Government of Canada honours businessman John Molson with historic designation

News release

One of Montréal’s leading entrepreneurs of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Molson recognized as a person of national historic significance

December 15, 2021                        Gatineau, Quebec             Parks Canada Agency

Perhaps best known today for his role in Canada’s brewing industry, John Molson (1763–1836) was one of Montréal’s leading entrepreneurs of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, gaining prominence through his business interests, as well as his political, philanthropic, and cultural contributions to Lower Canada.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Steven Guilbeault, announced the designation of John Molson as a person of national historic significance under the National Program of Historical Commemoration, on the recommendation of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

Leaving England for the Province of Quebec in 1782, John Molson became the sole owner of a small business that developed into one of the largest breweries in the colony. Building on the success of the Molson Brewery, he financed other ventures, including hotels and the city’s first permanent performing arts venue, and contributed to the development of leading institutions, such as the Bank of Montreal and the Montreal General Hospital.

Molson facilitated the transition to mechanized industry in Lower Canada by introducing steam-powered machinery in his businesses. He also contributed to the early days of the transportation revolution in the colonies with the construction of the first steamboat (1809) and the first railroad (1836) in British North America – technologies that proved central to the economic progress of these colonies. By the time of his death in 1836, Molson had helped transform Montréal into the commercial and financial capital of Lower and Upper Canada.

National historic designations reflect the rich and varied heritage of our country and provide an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about our diverse history. The Government of Canada, through the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, recognizes significant persons, places, and events that have shaped our country as one way of helping Canadians connect with their past. By sharing these stories with Canadians, we hope to foster understanding and reflection on the diverse histories, cultures, legacies, and realities of Canada’s past and present.

The designation process under Parks Canada’s National Program of Historical Commemoration is largely driven by public nominations. To date, more than 2,200 designations have been made nationwide. To nominate a person, place or historical event in your community, please visit the Parks Canada website for more information: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/culture/clmhc-hsmbc/ncp-pcn/application.

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Quotes

“Rising to prominence as an entrepreneur with diverse business interests, Molson helped Montréal grow and mature from a small colonial town into a commercial and financial metropolis. His many contributions to the city – and to a young, emerging Canada – continue to be felt to this day. On behalf of the Government of Canada, I am pleased to commemorate the national historic significance of John Molson.”

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

“Unlike the prominent fur and wood merchants who operate within the same circles as he, John Molson shows more respect toward the francophone majority. He also foresees a growth in the area of economic development oriented on the St. Lawrence Valley rather than the British Empire. These facts are most likely based on the nature of his activities, which are varied and focused on the interior market, be it through the brewery, steam navigation or hospitality.”

Gilles Laporte
Historian and lecturer, Department of History, Université du Québec à Montréal
Author of
Molson et le Québec

 

Quick facts

  • Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change regarding the national significance of persons, places, and events that have marked Canada’s history. Together with Parks Canada, the Board ensures that subjects of national historic significance are recognized under the National Program of Historical Commemoration and these important stories are shared with Canadians.

  • The designation of persons, places and events of national historic significance in Canada helps to tell the stories of who we are and connect us to our past, enriching our understanding of ourselves, each other, and our country. Heritage places provide a wide range of cultural, social, economic, and environmental benefits to their communities.  

  • Parks Canada is committed to working with Canadians in our efforts to tell broader, more inclusive stories in the places that it manages. In support of this goal, the Framework for History and Commemoration, outlines a new, and engaging approach to sharing Canada’s history through diverse perspectives, including shedding light on tragic and difficult periods of Canada’s past.

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Contacts

Gabriel Brunet
Press Secretary    
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
819-665-6527
Gabriel.Brunet2@ec.gc.ca


Media Relations
Parks Canada Agency
855-862-1812
pc.media@pc.gc.ca

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