The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts]
Ross is a mining town near the Totara river, and is twenty miles to the south of Hokitika, with which it has communication by means of a daily coach service. It is in the southern riding of the county of Westland, and in the electorate and provincial district of Westland. Ross sprang into existence in the year 1865, with the discovery of gold at Jones' creek and Totara river. Many hundreds of miners were formerly at work in the district, and it is said that between 1865–1870 there were 3500 miners on the field. At one time there were forty-seven hotels in Ross, and the majority of them did a brisk business. The whole neighbourhood is auriferous, and page 532 the gold obtained is well water-worn and coarse in character. It is at Ross that the celebrated dividend-paying “Mont d'Or” mine is situated; but latterly the place has gone backwards, and the census of 1901 gave the population at 614. Ross has been a borough for many years. The first Mayor was the late Mr. Malfroy, and the second was Mr. Grimmond, sometime a member of Parliament. There are two public schools in the township, and four churches; namely, Anglican, Roman Catholic (with resident clergymen), Presbyterian, and Methodist. There is also a branch of the Bank of New Zealand. A paper, known as the “Ross and Okarito Advocate,” is published twice a week. The Government commenced a large water-race in 1878, but after spending about £15,000, withdrew from the work. It is stated that the expenditure of about £30,000, in the furtherance of this undertaking would be of the greatest advantage to Ross as a mining township. Ross has a post and telegraph office, seven hotels, seven stores, two butcheries, and there are also two drapery shops, and two blacksmiths. Periodical sittings of the Stipendiary Magistrate's and Warden's courts are held in the local courthouse, and there is a resident constable who acts as clerk of the court. A few miles south of Ross there are large quantities of timber, and it is expected that the opening up of the bush will contribute to the prosperity of the town. It is stated that coal has been found within twenty miles of the borough, and some miles to the south of Ross, a large gold-mining claim, known as McLeod's Terrace, has been opened up.
His Worship the Mayor, Mr. Thomas Wanless Bruce, was born in Northumberland, England, in 1861, educated at Morpeth Grammar School, and served nine years in the employment of a co-operative drapery firm. In 1882 he landed in New Zealand from the s.s. “Garonne,” and eventually took employment in the New Zealand Clothing Factory at Reefton, where his father, the late Mr. Thomas Bruce, was a leading mine manager and speculator. In 1893 Mr. Bruce opened the Masterton branch of the New Zealand Clothing Factory, and he had charge of the woollen exhibits at the Wellington Exhibition of 1885. After spending about two years with Mr. J. C. Fowler, of the Bon Marche, Napier, Mr. Bruce was obliged to return to Westland, owing to the death of his father. He spent twelve months with Messrs Gallagher Brothers, of Cronadun, before going to Ross to take charge of Mr. W. L. Fowler's business, which he bought out at the expiration of four years. Mr. Bruce has for a number of years been a member of the Ross Borough Council, and has been president of the Miners' Association, secretary of the Kanieri Lake Water Race Company, member of the Westland Charitable Aid Board, and president of the local football and cricket clubs. He is also attached to the Order of Freemasonry. Mr. Bruce was appointed manager of the Mont d'Or Gold Mining Company in the year 1892. He married a daughter of Mr. Otto von Pain, of Sydney, and has one son and one daughter.
Mr. William John Caulfield was appointed Clerk to the Borough Council of Ross in the year 1893. He is also secretary to the Totara Hospital and to the local school committee.
The Ross Post and Telegraph Office , which does the usual Money Order, Savings Bank, and Government Life Insurance business, was opeded during the sixties. Mails arrive from Hokitika daily at 6 p.m. and are despatched at 7.45 a.m. The southern mails arrive on Saturday evening and are despatched on Tuesday morning. Mrs Langdon is postmistress
The Totara Hospital at Ross was erected in 1868, and is situated on page 533 Park Terrace, overlooking the town. There are four wards, capable of aceommodating twenty patients. The building has lately been renovated, and is well appointed and under good management. The staff consists of a resident surgeon and attendants.
