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THE MOLSON SAGA 1763-1983.

Woods, Shirley E.

Toronto, Doubleday, c1983. 370pp, cloth, $24.95, ISBN 0-385-17863-8. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Paul White

Volume 13 Number 1
1985 January

The Molson Saga, by Shirley E. Woods Jr., is a book that will delight both the student of history and the casual reader. This book traces the evolution of the Molson empire from its beginnings in the late 1700s to 1983.

Woods has done more than chronicle the development of what has become one of the world's largest brewery conglomerates. He has detailed the history of Quebec and its influence on the Montreal business community through the eyes of the Molson family.

The hopes and fears of the business community are revealed concerning such significant historical events as the War of 1812, the Lower Canadian Rebellion in the 1830s, Confederation, and the two world wars of this century.

The reasons why the Molsons acted as they did on each historical occasion are examined; for instance, why did the Molson's sign the Annexation Manifesto in 1849? How did the Molsons cope with the restrictions of prohibition?

Woods reveals that the Molsons did not restrict their interests to brewing and distilling. They operated one of the first and most successful St. Lawrence River shipping companies. They have had family members serve as members of legislatures and as senators. In this century, they have owned and played prominent roles in the daily operations of the Montreal Canadiens hockey club.

The Molson Saga is full of other interesting pieces of trivia about the Molson family, such as the fact that Harry Molson died on the Titanic. Perhaps the only shortcoming of the book is that there are no footnotes. But this is not necessarily a serious fault because Woods explains in the introduction that all sources come from the private papers of the Molson family.

Paul White, North York, Ont.
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