Minders, Grinders, and Robertson, 1919-38

AuthorC. Ian Kyer
M C hapter N
AND RO BERTS O N
N  anendtothewari nEuropeForthermit
meant the return of Pickup and Ca lvin from military service. For many busi
nessmen it meant that they were again able to dedicate themselves to their
businesses In a  February report to the sha reholdersof St Mary s
Cement Limited, George Horace Gooderham, George’s third son, set out the
challenges business faced following t he war: “labour shortage, high wages,
exorbitant prices for supplies, and increased freight charges to say nothing
ofthee pidemicofinuenza duringt hemonths ofOctoberNovemberand
December” and a workforce made up of returned soldiers who had to be paid
full wages but could not be expected to be as productive as before the war.
St. Mary’s Cement had faced management issues from its very inception.
On April not quite four months before Britain declared war a nd
broughtCanada into the conict the rm had incorporated the company
which was being nanced by the Goo derhamfa milyIt was done using
membersof the rm as the rst incorporators andd irectorsT hust helet
ters patent listed the incorporators and provisional directors as four of t he
lawyersi n the rm  Alex Fasken George Sedgewick Jimmy Aitchison
and JW Pickup  as well as t he rmsaccountants Archiba ldSt ruthers
andThomasOrmsbyCoxandastudentatlawPeterRa ndolphRitchieThe
expectation was that shortly after i ncorporation these interim shareholders
and directors would resign and tran sfer their shares to George H. Gooder
ham and other members of the Gooderham fam ily. The declaration of war
mea ntt hat th isd idn oth appe nu nti lla te Th roug hou tth ewa rme mbe rs
ofthe lawrm actedas directorsa ndassisted AlexFaskenin the manage
ment of the cement company to permit their clients to focus on the war ef
fortAs lawyersca meand wenti nthe rm the directors changed butthe
At about the same time as the retur ning men were starting work, David
Fasken formally retired from active practice. He turned h is focus completely
awayfromlawsomuchsothatwhenDav idandArnoldHoma ntwoBos
tonminingeng ineersmetDavidinthesinconnec tionwithworkthey
were doing in Flin Flon, they did not realize t hat he was a lawyer. To t hem
he was “a wealthy Haileyburian . . . lumberman and waterpower magnate.”
Alextheyk newasalaw yerinTorontointyshrewdovercautious but
Davidwasassociatedwithnorther nOntarioandh isextralegalbusinesses
They may have been confused about David’s profession but they were in no
doubt about his personality and that of his “wily lawyer” brot her: “Dave . . .
wasbluandgenerousashisbrotherAlecwascurta ndfrugal
David had begun to experience health problems arising f rom high blood
pressurethatwouldplaguet helastdecadeofhisl ifeMuchofhisaention
continued to be directed at the C Ranc h in Texas. T he purchase of the Texas
property had cost him a great deal of money and had led to litigation. When
Fasken discovered that he had been misled over the presence of water on
the property, he contemplated legal action against his business agent, Wil
liam Harvey, who had arranged the purchase. Instead he found himself
defending an action by W.J. Moran, who claimed to have brought the prop
ertyto theaentionof Harveyandto beoweda realestatecom missionon
the purchase. To Fasken, the Moran litigation was adding insult to injury.
He had never wanted to purchase and operate a ranch in Texas. This was to
have been a land development deal. To be u nable to resell the land because
there was no water (something he had expressly told Harvey to be sure of)
and then be sued for a commission on the purc hase was galling to hi m.
Nevertheless, while working with Andrew Fasken to make his investment
worthwhile, he defended and won this action.
D    by some longsimmering family troubles that
endedupbeforethecourtsinTexa sInhissonRobertmarriedaRoman
Ferlandfamilyhada coagenearbyandwhi leinhislateteensRobert met
and fell in love with May Ferland. She was a student at the Toronto Conserv
atory of Music. When David’s w ife learned of the relationship, she promptly
took her son on an extended visit to Europe. On his retur n, however, Robert
discovered that May had gone to Boston for further musical study. He found
an excuse to visit Boston and the couple were married there i n a Roman
Catholic service. As Robert had no job, he and May moved into his parents’
home on University Avenue.
Although itwas a large house it was notbig enough for mother and
daughterinlaw When David Jrwas born on  April and baptised
Catholicmaersbecameeven worseMayfoundthe stressofdeal ingwith
hermotherinlaw toomuch and suereda nervous breakdownShe went
to a sanatorium in Barrie, leaving her baby in the care of her husband and
motherinlawAfteratimeshereturned totheFaskenhomeinTorontobut
nothing had changed and she agai n broke down. Her husband agreed to let
her go to stay with her parents up north but insisted on having his mot her
look after the baby. When May left, Robert’s mother packed up her son and
grandchild and went to Texas, where they lived in a house that Fasken had
bought for them in the town of Midland, near the ranch. David Fasken and
his wife never again lived together.
May did not learn of the move until she received notice that her husband
hadledfor divorcein TexasShesucce ssful lydefendedt hedivorceac
tion, which Robert had unscr upulously brought on the grounds of her aban
donment of him. May’s lawyer successfully argued that there had been no
abandonmentand that Robertsresidence in Texashadnot been bona de
againin andwhentheywereonc emoreunsuccessf ulledyet againin
ThetriallastedfourdaysDavidFaskenwasreq uiredtogivetesti
monytorefute anallegationmadeby Maythat hehad triedto buyher o
hedid notwant tos eehi ssonswife dependenton anyoneelseno maer
what the circumsta nces. (Robert had provided no support to his wife for the
last four years.) David also stated that he had no objection to her religion:
“Lots of my friends and business assoc iates are Catholics.” For him the prob
lem lay elsewhere: “Two families ought not to live under the same roof. I am
talking of two wives and husbands. Two young people and two old people
shou ldnotdonot tin the same hous e This time the court g ranted Robert

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