Despite his English-sounding surname, J.A.I. Craig came from a French-speaking family. His great-grandfather, a soldier in a Scottish regiment, had settled near Chambly around 1800, married a French Canadian and raised a family. J.A.I. Craig was a prosperous furniture manufacturer in Montréal. Fascinated by Jablochkov's arc lamp, which he had seen at the Paris World Fair, he began to construct arc lamps and incandescent lights himself. He founded a business under the name "Craig et Fils" and tried to make a place for himself in the street lighting market, but his business—like so many others—was soon absorbed by the powerful Royal Electric Company.