George Monro is one of the best known gentlemen of which Canada can boast. There are few people, especially if they have traveled by boat at all, who do not know him, for he is always on hand when the big steamers arrive from Lewiston, Queenston and Niagara, to see that the passengers get their baggage through all right. Especially do bicylists of either sex owe a considerable debt to Mr. Monro for the facility with which he manages to let them have their wheels, while at the same time he is righteously strict of the fulfillment of the law. Mr. Monro's father was the fourth mayor of Toronto, and at one time member for East York in the Dominion Parliament. George Monro was born in 1843, in Toronto, in a residence at the corner of George and Palace streets, on the location where is now situated the "Black Horse Hotel."
George Monro's father resolved that his son's education should be thoroughly attended to, so he sent him to that most noted of institutions in Toronto, Upper Canada College, at that time situated on the north side of King street, between Simcoe and John Streets. Then young George went to Montreal and attended the high schools there for two years, after which he was under the tuition of the famous educationist, Rev. Dr. Atkinson, of St. Catherines. After leaving school Mr. Monro was articled to Frank Shanley, one of Canada's most prominent civil engineers at that time. During his engagement with Mr. Shanley he was out on the building of the Toronto and Guelph railroad, and the Guelph branch of the Grand Trunk Railroad of Canada. Continuing in the civil engineering business, Mr. Monro traveled over a great deal of territory in the United States. He put in a good deal of time in New Orleans, and was one of the engineers on the construction of the Illinois Central railroad. At that date, the well-known American contractor, Benedict, was in Canada constructing several railroads, and when he returned to the United States, and undertook the building of the Illinois Central, he had accompanying him several of the young Canadian engineers with whom he had become acquainted, among whom were our subject. On returning to Canada, Mr. Monro was again with the Grand Trunk railway, and at the time of the celebrated Fenian raid from the United States into Canada, he left for the frontier as one of the G. T. R. volunteers. They had, however, only reached Stratford on their journey when they received word that the raid had been successfully repelled, and that their services would not be required. This was rather a disappointment to the young men, for they were all eager for a brush with the invaders. Mr. Monro, as has been said, is descended from a good old Loyalist stock. His father and brothers fought side by side in the Revolutionary war on the side of the British, and at that time, when Fort Monroe was taken, the senior Mr. Monro was the second man over the wall.
In 1871 George Monro became connected with Her Majesty's customs, and has remained in the service ever since, his branch of the business being mostly attending to the traffic on the Great Lakes as landing waiter during the summer months, and as examiner of bonded warehouses and cars in the winter. At one time Mr. Monro went into farming, his homestead being known as Monro Park, to the east of Toronto and along-side Victoria Park. Both of these places are two of Toronto's most delightful summer resorts.
In spite of all the business activities and other engagements, Mr. Monro found that he could not escape Cupid's dart, and in the year 1866 was married to an estimable lady of Toronto, the result of this union being four sons and one daughter. Two of the sons died, as did also Mrs. Monro, in the year 1887. Mr. Monro remaining a widower. One of his surviving sons, Frank, is in the bank of Toronto at Cobourg, and the other, Neville, is attending the Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute in Toronto, and promises to become a man of mark. Miss Monro is the guardian angel of her father, and still remains at home on Sherbourne street, Toronto.
In politics Mr. Monro is a Conservative, but he is one of those civil employees who prudently consider that they have no call to meddle in partyism. Outside of that, what he doesn't know about the lake passenger business is not worth considering.
Return to Home Port
This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.