John Sackville Labatt
John Sackville Labatt, brewer (b at London, Ont 10 Mar 1880; d at Port Stanley, Ont 8 July 1952). The eldest son of John LABATT, he was educated at Trinity College School and McGill. Succeeding his father, he was president of JOHN LABATT LTD 1915-50. Not a dynamic man, he combined ingenuous charm with the sense to maintain family control through the years of prohibition in Ontario (1916-27) and in the US (1920-33).
During these years the company made large profits from the sale of beer and whisky across Lake Erie and the Detroit River. These profits made him the target for kidnapping in August 1934, when he became the first important Canadian business figure to be kidnapped for a high ransom. The ransom was never paid, and he was released unharmed. In the subsequent trial he mistakenly identified the wrong man, who was imprisoned. The experience made Labatt apprehensive and defensive. Though maintaining his visibility as president and his cordial relations with employees, he depended on others for direction through the period of expansion in the 1930s and 1940s.