Robert Douglas was born and raised in Scone. At an early age he and his brother Charles left for America. There he prospered. The father of Robert Douglas was John Douglas. It was he who founded the Scone Jam Factory when New Scone was about 80 years old. Here his sons learnt the business of jam making and when they went to America they devised a means of extracting from fruit, mainly apples, a setting agent called fruit pectin which was used by preserve manufacturers.
1906 Robert Douglas bought the old DeLand Chemical Works buildings in Fairport, north east corner North Main Street and State Street New York State (now Lift bridge Lane) and organized the York State Fruit Company. He used carloads of apples and became the largest cider and vinegar maker in the state.
This is an up-to-date picture of the Fairport (New York State) site.It was later taken over by a corrugated cardboard box company, and today is still known as The Box Factory, and has about forty-five businesses, including an ice cream parlor and cafe.
1911 Robert Douglas discovered that pectin from apples was a perfect catalyst for changing fruit syrup into jelly and jam. It was “Sure to jell” the result, called Certo, was popular with housewives across America who canned their own preservatives.
1919 bought a manufacturing site in Ontario Street, Cobourg Canada. To sell vinegar and pectin to the British Empire markets, taking advantage of preferential tariffs with a site in Canada. By 1925 it is known as the Douglas-Pectin plant.
He became President of the great Certo Corporation, later sold to the giant General Foods Corporation of America. Throughout the years he remembered his birthplace and retained his affection for it.
When preparing his will Robert Douglas directed that a portion of his estate should be devoted in perpetuity for the benefit of the people of New Scone and the vicinity, and to the betterment of living conditions in the village. He directed his trustees in America to establish in New Scone a Douglas Foundation Trust to carry out his wishes. The trustees were to be responsible for and to direct the administration of the various ramifications of the Foundation and manage its finances.
Watched by Sir Stanley Norie-Miller, Isabella Douglas officially opened the Abbey Road venue on February 21, 1940. The late Ms Douglas, Robert Douglas’ sister, was presented flowers on the day by five-year-old youngster Catherine Miller.Sir Stanley Norie-Miller was named as the first chairman of the Robert Douglas Foundation, which was registered as a charity to distribute the money in August 1936.
Before the Trust was formed in this country the American Trustees had carried out a great amount of work and spent considerable sums of money since Robert Douglas died on 28th May, 1929.
Their efforts had achieved:
- The erection of a new school in Scone.
- The laying out of the public park.
- The building of the Memorial Home and Cottages.
- An extension to the public hall.
- An addition to the Perth Royal Infirmary called the Douglas Memorial Wing.
In the course of time the school and the extension to the public hall have been taken over by the County Council. The wing of the Infirmary, along with an endowment fund, has been annexed by the Regional Hospital Board under the National Health Act.
The park, which was presented to Scone by the late Charles Hutchinson, has continued to be maintained by the Trust, assisted by a grant from the County Council. It has been laid out by the Trust with shrubberies and serpentine paths throughout. A bowling green, putting green and tennis courts have been made and suitable club houses built. Large areas have been sown to grass for football, cricket and other sport. All this has combined to provide the people of New Scone with a much appreciated social amenity.
The Memorial Home along with the cottages form a further asset to the village. The residents there are comfortably accommodated in their own environment where they can freely and easily be visited by friends and relations.
Following the building of the new school, the old school premises were taken over by the Trust. Considerable alterations were carried out to make it suitable for social gatherings and many forms of indoor activities, and the Douglas Memorial Institute was created. The Institute is an amenity which many villages would greatly envy. It is appreciated by old people who can throughout the day rest and read in comfortable surroundings.
It is made use of by church and school and by various organisations for the playing of games and other activities for which it provides such excellent opportunities.