JOHN PRATT
1812-1876

From: "Montreal, Pictorial and Biographical"
                Pub. by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Montreal, 1914


High on the list of Montreal’s worthy citizens who have passed from this life appears the name of John Pratt, who from 1839 until 1872 was one of the prosperous merchants of the city.  He was born at Berthier, en haut, on the 20th of July, 1812, and after a well spent life of sixty-four years passed away, July 22, 1876.  He was survived for only a few weeks by his brother, Mr. C.F. Pratt, with whom he had commenced his business career and with whom he was almost continuously associated thereafter.

The father was a merchant at Berthier and in 1833 the sons, Charles F. Pratt  and John Pratt , left the paternal  home to establish a  business  house in Quebec under the firm name of C.F. Pratt & Company.  Having succeeded almost beyond his expectations in that city, John Pratt opened a branch establishment at Three Rivers and, as in Quebec, won almost immediate prosperity in the conduct of the enterprise.  Soon the brothers found that their sphere of action was too limited and in 1839 they extended the scope of their interests by founding the well known leather house of  John Pratt & Company in Montreal.

In 1852 the Quebec house was closed, the brothers concentrating their energies upon the conduct of the Montreal business, out of which they made colossal fortunes, that of  Mr. John Pratt amounting to about a million dollars.  The tanneries at Roxton Falls were started by the Pratts, who for many years stood at the head of the leather business.  In 1869, however, they put aside industrial and commercial interests, but while Charles Pratt confined himself to private affairs, his brother, John Pratt, whose name introduces this review, unable with his active temperament to remain comparatively unemployed, engaged in the conduct of several joint stock companies, with which he had identified himself.  At the time of his death he was president of the Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Company, over whose board he had presided since 1867.  He was president of the Banque du Peuple, of the Rubber Company, and others; and was vice president of the Citizens Assurance Company, a position which he also occupied in connection with other joint stock concerns.  He was on the board of directors of the Valleyfield Cotton Company, an enterprise which he had done much to promote.  Indeed, it may be said of Mr. Pratt that he was an undoubted authority on all business matters, being sagacious, practical, enterprising and energetic.  He seemed to recognize almost from the beginning the possibilities of any undertaking, and he never faltered until his purpose was accomplished.

In 1863 Mr. Pratt was placed on the harbor board, but the succeeding year the government of Sir John Macdonald removed him from office, doing exactly the same by Hon. John Young and Mr. Thomas Cramp.  In 1874, however, he was placed upon the newly constituted board, of which he was an active, practical and influential member.  His natural modesty impelled him, upon several occasions to decline nomination for parliament, to which, there is no doubt, had he so desired, he would have been elected.  Politically he was a thorough reformer and even by those who differed from him, his opinions were looked upon with great respect.  He was at all times a thorough gentleman, a faithful and considerate friend and a real philanthropist.

On the 3rd of March, 1840, Mr. Pratt married Marie Mathilde Roy, the widow of Charles Ovide Perrault, who was killed in the rebellion of 1837.  Mrs. Pratt died July 29, 1897.  The children born to Mr. And Mrs. Pratt were: Marie Mathilde Pratt , who was married in 1862 to Desire Girouard; Charles Alfred Pratt, a practicing physician, who in 1866 married Alphonsine Leclair and resides at Longueuil; Eveline Marie Louise Pratt, the wife of Joseph Gustave Laviolette, of Montreal; Virginia Pratt, who was married September 30, 1878, to George H. Matthews; Aloysia Pratt, who was married June 17, 1878, to Percy Franklin Woodcock, the well known artist; Frederick Emile George Pratt, who was married May 31, 1883, to Albina Thibault, the widow of his younger brother; and Louis Edouard Albert Pratt, who married Albina Thibault and died August 11, 1880.

On the 27th of July, 1876, the body of John Pratt was taken from the family residence, No. 310 Lagauchetiere street to the church of  St. Jacques, St. Denis street, and thence to the family vault in the Roman Catholic cemetery.  The attendance at the church was immense, comprising all the influential and representative citizens, both French and English, of  Montreal.  At the church the burial service was celebrated by Rev. A.L. Sentenne, cure of the parish, assisted by Rev. Father Fleck, superior of the Jesuits.

Perhaps no better indication of Mr. Pratt’s high standing could be given than by quoting a letter received by Mrs. John Pratt, reading:

“Dear Madam:
“We, the harbor commissioners of Montreal, take the liberty of intruding upon you to express our sympathy and condolence to you and your family in the irretrievable loss sustained by the death of your late husband, our friend and colleague in the harbor trust.  Our late friend rendered such efficient service in the management of this important trust and was so fully in sympathy with every movement for the good of his country and this city in which he lived, as to secure the esteem and confidence of every member of the commission.  At such a time we are aware that nothing can be said to assuage the natural grief of yourself and family, still we hope, Dear Madam, it will prove consolatory to you and yours, that your husband, our friend, has filled up his season of life with so many good deeds and in so exemplary a manner, and that although he has now gone from among us, he will be remembered by all who knew him.  This we trust will be to you and your family a source of comfort and help you to bear with fortitude and resignation your present great affliction.  

Thomas Cramp,
“Hugh McLennan,
“Andrew Allan,
“Charles H. Gould,
John Young,
“Adolphe Roy,
“P. Donovan
.
“Harbor commissioners’ office, Montreal, July 28, 1876.”

The board of directors of the Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Company, at its meeting on Friday, the 28th of July, 1876, passed unanimously the following resolution:

“Resolved: That this board of directors have received with much regret intelligence of the death of the late president of the company, Mr. John Pratt, whose long and valuable services in its behalf secured for him the gratitude, not only of the directors, but of every shareholder in the company.  The directors desire to offer to his family the deep sympathy of every member of the board in the loss they have sustained, and to assure them of the high esteem in which the late Mr. Pratt was universally held.  

“Hugh Allan, president.
“J.N. Beaudry, secretary.
“Thomas Caverhill.
“Andrew Allan.
“William McNaughton.
“Adolphe Roy.
“D. Masson.
M.H. Gault.
“Robert Anderson.”

Return to Notable Montrealers

Back to the homepage

Questions, Comments or Suggestions?
contact
Patty Brown
coordinator of the MontréalGenWeb