The Founders


The Town of Hampstead owes much of its sophistication to the perseverance of eight prominent and hard working businessmen. One in particular, however, stands out as being the most instrumental in the development of the Town as a quality suburban neighborhood. Sir Herbert Holt, formally trained as an engineer, was the first president of the Hampstead Land and Construction Company. This was one of two companies established to assemble the necessary land for the creation of the Town. A successful businessman, Holt owned or directed over 300 companies. After overseeing the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway through the Rocky Mountains, he turned his attention to financial endeavors in Quebec. Among some of his most celebrated positions, Holt owned the Montreal Light, Heat and Power Company, which supplied power to the entire Montreal area. This last fact proved to be indispensable to the establishment of the Town of Hampstead. It was also said that that Sir Herbert Holt controlled Montreal's tramway network as early as 1914. Fourteen years later, Holt's personal fortune was estimated to be around $3 billion, at a time when the federal government had only $300 million in circulation.

The vice president of the Hampstead Land and Construction Co. was a man by the name of Sir Charles B. Gordon. Like Holt, Gordon had an impressive portfolio of directorships and holdings. He was president of Hillcrest Collieries Limited, president of Montreal Cottons Limited (where Sir Herbert Holt was vice president), director of the Bank of Montreal, CEO of Dominion Glass and Dominion Textiles, CEO of Ogilvie Flour Mills and CEO of the Royal Trust, to name a few.

In 1911, Côte St. Luc Realties was set up in order to help consolidate all the land of the proposed site. The holding company's president was G.W. Farrell, a reputable financial agent and associate of Sir Herbert Holt. Mr. Farrell served as director of the Ritz-Carleton Hotel along with both Holt and Gordon. The vice president of Côte St. Luc Realties, J.K.L. Ross, was also an associate of Holt's, during his term as director of the CPR. The other partners of Côte St. Luc Realties were F. Orr Lewis, G.M. Bosworth, Sir Fredrick William-Taylor, and P. Molson. All were considered to be among the business elite of Montreal.

Eventually, this consortium of eight sold its share of the land to another syndicate also headed by Sir Herbert Holt. This new group included Malcolm Arthur MacFarlane, George M. Cole, David Paterson, John Paterson, John Henry Hand, James Kerr, and John Husband. The new ownership did not possess the extensive directorship and financial affiliations of the former, but was highly skilled in the building and marketing aspects. This group applied to the Legislative Assembly of Quebec for a bill to decree its land holdings a municipality. On February 19, 1914, Bill 59 was passed, and the Town of Hampstead was officially incorporated.