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Molson Family Fonds (P046)

1807-1938. - 50 cm of textual records.

Administrative History - Biographical Sketch:

The first member of the Molson family to come to Canada from England was John Molson, who opened a brewery in Montréal in 1786. The second son of John Molson, Thomas (1791-1863), married his cousin Martha Molson and joined the family business in 1816. Aside from a decade spent in Kingston, 1824-1834, Thomas was involved in a series of family-oriented partnerships in Montréal. These partnerships, which revolved around the brewing and distilling business, eventually included his sons, John Henry Robinson, William Markland and John Thomas (1837-1910).

Educated at Montreal High School, John Thomas joined the family business in 1861. From 1868 to 1880 he spent his time travelling in Europe, yachting and fishing. He returned to the firm in 1880 and continued his association there until his death in 1910. John Thomas married twice: his first wife was Lillias Savage (1839-1866), and his second wife was Jane (Jennie) Baker Butler (1850-1926) of Waterloo, Québec. The eldest son of Jennie and John Thomas was Herbert Molson (b.1875) who later served as a governor of McGill University.

(Source: Guide to Archival Resources at McGill University: Private Papers at McGill University. McGill University Archives. 1985. Vol. 3, p. 334.)

Scope and Content:

The Molson papers deal with business, domestic, military and leisure activities. The papers of John Thomas Molson, which represent the bulk of the collection, mainly reflect his interest in travel and leisure activities. His papers include passports, 1864-1865; notes on travel, n.d.; travel diaries, 1855, 1874, and a pocket notebook containing lists of provisions for hunting and fishing expeditions, 1873. There are also materials on his yacht Nooya such as correspondence with the captain on the hiring of staff, 1872; accounts and receipts, 1870-1874; invitations to friends for cruises, 1874-1875, n.d.; and a description of a trip from Liverpool to Moville, 1870. His business papers include a notebook with figures related to brewery operations, 1859-1860. His involvement in the militia is reflected by a list of the men in No. 2 Co., Montreal Light Infantry, 1862. His personal correspondence with family, friends and business associates covers hunting trips, the militia, investments and political matters 1863-1890. The papers of his wife Jane (Jennie) reflect their domestic and social life and include servants' wage books 1870-1892 and a calling book, ca. 1900.

The Thomas Molson papers consist of a travel diary, 1815-1816; family correspondence, 1816-1848; technical notes and a diary on his brewing and distilling business in Montréal and Kingston, 1820-1832; and receipts for installments paid on shares of the banking firm of Viger DeWitt and Co., 1837, 1841. The Martha Molson papers contain receipts and bills documenting personal and household expenditures, 1816-1841. The papers of Herbert Molson include a phrenological chart, 1878; a family letter, 1880; and documents related to the Molson family businesses, including bills of lading, 1820, bills for beer, 1807, and also specifications for a flywheel and engine repairs, 1831, and a kiln, 1836.

The fonds also contains two additions: a logbook from the boat The Curlew was added in 2001, and a set of legal documents pertaining to the land owned by Mabel Molson at "Temple Grove," David Ross McCord's former property on the slopes of Mont Royal, was added in 2005.

(Source: Guide to Archival Resources at McGill University: Private Papers at McGill University. McGill University Archives. 1985. Vol. 3, p. 334.)