Historians of Tomorrow

John Molson

If the game Monopoly had existed in the early 1800s, John Molson would have been a tough player to beat! He arrives from England at 18 in 1782. On his first roll of the dice, he joins a brewing company operated by Thomas Loid in the Faubourg Québec district. Within a few years, Molson takes over the brewery—and two centuries later, it still carries his name! “Commencement on the Grand Stage of the World,” he notes in his ledger, next to an entry recording his first purchase of grains for the business. He proves quick to capitalize on opportunities presented by new technologies, including steam navigation and railroads. But he is also active in politics, and even serves as president of the Bank of Montreal. He gradually brings his three sons by Sarah Insley Vaughan into the business. The family partnership is formalized in 1816 under the name John Molson and Sons.

November 1, 1809. Come, let’s go see the launch of the Accommodation! It’s the first steamboat to travel between Montreal and Quebec City! The engine is manufactured right here in Montreal. Molson finances the ship’s construction with two associates. Surprisingly, it takes less than three days for the steamer to get to Quebec City, but seven to come back! Nonetheless, the trip marks the start of a boom time for river travel. Molson goes on to build a series of vessels and eventually founds the St. Lawrence Steamboat Company in 1822. He also acquires piers in Quebec City and Montreal. In the 1830s, Molson invests in another innovative technology, becoming the largest shareholder in Canada’s first railroad company. With 74 businessmen on its board, the company undertakes the construction of a railroad that soon connects La Prairie and Saint-Jean.


Links to other interesting websites about John Molson

• The Canadian Encyclopedia:

• Le patrimoine du Vieux-Montréal en détail sur le site officiel du Vieux-Montréal (in French):

Complimentary information about this person's era (for the post-visit activity in class)

• Montreal, 500 Years of History in Archives:
See chapters 5 and 6.

• Le patrimoine du Vieux-Montréal en détail sur le site officiel du Vieux-Montréal (in French):
Et cliquez sur "Synthèse historique de la période".


Portrait of John Molson from 1811.

Image source: (Groupe CNW/MOLSON COORS CANADA). http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20111006_C2595_PHOTO_FR_4235.jpg

John Molson

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