James Leveson Ross was a Scottish-born Canadian engineer, businessman, and philanthropist, who established his fortune mainly through railway construction, notably for the Canadian Pacific Railway, of which he was a major shareholder. In 1888, he turned his attention to the electrification of street railways in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saint John, Birmingham (England), and Mexico City. He was also president of the Dominion Bridge Company, the Mexican Power Company, and Governor of McGill University and the Royal Victoria Hospital. Later in his life, he became one of the founders of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. He funded the construction of the Ross Memorial Wing at the Royal Vic, the Ross Memorial Hospital, and Nurse's Home at Lindsay, Ontario, and the Protestant Hospital for the Insane in Verdun.
In 1892, James Ross commissioned Bruce Price, a renowned American architect, who also designed McGill's Royal Victoria College, Windsor Station, and CPR's Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, to build a house for him on Peel Street, Montreal. The French Chateau style house, with its two circular turrets and large central tower, was constructed of Credit Valley limestone. Between 1897 and 1912, Montreal architects Edward and William Maxwell, were commissioned to redesign and expand the mansion, which included the re-decoration of all main rooms, the addition of a loggia on the south face for breakfast, and a new wing on the north side to accommodate a gallery for Ross' collection of old masters painters. Besides collecting masterpieces, his interests included yachting. Ross' father had been a shipowner, and James too had become a keen sailor after settling in Montreal in 1888. He was a member of the Forest and Stream Club and the Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club (of which he was made a honorary Commodore) in Dorval.
Following his around the world trip aboard his yacht "Glencairn" Ross died of existing heart complications at his home in the Golden Square Mile on 10 Sep 1913 - McGill University, Canadian. Encyclopedia, Heritage Montreal, Ottawa Citizen.