Class of 1990
R. Howard Webster, a master craftsman of commerce and Chairman of his family owned Imperial Trust Company.
Reginald Howard Webster was born in Quebec, the son of Senator Lorne Webster, patriarch of the family owned Imperial Trust Company. Following graduation from McGill University, Howard was given the task of solving the financial woes of Imperial’s Holt Renfrew. The assignment led Howard to Detroit and Annis Furs, a small company with excellent earnings, but too little capital. He persuaded his father to buy the company and Howard became its manager, commuting for the next 20 years between Detroit and Montreal.
Howard was 45 when he successfully outbid. E.P. Taylor and publishers Roy Thomson and Jack Kent Cooke for the Globe newspaper. For 25 years Howard was a natural at combining the responsibilities of newspaper owner and Chairman of Imperial Trust. In 1979 Thomson chain was successful in their bid for the Globe and, out of respect, Howard continued to serve as honorary Chairman.
Howard augmented Imperial’s base into oil, shipping, mining and lumber. His control and influence guided the company’s investments in real estate, Montreal’s Windsor Arms Hotel, Quebecair and Burns Foods.
An avid environmentalist, Howard funded the Wetlands Research Station in Manitoba. His great interest was sports. He was a cofounder of the Montreal Expos and spearheaded the group that founded the Toronto Blue Jays.
According to a friend and advisor, “Like a champion chess player, Howard could take on a bunch of opponents at the same time.”