Historic Beer Birthday: David & Louis Kuntz

Today is the birthdays of both David Kuntz (June 4, 1819-July 11, 1892) and Louis Kuntz (June 4, 1852-October 8, 1891). David Kuntz was born in Wiesbaden, Hessen, Germany, but moved to Waterloo City in Ontario, Canada, opening the Spring Brewery in 1844, though it was later renamed the Louis Kuntz Park Brewery. His son, Ludwig “Louis” Kuntz was born in Waterloo, Ontario, and work with his father at the family brewery, though passed away a year before his father, and the business passed to David’s grandson, and Louis’ son, David C. Kuntz. Shortly after David C’ Kuntz’s passing, in 1930, Canadian Breweries Limited, which had originally been “named Brewing Corporation of Ontario,” was created “by merging The Brading Breweries Limited, an Ottawa company Taylor had inherited from his grandfather, Capital Brewing of Ottawa, and Kuntz Brewery of Waterloo, Ontario.” In 1977 Carling Brewery was purchased by Labatt Breweries of London, but the Waterloo plant was closed by 1993 and all the buildings on the site had been demolished.

david-t-kuntz     louis-kuntz-icon
David & his son Louis.

David Kuntz was a pioneer brewer who helped establish Waterloo as a centre for quality beer making by undertaking every aspect of the business himself. It is written that Kuntz, a cooper as well as a brewer from Germany, made the barrels himself, brewed the beer, and actually made the bricks for the brewery he eventually built. In the 1830s, Kuntz brewed his beer in an old wooden washtub during the day and made his way around the county at night, selling it from a wheelbarrow. He hid his cash from the beer sales in an empty keg to avoid being robbed. By the early 1840s, Kuntz had enough capital to purchase a brewery hotel from Christopher Huether. The building still stands at the corner of King and Princess Streets and is now known as the Huether Hotel and Lion Brewery.

The 1861 census shows that Kuntz, aged 41, used 3,000 bushels of barley and 1,000 bushels of hops that year at a value of $1,700. He produced 12,000 gallons of beer, valued at $2,400. The pioneer, who had emigrated from Wiesbaden, Germany, now had two male employees who were each paid a monthly salary of $36. He also had one female employee who was paid $11.50 a month. The enumerator, who recorded the census information, commented that Kuntz made “the best beer in the country as far as the judgment of the Enumerator extends. The Brewery, Cellars, and House are of first quality.”

On a personal note, the census shows he was married to Magdelina, twenty-eight, who was also from Germany. At that time, they had four children – Ludwig, Henry, Catherine and Charles between the ages of two and eight. The couple went on to have thirteen children.


The Kuntz family lived in a two-story brick house and had two “pleasure carriages,” along with four horses, twelve cows and twelve pigs. The value of the animals was $560. His new brewery prospered and was called Spring Brewery because it used water from a spring on the property. In the early 1870s, his son Louis took over, renaming it L. Kuntz’s Park Brewery. Louis Kuntz, who was married to Theresa Bauer, died at a young age in the early 1890s, forcing his brothers-in-law Frank and Aloyes Bauer, to take over operations. At the time of his death, his own three sons were still children. In 1910, Louis Kuntz’s sons were old enough to take over the brewery and David Jr. became president, incorporating the business and calling it Kuntz Brewery Ltd. His brothers William and Herbert were also involved in the business. David Kuntz Sr. had
died in 1897.

Employees of the Kuntz brewery in 1894. I suspect one of the mustacheo’d gentlemen may be Louis, but I’m not sure which one.

By the time of the First World War, the Kuntz Brewery was selling 90,000 barrels of beer every year and, in Ontario, was second in popularity only to Toronto’s O’Keefe brew. The Kuntz family also owned hotels including the Alexandra House in Waterloo, and the Opera House in Hamilton. After years of prohibition, the Kuntz family was dealt a fatal blow when the federal government won a tax suit valued at $200,000. By October, Toronto’s beer magnate E.P. Taylor took control of the million dollar plant for the price of simply paying the suit. In 1936, Carling Breweries Ltd. of London, Ontario joined Kuntz, calling the business Carling-Kuntz Brewery Ltd. With the outbreak of the Second World War, the name Kuntz was dropped for sounding “too German” along with the well-loved brews Culmbacher, Bohemian and Olde German Lager. In the mid-1970s it became Carling O’Keefe and a few years later the business was sold to Labatt Breweries of London.

The Labatt brewery in Waterloo was demolished in 1993, but the Kuntz beer that started out in an old washtub, will be remembered by some as “the beer that made Waterloo famous.”


This is from “Brewed in Canada: The Untold Story of Canada’s 350-year-old Brewing Industry,” by Allen Winn Sneath:



And this account, written in 2016, is by Rych Mills for the Waterloo Region Record:

No one alive can remember the taste of “Old German Lager” from Kuntz Spring Brewery (I don’t mean the 1988 re-brew by Labatt). Nonetheless, Kuntz fascination continues and its ephemera are fervently sought by brewerianists — collectors of brewery items.

In the 1830s, while still a teenager, David Kuntz came with older brother Jacob from the German Duchy of Nassau. After a few years working as coopers in Doon, they moved north to slightly larger Waterloo, which boasted maybe 200 inhabitants.

A much-quoted anecdote says David made the bricks that helped build his first brewery; made the barrels that contained the beer; and made the wheelbarrow that helped him deliver the beer.

David and Jacob’s initial brewing began around mid-century on Princess Street at the rear of Wilhelm Rebscher’s original Waterloo brewery (now the Huether Hotel site). They next built a small malting building near Erb and Queen (later renamed Regina) behind Bowman’s Hotel. Then, in the early 1860s, the brothers began constructing a full brewery at King and William streets. A fine flowing spring lured them to that corner and by 1865 the new brewery was in full production using hops and barley the brothers grew themselves. They named it Kuntz Spring Brewery. Jacob Kuntz soon expanded the Kuntz brewing empire; he moved to Carlsruhe, opened Lion Brewery and thus helped to begin Bruce County’s brewing industry.

David Kuntz seems the type of entrepreneur who is never fulfilled. In 1870, aged 50, he turned the business over to son Louis who renamed it L. Kuntz Park Brewery, using the decorative green space in front of the brewery as the company’s trademark. In the meantime, David briefly moved to Hamilton to set up son Henry’s Dominion Brewery.

Returning to Waterloo, David kept busy. He served on council during 1876 when the village became a town and erected a modern hotel, the Alexandra House, kitty-corner from the brewery.

Louis Kuntz died, aged 39, following an appendectomy in 1891. His children were still young so brother-in-law Frank Bauer, also a brewer, took over. Then David Kuntz died in 1892. Bauer’s own 1895 passing began an almost unbelievable sequence of deaths in the brewery’s management. However, business success continued and in 1910 David Kuntz Jr., Louis’ son, took over. He also died young, 38, in 1915 so his two brothers, Herbert and William stepped in.

The First World War, Prohibition and a huge 1929 lawsuit loss resulted in the Kuntz name starting to fade from the brewing business.

E.P. Taylor bought the struggling firm in 1929, wrapping it into his brewing empire. During the Depression, the name changed from Kuntz Breweries to Kuntz-Carling to Carling-Kuntz and finally, during the Second World War, to just Carling. The brewing site at King and William later operated under the O’Keefe and Labatt banners.

What remains of the Kuntz legacy?

For nostalgists, highly collectible Kuntz beer trays, bottles, bottle caps, labels, advertising, Kuntz 1920s soft drink bottles, etc. Two Waterloo houses built by David are historically designated: the 1880 Kuntz-Eckert House at 156 King St. S. and the 1885 Kuntz-Labatt House at 167. In southeast Waterloo, Kuntz sounds echo daily through the neighbourhood — one of the 1902 bells at St. Louis Roman Catholic Church is a bequest from David’s will and is named Magdalena for his wife.

