John Ross Somers McLERNON

I started research on John Ross Somers McLernon after seeing he had missed the Titanic which he was booked on.  The following report was published in the Poverty Bay Herald on 3 July 1912.


Word has been received that Mr Aubrey McLernon, son of Mr S. McLernon, of Napier, has passed his final examination at the Municipal School of Technology, Manchester. He leaves immediately on a visit to his brother, Mr Ross McLernon, in Montreal, and then comes on to Napier. Mr Ross McLernon was booked as a passenger, by the ill-fated Titanic from England to America on her recent disastrous journey, but fortunately he missed the boat.

Finding Ross

I did not have Ross in my tree. A search of the NZ birth index did not find Ross McLernon, or his sister Marcella Irene.  However I did another search for McLemon, on the chance that might have been a transcription error.  That did find Ross and his sister.

Once I had found Ross’s name, finding details of his life became a bit easier.  My main sources have been, Liisa Macnaughton from Ottawa and Gary Fox who was researching the Canadian Horological Institute. Ross provided the photograph of Ross.

Early life in New Zealand

John Ross Somers McLernon was born in Hamilton, New Zealand, on 17 August 1881. He was the son and fourth child of Samuel McLernon and Mary Jane Somers. Samuel was a watchmaker and jeweller from Atrim in Northern Ireland who had a business in Hamilton from 1876 to 1888.

Samuel purchased and opened a watch and jewellery business in Gisborne in December 1884.  The Hamilton business was closed in November 1888 and the family moved to Gisborne. Ross McLernon attended school in Gisborne. He was amongst the top four students in the October 1895 scholarship examinations at Gisborne High School and was awarded a scholarship.

The McLernon family moved to Napier about 1897 after Samuel McLernon purchased a Napier jewellery and watch business in August 1896. Ross McLernon worked for his father and gave his occupation as jeweller in the 1905 Napier Electoral Roll.

Life in Canada

Ross McLernon moved to Toronto, Canada in 1903 to attend the Canadian Horological Institute, a school that would gain worldwide attention as one of the finest institutions of its kind. The Institute trained students of all ages and with varying levels of experience in the theory and practice of watch making and repair.

The following endorsement was attributed to Ross in 1912 “It was for the sake of experience, and to obtain a more complete horological training, that I decided to leave New Zealand. When doing so I was not satisfied to accept the statements of one school alone, but made careful enquiry about many of the schools on the American continent. Eventually I came to Toronto, and it is with pleasure, and with perfect confidence, that I can recommend the Canadian Horological Institute.

Photo of Ross
Ross McLernon in 1903

Ross McLernon married Edith Acer, a Canadian, about 1908.

Ross was listed in the 1908 to 1920 Montreal City Directories as manager of John Round & Sons Ltd, an English silver company with showrooms in London and Montreal. In the 1911 Canadian Census the Ross and his wife were living in Montreal, and  Ross gave his occupation as silversmith.

In 1921 Ross changed career, obtaining work in with his brother-in-law’s Montreal pulp and paper company, J. H. A. Acer and Co Ltd. In 1929 Ross formed Acer McLernon Paper Company Ltd with his brother-in-law John Hamilton Adams Acer, a Montreal based company that became world agents for  many of the major Canadian pulp and paper companies. Ross traveled extensively for the company and was company President from 1948.

Ross died in 1962 aged 80. He was survived by a son and two daughters, his wife Edith having died in 1958.

The company he formed still trades today, since 1978 as Acer, Mclernon Canada Inc. (Acer, Mclernon). The company offers paper packaging products and flexo graphic printing services. In addition, its subsidiary Multipak Ltd., offers laminating and coating solutions, including adhesive laminations extrusion laminations, and multi-layer coatings. The company caters its products to various markets, including bakery, biscuit, cheese, coffee, confectionery fish, frozen food, industrial, liquids, meat paper products, pasta, pet food, pharmaceuticals, and snack industries. Acer, Mclernon is headquartered in Montreal, Canada.

Descendants of Ross hold positions in the Acer, Mclernon and are on the Board of Directors. David H. McLernon is a Director and President of the company. Robert A McLernon is Chief Administrative Officer for the company.

Any descendants wishing to add to this account, or correct it, please get in touch. This is posted under McLaren because my branch of the McLernon family in New Zealand adopted the name McLaren.


2 thoughts on “John Ross Somers McLERNON

  1. Hi Chris. You may be the Chris Korte I knew from my time at Gisborne Boys’ High School. The only reason that I have investigated the background of Sam and Ross McLernon is because a photo taken of Tairawhiti (Gisborne) nurses in a 1916 Buick like my own was taken in Gladstone Road on 13 November 1919 and a shop frontage adorned Mesrs S McLernon & Son can be distinguished in the background of the photo. The photo was taken by T Thomas and was printed in The Gisborne Herald on 22 April, 2016. On 24 March 2017, the Tairawhiti Museum is proposing to set up a re-enactment of the photo, utilising my veteran Buick (which incidentally was in the main Gisborne Armistice Day Parade in Gisborne in November 1918, driven by my father’s uncle). I thought you may be interested in this information.

    Kind regards, Tony Bartlett (GBHS 1967 – 1971)

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