Davis, Mortimer B.

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DAVIS, MORTIMER B. (1866–1928), Canadian industrialist and philanthropist. Davis was born in Montreal, the third of seven children in a well-established Jewish family. His father was a founder of Montreal's first Reform congregation, Temple Emanu-El. After finishing Montreal High School, Davis went into the family's cigar business. As a young man he experimented in tobacco production and negotiated with the Imperial Tobacco Company of England to establish a subsidiary in Canada. Davis became the company's director and was soon involved in a variety of other Montreal business activities. He also took keen interest in charity and relief activities. Davis helped finance the integration of East European immigrants in Montreal and was one of the founders of the Mount Sinai Sanatorium, the first Jewish-community-funded hospital in the city. During World War i, Davis helped finance a Jewish battalion to fight with the British and in 1917 was rewarded with a knighthood by King George v, the first Canadian Jew to be so honored. After the war Davis, while not a religious man, was active in supporting Jewish schools in Montreal and donated a new building for the Montreal ymha, soon known as the Davis Y. Sir Mortimer Davis died in 1928 but, feeling that Montreal should have a major Jewish hospital, he bequeathed 75 percent of his estate to be invested and used to build such a hospital. The Sir Mortimer Davis Jewish General Hospital, founded in 1934, was the result. In 1898 Davis married Henrietta Meyer of San Francisco but their marriage ended in divorce. Lady Davis, a keen businesswoman, became wealthy in her own right and remained a leading philanthropist in the Montreal Jewish community, supporting causes in both Canada and Israel.

[Gerald Tulchinsky (2nd ed.)]