Robert Paterson

Robert Paterson (died 1879)

Robert Paterson (died 1879) was married to Anne Jane Paterson, who was Jennie Kennedy’s aunt.

He was one of the leading business figures in Owen Sound as well as having been twice elected Mayor of Owen Sound.

When Jennie Kennedy’s mother, Martha Kennedy, died in Toronto in 1880, Anne Jane Paterson became the legal guardian of Jennie Kennedy and her two sisters. and the three Kennedy sisters moved from Toronto to live with Anne Jane Paterson in Owen Sound.

Robert Paterson appears in Chapter 2 of our Butchart Gardens History. Here are some excerpts from Chapter 2:

“Following Martha Kennedy’s death in August 1880, Jennie Foster Kennedy and her two sisters, Emily and Martha, went to Owen Sound, Ontario to live with their aunt, Mrs. Robert Paterson.

Prior to her marriage, Mrs. Robert Paterson’s name had been Anne Jane Foster; she was probably Martha Kennedy’s sister, although the surviving records are incomplete and do not confirm this. Jennie Butchart told Nan Shaw in 1932 that Anne Paterson’s husband, Robert Paterson, had been Mayor of Owen Sound. In fact, he served two separate terms as Mayor; he was first elected Mayor in 1858, served his one year term of office, and was re-elected for a second one year term in 1874.[1] Between his terms as Mayor he also served several terms on the Owen Sound Town Council.

Robert Paterson was born in Peebleshire, Scotland in 1818 and immigrated to Sydenham, Upper Canada (now Owen Sound, Ontario) about 1850. Over time, he became one of Owen Sound’s wealthiest citizens. His local nickname was “Bobby Cash”; if anyone in Owen Sound needed a loan, they might be advised to “see Bobby Cash.”

Martha Kennedy’s will appointed Robert Paterson as one of four executors of her estate. The Butchart Gardens official history says that Martha Kennedy’s will left her daughter Jennie Foster Kennedy a small inheritance and made her a “ward in chancery”, with a Toronto lawyer named William Mulock, of the Toronto law firm Crowther, Tilt and Mulock, appointed as her guardian.”[4] The actual court records do not support this. The other three executors, James Crowther, Alexander MacNabb and James Tilt were lawyers, partners in the Toronto law firm of Crowther, Tilt and MacNabb.

But Robert Paterson had died in Owen Sound in 1879 so his widow, Jennie’s aunt Anne Jane Paterson, made an application in Ontario Surrogate Court, dated 10 September 1880, asking to be appointed executor in his place. As part of the same application, Crowther, Tilt and MacNabb requested they be allowed to renounce their position as executors of Martha Kennedy’s estate, in effect leaving Anne Jane Paterson as the sole executor of Martha Kennedy’s estate and the sole guardian of Martha’s three daughters, Emily, Martha and Jennie….”

“There is no other publicly available first hand account of how Robert Butchart and Jennie Kennedy actually met. One common story, which first appeared in print after both Robert and Jennie had passed on, is that they met through Robert’s father and Jennie’s uncle, Robert Paterson, who had become friends through their involvement in Owen Sound civic politics. This is highly unlikely.  Although Robert’s father, George M. Butchart, was a friend of Robert Paterson and both were, in fact, active in local politics, the records show that Robert Paterson died in 1879, a year before Jennie Kennedy moved to Owen Sound in 1880. It is possible, however, that Robert and Jennie were introduced through George M. Butchart and Anne Jane Paterson, who was Robert Paterson’s widow as well as Jennie’s aunt and guardian. But Owen Sound was a small town in the 19th century; the Butcharts and the Patersons moved in the same social circle, so it’s just as likely that Robert Butchart and Jennie Kennedy met each other without their parents’ involvement.

Regardless of how Robert & Jennie met, their courtship would undoubtedly have been encouraged by their families. Jennie’s mother Martha Kennedy, had she lived, would, no doubt, have approved. Martha’s will had required her daughters’ prospective husbands to obtain the “consent and approval” of Martha Kennedy’s executor, Anne Jane Paterson, before marrying one of Martha’s daughters. It is unlikely that Robert Butchart had any difficulty in getting Anne Jane Paterson’s “consent and approval” to marry her niece, Jennie Kennedy….”