Sumner-Bronfman House

15 Belvedere Road, Westmount, Montreal, Quebec

Built in 1906, for George Sumner (1839-1921), the English-born former President of the Montreal of Board of Trade. Locally, Sumner was best known as the senior partner of Hodgson, Sumner & Co., one of the most prominent wholesale dry goods merchants in Canada, but he also had a long association with mining and was Vice-President of Cominco. His mansion sat near the summit of Westmount and was designed by the Montreal architect Robert Findlay (1859-1951) who at that time was partnered with John McGregor. Sumner named his new home "Oaklands" and it was not altogether dissimilar to the house in Toronto built by the President of Cominco, Wilmot Deloui Matthews (1850-1919). In 1928, his heirs sold the mansion to Samuel Bronfman (1889-1971) who made his fortune bootlegging liquor across the border to Prohibition America....

This house is best associated with...

George Sumner

George Sumner Sr., of Montreal


Samuel Bronfman

Samuel Bronfman, of the Distiller's Corporation Ltd., Montreal


Saidye Rosner

Mrs Saidye (Rosner) Bronfman


After Samuel purchased the Sumner mansion, his brother, Allan Bronfman (1896-1980), acquired the house to the east and then they both purchased the property between them (the former home of merchant James Coristine) which they demolished to create a garden. In 1929, Samuel Bronfman consulted the original architect before employing the architects Hutchison & Wood to make several improvements to the Sumner place: a stone wall was rebuilt around the parameter and terraces with formal gardens were laid out. Sam's instructions to the architects had been simple: "buy the best". Over the years between 1938 and 1973, Sam and his wife carried out at least six further significant extensions.

The house still stands on grounds of 1.5-acres. Internally, the large windows in both the drawing and dining rooms offer views over the St. Lawrence River. The original wood panelling from Sumner's era survive in the dining room and study. Sam Bronfman died here in 1971 and his widow, Saidye, continued to live here until she too died in 1995. It remains a private home still owned by the family: it was bought in 2001 by the current owner, their grandson Stephan Bronfman, who has made his own improvements.

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Contributed by Mark Meredith on 22/10/2019 and last updated on 28/01/2022.
Images Courtesy of Thomas1313, Wiki Commons; The Westmout Historian (September, 2006), Robert Finlay and Oaklands; Leo: A Life (2003) by Leo Kolber & L. Ian MacDonald; 


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