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Robert McKechnie, a leading business man of Dundas, was born in. Glasgow, Scotland, June 16, 1834, and is a son of Robert McKechnie, senior, who was from Ireland, and Margaret Waters, a native of Scotland. In 1842 the family emigrated to Canada West, and settled at Dundas, where our subject was educated in a school taught by Robert Spence, afterwards Postmaster-General of the Province of Canada. Here young McKechnie learned the pattern makers trade of John Gartshore, of the old Dundas foundry; worked for him several years as a journeyman mechanic after finishing his apprenticeship, and in 1861 started in business for himself, in the manufacture of machinery. He is in company with John Bertram, an ingenious mechanic, who came from Scotland to Dundas in 1852. The name of the firm is McKechnie and Bertram. They make all kinds of machine tools and wood working machinery, and in times of ordinary briskness employ from 140 to 160 men. They are both skilful mechanics, are good judges of work, and turn out none but first quality.
Mr. McKechnie is very public spirited, and has had more calls for his services in the municipality of the town of Dundas and county of Wentworth, than he could well comply with, though he was reeve three consecutive years, then mayor two terms, and is again reeve, serving his fifth year. He was President of the Mechanics’ Institute several years. In 1872 he was the Conservative candidate for member f the Dominion Parliament for North Wentworth, and was defeated by Thomas Bain, the district being strongly Reform. Mr. McKechnie has long been a leading man in this locality on the subject of Protection; has been connected with the Manufacturers’ Industrial Association from its inception, and holds the position of Vice-President of the Dominion Board of Trade. He is a zealous laborer in any cause which he
believes to be right and deserving of his time and energies. His partner was in the Council of Dundas seven or eight years; was reeve two terms, and is an active man in public matters, being one of the managers of Knox Presbyterian church, of which both members of the firm are communicants. Mr. Bertram was bred a machinist, and has been in business thirty-three years.
Mr. McKechnie was married January 17, 1858, to Miss Isabella Ross, daughter of William Ross, of Dundas, and of ten children, the result of this union, eight are living.