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John Molson's success saw him and his offspring build Canada's largest brewery (Molson Brewery), finance its first steamboat and build the first railroad. His sons established Molson's Bank, which printed its own currency, and in the city of Montreal that was overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, they financed the construction of a Protestant church.
Hartland Molson, a businessman and statesman, expanded the family's brewing operations nationwide, co-purchased the Canadian Arena, which included the Montreal Forum and the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey club (1957-1964), and co-sponsored Hockey Night in Canada with his brother, Thomas Henry Pentland Molson. He also served as a Governor of McGill University, and he was a senator for 38 years.
As major contributors to the economy, Hartland Molson and his brother Thomas Henry Pentland Molson gave back by creating the Molson Foundation in 1958, which awarded annual grants for outstanding achievement in the arts by Canadian citizens (renamed the Molson Family Foundation in 1981). The Thomas Henry Pentland Molson Prize for the Arts is awarded by The Canada Council for the Arts annually, to distinguished individuals in the arts, in the social sciences and humanities, and is intended to encourage continuing contribution to the cultural and intellectual heritage of Canada. The Thomas Henry Pentland Prize for general excellence is offered annually at Selwyn House School, which he attended in 1911. The Thomas Henry Pentland Molson Family Scholarship is offered annually at the Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific.
William, Thomas and John Molson Jr. provided McGill University's first endowed chair, the Molson Chair in English Language and Literature. In addition, in 1860 William Molson donated Molson Hall, the west wing of the university's Arts Building. Later generations of the Molson family provided funds to expand the university's medical buildings, as well as a gift of land for the Redpath Library.
The Molson Family Foundation, together with several members of the family, contributed the major part of the funds required for the construction of the Molson Fine Arts Building at Bishop's University. The building bears witness to the interest of members of the Molson family in the welfare of Bishop's University, over a period of more than 60 years: Walter Molson, Trustee 1928-1951, John H.Molson, President of Corporation 1947-1966, J. David Molson, Trustee 1965-1968, William M.Molson, Trustee 1968-1976, Eric H. Molson, Trustee 1976-1984.
Notable members of the Molson family
- John Molson (1763-1836)
- John Molson Jr. (1787-1860)
- Thomas Molson (1791-1863)
- William Molson (1793-1875)
- John Henry Robinson Molson (1826-1897)
- Harry Markland Molson (1856-1912)
- John Elsdale Molson (1863-1925)
- Herbert Molson (1875-1938)
- Percival Molson (1880-1917)
- William Hobart Molson (1888-1951)
- Thomas Henry Pentland Molson (1901-1978)
- Arthur Hugh Elsdale Molson (1903-1991)
- Hartland Molson (1907-2002)
- Eric Molson (b. 1937)
- Geoff Molson (b. 1971) - CEO and President of the Montreal Canadiens and former VP with Molsons
- Andrew Molson
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