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James Morgan passes away in 86th year, the Gazette, Friday, May 20, 1932

Partner in Great Department Store Business 56 Years


With Late Colin Morgan Started Movement of Business Uptown

Widespread regret at news of the death in Hamilton, Bermuda, of James Morgan, president of Henry Morgan and Company, Limited, was expressed here yesterday. Mr. Morgan had become recognized as one of Montreal's leading citizens, and his work both in business and in community affairs had raised him to a position of prominence in this city and in Canada. He was in his 86th year. His son, Cleveland Morgan, was with him at the time of his death.

Mr Morgan had spent many summers in Bermuda where he had a home that was known to many Canadian visitors to that island, and it was in Bermuda that he spent the last days of a long illness that led to his death at midnight on Wednesday. He will be buried this afternoon in a mausoleum on his estate, after a brief burial ceremony according to the rites of the Presbyterian Church.

This afternoon at four o'clock two minutes silence will be observed in his memory in the department store of Henry Morgan and Company, Limited.

James Morgan was born at Edgefauld, Glasgow, on September 28, 1846, the son of James Morgan, merchant, and his wife, Anna Matthew (Catherine Matthew ??).

He came to Canada in 1852 with his parents, his father immediately joining his brother, Henry Morgan, in the firm of Henry Morgan and Company. James Morgan received his education in the public and high schools of the city. He entered the employ of the Morgan firm in 1862 as an apprentice. In 1876 along with his cousin, the late Colin D. Morgan, he was admitted to partnership in the company.

It was in 1843 that David Smith and Henry Morgan founded the organization that was to develop into one of the largest and most important department stores in Montreal, known today as Henry Morgan and Company, Limited. The establishment started under the name of Smith and Morgan; the original shop was at 204 Notre Dame street (old style), between Recollet and McGill streets. There were then nine clerks employed in the store, as compared with over two thousand now with the company.


In 1850, Mr. Smith gave up his partnership and went to live in Chicago, and Henry Morgan's brother, James (father of the respected citizen who has just died) came out from Scotland and entered the business. The two made an effort to persuade their other brother, William, to come out and try his fortune in Canada, but he replied he would rather remain and be a small man in a big town.


Montreal was then considered only a small town. However, when his son, Colin, who died last year, after having been for many years vice-president of the company, had been given sufficient training in London, William sent him out to take his place in the business founded by his uncles, who seemed then well on the road to success.Immediately after James Morgan and his son came to Montreal, the firm, which then became known as Henry Morgan and Company, had grown sufficiently to warrant removal to newer and larger premises.


In 1853 a move was made to 208 McGill street, just south of Notre Dame, but in 1858 it again became necessary to increase the accommodation, and additional ground was purchased off Notre Dame street so that the premises formed a letter L. A few years later a further move was made when property was purchased at the corner of St. James street and Victoria Square.


After being admitted to the business as a partner in 1876, James Morgan and his cousin Colin were given considerable responsibility in the firm and it was through a carefully-considered decision on their part that the firm moved to the uptown district and its present location in 1889, James Morgan had every confidence that the move would prove a wise one, although it seemed like taking a big chance at the time, and it was largely due ts his efforts that the property was purchased on St. Catherine street west, where a new store was built opposite Phillips Square and opened on April 21, 1891.

This move by Henry Morgan and Company was an important one in the history of both the firm and the city of Montreal, for this organization was he first retail business firm to leave the downtown district. How the judgment of the two cousins was justified has been amply shown in the development of this part of the city since that time.

Many other merchants and citizens considered the change as veritable madness, because few would believe that the shopping district would come to be established above the lower level. At this time a letter was written to Jesse Joseph, then president of the Montreal Street Railway, suggesting that a line should be extended up Beaver Hall Hill, but he replied that there would never be sufficient business to repay the outlay. There is also a record that after moving uptown the firm asked that the horse tram make a stop at Union avenue, but the answer was made that there was not sufficient patronage to warrant a halt between Bleury and University streets.

When the company was incorporated as a limited liability company in 1906, Mr. Morgan became the president and had remained at the head of the business ever since. He was also president of the Morgan Trust Company, and the Morgan Realties, Limited.

Mr. Morgan on several occasions showed what a public-spirited man he was. During the smallpox epidemic of 1885 he secured hospitalization for many of those who had fallen prey to the disease and donated bedding etc. He was prominently connected with the defunct Citizens' Association of Montreal and was one of those who introduced the Board of Control at the City Hall.


A lover of flowers, Mr. Morgan cultivated all sorts of floral specimens both on his estate in Bermuda, and at his Senneville home. At the latter place he also interested himself in the breeding of fine stock, his animals taking many prizes at leading agricultural exhibitions. His estate in Bermuda, one of the show places of the island, Mr. Morgan purchased over 20 years ago and had been spending his summers there ever since. Few Canadians there are who visited Bermuda who did not avail themselves of the opportunity of seeing Mr. Morgan's large and beautiful estate.

It was largely through his efforts and those of his cousin, the late Colin D. Morgan, that the department store and business rose to its present place of importance. His life was spent in active and faithful service, not only to the concern which he headed, but also to the citizens of Montreal and the Dominion, whose interests he kept always before him.

Throughout, in their connection with Montreal the Morgan family have been closely identified with the progressive interest of the community and each member has carried out the practical lesson of service. James Morgan's part was never an ostentatious one, but the beneficial results brought about by his energy and advice were widespread. He, was a generous contributor to many forms of public charity and he proved to be an anonymous friend in need to many unfortunates. Employees and members of the staff of Henry Morgan and Company, Limited, will recall many instances when his kind and thoughtful actions helped one of their number in distress.

Mr. Morgan was a devoted and lifelong member of the Church of the Messiah.

He was married in 1879 to Miss Anna Lyman, of Goschen, Conn. who predeceased him three years ago. He is survived by three sons, Dr. J. Douglas Morgan, of Philadelphia, and F. Cleveland Morgan and Harold Morgan, both directors of the Morgan firm. He also leaves five grandchildren.

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