Sir Mortimer Barnett Davis (1866-1928)

President of the Imperial Tobacco Company of Canada "Tobacco King of Canada"

He was born and educated in Montreal and was best known as the President of the Imperial Tobacco Company of Canada. He was also President of Corby's Whisky Distilleries and Chairman of the Canadian Industrial Alcohol Company and the Consolidated Asbestos Company. Among the many other businesses with which he was associated, he was a director of the United States Rubber Company, the Canadian Consolidated Rubber Company, the Royal Bank of Canada and the Crown Trust Company of Montreal. He owned one of the most famous racing stables on the Cote d'Azur in France and his horses included Fairy Legend, winner of the Prix de Diane at Cannes.

He was a generous philanthropist and in 1916 became the first Canadian Jew to be knighted. Among other gifts, he endowed the Sir Mortimer B. Davis Jewish General Hospital at Montreal - a 637-bed McGill University teaching hospital - and donated $250,000 to Montreal's East End Y.M.H.A. and $50,000 to the West End Y.M.H.A. He lived between the house known today as Purvis Hall at 516 Pine Avenue and Peel Street in Montreal; "Belvoir" at Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts; and, the Villa Les Glaïeuls at Cannes in the South of France. In Montreal, he was a member of the Mount Royal, St. James', Montreal Hunt and Montreal Jockey clubs. He died of a heart attack while playing baccarat at the Cannes Casino, worth an estimated $40-million. His eldest son married actress Rosie Dolly and he adopted his wife's nephew who was killed in the Second World War.
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 12/03/2022 and last updated on 17/10/2023.