A myth surrounding the Kuntz early years claims streets such as Caroline, William, Mary and John were named after David’s children. A nice idea but those names appear on a map published in 1855 before all but two of the Kuntz children were born. In addition, David and Magdalena did not have children named William, Mary or John.

However, from the couple’s dozen-plus children, a large clan of Kuntz family members still lives in Waterloo Region. The Kuntz name in business carries on with Kuntz Electroplating (KEI) started in 1948 by Oscar Kuntz, son of David Jr. and great-grandson of David.



Historic Beer Birthday: Emil G. Sick

Today is the birthday of Emil George Sick (June 3, 1894-November 10, 1964). Sick was the “son of Canadian brewer Fritz Sick, who built Sick’s Lethbridge Brewery.”
“He was a brewing worker and industrialist in Canada and later the US. He is well known for his involvement as owner of baseball teams and stadiums in Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia from the 1930s until 1960.

He was chairman of the board of Sick’s Rainier Brewing Company and president of Sicks’ Brewery Enterprises, Inc., both of Seattle, and a director of three other firms, Molson’s Brewery, Ltd., and Sicks’ Breweries, Ltd., both of Canada, and the Peoples National Bank of Washington. He also was a director of the Seattle World’s Fair.”


Here’s a short biography from Find a Grave:

Sportsman. Northwest baseball pioneer. Former owner of the Pacific Coast League’s Seattle Rainiers. He constructed Sick’s Seattle Stadium which opened in June 1938 and served as home to the Seattle Rainiers, Seattle Angels and the 1969 major league Seattle Pilots. He rose to prominence in the brewing industry along with his father Fritz, operating breweries in Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, Great Falls, Spokane and the Rainier Brewery in Seattle. Active in civic affairs, he served as president of both the Seattle Historical Society and Seattle Chamber of Commerce. He was also instrumental in the founding of the King County Blood Bank and as chairman of the Washington State March of Dimes.

“In 1934 the Sicks made their most important transaction. It would transform Emil Sick into one of Seattle’s most significant citizens and impact the game of baseball in the state for decades. They acquired exclusive rights to sell the Rainier brand in Washington and Alaska from the Rainier Brewing Company of San Francisco.”


And this is his obituary from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on November 11, 1964 edition, from his Brewery Gems.

Emil G. Sick, 70, long-time Seattle civic and business leader, died early yesterday morning in Swedish Hospital of a stroke following an operation. Mr. Sick had been in failing health recently but had continued to take an active part in his numerous and varied business interests in, the United States and Canada.

He was chairman of the board of Sick’s Rainier Brewing Co. and president of Sicks’ Brewery Enterprises, Inc., both of Seattle, and a director of three other firms, Molson’s Brewery, Ltd., and Sicks’ Breweries, Ltd., both of Canada, and the Peoples National Bank of Washington. He also was a director of the Seattle World’s Fair.

Mr. Sick was equally well known for his leadership in civic activities. He led two successful $100,000 fund raising drives. One played a leading role in saving St. Mark’s Cathedral. As chairman of the non – denominational committee, he saw $100,000 collected to wipe out the church’s debts and beautify the picturesque building.

As president of the Seattle Historical Society, Mr. Sick led the drive which collected $100,000 for construction of the Museum of History and Industry.

Mr. Sick was a long-time leader of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, serving as its president in 1941. Thirteen, years later he was elected an honorary life-time member.

Mr. Sick entered the brewery business as a shipping clerk with Lethbridge Breweries, Ltd., in Alberta, Canada, which was founded and owned by his father.

In the following years he headed numerous corporations which operated breweries in Spokane; Salem, Ore.; Missoula and Great Falls, Mont.; Vancouver, B.C.; Edmonton and Lethbridge, Alta., and Prince Albert and Regina, Sask. Some of these later were closed or sold.

In 1937, Mr. Sick purchased the Seattle Rainier baseball club and a year later built the stadium which bears his name. The club was sold in 1960. He also was past state chairman of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis and was a founder of the King County Central Blood Bank.

In 1949, Mr. Sick became the first Washingtonian to be named for the Disabled American’s Veteran’s award for outstanding civic leadership. And he was named Greater Seattle’s First Citizen in Sports for 1963.

Mr. Sick was born June 3, 1894, in Tacoma. He attended Western Canada College, Calgary, and Stanford University. He resided at 260-39th Ave. E.

He married Kathleen Thelma McPhee in 1918. She died in 1962, and last December he married Mrs. Martha Gardner, widow of a Seattle business leader.

Survivors include his wife, Martha; sister, Mrs. J. A. Blair, Vancouver, B.C.; three daughters, Mrs. Chandler Thomas, Guatemala City, Guatemala; Mrs. Robert Minton, Concord, Mass.; and Mrs. Winston Ingman, Mercer Island; a son, Timothy Sick, London, England; an adopted son, Alan Ferguson, Seattle, and 16 grandchildren.”



Historic Beer Birthday: Thomas Carling

Today is the birthday of Thomas Carling (June 1, 1797-February 17, 1880). He was born in Yorkshire, England but emigrated to Canada, settling in London, Ontario, in 1818, where he founded what would become the Carling Brewery in 1840.


This biography is from Find-a-Grave:

Son of William and Margaret Carling of Etton. Wishing to find his fortune in a young country he sailed from Hull on May 17, 1818 for Canada. (Since there was not much opportunity for tenant farmers in England, many of the young farmer sons left to be successful elsewhere.)

The interesting journey was recorded by his son, Sir John Carling, and is included in the hard-bound book by George P. DeKay, available in the London Room at the London Public Library.
Thomas arrived at his new farm in London township in 1819 and began the long job of clearing the land of trees and building a log cabin. The location was lot 14, concession 8 however in 1824 he moved to a farm further south at lot 26, con. 6, nearer to his in-laws.

About 1839 he moved from the farm into the town of London (Pall Mall and Colborne streets location). It is said that he felt his three surviving sons would receive a better education there.
The origin of CARLING BREWERY is Thomas Carling and London, Ontario. Since he had move time after moving to a town setting, Thomas began brewing beer likely similar to the recipes of home-brewed English beer. The beer was a popular refreshment for the British soldiers who were stationed nearby at the British garrison. It was not long before sons William and John persuaded their father to turn the business over to their management and control. The company was named “W. & J. Carling Ltd.” In 1882 the “Carling Brewing and Malting Co. of London Ltd.” was formed with John as its president. Later the business expanded throughout Canada, the United States, Europe and beyond. The business remained in the family for about 100 years.

Thomas married Margaret Routledge on Oct. 6, 1820. The two had to be married by a Justice of the Peace because in 1820 there was no Church of England minister in the area. This marriage was the first in the newly formed township for a non-native couple. In order to legalize a marriage, it was necessary to post, in three locations, a document signed by the JP in question, the three places being a mill door, a distillery door and on a large tree at a public crossroads.


And this short history of the Carling Brewery is from their Wikipedia page:

The history of Carling dates back to 1818, when Thomas Carling, a farmer from the English county of Yorkshire, and his family settled in Upper Canada, at what is now the city of London, Ontario. He brewed an ale which became popular, and eventually took up brewing full-time. The first Carling brewery had two kettles, a horse to turn the grinding mill and six men to work on the mash tubs, and Carling sold his beer on the streets of London, Ontario from a wheelbarrow.

