Makers of Nineteenth-Century Europe - James Robertson Burnett

James Robertson Burnett


James Robertson Burnett (1871-1952)

James Robertson Burnett was born in 1871, in Aberdeen, Scotland. He would begin his career as a reporter for his hometown paper, and later became the editor of The Dalkeith Advertiser, another Scottish newspaper. By 1900, James became an assistant editor of The Weekly Argosy, and then made his way up to editor. The weekly newspaper was located in British Guiana and during James’ nine years in the British Colony, he was able to turn the Argosy into a daily newspaper.

James would return to Scotland, where he met and married Flora Hope Trotter, in 1909. They had five children, all boys: Ian Allan, William Robertson, Nial Hope, who was sadly lost during WWII, James Evelyn, and George Mathieson.

In 1912, Senator William Dennis of Canada offered the position of editor of The Guardian newspaper to James; he would accept this position and move his family to Prince Edward Island, Canada and live in Rowan Cottage on Upper Hillsborough Street in Charlottetown. All but one of James’ sons took positions working at The Guardian but it was Ian, the first born son, who took over the position of Managing Director and Editor after James’ passing.

After many years working as editor of The Guardian, James was able to increase readership from 3,000 to over 13,000 by 1952. He was also known to create the sub-heading “Covers the Island Like the Dew”, used by the paper. Another major change James implemented was the paper's availability to the public. He would add delivery trucks and then airplanes to transport and deliver the newspaper each morning, no matter the location on the Island. He also began his own transport company Provincial Transport Inc., which would later be sold to Canada Post.

James and sons were also heavily involved as elders in their church Kirk of St. James Presbyterian Church in Charlottetown. He was also awarded the Scout’s Medal of Merit for his volunteer efforts with the Boy Scouts of Prince Edward Island.

Sadly on 12 June, 1952, James Robertson Burnett passed away at the age of 81.


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Wytock, J. C. (2014, July). John Marshall Hunter: His Glaswegian Architectural Roots.


Crant, P. (2017). Founding members presentationl [Slides]. Slide Share.

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