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Greenshields Family Fonds (P011)

1812-1962. - 275 cm of textual records and other documents.

Administrative History - Biographical Sketch:

The Greenshields family was quite prominent in business and artistic circles in Montreal during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The family firm, begun in 1833 as S. Greenshields and Son, flourished in the dry goods trade until 1933 as Greenshields Limited. The eldest member of the family in this fonds is Samuel Greenshields (?-1888). He and his wife, Mary Cassils, had four sons and one daughter. At least two of the sons, John (?-1867) and David James (?-1882), were important members of the family business.

John Greenshields married Elizabeth McCouloch Craw Black (1828-1890), the daughter of Reverend Edward Black (1793-1845) of Montreal. They had one son and three daughters. Their son, Edward Black Greenshields (1850-1917), became a member of the family firm in 1869 and was its sole owner by 1893. He ran Greenshields Limited from then, through its incorporation as a limited company in 1903, until his death. He married Eliza Eleonor Brodie Cook (?-1935), the daughter of Reverend John Cook, in October 1876. They had one son, Edward John Moray (1888-1962), and one daughter, Elizabeth Muriel. The latter married Charles Graham Drinkwater in 1910.

Scope and Content:

The Greenshields papers concern the private and domestic lives of family members as well as their cultural activities.

The Edward Black Greenshields papers contain draft and printed poems, printed and manuscript essays and addresses, including "Two Speaking Portraits" on Andrew MacPhail and a draft of "Landscape Painting and Modern Dutch Artists." There is correspondence primarily concerning art criticism, 1904-1915, and an album containing correspondence on poetry from Andrew MacPhail. There are also diaries that record Greenshields daily activities in Montreal and his European travels, 1894-1913. The Eliza Cook Greenshields papers deal with her private and domestic life and include diaries that briefly record daily activities and travels, 1897-1919, and household accounts, 1922-1923 and 1931-1934.

The Muriel Greenshields Drinkwater papers reflect her interest in poetry and contain a manuscript volume of poetry and two scrapbooks of printed poems. There is also correspondence from her father E.B. Greenshields, ca. 1898-1916, and a notebook recording stock purchases, ca. 1955-1957.

Charles Graham Drinkwater's papers consist of a three-volume manuscript log of an expedition by boat to Hudson Bay in 1897.

The papers of Edward John Moray Greenshields contain correspondence, notebooks and scrapbooks. They reflect his interest in various popular pastimes, sports and foreign travel, and his relations with the entertainment community.

This group of papers also contains legal and financial records, including contracts, wills, investment certificates and insurance policies of several family members, 1822-1920.

The fonds is divided into two series: the business papers of the family's dry goods firm and the personal papers of individual family members. The first series has documents in two subseries: the Greenshields dry goods firm and the related dry goods firm of Chamberlain and Thompson. The second series is further divided into subseries on the individual members of the Greenshields family as well as other related individuals.