In 1840 Carling began a small brewing operation in London, selling beer to soldiers at the local camp. In 1878 his sons, John and William, built a six-storey brewery in London, which was destroyed by fire a year after opening. Thomas Carling, shortly after helping to fight the fire, died of pneumonia.[citation needed]

William and John took over the company, naming it the W & J Carling Brewing Co. John Carling died in 1911 and the company changed hands numerous times since. It was acquired by Canadian Breweries Limited, which was eventually renamed Carling O’Keefe, which merged with Molson, which then merged with Coors to form Molson Coors Brewing Company.


This plaque for Carling is in Yorkshire, England, dedicated in 2000:




This short brewery history is from the Carling website:

Carling’s British roots trace all the way back to the Yorkshire village of Etton, little known, but forever in the hearts of Carling as the birthplace of our namesakes, William Carling and his son Thomas. Inheriting his father’s passion and skill for brewing, a 21-year-old Thomas emigrated to Canada taking his father’s Yorkshire beer recipe, which on arrival in Canada he used to brew privately for admiring family and friends. The township Thomas settled in soon became an Imperial Army post where the thirsty soldiers became fans of the Carling family’s Yorkshire brew. In 1843 he built his first commercial brewery, only for his sons William and John to take up the baton soon after, and begin producing lager for the first time in 1869, sewing the first seeds of Carling’s refreshingly perfect pint.


And this is a portion of a history written by Cecil Munsey in 2003, entitled “Carling Black Label Beer in the White Bottle:”




Beer Birthday: Stephen Beaumont

Today is my good friend and colleague Stephen Beaumont’s 53rd birthday. And not only a friend, but a neighbour, partner and ally, too (inside joke). In addition to his Blogging at World of Beer online, Stephen’s written numerous books, including the recent World Atlas of Beer (along with Tim Webb) and the Pocket Beer Book, now in its second edition. Join me in wishing Stephen a very happy birthday.

Stephen with Tom Dalldorf at the Great Divide reception at GABF in 2007.

Stephen Beaumont and his now-wife Maggie, and me, in the Bay Area for the Celebrator anniversary party a million years ago.

Stephen, Tom Dalldorf and me at 21st Amendment for a roast I threw for Tom’s 60th birthday several years ago.

Stephen and Maggie at their wedding reception in Toronto in August 2008.

Beaumont at the Dove
Enjoying a pint of Fuller’s at The Dove in London several years ago.

With Luke Nicolas from New Zealand’s Epic Brewing in D.C. for CBC a few years ago.

Beer Birthday: Alan McLeod

Today is also beer blogger extraordinaire Alan McLeod’s 54th birthday. Alan runs a good beer blog, called — curiously enough — A Better Beer Blog, which replaced his earlier “A Good Beer Blog.” I’m not sure what came first, the goodness or the blog. Anyway, though I’ve yet to meet Alan in person I feel as if he’s already a great, not just good, friend through our many conversations via e-mail and commenting on one another’s blogs. If you haven’t read his essay in the book Beer & Philosophy yet, rush right out and buy yourself a copy. He also published The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer, with Max Bahnson, available as a Kindle single on Amazon, and last year co-wrote both Upper Hudson Valley Beer and Ontario Beer: A Heady History of Brewing from the Great Lakes to Hudson Bay. Join me in wishing Alan the very merriest of birthdays. Cheers, mate.

Alan pondering the mysteries of Stonehenge at age 7.

A night with bald pate, circa 2002.

Contemplating a jump near Prince Edward Island a dozen years ago. Happily, he decided against getting wet.

Letting everyone know his status as a VIP at an event in 2012. [Note: photo purloined from Facebook.]

Historic Beer Birthday: William H. Biner

Today is the birthday of William H. “Billy” Biner (April 16, 1889-January 5, 1953). Biner was a journeyman brewer who worked for numerous breweries over his

He was born in the Montana territory to Swiss immigrant parents. His father, Theophil Biner, knoew Leopold Schmidt and even worked at his Olympia Brewery. Biner sent two of his sons, including Billy once he’s finished with a career as a boxer, to brewing school in Milwaukee. Biner’s first brewing job was at the Phoenix Brewery in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1912. He then worked as brewmaster at at least eight more breweries, from Los Angeles to Canada. The breweries he worked at included the Mexicali Brewery; the Orange Crush Bottling Company in L.A.; the Mexicali Brewing Company again after it was rebuilt following an earthquake; then the Kootenay Breweries, Ltd. in both Nelson and Trail, in BC, Canada; followed by the Ellensburg Brewing Co. in Washington, and then in 1937 he founded his own brewery, the Mutual Brewing Company. But it didn’t last thanks to World War II and supply issues, and it folded. Afterwards, he moved on to both Sicks’ Century Brewery in Seattle and the Silver Springs Brewery in Port Orchard, Washington. Finally, he ran the East Idaho Brewing Co. in Pocatello, Idaho until 1946, when he retired from brewing and bought his own bar, the Leipzig Tavern in Portland, Oregon. He stayed there until a year before he died, which was in 1953.


Here’s his biography from Find a Grave:

William Henry “Billy” Biner was born in Boulder, Montana Territory, on April 16, 1889. He was the fifth of nine children for Theophil Biner and Juliana Truffer, immigrants from Randa, Switzerland.

Theophil Biner was a builder and an acquaintance of Leopold Schmidt, founder of Olympia Brewery. He worked briefly for Schmidt in Tumwater, Washington from 1903-1905. Later in 1905 he purchased the Phoenix Brewery in the copper boomtown of Phoenix, British Columbia. Theophil became president of the company and his sons Albert and Dan ran it.

Younger son Billy became a boxer, eventually earning the title of welterweight champion of British Columbia. In 1911 Theo Biner sent his sons Billy and Gustave to the Hantke Brewery School in Milwaukie, Wisconsin where they graduated in 1912. Billy then became the brewmaster for the Phoenix Brewery and as an aspiring artist he also designed all of the beer labels. During this time he gave up boxing for curling where he found similar success.

Billy Biner married Harriet Lynch, the daughter of diamond drilling supervisor Dan Lynch in 1914. As prohibition approached Billy wrote articles for the local paper espousing the benefits of beer. But business declined in Phoenix and he moved south to Los Angeles in 1919 to work for the Canadian Club Bottling-Orange Crush Bottling Co.

From 1924 through 1929 he served as the brewmaster for the Mexicali Brewing Company in Mexicali, Mexico. In 1929 he returned to Canada and was a brewer in the towns of Merritt and Princeton, BC. From 1929 through 1936 he served as brewmaster for the Kootenay Brewing Company in both Nelson and Trail, BC.

In 1936 Biner moved to Ellensburg, Washington where he became brewmaster at the Ellensburg Brewery through 1942. After the Ellensburg Brewery closed Biner worked as a brewer at both Sick”s Select Brewery in Seattle and Silver Spring’s Brewery in Port Orchard, WA before moving on to Pocatello, where he ran the Aero Club Brewery until 1946.

He purchased the Leipzig Tavern in Portland, Oregon in 1946 and operated it until 1952 when he moved to Los Angeles to work for the North American Aircraft Company. He died of a heart attack on January 5, 1953.

Billy and Harriet Biner had four children; Betty, Bill, Bob and Fredericka (Fritzi). Bill and Bob Biner both worked for their father in Ellensburg before becoming members of the US Air Corps during WW II. Together they flew over 100 missions and are the subjects of the book The Brewmaster’s Bombardier and Belly Gunner.

Although none of Billy’s children or grandchildren became professional brewers, his great-grandson, Charlton Fulton, is the brewer at McMenamins Mill Creek Brewery near Seattle, Washington.

Biner with his sisters Julia and Mary Cecelia and his children Betty and Billy, c. 1925.

Phoenix Export Lager beer label
A label from his first brewery job, which he may also have designed.




Historic Beer Birthday: William Dow

Today is the birthday of William Dow (March 27, 1800–December 7, 1868). Born in Scotland, Dow emigrated to Montreal, Canada when he was 18 and eventually founded what became known as Dow Breweries.