The Ross Public School , which was formerly carried on by the Presbyterians and Wesleyans, was opened about 1877. The school is large, and has four class-rooms, with accommodation for 400 scholars. At one time there were 360 names on the roll, but the mining industry having fallen off, the number has decreased to 105, with an average attendance of ninetyfour.
Mr. William Winchester Headmaster of the Ross School, is a Scotsman by birth. He was for ten years a teacher in Perthshire, in his native land, and has been teaching in the colonies for over twenty years. He came from Bendigo, Victoria, in 1881, to take charge of the school at Ross, and since then has continuously filled the position.
The Rev. Father J. F. X. O'Connor, Parish Priest in charge of St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church, Ross, was born at Listowell, County Kerry, Ireland, and was educated at Carlow College. He was ordained in June, 1901, and sent out to New Zealand. Father O'Connor was for eight months at Rangiora, and then went to Ross to relieve Father Bogue; and, at the latter's death, was placed in charge of the parish.
The Rev. Father Bogue was Priest in charge of St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church for about three years before Father O'Connor entered on the duties of the parish. At his death a handsome memorial was erected in the Hokitika cemetery by his parishioners.
The Ross and Okarito Advocate and the Westland Advertiser (with which is incorporated the Ross Guardian, which was established in the early days of Ross as one of two daily papers) is now (1906) published on Wednesdays and Saturdays in each week. It is a double demy four-page sheet of twenty-eight columns, and circulates throughout the district south of the Hokitika river.
Mr. William Brown , proprietor of the “Advocate,” was born in Wanganui. Before acquiring the paper, he had a long experience as a printer in the Government Printing Office, Wellington, and at Patea and Dannevirke. Mr. Brown has managed the “Advocate” since the year 1902.
The Bank of New Zealand , Roass, is situated in Bond Street, in a good position overlooking the township. The branch is an old one, and used to purchase large quantities of gold. Mr. Aitken is the manager.
Stuart and Chapman's Waitaha Bluff Sawmill (David Patrick Stuart and John Chapman, proprietors), Ross. This building is situated close to the Waitaha Bluff, page 534 about seven miles to the southward of Ross, across the Mikonui river. Control is held over 650 acres, 250 acres of which is a Ross Borough Council reserve, the remainder being a Government reserve. A large portion of the timber is silver pine, and until the railway is extended to Ross only this will be cut; and silver pine sleepers are carted to Hokitika. The plant includes a twelve horse-power portable engine, a hauling engine of six horsepower, with a double purchase winch; and a special bench with side rollers is used in connection with the cutting of sleepers. There are five miles of tramways, and about ten persons are employed. Messrs Stuart and Chapman own another mill at Rimu, which is referred to under that place. The firm has also a considerable interest in the steamer “Defender.”
Ring, photoMr. D. P. Stuart.
The Mont D'Or Gold Mining Company , which was registered in 1882, consists of 12,000 £1 shares, of which only 3000 have been issued. The claim was owned in the first instance by Messrs Charles Davey and Joseph Ledger, who held a lease of ten acres in 1875. Mr. Ledger disposed of a portion of his interest to a Frenchman, Mr. C. Malfroy, who named it “Mont d'Or,” The mode of working it at that time was of a primitive nature. The results, however, were very encouraging, and accordingly water was brought from Jones's Creek, and the water race was extended to higher levels, so that additional ground might be worked. Owing to a large landslip in 1880, the higher levels were worked, and amply repaid the party, which then consisted of Messrs Davey, Ledger, Malfroy, and McKay. In order to make further extensions, bring in a large supply of water, and build dams, etc., the present company was formed, with Mr. Davey as working manager. Previous to registration 4000 ounces of gold were obtained, and 7082 ounces were won from the Greenland claim of twenty-eight acres, previous to its being taken over by the Mont d'Or Company in 1890. The total amount of gold taken from the Mont d'Or alone up to December, 1897, was 32,740 ounces. As a sluicing claim it occupies the premier position on the West Coast, and many thousands of pounds have been paid in regular shilling dividends. The water race and dams are on a most complete scale. Mr. John McKay is now (1906) the manager.