Hilaire Béliveau: Urban Realities – Work/Life

Fifth of a seven-part series describing the real and imagined life of Hilaire Béliveau of Montreal.

Hilaire continues to advertise his business – now named Canadian House of Hardware. Not far away is his uncle Louis Joseph’s hardware store at 297-299 rue St-Paul. 

Advertisements for both appear on the same page in the 1868 edition of Lovell’s business directory. Hilare’s business listing also appears in Hutchison’s New Brunswick Directory along with the business of his uncle Louis Joseph. They also appear in McAlpine’s Nova Scotia Directory for 1869 under the headings Hardware & Cutlery and House Furnishings.

In Winslow, Hilaire’s brother William married Edmire Hébert on January 7, 1868 (she is possibly a relation of his first wife, Julie). It was also Edmire’s second marriage. There is no indication in the register of Hilaire being in attendance.

On June 2, 1868 Hilaire and Célina had another daughter, Amanda, join their family. Baptized the following day, her godparents were Célina’s brother Joseph and Elizabeth Lenoir.

1869 was heartbreaking for the Béliveau family. Three of their children died within days of each other. First Amanda on January 6, only six months old. Then Gustave died the following day at 5-1/2 and finally Arthur Ernest on the 10th at 5 years old. All three were buried the same day on January 10, 1869.

There is no record of the cause of their deaths. However the newspapers reported an outbreak of smallpox at that time and the public health authorities in Montréal started a campaign requiring all children to be vaccinated.

This was not the only incidence of smallpox to afflict Montréal. In March 1885 an infected traveler from Chicago arrived by train in Montréal with smallpox – it wasn’t long before the disease spread with a fury. Thousands of Montréalers died that summer, most of them French Canadians who were generally suspicious of the vaccine (amid misinformation that it was a plot by the English to eliminate their children). Protests against mandatory vaccination erupted in September of that year. The military was called out to protect the health authorities and vaccinators – it wasn’t long before Montréal became a pariah among cities – a place to be avoided because of its poor record of containing epidemics.

newspaper clipping
Franco Canadien 26 dec 1868

Checking in on the Beaudry family during the same period, we see that Aglaë Beaudry’s brother Camille married Rose de Lima Brien in Varennes on August 12, 1867. Aglaë is one of several witnesses who signed the register. Next her sister Marie Odile married Thomas Houle in Muskegon Michigan in 1870 just as the lumber industry in the area was peaking. Lumbering in the mid-nineteenth century brought many settlers to Michigan, especially people from Germany, Ireland, and Canada.

In 1871, Camille, a butcher, is the head of the Beaudry family. Living with him and his wife are his widowed mother, his sister Aglaë and brother Zotique. They are still living in Pointe-aux-Trembles.

The 1871 census also reveals that in 1871, Hilaire’s family are now living at 270 LaGauchetière Street, an upscale neighbourhood at the time. His three daughters are attending school. Célina is probably expecting their 8th child (Marie Louise Corinne) who will be born the following year.

Their next-door neighbour is Alexandre Lacoste, a prominent lawyer. In 1882 Lacoste would become appointed by John A. Macdonald to the Legislative Council of Québec. During his career he would be called to the Senate of Canada, appointed Speaker of the Senate, Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Québec and made a Knight Bachelor.

Célina’s parents are living not far away at 62 Bonsecours Street. Living there are her widowed sister, Adelaide, and siblings Pierre (a clerk), Alfred (Placide?) and Napoleon (attending school). There are nine other unrelated people living at the same address, including a John Cadotte, a carpenter 36 years old. Hilaire’s brother Louis Pierre married Sara Marceau on April 13, 1874 in Stratford Centre. The groom is described as a farmer and his father and brother William were witnesses. There is no indication of whether Hilaire was also in attendance.

Another brother, Ephrain, married Celanire Jacques in Stratford on April 5, 1875. He’s described as a mechanic and the widow of Angelique Bourque. There is no indication that any of his relatives were present at the wedding.
On November 18, 1874, Célina’s mother, Adelaide Bedard died in Montréal. She was buried on the 20th in Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery (her grave is located at Section J3-00142).

Why was the cemetery so far from the parish church of Notre Dame? In 1853 the City Council of Montréal adopted a by-law prohibiting burials within the limits of the city. In addition, the previous Saint-Antoine Cemetery (near present-day Dorchester Square) had become too small to serve Montréal’s rapidly increasing population. So, in 1854, the Fabrique de la paroisse Notre-Dame de Montréal purchased some land on Mount Royal from Dr. Pierre Beaubien in Côte-des-Neiges and commissioned a design by landscape architect Henri-Maurice Perreault.

Hilaire rents out his storefront on rue St-Paul for a 1-year term starting in May 1876. The rent is $600/annum payable quarterly. At the end of the lease, the renter must remove all furnishings and fixtures. Around this time there are no longer any hardware business listings in Lovell’s.

On April 22, 1879 Célina Cadotte died at the age of 42, leaving her husband Hilaire with four children. She was buried on the 26th at Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery also in Section J3-00142.

That same year, Hilaire’s brother, Narcisse Camille, married a cousin, Anna Béliveau in St-Celestin on August 18, 1879. Because they had a blood relationship, their marriage could not take place until a dispensation was obtained from the diocese.