Montréal, vers 1860. William Dow (1800-1868).
William Dow in 1860.

Here’s a short biography from his Wikipedia page:

Born at Muthill, Perthshire, he was the eldest son of Dr William Dow (1765-1844), Brewmaster, and Anne Mason. Since 1652, his family had been brewing in Perthshire. Having gained an extensive experience in brewing under his father, he emigrated to Montreal from Scotland in about 1818. He was employed as foreman of Thomas Dunn’s brewery in Montreal and quickly became a partner. His younger brother, Andrew, who had also trained as a brewer, joined him, and on the death of Dunn, the company became known as William Dow and Company, later known as Dow Breweries. It soon was a strong competitor to Molson’s, the biggest brewery in the city. Dow was also a financier and in 1860 he built his home, Strathearn House, in Montreal’s Golden Square Mile.

Dow in 1868.

And here’s a longer biography from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography:

The son of a brewmaster, William Dow emigrated to Canada in 1818 or 1819 with substantial experience in brewing. He was employed as foreman at Thomas Dunn’s brewery, one of the few in Montreal at that time; by November 1829 Dow was a partner and was joined by his younger brother, Andrew, who had also trained as a brewer. Known as William Dow and Company after 1834, the year of Dunn’s death, the firm prospered and became one of the principal competitors in Montreal to Molson’s, the largest brewery in the city. Like some of his competitors William Dow was also engaged in distilling and in this business too he was a major local supplier. By 1863 his plant was producing some 700,000 gallons of beer in comparison to the Molson’s 142,000 gallons. As his business grew, Dow took in other partners besides his brother (who died in 1853). During the early 1860s he was joined by a group of associates, headed by Gilbert Scott, to whom he eventually sold the business for £77,877 in 1864; it kept his name.

By that time Dow was already a wealthy man with a number of highly remunerative investments in other enterprises besides brewing and distilling. Through the 1840s he put considerable sums into Montreal real estate: in one transaction in 1844 he paid £5,580, mostly in cash, for four pieces of property. Investing also in railways and banks, Dow became important in this expanding sector of Montreal’s economic life. He was a director of the Montreal and New York Railroad Company (which had a line between Montreal and Plattsburg, N.Y.) from 1847 to 1852 and invested nearly £10,000 in its shares, an unusually large sum for anyone to put into a single joint stock company in that era. Dow was one of the Montreal promoters who merged this railway with its major competitor, the Champlain and St Lawrence, in 1855, after a vicious rate war threatened to bankrupt both companies. He also had a small investment in the St Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad and served briefly on its board of directors (1852–53). A shareholder in the City Bank, he was also a director of the Bank of British North America and the Montreal Provident and Savings Bank. Although a determined rival of the Molsons in the beer and whisky business, he was their associate in 1854 in the formation of still another Montreal bank, Molsons Bank [see William Molson*], which was later incorporated into the Bank of Montreal. Compartmentalization of their lives, especially in business, was characteristic of most Montreal businessmen and, indeed, was probably essential for success in this era of constantly expanding frontiers of enterprise.

Dow was a director of the Montreal Insurance Company between 1839 and 1852 and a member of the group which formed the Sun Life Insurance Company in 1865. His many other local corporate ventures included the abortive company organized in 1849 by John Young* to build a canal between the St Lawrence River and Lake Champlain, the Montreal Steam Elevating and Warehousing Company founded in 1857, the City Passenger Railway Company in 1861, and the Montreal Stock Exchange in 1852. Though not himself a shipowner, he invested in shipping companies and was one of the pioneer investors in the Atlantic Telegraph Company. In 1854 he and Hugh* and Andrew Allan*, William Edmonstone, and Robert Anderson of Montreal formed the Montreal Ocean Steamship Company with a capital of £500,000 to provide regular steamer connections between Great Britain and Canada.

Although a bachelor, Dow lived in baronial style in an immense, richly decorated stone mansion named Strathearn House at the top of Beaver Hall Hill in Montreal and also nearby in the country on his estate at Côte Saint-Paul. At his death, on 7 Dec. 1868, the house and the bulk of his estate, estimated to be in excess of (300,000, were left to his brother’s widow and her four daughters.




Historic Beer Birthday: David C. Kuntz

Today is the birthday of David C. Kuntz (February 9, 1877-October 22, 1915). He was born in Waterloo, Ontario, in Canada, and was the grandson of David Kuntz, who established the first brewery in Ontario. He was also the son of Louis Kuntz, David’s son. After the first David Kuntz died, his son Louis Kuntz took over, renaming the the business Louis Kuntz’s Park Brewery, and David C. succeeded his father. Shortly after his passing, in 1930, Canadian Breweries Limited, which had originally been “named Brewing Corporation of Ontario,” was created “by merging The Brading Breweries Limited, an Ottawa company Taylor had inherited from his grandfather, Capital Brewing of Ottawa, and Kuntz Brewery of Waterloo, Ontario.” In 1977 Carling Brewery was purchased by Labatt Breweries of London, but the Waterloo plant was closed by 1993 and all the buildings on the site had been demolished.


This is his obituary, from the Brewers Journal in 1915:


Kuntz brewery works around 1910.

Here’s a brief mention of David C. Kuntz from Flash from the Past: What remains of the Kuntz Brewery legacy?

Louis Kuntz died, aged 39, following an appendectomy in 1891. His children were still young so brother-in-law Frank Bauer, also a brewer, took over. Then David Kuntz died in 1892. Bauer’s own 1895 passing began an almost unbelievable sequence of deaths in the brewery’s management. However, business success continued and in 1910 David Kuntz Jr., Louis’ son, took over. He also died young, 38, in 1915 so his two brothers, Herbert and William stepped in.


Historic Beer Birthday: John Molson

Today is the birthday of John Molson (December 28, 1763–January 11, 1836). He “was an English-born brewer and entrepreneur in colonial Quebec and Lower Canada. He was the founder of Molson Brewery.”


Here’s a biography of Molson from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, written by Alfred Dubuc:

MOLSON, JOHN (John Molson Sr), businessman, landowner, militia officer, and politician; b. 28 Dec. 1763 in Moulton, Lincolnshire, England, son of John Molson and Mary Elsdale; m. 7 April 1801 Sarah Insley Vaughan in Montreal, and they had three children; d. 11 Jan. 1836 in Boucherville, Lower Canada.

Having lost his father by the time he was six and his mother when he was eight, John Molson was put under the guardianship of his maternal grandfather, Samuel Elsdale. Early in July 1782, at the age of 18, he emigrated to Montreal, and immediately became involved in various commercial endeavours with family friends who had arrived at the same time as he. He went into the meat business with the two James Pells, father and son, who were both butchers, and then he joined in a brewing enterprise which Thomas Loid (Loyd) set up that year at the foot of the Courant Sainte-Marie in the faubourg Québec.

Coming as he did from the English gentry, Molson naturally wanted to own a farm. During his first year in the colony he bought 160 hectares of land in Caldwell’s Manor, south of Montreal. He parted with it in the spring of 1786, when he began to run the brewery. He had sued Loid for repayment of a debt in the summer of 1784, and as Loid had formally admitted the justice of the case, the buildings had been seized and put up for auction. At an initial sale on 22 October there had been no offers, but at the second, held on 5 Jan. 1785, eight days after Molson had attained his majority, he was the only bidder. He put James Pell Sr in charge of the brewery and on 2 June sailed for England from New York. He could now settle his business affairs himself.

