Toronto, Feb. 8.
-- James D. Allan, one of the city's prominent businessmen, past
vice-president, director, and co-founder of the firm of A. A. Allan and
Company, fur dealers and manufacturers, of 51-53 Bay Street, who died on
Wednesday, was born in Port Rowan, Ontario.
He came to
Toronto in 1875. For some time after living in Toronto, he and his
brother, A. A. Allan, who died last Fall, represented various Scotch and
English mercantile houses, and then started into business for
themselves, forming the firm known as A. A. Allan and Company.
was a successful one, owing to the unusual manner in which the brothers
carried on their affairs. One of the late Mr. Allan's hobbies in
business was to eliminate the middlemen. In order to do this in the fur
business he made an annual trip to Russia, where he visited the great
fair at Nijni Novgorod. Ordinarily the town of Nijni Novgorod has a
population of 5,000, but during the fair session, which lasted for six
weeks, the population swelled to 300,000 or 350,000.
It was to this
fair that all the Oriental traders went to carry on their barter in
furs, leather and spires in particular, and in a great number of other
commodities. Here Mr. Allan come into direct touch with the dealers in
the finest of Russian furs, and since it was a case of doing business
strictly for cash, he was able to further his business hobby.
Mr. Allan made
fourteen trips to Russia this capacity, and was doubtless the most
closely in touch with Russian affairs of any living Canadian. His last
trip was made just before the outbreak of the Great War, which was
responsible for breaking up the annual fair.
In order to
conduct his business in Russia, Mr. Allan found it necessary to learn
the Russian language, which he did after the age of fifty. He was a
linguist to a marked degree, as in addition to knowing Russian he could
converse in French and German and knew Italian fairly well. All these
languages were learned after he started his trips to Europe.
Mr. Allan, who
was 74 years of age, died quite suddenly, as on Monday he addressed a
meeting in Toledo, Ohio, and at that time seemed to be in his customary
health. It was Mr. Allan's interest in the affairs of the day which was
largely responsible for his death, as, in spite of his advanced years,
he was keenly interested in public matters and had travelled to the
American city to lecture on the topic "Russia as I knew it."
He left Toledo on Tuesday morning, reached home the same night and
seemed to be suffering from an acute chill. The immediate cause of death
was heart failure due to an attack of influenza.
Mr. Allan was
active in the promotion of the work of the Toronto Board of Trade, in
which organization he became President. He was also deeply interested in
the Deep Waterways project, having delivered many addresses on this
scheme. In his early days he was active in politics, having contested
West Toronto as a Liberal with Wm. Briggs against E. F. Clark and E. B.
Orler. Another of his interest was technical education and it was
largely owning to his early activity in this direction that technical
education was introduced in Toronto.
Mr. Allan was
one of the oldest members of Old St. Andrews Church. He is survived by
the widow, one son, J. C. Allan, and one daughter, Mrs. M. Robinson of
Water-ford. Another son, Colonel William Allan, of the Queen's Own
Rifles, was killed overseas. J. C. Allan also served in the forces.