California Genealogy and History Archives
San Bernardino County and Riverside County
JOHN H. URQUHART, president and manager of the Sierra Vista Packing Association, is known personally or by name in all the large citrus purchasing centers in the United States, and his name is accepted as a guarantee for all citrus products that pass through his packing house. A resident of Riverside for more than thirty years, Mr. Urquhart's experience has led him through every phase of citrus production, packing and marketing. In citizenship in the community his name stands equally high.
Mr. Urquhart was born in Nova Scotia, September 17, 1856, and on both sides represents sturdy Scotch ancestry. His parents were William and Barbara (MacKenzie) Urquhart. His mother was born in Nova Scotia of Scotch parentage. His father, a native of Scotland, went to Nova Scotia when twenty-one years of age, and the rest of his life was spent in mercantile business.
John H. Urquhart acquired a good education in public schools and an academy in Nova Scotia. At the age of fifteen he was working in his father's store. His father also operated a 400 acre ranch. At the age of seventeen John was given full charge of this property, owing to the death of his older brother. It was a big undertaking, but he handled it with a resourcefulness that seems fundamental in his character. He continued its management seven years, and later found time to take an extended trip through Canada and the Middle West of the United States. After returning home he engaged in the dry goods and grocery business for himself, and was active in that line for seven years.
The severe climate of Eastern Canada made Mr. Urquhart a sufferer from chronic asthma, and in searching for relief his mind was turned in the direction of California. A friend who had spent much time in Riverside furnished him his first direct knowledge of this perfect environment. The friend, returning to Nova Scotia to dispose of his remaining interests in order to make California his permanent home, gave such an impetus to the growing desire of Mr. Urquhart that he, too, sold out and came to Riverside. He has never had occasion to regret that move, though he arrived here just after the boom, when ever business was at low ebb.
While possessing some means, it was not in accordance with his character to remain idle and enjoy it long. He was soon working in one of the packing houses, and through the actual contact of working experience gained his thorough knowledge and understanding of the great industry in which he is now one of the accepted leaders. For twelve years Mr. Urquhart was connected with the La Mesa Packing Company, much of the time as its floor superintendent. He was for two years with the Arlington Heights Fruit Company and a like period of time with the Alta Cresta Fruit Company. During 1909-10 he organized the Sierra Vista Packing Association, and has since been its president and manager. From the time of his arrival up to about 1912-13 Mr. Urquhart bought, sold and planted various orange groves in the Riverside district. He disposed of all these holdings in order to be free to devote his entire time to the interests of the Packing Association. He is also president and a director of the Cresmer Manufacturing Company, whose planing mills and industrial organizations comprise one of the biggest establishments of Riverside. Mr. Urquhart is a member of the Kiwanis and Present Day Clubs. While a resident of Canada he was a member of the local militia and quite active in local elections. Since coming to California he has been naturalized as an American citizen and is a republican voter. He and Mrs. Urquhart are members of the Calvary Presbyterian Church, and both are active in that church, for which for many years he served as an elder. Mrs. Urquhart is a member of the Red Cross and devoted much of her time and energies to the local chapter during the World war.
In Nova Scotia December 3, 1889, Mr. Urquhart married Miss Emma M. Cunningham, native of Nova Scotia, daughter of Francis S. Cunningham, a contractor and builder, and of Scotch-Irish descent. Mr. and Mrs. Urquhart's only son, William Francis Urquhart, died in infancy. Their one daughter is Miss Jean Graham Urquhart, at home.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011