Bruce Family

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Type of entity

Family

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Bruce Family

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Description area

Dates of existence

1832-1927

History

William Bruce (1832-1927) was born at Unst, Shetland Islands on November 7, 1832 and was the eldest son of Magnus Bruce of an old Scottish family. William was brought to Canada at the age of four; attended Dr. Tassie’s school in Hamilton, and at the age of sixteen entered McQuesten and Fisher’s foundry as an apprentice. He later attended Oberlin College in Ohio and from 1858-1867 was a writing master at the Central School in Hamilton. He was skilled in penmanship, illumination of manuscripts, painting and was also an expert photographer, astronomer, lecturer and a keen freemason.
On March 1, 1855 William Bruce married Jennet Blair of Glanford. The Blair family came to Canada from Ayrshire, Scotland around the same time as the Bruce family. Jennet was described as “a lady remarkable for mental and physical activity.” William and Jennet Bruce had two sons and a daughter. Irvie, the elder son, died in adolescence. William Blair the artist, born in 1859, died in Stockholm Sweden. In 1906, Bella Christina, Mrs. John Walkden, died in 1958 at the age of ninety.
About 1869, William bough the ten acres of property on Hamilton Mountain which is now Bruce Park, between Queensdale and Brucedale Avenues East. Here at “Elmwood” Mrs. Bruce kept a cow and chickens, a vegetable garden and orchard, kept house, brought up the children, and looked after her husband’s comfort. She died on January 27, 1904.
Of all William Bruce’s interests perhaps astronomy was the most outstanding. His observatory in the hayfield behind his house attracted not only the surrounding population but also many noted scientists. Some of his telescopes are at McMaster University, Hamilton. William Bruce died at “Elmwood” 191 Brucedale Avenue, Hamilton, on March 7, 1927 and was buried in Hamilton cemetery with full masonic rites.
William Blair Bruce (1859-1906) was the first artist from Hamilton to gain international status. He was a figure, landscape and marine painter. He studied law and worked as an architectural draftsman before turning to art. Bruce attended the Hamilton Mechanics Institute, 1877, and studied privately under the Hamilton artist, Henry Martin. He attended Academie Julian, Paris 1881 and was also active in Giverny. He married Caroline Benedicks, a Swedish sculptor, in 1888.

Places

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Paris, France

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Functions, occupations and activities

Poet, artist

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