Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
September 2007

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Robert Bickerdike, Sr. Ex-M.P.


Underwriter, Robert Bickerdike & Son, 61 St. Peter St., Montreal. Born Kingston, Ont., Aug. 17, 1843, son of the late Thos. and Agnes (Cowan) Bickerdike, English ancestry. Educated: In common schools. Member, Canadian House of Commons for seventeen years; member of Quebec Legislature for three years; Director, Canada Life Ins. Co., Western and. British America Assurance Co.'s, Imperial Guarantee and Accident Ins. Co., also several other important industrial and commercial enterprises. Vice-Pres., Canadian Marconi; President, St. Louis Land Co. Developed the Canadian Live Stock Export business, and at one time became the largest cattle exporter in Canada, generally known as the "Cattle King"; is now devoting his time to underwriting and insurance; ex-Pres., Board of Trade; Hon. Pres., Western Hospital; ex-Pres., Bank of Hochelaga and Montreal Harbor Comm. Prominently identified with the Business Men's League, the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society, the National Battlefields' Comm., and the Protestant Committee of Public Instruction; Life Governor, Montreal and Lachine General Hospitals; Protestant Hospital for Insane. He has always championed the cause of Prison Reform and the abolishing of the death penalty in Canada . Introduced a bill in the House of Commons to amend the Criminal Code by abolishing capital punishment and substituting a life sentence for the death penalty, claiming that the latter was a blot on Christendom, a blight on religion, and a reproach to any civilized nation that allows it to remain on its statute books. He also contended that it was a violation of the Law of God, as the Commandment, "Thou Shalt Not Kill" applied to the State as well as the individual, and that capital punishment therefore, was nothing short of legalized murder. Other reasons advanced by Mr. Bickerdike were: That capital punishment brutalizes the public, is not deterrent, and is less feared by some criminals than penal servitude, that being irrevocable, it is too extreme, and a wrong verdict can never be corrected. He also claimed that punishment ought to be reformatory and not vindictive and that its abolishment in different parts of the world showed there was a strong growing sentiment against it, and that statistics showed in localities in which it has been superseded by penal servitude, that life was no less secure. Since being first introduced, the bill has gained many supporters, but it has not yet become law. Mr. Bickerdike hopes for its eventual passage and is still working earnestly in its behalf. Elected to the Quebec Legislature, 1897, and to the Canadian House of Commons, 1900-4-8-11. Married Miss Helen Thomson Reid, December, 1866, has four sons and six daughters. Clubs: Rideau (Ottawa); Canadian; Montreal ; Canada ; Country Club; Hon. President, Summerlea Golf Club. Protestant. Residence: "Elmcroft," Lachine, Que.


Source: Prominent People of the Province of Quebec, 1923-24, Montreal, Biographical Society of Canada, Limited, undated and unpaginated.


Robert Bickerdike, M. P.

Montreal, Que.

Director of many important Corporations of Canada.

ROBERT BICKERDIKE, financier, legislator and underwriter, member of Canadian House of Commons since 1900, is a director of several of Canada's most important industrial and commercial enterprises, was born at Kingston, Ontario, August 17th, 1843. He is a son of the late Thomas and Agnes Forster Cowan Bickerdike, of English birth and ancestry. Mr. Bickerdike received an ordinary education in the schools of his native place and began his business career in Montreal, Quebec, eventually going into the live stock exporting business, which he built up to such large proportions that he became at one time the largest live stock exporter in Canada. Since retiring from that industry he has devoted his time to finance, underwriting and insurance, and has had a very busy and successful career, between his business and political affiliations he has been kept quite active for several years. He is president of the Montreal and Great Lakes Steamship Company, also of the Jaques Transportation Company, president of the Columbia Real Estate Company, vice-president of the Montreal Western Hospital and of the National Real Estate & Investment Company, ex-president of the Montreal Board of Trade and ex-acting chairman of Montreal Harbour Commissioners. He was formerly vice-president of the Bank of Hochelaga, a life governor of the Montreal General Hospital, director of Canada Life Assurance Company, Prudential Trust Company, Western Assurance Company (Fire and Marine), also a director of British America Assurance Company, Imperial Guarantee & Accident Insurance Company, the Canadian Marconi Wireless Company, Mount Royal Investment Company, president of the Canada Securities Corporation and numerous others. Mr. Bickerdike was elected to the Quebec Legislature in 1897, and to the Canadian House of Commons in 1900-1904-1908 and 1911, and he is now a member of Parliament. He is a member of the Rideau Club of Ottawa, the Canadian, Montreal and Canada Clubs of Montreal. He was married in 1866 to Helen Thompson Reid, who passed away in 1907, and they were the parents of ten children, nine of whom are living. Mr. Bickerdike's residence is “Elmcroft,” Lachine, Quebec.

Source: Canadian History Makers. A Volume Containing Accurate and Concise Sketches of Men who have Done Things in The Dominion of Canada Past and Present Together with Photogravures Made from their Latest Photographs, Montreal, Canadian Publication Society, 1913, 159p., p. 51.




© 2007 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College