BlogFebruary 10, 2021

The Montship Collection

Montreal shipping is an important Canadian shipping agency with its founding office located in Montreal. At its origins in 1925, the primary cargo coming this way across the Atlantic was British coal, and returning east to Europe was grain. The evolution of Montship through its 95 year history reads as an important business success story in a field that required any number of adaptations to world events and advancements in technology. Montship is credited with being early in the shipping agency and brokerage business to harness the technological efficiencies which became available from the early 1970s. For a good read about the history of Montreal Shipping/ Montship we refer you to their website. 


It was in 1970 that the company moved from its birthplace the Coristine Building on St. Nicolas Street in Montreal to the prestigious Royal Bank of Canada Building at 360 Saint Jacques. The extent of the Montreal Shipping art collection in 1970 I do not recall. However I am witness to it blossoming shortly thereafter. The personalities Frank B. Peterson, James L. Thom, and Douglas A. Short were gentlemen who were veterans with the firm. I cannot say with certainty but it would not surprise me if R. Fraser Elliott, a director of Montreal Shipping since 1955, had a significant influence in their decision to hang on their office walls fine Canadian art with a consistent Maritime thread. Fraser Elliott was an avid art collector and one who had confidence in my father’s advice. 


The principals at Montreal Shipping, at the onset Frank Peterson, but, in my experience from 1974 were highly receptive to suggestions from my father and then me, to acquire works of art we thought appropriate to their theme, within their budget and that would fit in various places in their executive offices. James Thom became president in 1974. I have vivid recollections of Mr. Thom’s visits, I think quite often after lunch across the street at the Mount Royal Club, coming in to see what we were proposing for their collection. His purchase decisions made, Mr. Thom always looked at me and made his customary invitation to meet with him at the office on the next Saturday morning, “for a hanging,” he would say with a wide grin. As the walls filled up, those Saturday mornings became more difficult. We would move this to there, that to here and something somewhere else before we found the perfect spot for his new acquisition. 


Adrien Hebert

Adrien Hébert 1890-1967, Montreal Harbour (Les débardeurs), 1926 from The Montship Collection


Montreal Shipping company’s history reads that “in 1991 R. Fraser Elliott, Frank B. Peterson, Douglas A. Short and James L. Thom retired as Directors, and the new management team assumed control, with Guy G. Bouchat as President. This ended 35 years of successful management that had not only directed and guided the Company through much adversity, but brought Montreal Shipping to the forefront of ship agencies in Canada.” By that time their walls had little if any space to expand the collection. Since then we have remained in touch with the firm, through its leadership by Guy Bouchat, Mike Belmer and Jean-Paul Cormier. It was always a pleasure to serve any aspect of their art interests, art appraisals, any maintenance, and to locate an appropriate artist to undertake a commission. (Guy Bouchat’s hole in one, I think at Mont Tremblant, was worthy of a commemorative painting for Guy’s office). Now, having been responsible in a large part for the development of the Montship collection and as the majority ownership of the firm moves out of Canada it is both an honour and a pleasure that Domenic Bravi and his directors have entrusted Galerie Alan Klinkhoff / Alan Klinkhoff Galleries to find new stewardship for these fine works of art.


View the Montship Collection


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