In England, Molson bought some equipment for the brewery. Returning to Montreal on 31 May 1786, he took over management of the operation. He oversaw the enlargement of the plant and began to buy grain for the coming season of malting and brewing. His first purchase, on 28 July, was an exciting event for him, as the entry in the little notebook he kept for his expenditures shows: “28th, Bot 8 bushs of Barley to Malt first this Season, Commencement on the Grand Stage of the World.” Rarely does the spirit of enterprise find such clear expression but, as a letter from Molson to his business agent in England indicated, it also spurred the Lower Canadians: “People here are more of an enterprising spirit than at home, as it is in a great measure owing to that restlessness that induces them to quit their native shore.”

During the next 20 years Molson dedicated himself to his business. He invested in it all the funds at his disposal in order to enlarge his facilities and production. It is estimated that he received about £10,000 sterling from a succession of inherited properties, including the family home, Snake Hall, which was sold on 11 June 1789. Molson had turned away from the import-export business in 1788 because the risks were too great and the profits too slow; he also foresaw that the large-scale fur trade would run into increasing difficulties. He therefore did not seek to diversify his activities during this period. In 1806 he considered opening a brewery in York (Toronto) and was warmly encouraged to do so by his correspondent D’Arcy Boulton*, who also hailed from Moulton, but nothing came of the idea.

Molson preferred to reinvest continually in his Montreal establishment and for that purpose went occasionally to England, as in 1795 and 1797, to buy equipment. The young immigrant had decided to put his money into a sector which was at the forefront of technological innovation in that country during the late 18th century. The influx of loyalists to the colony, and then the first arrivals of British immigrants, opened a market for him and soon there was a demand even from French Canadians, who had not previously been inclined to drink beer. As there was not much barley being produced in the Canadas, Molson induced farmers to grow it by initially supplying them with seed, to be paid back in kind at the rate of two bushels for one.

After his return from England in 1786, Molson had begun living with Sarah Insley Vaughan, who was four years older than he. They remained together and had three children: John*, born in 1787, Thomas*, born in 1791, and William*, born in 1793. They were married on 7 April 1801 at Christ Church in Montreal; according to the declaration they made in the marriage contract drawn up that day by notary Jonathan Abraham Gray, they wanted to acknowledge their mutual affection and legitimize their three children. Sarah signed the contract and the church register with a cross.

Not much is known about how well the young entrepreneur fitted into Montreal business circles, then dominated by the big fur merchants, most of them Scottish. From June to December 1791 and from June 1795 to June 1796 he is known to have held the masonic office of worshipful master of St Paul’s Lodge, which indicates that he had a connection with a social group who recognized him. Molson had been married in the Church of England because at the time it was the only Protestant denomination legally permitted to keep registers of births, marriages, and deaths. But as early as 1792 he had contributed financially to the building of the Scotch Presbyterian Church, later known as St Gabriel Street Church [see Duncan Fisher*], and he remained an active member until at least 1815. In this way, he associated with the community of important Scottish merchants in Montreal.

During the first decade of the 19th century, conditions arising from the Napoleonic Wars were transforming the economy of the St Lawrence valley and giving it new life: the fur trade economy was gradually replaced by the lumber economy, at a time when agriculture was expanding, particularly in Upper Canada. Steam, the new source of energy, led to technological innovations, and after a great deal of experimenting and testing, ships could be propelled with it, for a time at least, on inland water-ways. In 1807 Robert Fulton began to sail the Clermont on the Hudson; in 1808 some businessmen from Burlington, Vt, commissioned brothers John and James Winans of that town to build a steamboat for the run along Lake Champlain and the Rivière Richelieu to Dorchester (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu); in June 1809 the Vermont went into service.

By a notarized contract on 5 June, Molson became the third member and financial backer of a partnership founded by John Jackson, “mechanic,” and John Bruce, “shipbuilder,” who were building a steamboat to carry passengers between Montreal and Quebec. The most surprising technical aspect of this undertaking was the construction of the engine at George Platt’s foundry in Montreal. On 1 Nov. 1809 the Accommodation left Montreal at two o’clock in the afternoon; it reached Quebec 66 hours later, on Saturday, 4 November, at eight in the morning, after 30 hours at anchor in the shallows of Lac Saint-Pierre; the return trip to Montreal up the St Lawrence took seven days. The vessel had regular sailings from June to October 1810, the engine having been made more powerful during the winter. The partnership ended with Molson buying the shares of Bruce and Jackson, who said they could no longer take the substantial losses being incurred. In the mean time, on 7 Sept. 1810, Fulton had proposed to Molson the joining of their two enterprises; the terms of the proposal did not seem sufficiently advantageous to Molson, who took no action. Late in October he left Montreal for England to order a steam-engine for the next ship, the Swiftsure, from the firm of Boulton and Watt. The vessel was under construction in Hart Logan’s shipyard on Rue Monarque in Montreal from August 1811 and it was launched on 20 Aug. 1812.

To diversify his interests Molson had again chosen a sector in which the most recent technological advances had occurred. The brewery had been expanding since 1786, bringing him ever increasing profits, and hence he was able to assume the losses experienced with the Accommodation. He did try to obtain a measure of protection by asking the House of Assembly on 6 Feb. 1811 for a monopoly of steam navigation on the St Lawrence between Montreal and Quebec. His request was put forward by Joseph Papineau and Denis-Benjamin Viger* and granted by the assembly, but was rejected by the Legislative Council. With the outbreak of the War of 1812, however, circumstances would prove extraordinarily favourable to shipping on the St Lawrence. Molson offered his ship to the army for the duration of hostilities, but met with a refusal. The military none the less had to use it occasionally on a commercial basis for transporting troops and their supplies. Molson took part in the war as a lieutenant in the 5th Battalion of Select Embodied Militia. Promoted captain on 25 March 1813, he resigned his commission on 25 November.

Early in 1814 another steam-engine was ordered in England. The Malsham (an archaic form of the name Molson), which was built in Logan’s shipyard as well, was launched in September and went into service immediately. The Lady Sherbrooke was added in 1816 and the New Swiftsure in 1817. With the end of the war between France and Britain and the economic depression of 1815, British immigrants began to arrive at Quebec in growing numbers and to seek transportation up the St Lawrence, towards the Great Lakes, and on the Richelieu and the Ottawa. In 1815 Molson purchased a wharf with all its facilities at Près-de-Ville in Quebec from Robert Christie* and Monique-Olivier Doucet; in 1819 he also bought a house at 16 Rue Saint-Pierre. On 16 Feb. 1816 he had obtained from the Executive Council a 50-year lease on a waterfront lot at Montreal with a renewal option, and he proceeded to put up a wharf. It was located in front of a property he had purchased from Sir John Johnson* on 16 Dec. 1815, on which stood a private residence at the corner of Rue Saint-Paul and Rue Bonsecours; in 1816 Molson added two wings to the building and turned it into the Mansion House Hotel. A wharf at William Henry (Sorel) apparently fitted into this network as did the sizeable commercial activity to obtain on contract the wood for steam, which was to be delivered to the various wharfs up and down the St Lawrence where the ships called. By about 1809, Molson had introduced his sons, John, Thomas, and William, to the manufacturing aspects of his enterprises. On 1 Dec. 1816 he formed the first of a long series of partnerships with them under the name John Molson and Sons [see John Molson Jr]. Having transferred greater responsibilities in his enterprises to his sons, Molson could become active in politics. In March 1816 he was elected to the House of Assembly for Montreal East. Politics were closely interwoven with the fundamental interests of the merchants in Lower Canada. Molson did not attend the 1817 session; he was probably not even in the colony. The 1818 session having begun on 7 January, he presented himself on 2 February to be sworn in and take his seat. In the 1819 session, which was prorogued on 24 April, he participated from the opening till about 20 March. He did not run in the 1820 election.

