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Robert Sidney Porteous, 1862-1927

This is a work-in-progress; my enthusiasm was recently notched up a level after I received a number of high-quality photographs of Robert, his wife Georgina, and his grandsons Donald Porteous and David Cadger.


Robert was born in Reach Township 21 Nov 1862, the son of George Porteous and Margaret Stewart. Robert was my grandfather’s youngest uncle.


It’s likely that my great-grandfather George’s youngest brother, Robert, met Georgina through George’s association with Scrimgeour Brothers, a Stratford furniture firm. Robert and Georgina Scrimgeour Easson were married 13 Nov 1884 in Stratford.


Stratford, Ontario

For a time, Robert lived at the home of my great-grandfather, George Porteous in Stratford, Ontario. Robert and George were brothers separated by about 11 years of age. George, the older of the two brothers, worked with Scrimgeour Brothers in Stratford and is credited with having developed their furniture wing.

Robert partnered with George McLagan to form the Porteous & McLagan Furniture Company. The partnership was formed 6 Sep 1886 and dissolved 22 Jan 1897.

The city of Stratford, Ontario web site has the following to say:

“Another major economic sector was the furniture industry. In 1886, the year after Stratford was incorporated as a city, George McLagan created jobs in the furniture industry. These positions attracted prospective workers to the area in the early 1890’s, a time of economic hardship in other parts of the country.”

Why is Robert not mentioned? The partnership document was just that – an equal partnership between Robert and George. Surely Robert should have shared in the credit for creating jobs.

After the dissolution of the Porteous-!McLagan partnership, Robert ran his own company; below is one of the advertisements he ran in the Stratford newspaper.

Wiarton, Ontario

Berlin/Kitchener, Ontario


Robert and Georgina had the following children, only two of whom, Harry and Alma, survived to adulthood:

  • • Edna Jane, 1885-1906
  • • Douglas, 1890-1892
  • • Harry Meredith, 1893-1976
  • • Alma Jessie, 1899-1979
  • • Stewart Glynn, 1902-1907
  • • Margaret Annis, 1906-1906

Stewart Glynn died 9 Mar 1907 in Berlin, so we know that the family had left Stratford by this time. It will be necessary to obtain Margaret Annis’ birth and death registrations to more accurately pinpoint the time of the family’s move (Note: Annis seems to be a common surname east of Toronto, near where Robert was raised; in fact, one of the mayors of Whitby was an Annis). Robert’s obituary also mentioned that he worked in Wiarton, but I have yet to find any additional evidence of this.

Harry Meredith married Helen Marjorie Howell; his sister, Alma Jessie Porteous married Charles Cadger. Child mortality in Robert and Georgina’s day and age was very high, but even Alma and Charles lost their only son, David, to pneumonia in 1945 when he was 13. The photo below is of David and was probably taken around 1935 or 1936.

Perhaps the males of the family were less hardy: William Simpson Porteous (Robert Sidney’s oldest brother) lost his only son, George, to pneumonia in Guelph in 1899. George was only in his 20s.

David Porteous Cadger:


Following are a couple of newspaper articles/obituaries for Robert. I am also including a number of photographs of Robert’s tombstone at the Avondale Cemetery in Stratford, Ontario, Canada.

City Edition, The Daily Sun-Times

Owen Sound, Ontario

Thursday, January 27, 1927

Three Cents a Copy

(front page)


R.S Porteous, of Kitchener, Expired in office of Doctor

Cold Weather

Had Number of Friends in the City and Once Lived in Wiarton

Death came with startling suddenness on Wednesday afternoon to a well-known commercial man who was paying a business visit to Owen Sound, Mr. R.S. Porteous, of Kitchener, a guest at the Seldon House. Mr. Porteous arrived in the city from Kitchener on the noon train, and after registering at the Seldon House, and getting his dinner, he proceeded to visit his clientele in the city. He was representing a large lumber concern, and during the course of the afternoon had visited the offices of the North American Bent Chair Co. and the North American Furniture Co. in the interests of his firm. Shortly after 5 o’clock as he was walking south on 1st avenue west on his way to his hotel from the North American Furniture Co. he found that the strain of the cold weather was affecting his heart, and in order that he might rest for a brief period, he turned into Stanley Raven’s plumbing shop at 1024 1st avenue, but just as he opened the door, he lost control of himself and fell inwards with the door, landing on the floor.

Mr. Porteous recovered from the shock, however, and assistance was given to him at once. Dr. C.H. Gaviller was sent for, and he was quickly on the scene with his car. Mr. Porteous was able to get in the car and was driven to (Continued on page eight)

Page Eight


Gaviller’s office and after his arrival started to tell the doctor about his experiences, stating that just a short time ago he had suffered a slight heart attack, but had come around all right. While he was still talking, however, he suddenly collapsed and before anything could be done had expired.

Dr. W.G. Doe, coroner, was summoned, and after a thorough examination had been made and all the circumstances investigated, he decided that an inquest was unnecessary, and the remains were ordered to be removed to the funeral parlors of the Owen Sound Burial Co. to await for instructions.

Mr. W.G. Hay, of the North American Furniture Co. was notified, and he at once got into communications with the family of the deceased, who reside at 125 [should be 124] Margaret Street, Kitchener.

Mr. W.J. Irwin, 10th Street east, is a personal friend of the deceased, they having been schoolboys together in Ontario County, near Port Perry, where both were born. Mr. Porteous had left word that he wanted to see Mr. Irwin on Wednesday evening at the Seldon House, but when the latter arrived at the hotel he heard the sad news for the first time. He informed the Sun-Times that Mr. Porteous was representing a large British Columbia firm which sold veneered lumber to furniture factories. He also stated that he had resided a number of years at Wiarton, where he had charge of the furniture plant of the Canada Furniture Co., and also lived for a time at Stratford before going to Kitchener.

He is survived by his wife, and two children, one daughter being a school teacher in Kitchener, and the other, a son, a physician [sic: bank manager], residence not known here. Mr. Irwin accompanied the remains to Kitchener, leaving Owen Sound at 5:30 o’clock on Thursday morning.

2. Kitchener Waterloo-Record, Thursday, January 27, 1927


Well Known Kitchener Business Man Drops Dead in Doctor’s Office at Owen Sound

Robert S. Porteous, well known lumber dealer of this city passed away suddenly last evening between 5 and 6 o’clock in Owen Sound, following a heart attack he suffered when returning to his hotel, from business.

The late Mr. Porteous arrived in Owen Sound yesterday noon and following dinner had visited the offices of the North American Furniture Company where he transacted his usual business. Walking along First avenue west on his return to the Seldon House, he was gripped with a heart pain and turned into a plumbing shop, but fell face forward on the floor as he opened the door. He recovered slightly and was assisted to the office of Dr. C.H. Gaviller, close to the scene of his attack. As he was relating his experience, he suffered a second attack and succumbed. Dr. W.G. Down, corner decided that an inquest into his death was [not] necessary, since death was due to heart failure.

The late Mr. Porteous was one of the most widely known furniture and lumber men in Canada. Entering the industry over 50 years ago, he saw it grow from its infancy. Of a genial disposition and excellent character, he gathered a host of friends wherever he was known. Prominent in fraternal circles his sudden demise is the source of intense grief to his large acquaintance who will deeply mourn his death.

Deceased was born in Port Perry, but moved to Stratford when still a young man. Several years after his arrival in Stratford, he joined with George McLagan in forming the furniture manufacturing concern of Porteous and McLagan, now carried on as the McLagan Corporation. About 19 years ago Mr. Porteous came to Berlin, having previously been interested in the Canada Furniture Manufacturing Company at Wiarton. Coming to this city he assisted in the organization of the John S. Anthes Furniture Company now known as the Anthes-Baetz Furniture Company. After ten years with the John S. Anthes Company, the late Mr. Porteous became associated with the Pollock Phonograph Company, where he stayed four years. On severing his connections with the latter firm he assumed the agency for wholesale lumber in this city representing United States and British Columbia lumber interests.

He was active in both the Odd Fellows and Masonic orders and was a charter member of the Twin City Lodge No. 509, A.F. and A.M. of this city. He was a supporter of the Conservative party and a member of the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian church.

He is mourned by his widow, one daugher, Alma, at home, and one son, Harry M. of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, at St. Thomas. One sister, Mrs. John Ferguson of Epsom, Ont. And two brothers, one in Vancouver, B.C. and the other in Eastern Ontario also survive him. The funeral will be held from his late residence, 124 Margaret ave., on Saturday morning at 10 o’clock where services will be conducted by Rev. George Taylor-Munro, pastor of St. Andrew’s church. At about one o’clock the funeral procession will motor to Stratford where interment will be made in the family plot in the Avendale [sic: Avondale] cemetery.


  • • Alma Jessie Porteous – married Charles Cadger. Her last known residence was Port Elgin, Ontario. Ironically, she had a young son who died in Owen Sound, Ontario in the 1940s.
  • • Harry Meredith Porteous – was a bank manager, not a physician (as first obituary incorrectly indicates). Harry Meredith once invited my father to a ship launching in Collingwood, Ontario (according to my father’s recollection).

Other Notes

  • • RS was born in Reach Township, ca. 1862.
  • • Living with older brother, George Porteous, in Stratford in 1880. – See Stratford City Directory
  • • Left Stratford presumably after 1906 when Margaret Annis Porteous was born.
  • • May have lived in Wiarton, Ontario, 1906? – 1908?
  • • Moved to Berlin (present-day Kitchener) 19 years before his death, so circa 1908
  • • ca. 1918 – Pollock Phograph Company – see this link
  • • ca. 1922 – wholesale lumber agency

Written by Doug

January 24th, 2012 at 7:00 pm