for us or those
who follow us to shuffle through life, simply riding cock-horse.
Looking back, it seems to me they
were 'giants' in those days. Perhaps it is that our view point has been
changed by our own environment. But they look in perspective to have been
bigger men with bigger ideas and more strenuous and intense in effort than
the business men of to-day.
We look back upon a series of wars during the past
century, of which that from which we have just emerged is the greatest. Of
the part assumed therein by those who went forward from our small staff in
the early days—all that were eligible, and they not waiting for
conscription—I give some particulars in Appendix VIII. One, alas, made the
great sacrifice. History should remind us that our lives are but parts of
a greater whole.
All things considered it may not be unfitting that the effort, imperfect
as it is, should have fallen to the last surviving member, though I trust
not ember, of the old firm of Pollok, Gilmour & Co.
My career is now soon drawing to
a close. I congratulate myself on having lived the greater part thereof
during the Victorian period—an age not now so derided as a few years ago.
We had then, humanly speaking, comparative contentment among the classes.
My dream and hope is that R., G.
& Co. —even in its 'Limited' form, the remnant of the old firm—may weather
through generations yet to come and add to its credit. If for those who
may succeed us I have in some sort shown what the firm has of antecedents,
and imbued them with a determination that in every sense they will emulate
past efforts and maintain its future credit, I shall be amply repaid for
what to me has been a considerable though interesting effort.
And when I consider that my book
is entitled A History of our Firm, and that I have annexed thereto so much
that I have styled 'Discursive,' but which A. G. senior would ruthlessly
have called ' Blithers,' it is time to apologise.