Sir Edward Seaborne Clouston (1849-1912)

Sir Edward S. Clouston, 1st Bt., General Manager of the Bank of Montreal

He was born at Moose Jaw, Ontario, the son and grandson of two Chief Factors of the Hudson's Bay Company. He was educated at the High School of Montreal before joining the Bank of Montreal in 1865. He was closely mentored throughout his career by Lord Strathcona, a long standing family friend who came to view Clouston "like his son". Having worked as an accountant with the bank in Brockville, Hamilton and Montreal, he was posted to the London office in England in 1876 and then to New York in 1877. The following year he was recalled to Montreal as Assistant Inspector. By 1891, he was General Manager of the entire bank and when Strathcona was appointed Canadian High Commissioner to the U.K. in 1896 he chose Clouston to represent him in all his financial and philanthropic interests in Canada. In addition to serving as General Manager, Clouston was appointed a director and Vice-President of the bank in 1905.

Clouston worked in tandem with the bank's presidents Lord Strathcona and Sir George Drummond, to see the Bank of Montreal became the third largest bank in North America and twice the size of its closest Canadian competitor. He was elected President of the Canadian Bankers Association on several occasions, advising the Ministers of Finance, and the bank soon came to be viewed as Canada’s central/national bank. While, "shrewd, powerful, and austere" he was "far from cautious or conservative in financial matters". His misguided confidence in the Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz cost the bank's significant investments there heavily and combined with his unswerving support of Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook) while he drove Western Canada Cement & Coal into bankruptcy almost certainly cost him the bank's presidency and he was passed over for R.B. Angus.

In recognition of his services, he was created a Baronet of the United Kingdom in 1906. He founded the Royal Trust Company and was Chairman of the Canadian boards of the London & Liverpool Insurance Company and the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York. His financial influence was such that some referred to him as Canada's J.P. Morgan and he was a president, vice-president, and/or director of numerous prominent companies, civic organizations, societies and charitable concerns - he was President of the Royal Victoria Hospital and six other hospitals in the Montreal region. He lived between 362 Peel Street in Montreal and his country estate Boisbriant at Senneville. He married Annie, daughter of George Easton, of Brockville and they had two daughters: Osla, died unmarried; and, Marjory, wife of the noted parasitologist Dr John Lancelot Todd


Contributed by Mark Meredith on 31/12/2021 and last updated on 23/03/2023.
Image Courtesy of the McCord Museum, Montreal; Biography by Carman Miller in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography