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John Wardrop Ross Fonds (P217)

Advertising poster of the Canadian Patriotic Fund (detail), about 1914. Gift of Mr. John Wardrop Ross, John Wardrop Ross Fonds P217, P217/A4,2.1

Those left behind

"If you can't fight you can pay - Your loyal talk won't beat Germany - Men and Money will - Enlist or pay to-day - Subscribe Now to the Canadian Patriotic Fund"

Canadian stories about the Great War rarely mention the families of the soldiers who went overseas to fight with the Allies. However, these forgotten figures of military history experienced hardship because the meagre incomes of soldiers were usually insufficient to support the loved ones back home.

To give these families financial and social assistance (and even moral guidance), the Canadian Patriotic Fund (originally created in 1900) was re-established in 1914, thanks to the efforts of Montreal businessman, politician and social reformer Sir Herbert Brown Ames.

The Fund's fundraising campaigns featured rather eye-catching advertising. Employing images of forsaken families and provocative slogans, the ads tried to stimulate the Canadian public's sense of patriotism, solidarity and, frankly, guilt: "How can you cheer for the boys when they come home if you have neither fought nor paid? Dad's on the line busy fighting - What are you doing for those he left behind?"

Despite some criticism of the Fund's enforcement of "morality" when disbursing funds, it continued to raise money until 1919.

P217 John Wardrop Ross Fonds. - [1899-1951]. - 160 cm of textual records. - 16 photographs.

Biographical Sketch

John Wardrop Ross was born in Montreal in 1870. He studied at the Montreal Business College and then travelled in Europe before settling permanently in Montreal, where he became a partner in the prestigious accounting firm of P.S. Ross & Sons. The firm was run by his father, Philip Simpson Ross, who was also president and co-founder of the Association of Accountants of Montreal (which later became the Ordre des comptables agréés du Québec). In 1896, John Wardrop Ross also began working for the Association, serving as secretary-treasurer from 1899 to 1901 and as president in 1905 and 1906. He was elected a Fellow of the Dominion Association of Chartered Accountants in 1902.

During a career lasting over 50 years, Ross held directorships in a number of organizations and was elected president of the Montreal Board of Trade in 1923, 1932 and 1933. He was also involved in a number of charitable organizations, notably the Canadian Patriotic Fund, the Montreal YMCA and Canada's Victory Loan campaign, holding key positions usually associated with fiscal management.

An amateur photographer, Ross was a founding member of the YMCA Camera Club in 1898 and served as the first vice-president.

He died in Montreal in 1946.

Scope and Content

This fonds covers the various charities, social organizations and aid campaigns in which John Wardrop Ross was involved, mainly as an accountant. A significant contribution to the social history of Montreal and Canada, these archives primarily document Ross' activities at the Canadian Patriotic Fund, the YMCA and Canada's Victory Loan campaign, three organizations that played an important role in the mutual aid movement of the First World War. Various administrative documents and minutes, correspondence, financial statements, lists of employees, committees and subscribers, activity reports, promotional documents and scrapbooks trace the administration of these organizations, their fiscal management and their fundraising campaigns.

The fonds also chronicles the fundraising campaigns of various Montreal hospitals and charities through correspondence, lists of contributors and subscribers, promotional documents, communications plans, activity reports and press clippings.

Photographs illustrating fundraising campaigns, posters and billboards complete this collection.

Source of title proper: Title based on the creator of the fonds.

Conservation: Some fragile press clippings have been photocopied.

Immediate source of acquisition: The fonds was donated to the McCord Museum by John Wardrop Ross.

Language: The documents are primarily in English, but several texts are in French.

Finding aids: An inventory was produced in 2014.

Associated material:

Concordia University: YMCA of Montreal Fonds (P145)

LAC: Canadian Patriotic Fund Association Fonds (R2848-0-4-E / Former archival reference no. MG28-15)

Archives of Ontario: War posters series (C 233-2)

The fonds is divided into the following series, subseries and files:

  • P217/A Canadian Patriotic Fund
    • P217/A1 Administration
    • P217/A2 Finances
    • P217/A3 Fundraising activities
      • P217/A3,1 Patriotic campaign in Montreal. - 1917. - 7.5 cm of textual records.
        Digitized documents: Part 01 - Part 02
      • Scope and Content: This file covers the 1917 fundraising campaign organized by the Montreal branch of the Canadian Patriotic Fund. It contains lists of employees, volunteers and subscribers, balance sheets and correspondence.

        Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the file.

        Language: The documents are in English.

      • P217/A3,2 Other fundraising activities (1914-1919)
    • P217/A4 Communications. - 1914-1924. - 43.5 cm of textual records.
    • Scope and Content: This subseries chronicles the Canadian Patriotic Fund's administration and fundraising activities, the promotional efforts and advertising associated with its fundraising campaigns, as well as the organization's media coverage. It contains scrapbooks, advertising posters, press clippings and correspondence.

      Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the subseries.

      Language: The documents are in English.

  • P217/B YMCA
    • P217/B1 Administration
    • P217/B2 Finances
    • P217/B3 Fundraising activities. - 1914-1949. - 6 cm of textual records.
      Digitized documents: Part 01 - Part 02
    • Scope and Content: This subseries focusses on various community assistance projects and fundraising activities conducted by the Canadian YMCA, notably during the First World War and when the YMCA of Montreal raised funds to renovate and expand (1928). It contains administrative documents (including several activity reports), lists of subscribers, publications, handbills and brochures, and correspondence.

      Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the subseries.

      Language: The documents are in English.

    • P217/B4 Communications
      • P217/B4,1 Correspondence
      • P217/B4,2 Promotional documents and publications. - 1918-1950. - 1 cm of textual records.
        Digitized documents
      • Scope and Content: This file documents the means by which the Canadian YMCA disseminated and promoted its principles, mission, objectives and activities to interest groups and the public at large.

        It contains official publications, handbills, brochures and flyers.

        Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the file.

        Language: The documents are in English.

      • P217/B4,3 Press clippings
      • P217/B4,4 Scrapbooks

  • P217/C Victory Loans

  • P217/D Hospitals. - [1913-1951]. - 11 cm of textual records.
    Digitized documents: Part 01 - Part 02 - Part 03 - Part 04
  • Scope and Content: This series covers the fundraising campaigns conducted by various Montreal hospitals, including the Montreal General Hospital and the Children's Memorial Hospital, along with John Wardrop Ross' involvement in these organizations. It contains a communications plan, a financial statement, lists of subscribers, promotional flyers, correspondence and press clippings.

    Source of title proper: Based on the contents of the series.

    Language: The documents are in English.

  • P217/E Other Charitable and Not-for-Profit Organizations

  • P217/F Philanthropy

  • P217/G Photographs


Last update: August 30, 2017