Established in 1843

From: "The Storied Province of Quebec Past and Present"
Ed. Col. William Wood, Dominion Publishing Company, Limited, Toronto 1931

For many years prominent in the business life of Montreal and of the whole Dominion of Canada, the house of  Henry Morgan and Company, Ltd., has had much to do with the advancement of Montreal and this Province. The company, as it exists today, is an outgrowth of an enterprise established in 1843 on Notre Dame Street, a few doors from McGill Street, going east, by Henry Morgan and David Smith, who conducted it under the firm name of  Smith and Morgan. From a small dry goods firm, handling a limited number of lines, it has developed, in the years since that time, into a large department store which is widely known throughout Canada.

Henry Morgan, the founder, was born in Fifeshire, Scotland, in 1819, and when he was in his early twenties he came to Montreal and entered the dry goods business. The first site of the Smith and Morgan store soon became inadequate, so that they removed to McGill Street, just south of St. Joseph Street, now Notre Dame, in a building occupied by Latineer. In 1860 an addition was made, extending to Notre Dame Street; and when the old American Presbyterian Church, at the corner of  Victoria Square and St. James Street, was removed, the business was transferred to that site, where it had more commodious quarters. 

In 1852, Mr. Smith retired, and that same year the firm of  Henry Morgan and Company was established, James Morgan, of Scotlnnd, a brother, becoming a member at that time. This James Morgan, born in Saline, Fifeshire, Scotland, had entered the dry goods business early in life, and for many years had been a member of the firm of  Muirhead and Morgan, of Glasgow. The personnel of  the firm practically remained unchanged until 1876, when James Morgan and Colin D. Morgan, nephews of  Henry Morgan, the former a son of James Morgan, became members. Upon them most of  the burdens of business fell through the next generation. In 1891, this firm completed, on St. Catherine Street, opposite Phillips Square, one ot the finest business blocks in America, to which its mercantile business was removed. The removal became necessary in order to meet the requirements of a constantly growing business, and a shift in the retail section to that part of the city.

When Henry Morgan, the founder of the business, died on December 12, 1893, the Montreal “Gazette” paid high tribute to him. 

“No Montreal merchant and not many Canadian merchants,” said this paper, “could claim to be better known than Mr. Henry Morgan, who passed to his rest yesterday, after a busy, successful and well-spent life of almost seventy-five years. His character was marked by many of those traits which have made men of Scottish birth so prominent a factor in the upbuilding of Montreal’s commercial prosperity. Mr. Morgan was of a some-what retiring disposition. His store and his farm home at Maisonneuve divided his time, and though he enjoyed a very large share of public respect, he never sought to enter public life. He was un-married.”

The death of James Morgan had preceded that of his brother by only a few months, having occurred on March 28, 1893, when the “Gazette” saw fit to commemorate his life in the following terms:

By the death of Mr. James Morgan, Sr., Montreal has lost one of its oldest citizens and one who for well nigh half a century was an intelligeot sharer in its commercial and industrial progress. The deceased gentleman was in his eighty-sixth year. Mr. James Morgan was a man of strong intellect, diligently cultivated, an assiduous hnt judicious reader until his eyesight became impaired, and his opinioo on questions to which he had given t.hought was ever listened to with attention. With few persons was it more profitable to converse, especially on the higher themes of religion, philosophy and science. His views were broad, and so was his charity. Although as a business man he had little spare time for writing, Mr. Morgan could wield an able pen, and had written not only prose bot poetry. He was long an esteemed member of the Church of the Messiah. But though a Than of strong convictions, as he was a thorough Scotch-man, neither In creed nor in nationality was he of the narrow type.

With the lives of each of these men, the business of Henry Morgan and Company continued to grow, bringing success always to those who were participating in its affairs. In 1906 it was incorporated as a limited liability company under the present title of Henry Morgan and Company, Ltd., with James Morgan as president and Colin D. Morgan as vice-president. The firm’s interests have still further broadened and expanded since that time. The management of the business is now in the hands of the third generation. The company has several large factories, which it owns and operates, among them being the foremost high-class woodworking plant in the Dominion; and it builds homes, decorates and furnishes them in every detail through its work in these different factories. For its work in this connection the company has become widely known throughout Canada, and its successful undertakings include decorative schemes and interior furnishings of some of the finest homes in practically every Province in the Dominion. Its business policy has at all times been one of absolute integrity, a factor that has exerted a strong influence upon the commercial life of Montreal. The public who come in daily contact with the different branches of the company readily feel that spirit of industry and enterprise that has made possible the achievement of great things.

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