Molson was an active member of the assembly. All the important issues attracted his attention: trade, public finances, banks and currency, inland shipping, education and health, municipal by-laws, fire protection, regulations for public houses and inns, the House of Industry (of which he was a trustee in 1819, according to Thomas Doige’s directory), and the Montreal Library. Two questions concerned him more directly, the Lachine Canal and the Montreal General Hospital. From 1815 to 1821 he took part in the debate over the construction of the canal, speaking out for a private undertaking and a route that favoured his shipping interests. In January 1819, with the support of the merchants, he presented a petition to the assembly for the establishment of a public hospital in Montreal [see William Caldwell*]. The petition was not accepted by the house because of a procedural error that was declared on 18 March; Molson was still in attendance on 19 and 20 March, but did not appear again. The Montreal General Hospital was founded that same year as a private institution, and the four Molsons contributed to the subscription launched in 1820 to buy a lot on Dorchester Street and put up the building.

Even when not in the assembly, Molson continued to follow events closely. In 1822 the presentation to the House of Commons in London of a plan for the union of Upper and Lower Canada caused a political stir in the colony. In Montreal some eminent businessmen, Molson among them, formed a committee in support of the bill which held a public meeting and collected 1,452 signatures.

The description that Hector Berthelot gave of Molson in the Montreal newspaper La Patrie in 1885 has often been repeated; on the basis of old people’s recollections going back as far as 1820, he portrayed Molson in blue tuque, wooden shoes, and homespun. His final paragraph, however, has not always been noted: “After he closed his brewery at night, he took off his rustic garb, donned black evening dress and a white waistcoat, and sported a pince-nez on a long ribbon. When he was dressed grandly, Mr Molson behaved like a steamboat owner.” But probably also not kept in mind is Édouard-Zotique Massicotte’s caution in his introduction to the 1916 edition of Berthelot’s articles that during his lifetime the writer was considered less a historian than a humorist.


At the time Molson was transferring managerial responsibilities in the shipping firm to his eldest son, some financial groups in Montreal (in particular the brothers John and Thomas Torrance and Horatio Gates*) and at Quebec (John Goudie, Noah Freer, and James McDouall, among others) were beginning to compete fiercely on the St Lawrence, launching various steamboats. The competition led to over-investment, and then to consolidation of the firms. On 27 April 1822 the St Lawrence Steamboat Company [see William Molson] was created, with assets including six ships, three belonging to the Molsons; its management was handed over to John Molson and Sons, which held 26 of the 44 shares. Rivalry with the Torrances continued for some time, but it was finally resolved by cartel agreements on services, prices, and even co-ownership of certain ships.

Meanwhile the Mansion House Hotel had burned down on 16 March 1821; rebuilt in 1824, the year in which Molson acceded to the rank of worshipful sword bearer in the Provincial Grand Lodge of Lower Canada, it was renamed the Masonic Hall Hotel. Molson became provincial grand master for the district of Montreal and William Henry in 1826. At the end of December 1833, finding himself in opposition to his council on a matter of principle, he resigned. Upon the death of John Richardson* in 1831, the chairmanship of the Montreal General Hospital fell to Molson. When the cornerstone of the part to be named the Richardson Wing was laid, Molson officiated as provincial grand master in a ceremony at which masonic honours were rendered.

In the early 1820s, as the shipping assets had been removed from John Molson and Sons and placed in the St Lawrence Steamboat Company, the family firm had to be reorganized. In addition, Thomas Molson had decided to settle in Kingston, Upper Canada, and his departure entailed another large withdrawal of assets from the firm. An agreement establishing a new John Molson and Sons was made in 1824, to take effect retroactively from 1 Dec. 1823, the date on which the accounts of the former company had been stopped. William Molson took over management of the brewery from Thomas.

In 1825 Molson Sr gave up his residence in the faubourg Québec of Montreal and moved to Belmont Hall, a magnificent house at the corner of Sherbrooke and Saint-Laurent. For some time he had owned Île Saint-Jean and Île Sainte-Marguerite, which form part of the Îles de Boucherville. It was to these islands that his ships returned in the autumn for their winter berths and on them Molson established an estate to which he could withdraw now and then. There he kept a sheep-breeding establishment large enough that the sales of meat to butchers and wool to wholesale merchants appeared in the company accounts. On 10 March 1825 the Theatre Royal company was formed [see Frederick Brown]. The principal shareholder, Molson received 44 shares worth £25 each in return for a property he transferred to it on Rue Saint-Paul.

Although during his term as an assemblyman Molson had taken an interest in the founding of the Bank of Montreal [see John Richardson], he had made no financial commitments. He had offered to put up the bank building on one of his properties, but the board of directors had unanimously turned down his proposal and had decided on 10 Oct. 1817 that the bank would buy a lot and erect a building itself. John Molson Jr was elected to the board of directors in 1824. In the crisis that split the board in 1826 [see Frederick William Ermatinger*] and put Richardson’s group in the minority, Ermatinger gave up his place so that Molson Sr could become president. A short time later John Jr resigned to enable Ermatinger to regain his seat. During the elder Molson’s term of office, which lasted until 1830, the bank had to deal with the liquidation of major fur-trading houses that declared bankruptcy, in particular Maitland, Garden, and Auldjo and the firms linked with the brothers William* and Simon McGillivray. It was Simon who had recommended that Molson be named to succeed William as provincial grand master for the district of Montreal and William Henry, notifying him by a letter sent from London in 1826.

In 1828 John Molson and Sons had its responsibilities narrowed; as the agent of the St Lawrence Steamboat Company it was concerned only with shipping. A new partnership was formed under the name of John and William Molson, bringing together the two Johns and William. John Jr withdrew in April 1829, however, and the association was dissolved; on 30 June a new John and William Molson was founded, which included only Molson Sr and William. On 1 May John Jr had set up Molson, Davies and Company with the brothers George and George Crew Davies; as for William, he went into partnership on 1 May 1830 with his brother-in-law John Thompson Badgley to create Molson and Badgley. Molson Sr acted as financial backer and stood surety for both undertakings. In the mid 1820s, with a workshop attached to the brewery on Rue Sainte-Marie as a basis, Molson had established St Mary’s Foundry, handing it over to William’s management. In 1831, on the eve of the opening of navigation on the Rideau Canal, Molson Sr joined with Peter McGill*, Horatio Gates, and others in forming the Ottawa and Rideau Forwarding Company.

Once more in the early 1830s an important new field for investment was being opened up by technological innovation: the railway. On 14 Nov. 1831, after an earlier petition had been rejected, a group of 74 Montreal businessmen, including Molson, asked the assembly for incorporation as the Company of Proprietors of the Champlain and St Lawrence Railroad; they planned to build the very first railway in either Upper or Lower Canada, from La Prairie to Dorchester [see John Molson Jr]. Molson Sr bought 180 shares in the company, thus becoming the largest shareholder, but he was not named to its initial board of directors, which was formed on 12 Jan. 1835.

It was clear that by now Molson was interested only in investing: “I have retired from any active part in business for some years past,” he wrote to the London bankers Thomas Wilson and Company in 1830. He had run in the 1827 elections in Montreal East but had been defeated. However, Lord Aylmer [Whitworth-Aylmer] called him to the Legislative Council in January 1832, along with Peter McGill. The previous year, upon the death of the man generally considered the dean of the Montreal business community, John Richardson, George Moffatt* had been appointed. The three men focused to such an extent on the same questions and causes that one can truly speak of the Molson–McGill–Moffatt trio. Together they sat on most of the committees for public investment, taxation, and monetary, banking, and financial matters. Their shared opinions and interests were patent in the dissent they voiced in February 1833 on the question of sharing with Upper Canada the customs duties collected at Quebec. They took the opportunity to ask that the counties of Montreal and Vaudreuil be detached from the lower province and annexed to the upper one. Like McGill and Moffatt, Molson belonged to the Constitutional Association of Montreal, even though he was less active in it than his eldest son. During his four years as a legislative councillor, he was even more assiduous than he had been as an assemblyman 15 years before; on 23 Dec. 1835, less than three weeks before his death, he was still taking part in council.

