Class of 1985
Jean-Baptiste Rolland – merchant, industrialist, risk-taker, politician – a self made man who illustrates well the type of social ascent characteristic of the 19th century.
At the age of 25 he became a master printer and tasted his first experience as entrepreneur. With his long time friend John Thompson he purchased an old printing house for 300 dollars. But, the Rolland and Thompson firm was short lived. His partner decided to retire from the business, and Jean-Baptiste pressed on. He soon expanded his enterprise by opening a new business – the Librairie Catholique de Jean-Baptiste Rolland. Then he opened a bookstore, added stationery lines, engravings and imported merchandise from Europe. This business evolved into publishing school and religious texts and later Canadian authors. After bringing his son, Damian into business the operation’s name changed to J.B. Rolland & Fils.
To ensure his own supplies of high quality paper, only available through import, Jean-Baptiste started a mill in the Laurentians. Eighteen months after the construction start, the first sheet of fine quality all-rag paper produced in Canada rolled off the line.
Jean-Baptiste became increasingly involved in the affairs of his community. He won a seat on the municipal council of Montreal. He also became president of the Saint Jean-Baptiste Association of Montreal. He was also appointed to the Montreal Harbour Commission.