Robert Latham McCormack
Robert McCormack was a civic-minded Orangeman and prosperous West Toronto businessman. His great-grandfather, Alexander McCormack, emigrated from Dundee, Scotland to Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, around 1783. His father, Robert, was the sole member of the clan to immigrate to Canada. Born in Markham township in 1854, Robert, Jr. worked with his father in the lumber business from 1877 to 1885. That year, he moved to the growing community of West Toronto Junction, where he operated his own coal and lumber business for five years. He sold out, and purchased 50% interest in the then modest Conger Coal Company of Toronto Limited. A lucrative business as dealers of hard and soft coal, wood, and coke — essential fuel for business and residence — was evolved. At its peak, the firm had eleven offices in Toronto, including one in the Junction; the main office located at King Street East; 200 employees, and 100 horses to do the necessary hauling. McCormack became vice-president of the Grave Construction Company as well as the Toronto Junction Lumber Company, and a director of the Crown Life Insurance Company. In 1882, he married Amelia Sharpe of Whitchurch township, to whom he remained deeply attached. They had ten children, three of whom died early in life. In the early 1900s, they moved into the magnificent residence, “Oaklands”, on Annette and Laws Streets. Politically conservative, he was a member of the Albany Club, the Canadian Club, and the Toronto Board of Trade. In the Junction community, he was elected to the first village council and was the first president of the West Toronto Junction Mechanics’ Institute Board in 1888, the forerunner of the Toronto Junction Public Library. McCormack was also a member of the town’s high school board. An inexperienced driver, he died in a fluke accident in his car in 1917, en route to lend support to a relative running for political office out of town.