Towards the end of his life, he became interested in the organization of a Unitarian congregation in Montreal, which among its supporters had a great many merchants of New England origin. In 1832 he was one of a group that purchased a lot for which a chapel was planned, but the initiative was set aside for a while when the pastor died.

In 1833 William Molson added a large distillery to the brewery. The following year Thomas left Kingston to rejoin his brother in Montreal. Through a new partnership contract with their father, signed on 21 Feb. 1835 but retroactive to 30 June 1834, they formed John Molson and Company [see William Molson]; once more John Jr did not join the firm.

Molson had lost his wife on 18 March 1829, and in his seventy-second year he was stricken with an illness that swiftly brought about his own death, on 11 Jan. 1836, at his estate on Île Sainte-Marguerite. The newspapers carried quite detailed eulogies, but La Minerve mentioned one of his qualities in a somewhat veiled fashion: “Mr Molson belonged to that small number of Europeans who, coming to settle in Canada, reject all national distinctions; just as he had started his fortune with those born in this land, so he always had a large number of Canadians in his employ, whose loyalty must have helped to ensure his considerable profits.” The funeral took place at Christ Church in Montreal on 14 January, and he was buried in the old cemetery of the faubourg Saint-Laurent. Later his remains were transported with his wife’s to Mount Royal Cemetery, to rest in the impressive mausoleum that their sons put up in 1860. The day after his funeral the board of the Bank of Montreal decided that the directors would go into mourning for 30 days.

Minutes before his death Molson had dictated his last wishes to notary Henry Griffin, in the presence of Dr Robert Nelson* and Frederick Gundlack. He required his sons to do what they had been incapable of doing during his lifetime: work together in the same enterprises. Each of them, as both residuary legatee and executor of the will, was part owner of the others’ businesses or benefited from the income that these brought in, and each was accountable to his brothers. As the will included some ambiguous parts on which even the notary and the two witnesses could not agree, the brothers instituted legal proceedings against one another, with John on one side and Thomas and William together on the other. At the end of five years they wearied of these disputes and by a strange twist asked the two people whom their father had named in his will to be executors along with them, Peter McGill and George Moffatt (who had both withdrawn), to serve as arbitrators and set the conditions for the division of the assets and income, defining reciprocal rights and obligations. Not until 1843, seven years after their father’s death, did the three brothers truly come to respect his last wishes A portrait of John Molson is in the family’s possession. In a will made on 30 Jan. 1830 he had stipulated: “It is my will that my portrait painted in oil shall be the property of such of my sons and their heirs as shall own the said brewery after my decease.” Perhaps he was seeking to tell posterity which of his numerous enterprises he considered to be the most important; it was the one that had marked his “Commencement on the Grand Stage of the World.”


This is his “Birth and Early Life” from his Wikipedia page:

In 1763, John Molson was born in the village of Moulton near Spalding, Lincolnshire. His father John Molson senior (1730–1770) had, in 1760, married Mary Elsdale (1739–1772), the eldest daughter of Samuel Elsdale (1704–1788), of Surfleet. Her brother, Robinson Elsdale (1744–1783), was a celebrated privateer, whose unpublished exploits formed the basis of the novel by Frederick Marryat, The Privateersman (1846). Before the marriage, John Molson senior inherited a property known as Snake Hall, in Moulton Eaugate[2] which consisted of a home and various outbuildings associated with 38 acres (15 ha) of land.

John Molson senior died on June 4, 1770. His will bequeathed properties to his wife and five surviving children. Under their marriage settlement, Snake Hall went to Mary, and was to then pass on to his eldest son, John, upon her death. She died on September 21, 1772. John senior had named four guardians and trustees for the estate; the young John Molson’s financial affairs were overseen by his paternal uncle, Thomas Molson but in September 1771 Thomas turned over the duties of trustee and guardian to Samuel Elsdale, possibly due to poor health, as he died the following spring. Under Samuel Elsdale’s oversight, Snake Hall was rented out to the benefit of their trusts. John went to live with a man named William Robinson, and at age 12 in 1776 was consigned to the care of a Mr Whitehead, who was paid for his board and education until 1780, when he turned 16. Writers have criticized Samuel Elsdale for his oversight but he seems to have performed his duties prudently, although John Molson plainly chafed under his guardianship.

In 1782, at the age of 18, Molson immigrated to Quebec, in a ship that was leaking so badly he switched ships mid-ocean.[3] In 1786 he returned briefly to England, and it was during that year that Molson picked up the book Theoretic Hints on an Improved Practice in Brewing by John Richardson. Molson returned to Quebec with more money and a new mindset. Many British Loyalists were immigrating to Quebec from the United States. This new influx increased the demand for beer. Molson worked hard, staying up long into the night. He hired an apprentice, Christopher Cook, and a loyalist housemaid, Sarah Insley Vaughan. He married her on 7 April 1801 at Christ Church in Montreal after she had born him three children.

Sarah (1751–1829) was the daughter of Thomas Vaughan of Harnham Hall, Morpeth, Northumberland. She was the niece of Wilmot Vaughan, 1st Earl of Lisburne and through her mother’s family, the Aynsleys, a cousin of the Duke of Atholl. She emigrated to the American colonies with her first husband, David Tetchley, but ten years later left him, and reverting to her maiden name, she made her way to Montreal, penniless, until taken in by Molson.

Soon Molson’s beer was in such demand that according to one of his diary entries “Cannot serve half my customers and they are increasing every day.” One of the major reasons for this was the wide appeal of his beer to different classes of Montreal society. High British officers had been drinking imported London porters and the city merchants preferred Bristol. Yet Molson’s beer was special as it was ‘universally liked’ (a quote from Molson’s diary). Molson soon began attending church. It was here that he met many influential and wealthy businessmen like fur trader James McGill, Joseph Frobisher, founder of the North West Company, and Alexander Mackenzie.


While this covers his “Career Success:”

Between 1788 and 1800, Molson’s business grew quickly into one of the larger ones in Lower Canada. During these years Molson and his wife had four children, John junior, Thomas (who died shortly after birth), another Thomas, and William (aka Billy).

By the start of the 19th Century, Molson’s small brewery had grown tenfold. Molson now had the money to improve his business by buying new technology. He toyed with the idea of buying a steamship after seeing Robert Fulton’s Vermont go down the Hudson. Molson’s steamship would be the first in Canada. Molson teamed up with John Jackson and John Bruce who would build a ship for Molson in return for putting up the money and part ownership. Built in Montreal (with engines produced at Forges du Saint-Maurice in Trois-Rivières) in 1809, Accommodation became the first steamship to ride on the waters of the St Lawrence. This was a great feat for Molson but, from a business viewpoint, it was a net loss, costing ₤4000 by 1810. Molson was determined to make money on his ships so he dismantled Accommodation and purchased two steamship engines from England. He combined the two engines and the remains of Accommodation to create Swiftsure, a magnificent ship that was seen as a vision of elegance. During this time Molson’s business continued to grow and the War of 1812 pushed sales even higher. Swiftsure was leased to the British army and brought in a supplemental income. In 1815, Molson was elected to represent Montreal East in the legislative assembly on the platform of building a wharf.

