RBSC / OSC Archives

McLennan, Hugh

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McLennan, Hugh

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Dates of existence

1825-1899

History

Hugh McLennan (27 Jun. 1825-21 Nov. 1899) was born in Lancaster, Glengarry County, Ontario, the son of John McLennan and his first wife, Margaret Mackenzie. Hugh McLennan attended a Glengarry County common school and worked in Neil Stewart’s business at Vankleek Hill starting in 1840. Here he met his future wife, Isabella Stewart, for the first time. In 1842 at age 17, he moved to Montreal where he initially worked at the hardware store of Scott and Shaw before returning to the family farm for two years. In 1846 he went up river to Kingston and worked at a hardware store before taking on work as a purser on steamers running between Montreal and Kingston. In 1850, McLennan spent a year as an independent wharfinger and freight agent before returning to Montreal where he and his brother John founded the firm of J. and H. McLennan, a grain and shipping company, in 1853. In 1856, McLennan and his family moved to Chicago, Illinois, leaving John McLennan to carry on the Montreal side of the business. He returned to Montreal for less than a year in 1863, then back to Chicago, before finally settling in Montreal in 1867. In 1869, the business was expanded and incorporated as the Montreal Transportation Company, of which Hugh McLennan served as president until his death in 1899.
Beginning in 1882, McLennan was a director of the Bank of Montreal. He was also a director of the Canada Paper Company, the British America Fire and Life Assurance Company, and the Sun Life, and he was a petitioner for incorporation of various other insurance companies. He served as president of the International Coal Company Ltd. and the Black Diamond Steamship Company and as vice-president of the Williams Manufacturing Company. He had investments in the Montreal Street Railway Company, the Montreal Gas Company, and the Montreal Rolling Mills Company. McLennan was also president of the Montreal Board of Trade from 1872 to 1874, and its representative on the Montreal Harbour Commission from 1873 to 1897.
In addition to his business interests, McLennan supported the Art Association of Montreal and was a governor of McGill University from 1883 until his death. A member of the St Andrew’s Society, he was its president from 1885 to 1886. He was active in numerous Protestant benevolent societies such as the Montreal Sailors’ Institute and the Montreal Auxiliary Bible Society. He was also a member of the Athenaeum Club in Montreal.
McLennan married Isabella Stewart, daughter of Neil Stewart, in Bytown, Ontario, on 3 December 1851. Together the couple had thirteen children, nine of which survived to adulthood. McLennan died in Montreal. In 1901, his family established the Hugh McLennan Travelling Libraries in his memory.

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