They make a lot of beer.
Assuming you remember them...
John Molson was an Englishman from Lincolnshire, who in 1782, at the age of 18, due to an illness that required some ocean air, set sail for Montreal.
At the time, the city was caught up in the fur trade. Most of the city's economy was tied to trapping, and there wasn't much development in other industries.
Previously, any breweries that had opened up in New France had shut down, due to the fact that the predominantly French Population mostly drank wine and spirits.
BUT, the demographics of the city were changing. The English had won the Battle on the Plains of Abraham in 1759, and the American Revolution was drawing to a close. John saw that with the influx of British and Loyalist emigrants, there would certainly be a demand for locally brewed beer.
He sailed back to England to get some of the best quality barley, and then gave the seed it to some of the farmers in Canada. He also imported the latest equipment, and set up shop. He started brewing in 1786, and sold out his 1st batch of ale, 6 weeks later.
Business has been brisk ever since then.
Throughout the years, they have diversified their interests into a number of fields. They made some steam boats, the first in Canada, some of which were used in the War of 1812.
In 1855, they actually opened their own bank, which merged with the Bank of Montreal in 1925.
The Molson family finally opened up their business to public trading in 1945. Up until this point it had been exclusively controlled by them. They now trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
In 1957, two members of the Molson family, including Canadian Senator Hartland Molson, purchased the Montreal Canadiens, and the Montreal Forum, where they played. Shockingly, that same year, Molson's Brewing Company became co-sponsors of Hockey Night in Canada. The two later sold the team to... the company.
1959 saw the unveiling of Molson Canadian, which would eventually grow to be Canada's #1 selling beer.
Throughout this time they had been opening and purchasing breweries throughout Canada. They had also been buying up companies in other fields, such as Diversey Corp., who made various chemical agents, and the Beaver Lumber Company.
Vrrrrmmmmm! The Molson Indy is held for the first time in 1986, in Toronto. This is the first major league auto race to be held in Canada. Held in the CART league, the event eventually grew to three races, in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.
They merged with Carling O'Keefe in 1989, to become the largest brewer in Canada, 5th largest in North America.
In 2001, they sold all but 20% of their stake in the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs hadn't been doing as well lately. This despite the fact that they were no longer playing in the Montreal Forum, but in the new Molson Centre. Eh, at least they've still got some stake in the team.
They begun increasing their efforts to sell their products in the United States, and also purchased the 2nd highest selling brand in Brazil, Bavaria. Looks like they're trying to push into the South American market as well. When they did this, they became the 13th largest brewing company in the world.
They also have a tendency to support amateur sports teams, especially hockey clubs. They gave $1,000,000 to Canada’s Olympic Hockey teams last year, although the fact that they both won gold medals might have something to do with it.
And they've also had some rather well received advertising campaigns in the past few years, from the infamous I am Canadian commercials, to their new Bubba Kegs, a cool little 5L mini-keg of Canadian.
As for what they'll be doing in the future? Well, it looks like they're going to be focusing more on Beer, and less on their other business interests. And it looks like they want to expand their market base, which is always a good thing. Eh, good luck to them.
Update:Molson recently announced a merger with the Adolph Coors Company of America. Apparently they will become the Molson Coors Brewing Company. This would, I believe, make them the 5th largest brewing company in the world.