Mr John Hugo Ross

John Hugo Ross

Mr John Hugo Ross was born in Glengarry Co., Ontario, 24 November 1875, and moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba with his parents when he was two years old. He was the son of Arthur Wellington Ross, Liberal-Conservative Member of the Canadian Parliament for the Manitoba Constituency of Lisgar. His father, a real estate broker, was involved in the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and in 1878 was elected a member of the Manitoba Legislature. He resigned his seat in 1882 to run for federal office, and was elected MP.

As a child John Hugo was described in the Winnipeg Free Press as "a rosy-faced boy in knickerbockers, riding his dog sled, or off skating. On Sundays and special occasions he was the little gentleman in a kilt." When he was still in his teens, his father got him a position working for the lieutenant-governor of Manitoba, James Coolbrook Patterson. He worked there for a year and left Winnipeg for Toronto where he went into business for himself as a mining broker. The firm failed, he had a falling out with his father, and in 1902, with 25 cents in his pocket, went off to the Klondike to pan for gold. By the time he got there he realised the rush was over.

When his father died, he inherited the family fortune and returned to Winnipeg to look after his widowed mother. Dapper and flamboyant, he had a sarcastic wit. He and realtor Thomson Beattie had offices across the hall from each other in the same Merchants Bank Building. Ross' secretary, Maud MacArthur, in fact, considered herself Beattie's fiancee. Ross, Beattie and Vancouver banker Thomas McCaffry sailed from New York on the Franconia on 20 January 1912. After two months in the Aegean and Egypt, Ross was feeling ill, and they decided to cut their vacation short. "We are on the last lap of doing the old lands and ready for Winnipeg and business," he wrote a postcard to friends in Winnipeg. Ross cancelled reservations on the Mauretania and booked Cabin A-10 on Titanic instead.

John Hugo Ross 

Left: John Hugo Ross
Right: Ross, Unknown, Thomas McCaffry, Mark Fortune and Thomson Beattie feed pigeons in St. Mark's Square, Venice, March 1912
Courtesy: Alan Hustak, Canada

When he boarded on 10 April 1912, he was so ill from dysentery he had to be carried to his cabin on a stretcher. The last person to see Ross alive was probably Major Arthur Peuchen. Peuchen made his way up the grand staircase and saw Ross still in his pyjamas. When Ross was told the ship had struck an iceberg and that he should get dressed, Ross refused to believe the trouble serious. "Is that all,?" he told Peuchen. "It will take more than an iceberg to get me off this ship." Presumably, Ross drowned in his bed. His body was never recovered, but a memorial plaque with his name on it can be found in Winnipeg City Hall.



Hugo Ross
Toronto Daily Star  (1912) 
John Hugo Ross
Minneapolis Star Tribune  (1912) 
Feeding the Pidgeons

Articles and Stories

Manitoba Free Press (1912) 
Chicago Examiner (1912) 
The Evening Telegram (1912) 

Comment and discuss

  1. Glen McKenzie said:

    I am interested in John Hugo Ross. Actually, I am related through his grandmother Flora McKenzie.

  2. Susan Booth said:

    Hi everyone, Im not sure exactly why im here but I have a little story to tell and wonder if it rings a bell with anyone. Last Sunday (6th Nov) I had a dream that I was walking through a dockyard looking at the ships, then all of a sudden I was on board a ship and talking to a guy who told me his name was John Hugo Ross and he went down with the Titanic. The next minute I was waking up and his name had stuck in my head so I checked up on the passenger list and found him. I was able to describe to my husband what he was wearing in the dream and when I looked at his pic he was wearing the same... Read full post

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George Behe, USA
Alan Hustak, Canada

References and Sources

Alan Hustak (1999) Titanic: The Canadian Story. Véhicule Press,
Montreal, 1999. ISBN 1-55065-113-7
Search archive British and Irish newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2017) John Hugo Ross (ref: #247, last updated: 10th August 2017, accessed 9th May 2021 21:42:38 PM)

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