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William John Watts fonds (P663)

1861-1866. - 4 cm of textual records.

Administrative History - Biographical Sketch:

William John Watts was born in Drummondville on 1 May 1846, the son of Robert Nugent Watts, lieutenant colonel, landowner and member of the Assembly for the Province of Canada, and Charlotte Sheppard. He studied in the High School Department of McGill University from 1861 to 1862, then at the Military School of Instruction in Québec City in 1864. He was admitted to the Québec Bar on 10 September 1869 and practised as a lawyer in Drummondville before getting involved in the world of business, mainly as a mill owner.

Watts entered politics and was elected the Conservative member for Drummond-Arthabaska in the by-election of 20 February 1874. He was re-elected as an independent in 1875, then sat as a Liberal in 1878 and 1881. He resigned his seat in December 1885 following the Louis Riel affair and did not run in the 1886 election, though he did run in 1890, winning Drummond for the Liberals. Defeated in 1892 by J.-P. Cooke, Watts retook his old seat in 1897 and again in 1900.

Watts left politics when he was named registrar for the city of Montréal West in April 1901, a position he held until his death on 4 September 1907 at the age of 61. He was buried in Drummondville.

Watts married Mary Louisa Millar in Drummondville on 25 January 1882. The latter was the daughter of Robert I. Millar and Eliza Millar, widow of William John Playart.


Scope and Content:

The fonds consists mainly of documents related to William John Watts's education in the High School Department of McGill University and at the Military School of Instruction in Québec City. The fonds also has information on Watts's expenses and on his relations with his relatives in Drummondville.

Among the personal documents in the fonds are a daily journal and a confirmation certificate, dated 1861, as well as documents related to Watts's studies at McGill. The latter include course admission cards (gym, natural history...), tuition receipts, invitations and programs for the Founder's Festival, an absence form, a sheet listing the marks on the Christmas exams in 1864 (Watts's name appears in several places), and a report card. Also found are several documents related to his studies at the Military School of Instruction, including notes on weaponry and how he used his time, lists of expenses and two certificates, one attesting to a second place and the other to a first place in 1864 for his military proficiency.

The fonds also contains correspondence, primarily letters sent to William John Watts by his parents, but also others signed H[ugh] Brodie and William Sheppard, as well as a copy of a letter sent by Watts to his mother. The correspondence with his parents covers mainly their social and agricultural activities.

In addition, there is a series of receipts, some for his clothes and lodging, others for medical services and boarding for his horse.

Finally, the fonds contains a file on William John's father, Robert Nugent Watts. In addition there are several bills as well as a letter addressed to him by Major Charles King. Also found are a prayer manuscript, newspaper articles, a postal certificate, a bill and a list of names.

The fonds is divided into the following series:

  • P663/A: Personal documents
  • P663/B: Schooling at McGill
  • P663/C: Schooling at Military School of Instruction
  • P663/D: Correspondence
  • P663/E: Receipts
  • P663/F: Robert Nugent Watts
  • P663/G: Miscellaneous documents