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John Redpath fonds (P085)

1820-1854. - 81 cm of textual records.

Administrative History - Biographical Sketch:

Born in Scotland, John Redpath (1796-1869) came to Canada in 1816. By the 1820s he was a prominent building contractor in Montréal and involved in such projects as the Lachine Canal, Notre Dame Church and the Rideau Canal. Later, in the 1850s, he built and ran the first sugar refinery in the Province of Canada. He also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Bank of Montréal from 1833 to 1869. He was a director of such charitable institutions as the Montréal General Hospital and was one of the founders of the Protestant House of Industry and Refuge.

(Source: Guide to Archival Resources at McGill University : Private Papers At McGill University. McGill University Archives. 1985. Vol.2, p.182.)

John Redpath (1796-5 Mar 1869) married Janet McFee on 19 Dec 1818 and they had ten children, of which seven survived: Elizabeth "Betsy" (1819), Peter (1821), Mary (1823), Jane (1825), Helen (1827), Jane Margaret (1829) and John James (1834). Janet died in 1834 and John remarried.

His second wife was Jane Drummond (4 Oct 1815-30 Jan 1907) and they had seven children: Margaret Pringle (1836), George Drummond (1839), Wilhemmina (1841), Isabella (1844), Francis "Frank" Robert (1846), Charles Andrew (1848), Augusta Eleanor (1850), Emily Jane Bonar (1853), Harriet Ina (1855) and William Wood (1858).

(Source: Redpath - the history of a sugar house, Richard Feltoe, 1991)

Only two of his sons, Peter and John James, appear to have joined the refinery. One of Redpath's daughters married John Dougall, editor of the Montreal Witness, another Henry Taylor Bovey, a well-known McGill University professor, and another George Alexander Drummond, who became the principal figure in the refinery and a prominent Montreal businessman.

(Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography.)

Scope and Content:

The John Redpath fonds consists of business records and private papers dealing with his domestic life. Redpath's contracting business is reflected by the following series of financial records: account books and ledgers which detail the expenses for the building of the private residences of a few prominent Montréalers, the Montréal General Hospital, the Notre Dame Church and the Rideau Canal; cheque stubs; receipt books which provide details on the costs of construction materials and labour for various projects, mainly for the Rideau Canal; records of labourer's wages for the Rideau Canal ; workers' provisions account book; correspondence from employees and businessmen concerning supplies and contracts, Rideau Canal; financial statements, Rideau Canal. His investment transactions, involving real estate, stocks and money lending are documented by account books. Redpath's private records consist of a cash account book; records of household expenses; and servants wages.

(Source: Guide to Archival Resources at McGill University : Private Papers At McGill University. McGill University Archives. 1985. Vol.2, p.182-3.)