By: Dick Nieuwendyk – mtltimes.ca
In the early 1800s, a large parcel of land on the northwest side of Mount Royal was owned by John Ogilvy, a fur trader of the North West Company. The land was sold to Colin Robertson, who already owned land on the south side of the mountain. In 1844 the heirs of Robertson divided the land into seven lots slated for auction.
John Molson Jr, son and partner of John Molson, founder of the Molson Brewery, acquired a lot and built his house, known as Villa Terra Nova, in 1848 according to the plans of architect George
William Richardson Brown. John Molson jr. died July 12,1860.
John Magor and his wife, Jane Bryant Schroder, acquired Terra Nova in 1870. John Magor immigrated from Abbott, Devonshire to Canada where he became a prominent merchant. In 1865 he settled in Montreal where he partnered with two other merchants, becoming Lord, Magor and Munn, Shipping and Grain exporters. While her husband was busy in the trade of grains, Jane became involved in religious work, eventually becoming president of the “Women’s Auxiliary of Lachine” and organizing
the “British Israelite Movement” in Montreal where she was named honorary president until her death at age 91 in 1933.
In the early 1900s the mansion became the property of Charles B. Gordon, president of the Dominion Textile Company of Montreal, of the largest cotton manufacturing concerns in North America. Aside from his duties as president of Dominion Textile, he was a director of the Bank of Montreal, the Royal Trust Company, the Dominion Bridge Company, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. and many other corporations.
He was also governor of McGill University.
In June 1939, the building became part of the St. Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal Corporation. In 1990, an addition was built to the back of the house to accommodate the school of the Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal, a choir with over 210 boys, aged eight to seventeen, founded in 1956 by Father Léandre Brault, CSC. In addition to a regular curriculum, the school provides advanced musical training. At the elementary school level, the boys receive three hours of daily musical instruction. All study piano,
voice and ear training, and choral singing in sacred and secular repertoire. During high school years, their formation includes enriching their repertoire and learning how to write music. La Maîtrise des Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal is a public school, under the Commission scolaire de Montréal.
Villa Terra Nova is located at 4300 Queen Mary Road in Montreal
Source: Patrimoine culturel Québec / Ville de Montréal / Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal