Some detail taken from Quebec and Related Silver at The Detroit Institute of Arts by Ross Allan C. Fox
Robert Cruickshank was the foremost silversmith in Montreal in the second half of the eighteenth century and also one of that city's most prominent and wealthy citizens. He had an important hardware business as well as a large silver workshop an was one of the chief suppliers to the Northwest fur trade, the most important industry in Canada at that time. He furnished such important traders as McTavish, Frobisher & Co., James McGill, and the North West Company not only with prodigious quantities of Indian trade silver but also with items ranging from blankets to gunpowder. Eventually he himself became directly involved in the fur trade and was a shareholder in the North West Company. He was also active in the civic life of Montreal as a justice of the peace and a first warden of Christ Church, the Anglican Cathedral (Carrier, p.9).
Little is known of Cruickshank's background. He came from the British Isles and his name suggests that he was Scottish, yet the design and craftsmanship of his silver reflect an English training. He was in Montreal by 1774, when he signed a petition to the king from the English citizens of Montreal (Traquair, p.15), He formed an early partnership with Michael Arnoldi, silversmith, but this was dissolved on 1 November 1784 (GQ, 14 October 1784). On 14 August 1789, Cruickshank, a widower with a daughter, married Ann Kay, a widow, at Christ Church. (Her first husband, William Kay, a Montreal merchant trading through Detroit and Mackinac, died on 25 July 1787.) She died on 10 December 1790 (ANQM, RBMB, Christ Church de Montreal).
As was the custom of the time, Cruickshank engaged numerous apprentices, including Michael Roy in 1791 (FWR, notes of Louis Carrier), Frederick Delisle in 1795, RenÃ© Blache in 1796, Peter Bohle in 1800, and Narcisse Auclair in 1805 (Traquair, p.16). Besides Indian trade silver, he produced quantities of domestic and ecclesiastical silver, the latter chiefly for Roman Catholic churches and convents. His silver is always of the highest quality, whether working with English of French designs. His reputation and commissions extended as far beyond the Montreal area as Detroit. In the fall of 1807 he voyaged to England and on his return passage died on board the Everetta on 16 April 1809 (GQ, 22 June 1809).