Collection MG H 4 - Gilmour and Rankin

Title proper

Gilmour and Rankin

General material designation

  • Textual record

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents.

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Physical description

12.5 cm of textual records

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Name of creator

(Founded in 1812)

Administrative history

In 1804, young Scottish entrepreneurs Allan Gilmour Sr., and brothers John and Arthur Pollok joined forces to establish Pollok, Gilmour and Co., a Glasgow-based import business specializing in timber. In 1812, they expanded their operation overseas, sending Alexander Rankin (31 December 1788 - 3 April 1852) and Alan Gilmour Sr.'s younger brother, James Gilmour (14 October 1782 - 29 January 1858) to establish a base on the Miramichi River, in New Brunswick. Beginning with a sawmill, offices and a house at Douglastown, Gilmour, Rankin and Co. expanded, and by 1820 were responsible for the majority of trade that passed through the Miramichi port. From their initial foothold in the wilderness, the company by 1845 had accumulated 92,000 acres in mill reserves in the surrounding areas, and Gilmour and Rankin had developed a highly successful business as timber merchants and ship builders.

It was the practice of the parent company to send promising employees to train with Gilmour and Rankin and to gain experience in the colonies. In 1818, Robert Rankin (31 May 1801 - 3 June 1870), the younger brother of Alexander Rankin, joined the company in Douglastown. In 1822, he began separate but similar operations in Saint John under the name of Robert Rankin and Co. Allan Gilmour Jr. (29 September 1805 - 18 November 1884), nephew of Allan Gilmour Sr., was sent in 1821 to the Miramichi to train as a clerk, and later worked at the Bathurst branch in 1824, and with Robert Rankin in Saint John from 1825 - 1828. He later established a branch of the company in Quebec.

In 1838, Robert Rankin returned to Scotland during a major restructuring of Pollok, Gilmour and Co. He bought out Allan Gilmour Sr. and became a controlling partner alongside his brother, Alexander, and Allan Gilmour Jr. James Gilmour, believing the Miramichi branch to be failing, returned to Scotland in 1842. A younger associate and manager for Gilmour, Rankin and Co., Richard Hutchison, took his place and became more active in Gilmour and Rankin. Gilmour's fears were unfounded, as Gilmour, Rankin and Co. continued to expand and excel in the lumber trade. After the death of Alexander Rankin in 1852, Hutchison was the sole resident partner in the colonies. Robert Rankin remained, from a distance, in active control of the Pollok-Gilmour-Rankin trans-Atlantic empire. When Robert Rankin died in 1870, the business, mills and lands were handed over to Hutchinson by the remaining Glasgow partners. Gilmour, Rankin and Co. ceased operations out of the Miramichi until about 1870, while its others branches continued to operate in some capacity until the 1880s.

Source: A History of Our Firm, being some account of the firm of Pollok, Gilmour and Co. and its offshoots and Connections 1804-1920, Rankin, John (Liverpool: Henry Young and Sons, Ltd., 1921); Hamilton, W.D. Dictionary of Miramichi Biography (Saint John: W.D. Hamilton, 1997): 145, 317.

Gilmour and Rankin (firm)

Custodial history

This fond was acquired by Lord Beaverbrook.

Scope and content

This fonds consists mainly of correspondence among members of the various branches of Pollok and Gilmour, especially to and from Alexander Rankin of Rankin and Gilmour.

It also includes personal financial records of Alexander and Robert Rankin and North American travel diaries of Allen Gilmour, Jr. and Sr. and William Ritchie, dating from 1828 to 1829, and a report on the proceedings at the Prince of Wales' Challenge Cup competition (1862).

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Donated by Lord Beaverbrook.


Roughly chronological.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Most of the documents in this collection can be accessed via the internet ( Those sections that have not been mounted on the internet have been scanned, and are available upon request. Transcriptions have been prepared for a sampling of the documents. These transcriptions appears as attachments to the scanned images.

Restrictions on access

No restrictions

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

An item listing is available.

Associated materials

In the William J. Bedell fonds (MG H33), there is a letterbook containing correspondence to Alan Gilmour Jr. and Alexander Rankin on the Miramichi and Robert Rankin in Saint John.

Related materials


General note

Square brackets were used in the transcriptions for words which the archivist was either unable to decipher eg: [...], or when an educated guess was made for either the actual word or the spelling of a word eg: [the]. In the case of names, square brackets were also used to fill in the full name of an abbreviated signature eg: Jon[athan] Odell.

General note

It should also be noted that in the descriptions, the original spelling of the names of both people and places has been retained. Consequently, there are many different spellings of the same names.

General note

This project has been made possible by financial assistance from the federal government through the National Archives of Canada and the Canadian Council of Archives.

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