Montreal Daily Star, 1 March 1907, page 16

Mr. J Henry Joseph died last night

He was born at Berthier and came to Montreal in 1830.

An immense land owner

During Troubles of 1837-38 he made a reputation by carrying despatches through enemy’s lines

Mr. Jacob Henry Joseph died last evening after a short illness, at the advanced age of 92 years.  The deceased gentleman had not been in very good health for some time.

He was one of the most prominent members of the Jewish community, and held in high esteem by his race for the interest he always took in their welfare.  He was born in Berthier, and was a son of the late Henry Joseph, and came to Montreal with his parents in 1830.  After completing his education, he at once entered upon a business career, in which from the outset he was most successful, because of his untiring energy and integrity.  While occupied with his own extensive business affairs he still found time to take an interest in and assist other public enterprises for the development of this city and his native land.  On the introduction of telegraph lines in Canada, he became one of the largest shareholders of the first company formed, and was also among those deeply interested in the construction of the first line to the United States by way of Plattsburg. 

He was also one of the partners in the Newfoundland Telegraph Company that formed the connection link in the first Atlantic Cable line.  Mr. Joseph did not rest solely in aiding in the building of the telegraph lines, he also devoted a good deal of his time and means in the construction of many of our earliest railroads.  He was a director and shareholder of the Champlain Railroad Company, and the Rouse’s Point branch, until absorbed by the Grand Trunk System.  He was also associated with a few other wealthy merchants in building a railway from Joliette to Rawdon, in continuation of the Lanoraie and Joliette railway.  In the organization of several of our banks he played a prominent part.


When the Union Bank was founded, a block of over a thousand shares, which had been allotted for Montrealers remained unsubscribed, hearing of this, Mr. Joseph unhesitatingly took up the shares to further the success of the Union.  He was also among the original stockholders of the Bank of British North America—a certain portion of whose capital was allotted to Canada.  Though he was largely interested in the Ontario Bank for many years, he became at least very dissatisfied with some of the actions of the directorate, and at once showed his disapproval of their course by selling out his stock. The financial world, for some time, was puzzled at this of one so well versed and clear-headed on finance, but subsequently his course of action was justified.  On a second occasion his foresight in banking saved many less wealthy people from much loss.  This was in his withdrawal from all connection with the Provident Savings Bank, of which he was one of the original founders.  He pointed out repeatedly that the policy pursued by the management must inevitably end in failure and loss, and his prophecy came true.  His capacity for financing large business concerns made his name known not only in the Dominion but the United States.


Mr. Joseph was for yeas closely connected with the Montreal Elevator Company, of which he was for a time the president and one of the largest stockholders.  He ever took a deep interest in all things tending to the prosperity and development of the trade and commerce of this port and the country.  He was a very active member of the Board of Trade in the seventies and eighties, and was vice-president when such men as the Allans, Holtons and Cramps were at its head. 

While holding office on the Board he took the opportunity of putting through the appointment of a Port Warden and Harbor Inspectors’ offices, which, though objected to by many at the time, as unnecessary, experience has since shown the wisdom of their establishment.  The deceased gentleman was a life governor of the Montreal General Hospital, and was also an active member of many other institutions for the advancement of learning and culture, i.e. the Art Association, Natural History Society, Mechanics Institute, etc.  He was vice-president of the Natural History Society for some years, and very materially helped it along in days of stress.  In the early sixties he was one of the largest owners of real estate in the city, and many of the large wholesale houses in the business part of the city were erected by him, his business instinct was invariably sound on every occasion of the kind.  Though always taking a very keen interest in the political questions of the day affecting the country, he could not be persuaded to accept a nomination for Parliament or the City Council, though he was repeatedly solicited by his numerous business and social friends.  He was always a very strong and enthusiastic Liberal politician from the days of Lafontaine and Baldwin, and was among those brave men who defended those statesmen at the burning of the old Parliament Buildings in 1849.  Towards the end of 1890 he was offered the Liberal nomination for Montreal West, but declined.


He also refused all overtures to become a member of the Legislative Council.  He was, during their lifetimes, in very close touch with Messrs John Young, Holton, Kinnear, Huntingdon and Penny.  The deceased as a young man served his country during the troubles of 1837-38 and was entrusted by the General Commanding, Sir John Colborne, to carry important despatches to Brigadier Wetherall, the commandant of the troops at Chambly, in which perilous duty he was most successful.  He held at the time a commission in Colonel Dyer’s regularly enrolled militia battalion, which formed a part of the regiments garrisoning Hochelaga, Laprairie, Chambly and St Johns, held in readiness to resist any invasion of American sympathizers.  Mr. Joseph’s wife died a few years ago, and her demise came as a great shock to him and his family, for she was one of the most charitable ladies in the city, devoted to all times to doing good to suffering humanity.  Mr. Joseph is survived by his two sons, Mr. Henry J and Mr. Horace Joseph, and three daughters, who are in Europe.