First gas company in 1836
The parliament of Lower Canada passed legislation in 1836 to form the Montreal Gas Light Company. Among the many interested parties to the incorporation of that first company were active members of the Mechanics’ Institute, including civil engineer Moses Judah Hays, businessman François-Antoine LaRocque, printer Robert Armour and his son lawyer Robert Armour Jr., banker C. H. Castle, brewer William Dow, builder Joseph R. Bronsdon and contractor John Redpath. Manager was Albert Furniss.
By 1840, the sole shareholders of the company were Furniss (who by then owned half the shares), and important Canadian businessmen Joseph Masson, Hugh Robertson and John Strang. In August and September 1840, Mr. Furniss negotiated with the Mechanics’ Institute to “introduce the gas and and lay the fittings at his own expense,” into the rented rooms of the Institute, after which there would be a £1 annual rate for rental of the fittings, plus charges for supplying the gas.
In 1841, Albert Furniss went on–with backing by Joseph Masson–to set up the City of Toronto Gas Light and Water Company, though he retained an interest in the Montreal company.
New company formed
In 1847, New City Gas Company was formed in competition to the Montreal Gas Light Company. Directors of the new company included businessman James Ferrier, soap and candle manufacturer John Mathewson and hardware merchant Henry Mulholland–all Mechanics’ Institute members. In 1850, John Ostell become a director of New City Gas, and was its president 1860-65.
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