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Sir Mortimer Barnet Davis was born in Montreal on February 6, 1866 to Samuel Davis and Minnie Falk Davis. The senior Davis couple had emigrated from England in 1861 and Mortimer was their third son, one of seven children. He attended Montreal High School and upon graduation joined his family's cigar business: S. Davis and Sons. By the time he was 21, he was already someone to contend with. He experimented with tobacco and is credited with having established its cultivation in Canada. He founded Ritchie cigarettes before the turn of the century and merged it with the Imperial Tobacco Company of England, thereby establishing the Imperial Tobacco Company of Canada. He was a director of many companies including the Union Bank, Henry Corby distillery, Empire tobacco and others.

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