The Honourable Senator Hartland de Montarville Molson left behind a legacy of commitment to Canada, hockey, and the business community. A Member of the Distinguished Order of the British Empire, a war pilot, statesman, administrator, sportsman, and patron of the arts, Molson left an indelible mark on the game, particularly in Montreal.
He was born in Montreal, the son of Colonel Herbert Molson, one of the founders of the Canadian Arena Company. A graduate of Bishops University and the Royal Military College (RMC), Molson played with the Kingston team that reached the Memorial Cup finals in 1926. He also helped RMC win the Dominion Intermediate football title that same year.
A business graduate, Molson spent a year working for a bank in Paris, France in 1928-29. He suited up for the Paris Canadians and European Canadians, an exciting team that also featured future NHL president Clarence S. Campbell. On returning to Canada, Molson worked towards his CA diploma, which he received in 1933. He worked with Dominion Skyways Limited from 1933 to 1938 before joining Molson Brewery Limited as assistant secretary-treasurer.
During World War II he served with the RCAF and rose to the rank of captain. He was shot down and wounded during the Battle of Britain in 1940 and was awarded the OBE in 1945. He returned to Molson's after the War, became involved in hockey administration and was appointed to the Canadian Senate in 1955.
He became president, and later chairman, of the Canadian Arena Company and the Montreal Canadiens hockey club. Molson was in charge of the Canadiens between 1957 and 1968. As a member of the NHL Finance Committee he played a vital role in strengthening owner-player relations and was on hand when the owners bankrolled the construction of the Hockey Hall of Fame building in 1961. His business background was also helpful during these early years of the NHL Pension Fund. Before retiring from the Canadiens, Senator Molson was the impetus behind the modernization of the Forum, making it the NHL's largest arena. It also became known for the excellent sight lines it provided for the fans.
Senator Molson was constantly involved in charity and community improvement projects. He was the chairman of the Joint Montreal Hospital Fund Drive and initiated the Molson Foundation which awarded annual grants for outstanding achievement in the arts by Canadian citizens. Senator himself was honoured throughout his career with such distinctions as an honourary membership in the Canadian Olympic Association and a life membership in the Amateur Athletic Union of Canada.
Molson was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973.