Capt. Herbert Stevenson Adam
President of Markham Fair 1912
By Myra Chepack
The Fair president of 1912 was born January 22nd, 1873 and was of Scottish ancestry, with fair hair and blue eyes. His father was G. (probably Graeme) Mercer Adam, a journalist and his mother, born in 1848, was Jane (Gibson), daughter of James and Margaret, who were born in Ireland.
The military rank acquired by Herbert Adam was due to his Militia service. He was three years with the 7th Toronto Regiment, then became a lieutenant after two years with the 40 Battalion and ultimately Capt., during a fifteen year service with the Grenadiers, now known as the Royal Regiment of Canada. On June 23rd of 1915, he signed up in Niagara, Ontario with the Canadian Over-seas Expeditionary Force and served in Europe with the Canadian Infantry.
Herbert Adam married Caroline Alice (Billing) on February 27th, 1907 who was twelve years his junior, being twenty-two at the time of their wedding. Caroline was the only daughter in a family of four born to Charles Stuart and Emily Agnes (Dack). Her father, Charles was of Irish ancestry and was born in St. Gabriel de Valcartier, P.Q. but ultimately lived in Markham, where he was a business manager. Her mother, Emily was also Irish and one of nine children.
The wedding of Caroline and Herbert took place at St. Thomas Anglican Church, located at 383 Huron Street in Toronto. The church was established in 1874 with the structure being built in 1892-93 with an addition after the First W.W.. It is a beautiful building designed by Architect Eden Smith. One son was born to them, whose name was Graeme Mercer Adam, likely named for his paternal Grandfather.
Capt. Adam was a bank manager for the Standard Bank, prior to W.W.1, which was located at 91 Main Street North. The building was constructed in 1895 and presently houses the Old Curiosity Tea Shop. The building is prominent and three stories tall, it was meant to inspire confidence in the bank. The Manager’s office was on the main floor in the front window, with the teller’s cage in the center of the south wall. The teller would have been a young, single man, as the salary was insufficient to support a wife and family. His quarters would have been on the third floor with the Bank Manager and his family occupying the second floor. As exemplary behaviour was expected of everyone connected to banking, this arrangement allowed the Manager to keep an eye on the young tellers. Should a teller rise to Manager status, he would be expected to marry quickly in order to maintain the respect of the community. Women were not considered capable enough to handle vast sums of money and therefore there were no female tellers!
The Standard Bank, under the manager-ship of Capt. Adam provided financing for the construction of Milne Dam in 1911. The dam is located south of Wellington Way, west of Markham Road. The attached photo shows Capt. Adam on the left with Grant Milne and Archie Ward Milne, the builder of the dam.
Cap. Adam’s wife, Caroline died on August 15th, 1960. Her service was held at Grace Church on the Hill, which is located at Lonsdale and Avenue Roads. Her Toronto address was Oriole Parkway, indicating that she was a woman of means at the time of her passing. Herbert had predeceased her but his final resting place is unknown to the author. The Fair President of 1912, although accomplished and respected yielded little insight into his life or beginnings. Any information on this or other Presidents from the past is always welcomed by the Archives Committee. The committee thank the Markham Museum staff for their outstanding assistance and generous contribution to our annual articles.