||Charles Theodore Hart was born on May 7, 1816 to Benjamin Hart and Harriot Judith Joseph in Montreal, Lower Canada. He married Frances Michael David on January 4, 1842, his first cousin, and the couple had two daughters who died in infancy. David herself died in 1844. In the late 1840s Hart married Mary Kent Bradbury and the couple had three sons and a daughter.
Hart was a successful Montreal businessman. His father owned an insurance agency and mercantile business, Benjamin Hart and Company, where Charles Theodore Hart also worked. Hart opened a similar business after his father’s death in 1855 that expanded to include large land holdings and many corporate interests. The mercantile part of his business had interests ranging from general wholesale to retail trade to trading ships; his businesses had part interest in a ship between Britain and Canada East.
Hart also handled marine, life, and fire insurance. He represented the Equitable Fire Insurance Company of London, the Sun Mutual Life Insurance Company of Montreal, the Mercantile Insurance Company, the Security Insurance Company of New York, Minerva Life of London, and the New York Underwriters. He owned a lot of valuable land, including over 200 houses in Montreal, 6400 acres of mining lands north of Lake Huron and Lake Superior, and the Le Closse fief in Montreal.
Additionally, Hart had other business interests, many of which involved the railway. These interests may have been tied to increasing the value of his land holdings in Montreal’s east end and around Palace d’Armes. He helped incorporate the Grand Trunk Railway in 1851 and was a provisional director of the Montreal and Bytown Railway. He would serve as director for many more institutions, including the Richelieu Company, the Consumers’ Gas Company, the Montreal Railway Terminus Company, the Montreal Permanent Building Society, the Montreal and Lachine Railroad Company, the Anglo-Canadian Telegraph Company, and the Canadian Board of the International Life Assurance Society of London. Although not their director, he had shares in the City Bank and the Bank of Montreal.
Hart was also a keen investor in mining. He was involved with the Upper Canada Mining Company, the Echo Lake Mining Company, and the Montreal Mining Company.
Outside of his business interests, Hart was quite involved in his community. He served in the militia during the 1837 rebellion and was a captain in the 3rd Battalion of Montreal militia by 1846. He held executive offices in the Montreal Merchants’ Exchange and Reading Room and the Montreal Board of Trade. Between 1853 and 1854 he was the director of the Montreal Horticultural Society. He was also a member of the St James Club. He signed the Annexation Manifesto of 1849 and was a political supporter of the Liberal Luther Hamilton Holton. Hart also donated to McGill College’s endowment, the Montreal Protestant House of Industry and Refuge, and the Montreal General Hospital. He served as governor of the latter for several years and in 1878 they made him a life governor in recognition of his philanthropy.
Hart was a member of a prominent Jewish family in Montreal, but though he was active in the Shearith Israel congregation early in life, he became estranged from this community in the 1840s, possibily because of his second marriage to a Unitarian. Hart and his wife both joined the Unitarian Church of the Messiah.
Hart retired in 1872 for health reasons. He moved to Europe five years later, but continued to visit Montreal.
Hart died of stomach cancer in his daughter’s home in Mézières, France on May 28, 1887.