[ The wedding of George Drummond Redpath and Alice Stiles Mills ]

Unknown, Redpath Sugar Museum, Square-mile family weddings were elaborate celebrations in the late nineteenth century. This image shows one between two elite Montreal families that took place at Shanklin, Isle of Wight, England, on 29 May 1867. Here Ada Maria Mills Redpath and John J. Redpath (visible to the left and right of the bride and groom) celebrate the marriage of her sister, Alice Stiles Mills, to his brother George Drummond Redpath

The Redpath family took root in Canada 85 years before the tragedy. John Redpath, the family patriarch, immigrated to Montreal in 1816. English-speaking and Protestant, he also worked on construction projects with French-speaking Catholic society. He secured contracts to construct the Lachine and Rideau Canals and Montreal’s Notre Dame Church, in addition to public and commercial buildings.

In 1836, flush with success, Redpath purchased 235 acres of land on the slopes of Mount Royal from the Desrivières family. He built a mansion for his rapidly expanding family on a property Redpath renamed Terrace Bank; he sub-divided and sold the remaining acreage. Ever alert to new business opportunities, Redpath used profits derived from this real estate venture to establish Canada’s first ever sugar refinery in 1854.

On the home front, Redpath fathered seventeen children. In 1818, he married Janet McPhee, and from this union, seven children were born. McPhee died of cholera in 1834. A year later, the thirty-nine-year-old Redpath wedded nineteen-year-old Jane Drummond, who bore ten children.

The Redpath children married into wealthy and influential families. Montreal family connections included the Fleets, Taylors, Boveys, Plimsolls, Dougalls, Drummonds, Dennistouns, and Mills. While all Redpath’s children enjoyed the wealth he had accrued, only some of them were involved in the family business: sons Peter, George, and John James, and brother-in-law George Drummond managed the sugar refinery.


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