“that was terrific!”

ross bertram


toronto, ontario

“Could you do that one again?”  So the master said to the student.

The master in this case was a musician named Roy Hollingshead and the student was Ross Bertram. Ross had been given a saxophone at the age of ten by his father and was taking lessons from this musician who played with the local orchestra of the day. The compliment, however, was directed towards Ross’ magic. Ross knew that his teacher was aware of his interest in magic and each Saturday Ross tried to have a new trick or two up his sleeve to perform for his mentor. 

Ross Bertram was born John Ross Bertram in midtown Toronto on July 28, 1912. His father, John Andrew Bertram, was born in Erin, Ontario of Scottish decent and his mother, Morna Alberta, who was of Welsh decent, was born in the town of Orillia, Ontario – the home of the great Canadian humorist, Stephen Leacock 1. Ross had three older sisters – Isobel, Hilda and Hazel. Hilda and Hazel were twins.  A natural blessing for a magician!

Ross’ father was a chocolatier by profession and although he may have given Ross a saxophone as an early present, he did not stay long with the family.  He abandoned them and left the responsibility of caring for the children emotionally and economically to his wife. 


1 Leacock wrote two wonderful short stories involving magicians: “The Conjuror’s Revenge” and “A Model Dialogue”. Learn more about Stephen Leacock, and read these short stories.