The P.S. Lady Sherbrooke
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John Molson and the P.S. Lady Sherbrooke

John Molson, the man who founded an ever expanding Canadian business empire, never intended to emigrate to Canada. In 1782, at the age of 18, John Molson left his home in Lincolnshire, England and sailed for North America. He did so on the advice of his doctor who recommended an ocean voyage for his health. He was impressed by the opportunities he saw in Montréal.

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Instead of returning home, he mortgaged his home in England in order to build a small brewery at the foot of St-Marie's current, outside of the fortification walls then surrounding the city. The brewery was profitable, and before long Molson turned his attention to other things. Hearing that American engineer Robert Fulton had launched a steamship service on the Hudson river, Molson began production on Canada's first steamboat. This was also the first steamboat to be made outside the British Isles. He launched the Accomodation in 1809. Molson later expanded his fleet of steamships, which established a regular passenger and cargo service between Montréal and Québec.

In addition to his involvement in real estate, lumber and currency trading, John Molson built a hotel in order to accommodate his wealthy steamship passengers. The Mansion House, which opened in 1816, was one of North America's most luxurious hotels.

Before his death in 1836, John Molson had been named president of the Bank of Montreal, held political office, and helped to found the Montreal General Hospital. He died at his summer home, on Molson Island, close to the site where the P.S. Lady Sherbrooke was retired almost twenty years earlier.