This Week in History
This story was initially published in 1999
On July 28, 1786, John Molson opened his first brewery on the banks of the St. Lawrence River in Montréal. Remaining family-owned for more than 220 years, the Molson Coors Brewing Company is Canada's largest brewer and is a supporter of community programs and events.
John Molson, a British orphan, came to Montréal at 18 and started producing Molson's ale within four years. Taking into partnership his three sons, John Jr., Thomas and William, he created John Molson and Sons. The sons inherited their father's keen business sense, and pursued several commercial interests, while always keeping ties to the brewery.
Beginning their tradition of social involvement, the whole Molson family actively supported charitable organizations such as McGill University (William Molson Hall) and the Montreal General Hospital. The company once funded everything from Hockey Night in Canada, Indy car racing and concerts, to safety campaigns like their own "Take Care" initiative. The Molson Donations Fund helps programs in the fields of health, education, the arts and the environment.
In addition to its lucrative beer business and philanthropic activities, the Molson Brewing Company entered into the world of professional sports, with the purchase of the Montréal Canadiens hockey team in 1978. In 2001, the family sold the team, but repurchased it June 2009.
The Molson family continues to be active in the new Molson Coors Brewing Company, which was created after a merger of the Molson Brewing Company and the Coors Brewing Company in 2005. Andrew Molson is currently the vice-chairman of the Board of Directors, and his brother Geoffrey is the vice-president of marketing in Quebec.
William Molson was designated a National Historic Person of Canada in 1971. His father's steamship, the Accommodation, is also of national historic importance. This vessel signifies the breadth of Molson innovation.
- Date Modified: