II-86093 | William Clendinneng Senior, Montreal, QC, 1888

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William Clendinneng Senior, Montreal, QC, 1888
Wm. Notman & Son
1888, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
17.8 x 12.7 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  male (26812) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

Irish-born William Clendinning (or Clendinneng) [1833-1907] was a businessman, politician and philanthropist. He made his debut at age 19, working as a foundry clerk in the Sainte-Anne district of Montreal. In 1858, he became the partner of William Rodden, his former boss, and by 1868, he was managing his own business. After he brought his son William on board in 1884, his company took the name Wm. Clendinneng & Son.

In 1886, with a staff of almost 300, the company had become one of the most important of its kind in Montreal. It was part of an industry that employed large numbers of children under the age of sixteen. Manufacturing wrought iron furniture, stoves, grills and ornamental pieces, Wm. Clendinning & Son counted among its clients some of Montreal's most powerful families, including the Stephens, the Allans and the Molsons.

Active in a number of charitable organizations, Clendinning was recognized as a philanthropist. To his employees, he was said to be "a friend." He was known to have set up a reading room for them in the factory during the 1870s, and a company picnic was held every summer. But no man is perfect, and in 1872, Clendinning would join a group of 50 businessmen to oppose shortening the workday from ten hours to nine....

  • What

    This portrait is one of roughly 3,000 created by the Notman Studio in 1888. The studio catered to the more wealthy members of Montreal society as well as to tourists seeking to pose for posterity.

  • Where

    Throughout the 1880s, Clendinning was especially involved as a board member of two Montreal-area organizations: the Montreal Protestant House of Industry and Refuge (a private refuge for disadvantaged Protestants) and the Canadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

  • When

    Clendinning was politically active from 1876 when he was elected city alderman in the Sainte-Antoine riding. In the fall of 1888, he served as interim mayor.

  • Who

    The 1888 book, The Commerce of Montreal and its manufactures, describes Mr. Clendinning as a man of honour: « He takes a deep interest in the welfare of all his employees and exercises a fatherly care over them and many boys and men has been led to live a useful and honorable life through his influence. » (1888: 110)