As Molson became more occupied by his multiple businesses and his seat in the assembly, his three sons began to take a much larger role in the companies. John junior managed the steamships, Thomas was married in England and would frequently travel sending back tips and advice to his father, and William was in charge of the brewery. In 1816, Molson built Mansion House Hotel which coincided with the Assembly’s acceptance of the wharf. Molson’s hotel was only for those who could afford luxury. The hotel offered Montreal’s first library, boat rides on the river, well-furnished rooms and six-course dinners, famous throughout all of Montreal. In 1817, John Richardson, George Moffatt joined together to create the “Montreal Bank.” The three offered Molson partnership in it but Molson refused for the backers of this project had just come off of multiple failed banks in the United States and he felt it was a risky investment. Molson changed his mind not long after and the bank became fully Canadian-owned when the U.S partners sold their shares after the U.S financial crisis in the fall of 1818. By 1822, the Montreal Bank had received a charter from Britain and chose to change their name to the Bank of Montreal.

In 1819, Molson had a short bout of sickness. It was during this time that he noticed the only hospital in the city, Hôtel Dieu, only held 30 beds. Molson proposed to the assembly that a new hospital be established that would contain 200 beds. Although the assembly denied his request there was much private support and soon donations came pouring in. By May the new hospital, the Montreal General Hospital, was opened on Craig Street (now Saint Antoine Street).

A crisis almost struck the Molsons in 1821 when the Mansion House Hotel caught fire; the books from the library were saved but not much more was salvageable. Molson was undaunted by this and had ideas to build an even grander hotel, a true testament to his character. While John junior and William took care of the businesses within Canada, Thomas was busy working in England. Thomas brought over 237 gallons of beer to London, England. The response was encouraging and Thomas brought another 1385 gallons on his next trip. Molson’s had its first international market.

By 1825, Molson’s hotel was completely rebuilt and renamed the British American Hotel. After the hotel was completed Molson built a theatre adjacent to it. By November, Molson’s Theatre Royal was completed, the first theatre in Montreal. It seated 1,000 guests, presenting Shakespeare and Restoration authors and was also used for circuses and concerts. Edmund Kean and Charles Dickens both performed there before it was demolished in 1844 to make way for the Bonsecours Market.

Never resting, Molson continued to build his empire by purchasing multiple steamships and creating the St Lawrence Steamboat Company. This fleet of ships was so big that it outnumbered all of those operating in the United States. In 1826 Molson decided to run against a young Louis-Joseph Papineau but resigned quickly after discovering the amount of support Papineau had from the French and the Irish.

On March 18, 1829 Molson’s wife Sarah Vaughan, died after treating her rheumatism with laudanum. Sarah became addicted to this opium-based painkiller and died from the effects. Molson sold the house they lived in together and moved on with his life. His four-year term as President of the Bank of Montreal ended and Molson did not run for a second. Even at the age of 67 Molson did not contemplate retirement; one of his biggest projects still lay ahead.

Since 1825, Molson had followed reports of the first railways being built in England. Molson had told the head of this project, Jason Pierce, that he was interested. Pierce did not forget about Molson’s interest and in 1832 Molson’s request for a railroad was accepted by the Assembly. The Champlain and St Lawrence Railroad connected the St Lawrence to the Hudson River, making the trip from Montreal to New York much quicker. This was the first railway ever constructed in Canada.

After his multiple successful proposals, John Molson was appointed to the Legislative Council of Lower Canada. He was considered part of the “Chateau Clique” as he was a rich English businessman. The people were losing their faith in English businessmen like Molson and were turning to men like Papineau and Robert Nelson, both members of the Patriote movement. A cholera epidemic struck Canada in 1832 and 1834 causing the railroad project to lose much of its momentum. Many businesses closed in Montreal but the Molsons continued work as usual. In 1833 Molson’s hotel burned down again. This time though, Molson decided not to rebuild it.

After the second cholera epidemic, when things returned to normal, Molson’s railroad project began to gain speed. Unfortunately, he did not live long enough to see his last dream realized. Molson caught a high fever in December 1835. He wrote his will on January 10, 1836 and died that day. In his will, Molson named John Molson junior, Thomas Molson, William Molson, George Moffatt and Peter McGill executors. His body rests at Mount Royal Cemetery.

The Molson Brewery around 1885.

And this is a short history of the brewery:

Founded in Montreal in 1786, the Molson Brewery is the oldest brewery in North America and continues to produce beer on the site of the original brewery. The company brews and markets a number of the most popular brands of beer in Canada. Domestic labels include Molson Canadian, Molson M, Molson Export, Molson Dry, Molson Exel De-Alcoholized beer, Old Style Pilsner, Rickard’s, Creemore Springs and Granville Island Brewing. Through partnerships with other major brewers, Molson Coors Canada also offers a diverse portfolio of beer brands, including Coors Light, Corona, Miller Genuine Draft (ending in 2015), Heineken, Foster’s Lager and Tiger. Molson employs 3,000 people in Canada and operates five breweries in locations across the country (Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Moncton and St. John’s), as well as the Creemore micro-brewery in Ontario and Granville Island Brewing in British Columbia. Molson Coors Canada is part of the Molson Coors Brewing Company.

On May 2, 1782, at the age of 18, John Molson left England for Canada, landing in Montreal on June 26. Shortly after his arrival, he began working at the Thomas Loyd brewery. He went on to purchase it in an auction in 1784. Not long after his arrival in Montreal in 1782, Molson sensed the market potential for beer in the then British colony. Prices for wine, rum and port were rising and an influx of English and Irish immigrants were particularly partial to beer. When he came of legal age, Molson used the money inherited from his parents to acquire a small brewery housed in a wooden building on the shores of the St Lawrence, just outside the fortifications of the burgeoning City of Montreal.

In 1785 he temporarily closed his business to cross the Atlantic in search of the modern equipment and ingredients. Upon his return, he offered the seeds free of charge to neighbouring Montreal farmers who agreed to grow them to satisfy the brewery’s need for malt. Molson delivered his first brew, an ale in 1786, only six weeks after taking the helm. Priced at five cents a bottle, his brew sold well.

Molson took advantage of the many business opportunities of the time. He quickly diversified his investments, opened a lumber yard and began issuing loans to local Montreal merchants. In 1816, the family enterprise began to take shape when founder John Molson entered into an association with his three sons, John junior, Thomas and William.

Although brewing proved to be Molson’s most sustainable field of endeavour, other activities were added down through the company’s lengthy history. Molson was the first company to own and operate a fleet of steamboats which were used to transport people and goods between Quebec and Ontario. John Molson and his sons also founded the Molson Bank which later merged with Bank of Montreal.

In 1816 John Molson formed a partnership with his three sons – John, Thomas and William. It was Thomas who would eventually follow in his father’s footsteps by continuing the Molson brewing tradition and upholding the high standards of quality. In 1903, inspired by the popularity of imported beers, Herbert Molson, Thomas’ grandson, and brew master John Hyde created Molson Export, an authentic Ale brewed in the classic style developed by John Molson.

Molson Brewery considerably expanded the breadth of corporate activities throughout the 20th century. In 1945 the family decided to transform the company into a public, limited liability enterprise. It then became possible to acquire an ownership in the company without being a member of the Molson family. This made it possible for the company to expand and inaugurate a new brewery in Toronto (near the Canadian National Exhibition) in 1955. Two years later in 1957, the family acquired the Montreal Forum and the Montreal Canadiens. The company continued to develop and, in 1958, acquired six breweries which included five establishments in Western Canada, lending Molson nationwide presence. In 1989, the company consolidated market share in Quebec through a merger with Carling O’Keefe (acquiring Carling’s Toronto brewery in Etobicoke). As a result, Molson became the largest brewery in Canada and the fifth largest in the world.

In 2005 Molson merged with US-based Coors to form Molson Coors Brewing Company. This was followed in 2007 by the opening of a new brewery in Moncton, New Brunswick. Sixth generation family member Eric Molson retired in 2009; however, his sons Andrew and Geoff continue to be active in company affairs as members of the corporate Board of Directors.