Robert Abraham was owner and editor of the Montreal Gazette briefly in the mid-19th century. The eldest child of Thomas Abraham and Orpah Clarke, he was born in Penrith in Cumberland, England. At age 26, he took passage from Liverpool to New York and ended up in Montreal in 1834 as the first editor of the Montreal Transcript. Within the decade he was able to purchase the Montreal Gazette from the firm of Armour & Ramsay, and began publishing it daily (till then it had only appeared daily during the summer) on St. Paul Street, one door west of Custom House Square.
His conservative reputation as a journalist came to the attention of the Montreal municipal council when they appointed patriote Toussaint Peltier as Legal counsel to the city in 1844. The council named Abraham to be Peltier’s assistant as a counterbalancing influence, but neglected to inform Peltier who, when he found out, resigned rather than work with someone he considered a militant. Yet Abraham had written an 81-page treatise praising the French form of legal freehold (franc aleu).
Abraham’s interests were broad, and in 1847 the Gazette published an article describing his discovery of fossil trackways (known as “Protichnites”) of ancient freshwater tortoises in a sandstone quarry in Beauharnois near the St. Lawrence River. The discovery attracted the attention of prominent geologist W.E. Logan who credited Abraham for the find in his writings on the topic. Abraham later accompanied Logan on a visit to the site.
In 1848, he sold the Gazette to James Moir Ferres and subsequently became a member of the Bar. He was involved in a controversy over the Free Banking Act in 1850, denouncing it in print along with other conservatives. The following year he married Sarah Seed and lived at 126 St. Antoine Street, but they had no children before he died in 1854. The Canadian Press Association in their 1858 History of Canadian Journalism cites him as one of the “well-known figures in Canadian journalism” at that time.