Percival “Percy” Molson (1880–1917), great-grandson of John Molson, was born into one of Canada’s most famous brewing families. A sports star, he was named McGill University’s best “all-round athlete” for three consecutive years. At age 16, he was a member of the Montreal Victorias hockey team that won the 1897 Stanley Cup championship. While studying at McGill University, Molson played hockey, football, squash, and tennis; he also competed in track and field events. Later, he represented Canada in the 400-metre race at the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri. Molson graduated from McGill in 1901 and became a lawyer in Montreal.
At the outbreak of the First World War, he encouraged young men in Canadian universities to enlist. Molson joined the 2nd University (McGill) Company of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) as Captain in April 1915, and arrived in France later that year in August. In June 1916, he was severely wounded during the Battle of Mount Sorrel at Sanctuary Wood, Belgium, and subsequently received the Military Cross for gallantry and distinguished conduct. After a long convalescence, he resumed service with the PPCLI on June 1, 1917. Weeks later, Molson was killed in action by a shell near Vimy Ridge, France, on July 5, 1917.
In his will, he left $75,000 for the construction of a sports stadium at McGill University. Named in his honour, the Percival Molson Memorial Stadium opened on October 25, 1919. Molson was inducted posthumously into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
Service Record Details
Date of Birth: August 14, 1880 (Cacouna, Quebec)
Date of Attestation: April 26, 1915
Age at Enlistment: 34 years
Prior Military Service/Active Militia: Member of the McGill Contingent of the Canadian Officers’ Training Corps as of September 29, 1914
Height: 6 feet, ½ inch
Weight: 165 lbs
Description: Medium complexion, blue eyes, brown hair. Church of England. Scar over right knee, scar bottom 3rd and 4th finger of right hand. Prominence of outer end of left clavicle.
Home Address: Unknown
Trade: Manager, National Trust Company (Montreal, Quebec)
Next of Kin: Mother, Jennie B. Molson, living at 556 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, Quebec
Branch of Service: Army
Theatre of War: France, Belgium
- June 14, 1916—He is admitted to hospital for a devastating gunshot wound to the face. A bullet entered his left cheek and exited the right cheek, thereby fracturing his jaw. He is treated with a jaw wiring procedure. “Fractured mandible. Ascending ranuis [sic] Right side. Wired up in France and removed at 2 AMH 1 month later. Bony union.” (Doctor: C.H. Edwards).
- July 23, 1916—He is discharged from the No. 2 Queen Alexandra’s Military Hospital.
- July 24, 1916—He is granted leave to Canada.
- April 1917—He returns to Europe in the spring.
- April 17, 1917—Molson is considered medically fit to return to duty by the Medical Board. His face has healed and the hypersensitivity is lessening. “He is able to chew his food fairly well.” He joins the 7th Reserve Battalion at this time.
- June 1, 1917, he rejoins the PPCLI in France.
- June 4, 1917—He is awarded the Military Cross. (London Gazette, Supplement 30111)
- July 5, 1917—He is reported “Killed in Action.”
Interesting Details from the Service Record:
- A complete copy of his detailed last will and testament, dated June 28, 1915, is included in the file. He bequeaths $75,000 to McGill University for the purpose of building a stadium and establishing a team. In addition to bequeathing sums of money to various individuals, he also leaves charitable donations to many organizations. Among these are the Montreal General Hospital ($10,000), the Charity Organization Society, Montreal ($5,000), and the Boys’ Home at Shawbridge ($5,000). He leaves all of his clothing, jewellery and personal effects to his two brothers, Kenneth and Walter Molson, and bequeaths his automobiles to his mother, Jennie Baker Butler (widow of Thomas Molson) and his sisters, Lilliss Savage Molson and Mabel Molson.
Military Medals, Honours and Awards (1812–1962)