In Business in Montreal: a memoir by Alex Harper, former president of the Montreal Board of Trade

Penned by a man of principle and action, Alex Harper’s memoir tells the story of his years spent with the Montreal Board of Trade. In In Business in Montreal: Reflections on 30 Years of Business Relations and Representation, Alex Harper looks back at the important stages in his career with an organization created over 150 years ago, and offers praise for the business community, without which the city would not be what it is today.

Business people: builders of an economically robust Montréal

Through his memoir, the former president of the Montreal Board of Trade pays tribute to the business people of Montréal and their tireless dedication to the city’s economic growth and quality of life. He showcases the involvement of leaders at all levels, who strengthened ties with schools, museums and hospitals for the benefit of society as a whole. Their contributions also developed urban planning, governance, infrastructures and business creation.

“I enjoyed pulling back the curtain on the economic development of Montréal, which was shaped by the business men and women who are the builders of the city of today and tomorrow,” Mr. Harper says. “I’ve always admired the energy they put into fostering our city’s prosperity.”

Alex Harper: a man on a mission

A legendary figure of the Montreal Board of Trade, Alex Harper climbed the organization’s ranks, starting as an administrative assistant in 1963, becoming president in 1992, and then serving as executive vice-president from 1992 to 1994. For over 30 years, he was involved in the economic and social life of Greater Montréal and worked diligently on many issues that marked the city’s history.

He was the man behind the 1992 merger with the Chambre de commerce du Montréal métropolitain, combining the city’s Anglophone and Francophone forces. His memoir recounts an important period in business mobilization, in a community that at the time was divided along linguistic lines, as evidenced by the two entities “Board of Trade” and “Chambre de commerce.”

In In Business in Montreal: Reflections on 30 Years of Business Relations and Representation, Alex Harper details a turning point in the economic history of Montréal with plenty of anecdotes. His revelations shed light on a time of tremendous change, and on the evolution of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, an embodiment of his ambitions and those of business people.

Here is an exclusive peak at excerpts:

“I invited Marcel Côté to come over to my office, which he did. I showed him the document we had prepared and said “If the Prime Minister comes, he will sign right here. This will be in front of a bevy of television cameras and journalists, along with 700 Chamber and Board executives and business people from across Canada and the U.S. To boot, he will be able to congratulate young entrepreneurs from across the country who will have been honoured by the BDC.””

Excerpt from chapter 2, page 7

“One of the things which was presented to me was a book which Kevin had conceived and put together with the help of Sonia and Olaf Silva. It consisted of congratulatory letters. They were from a wide range of people, from corporate CEOs and people from all sorts of organizations, along with several political leaders. One was a letter from Premier Robert Bourassa. The letters were put together in a bound book which I treasure.

One of the things which was a natural part of this process was something which was particularly satisfying to me. It was the fact that many of the letters were in French – those people knew that this would not be a negative to me. Quite the contrary, I was touched that they saw fit to write in “their own language”, on the premise that they wanted to be absolutely clear about their sentiment. They knew that was what I would want – they were dead right.”

Excerpt from chapter 10, page 149

The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal is grateful to Mr. Harper for his tireless dedication through the years. It thanks him for this incredible gift, as Montréal celebrates its 375th anniversary and the Chamber gets ready to celebrate its 200th anniversary in 2022.

For more information about the book, visit

Click here to find out more about Alex Harper’s career.

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