It seems there were more changes for Hilaire and his family. In the 1881 census, they are in Pointe-aux-Trembles. Hilaire is still listed as a merchant, but he is also an enumerator for this census. Coincidentally, he was the enumerator for the household of Hubert Provost (whose son Michel would marry his daughter Ernestine) and the household of Jacques Beaudry (whose daughter Aglaë would become his second wife).

Hilaire’s parents are still in Winslow farming. Their household includes three adult children: Théodule and Jean, both farmers, and daughter Artemise. Of Hilaire’s other siblings: Ephraim is in Winslow with his wife and two children, farming. Louis Pierre is also farming in Winslow next door to his parents. His family includes his wife and three children. William, also a farmer, is with his wife and six children in Winslow.

Aglaë (Adelaide) Beaudry is living with her brother Camille’s family in Pointe-aux-Trembles where Camille worked as a butcher. Her mother is also part of that household. As mentioned previously, Hilaire is the enumerator for this record. Could it be the first time Hilaire and Aglaë met? Whatever the circumstances of their meeting, they would be married the following year.

Célina’s father Benjamin is still a merchant in Montréal’s East Ward and is living with his widowed daughter Adelaide and youngest daughter Emilie.
On September 9, 1882 Hilaire marries Aglaë Beaudry in Pointe-aux-Trembles. Was it a marriage for love or convenience, or both? Aglaë recently lost her father with whom she and her youngest sister were living and Hilaire, recently widowed, still had four children at home. Marriages for these reasons were not uncommon. Both Hilaire and Aglaë signed the register as did witnesses Camille Beaudry (her brother) and Dominique Contant.

Not long after the wedding, in November 1882, Hilaire saw to the settlement of Célina’s estate. Because they drew up a marriage contract that protected her property rights, an inventory of her property was needed before her estate could be distributed to her heirs.

The inventory included some household items:

  • Bedroom furniture ($62)
  • Silverware ($33)
  • Home decor items including an oil painting, vases ($35)
  • Clothing, including a fur coat ($7)
  • She had debts owing of about $219

She had other real property as follows:

  • Sale by Jean Paul Chantrand to Dame Cadote 1878 01 19 (before notary Begnier) part of 3 undivided lots in Pointe-aux-Trembles village.
  • Lot #126 in Point aux Trembles purchased 1885 01 23 (before notary Frechette)
  • Release of mortgage from Marie Anne Archambault (before notary Frechette) dated 1886 03 04

Her funeral service cost $25 and the notary fee for the inventory was $18.


Hubert Prévost the entrepreneur: In business

Third of an eight-part series describing the real and imagined life of Hubert Prévost of Maisonneuve.

It’s around 1871 that Hubert appears to have established himself as a building contractor. Dozens of transactions are recorded from this point that document construction contracts, financial obligations, payment receipts, tenant leases and more. The volume of documents provides a rich record of business dealings yet seems to generate more questions than answers as to the successes or failures he encountered. A closer study may yet reveal some of those answers.

In the 1871 Lovell directory for Montreal and area, we find business listings for Hubert Prévost and some of his relations:

  • Prévost H., carpenter, 318 Visitation Montreal [Hochelaga area. This is likely Hubert père.]
  • Prévost Hubert~ jun. Joiner living in Pointe-aux-Trembles
  • Prévost Eugéne, stonecutter in Ste-Genevieve [parish of Montreal, this is likely Hubert’s brother]
  • Prévost Jos. laborer, 28 St Lawrence St. [likely Hubert’s brother]
  • Reeve George, hotelkeeper & Reeve Olivier, hotelkeeper (Pointe-aux-Trembles) [Olivier Reeves is Hubert’s brother-in-law].

On the personal front, Hubert received $100 from his brother-in-law Charles Reeves that appears to be a donation to Alvina, possibly as part of the dowry described in her marriage contract.

Some of Hubert’s business dealings are with family relations. One example is a contract with Louis Troie dit Lafranchise (his brother-in-law) who agrees to have a house built by Hubert on rue Mygnon in the Ste-Marie district of Montreal. The document specifies the purchase price ($900) and terms for payment at 6% interest. This appears to be the first record of Hubert’s business dealings. He will go on to buy, develop and sell several lots in Hochelaga and Maisonneuve.

Map of Pointe-aux-Trembles
Map of the town of Pointe-aux-Trembles, c. 1875

Hubert also provided a loan of $400 to George and Olivier Reeves for their business use. They promise to repay the loan in one year (from May 1). As a security they mortgage some land 2 arpents wide by 40 arpents deep and a second property in Pointe-aux-Trembles 20 feet wide by 70 deep bounded in front by rue Ste-Anne, in back by the cemetery, and on the sides the Chemin de péage [toll road] and the property of Narcisse Allaire.

Hubert purchases a lot from Hippolyte Reeves that is 74 feet wide by 130 feet deep, located in the seigneury of Montreal, with a building already built. It is facing the St-Laurent river and adjoining properties are owned by Jean Bte Brien, Frs H Puran [?] and the heirs of the late Gabriel Monette. The purchaser agrees to pay seigneurial fees going forward and to pay 750 livres, old currency on the next St- Michel [Sept 29] without interest.

Then Hubert sells a lot, also in the seigneury of Montreal, with a frontage of 43 ft on the toll road and 150 ft deep, bordering properties owned by himself, A. Laporte on one side, and Robert Turcotte and Jean-Bte Gervais on the other side, to J. B. Dufort. Hubert Prévost will construct a building 12 x 24 in the same style as that of M. Turcotte with an outhouse (4′ square), a staircase and enclosed gallery. The work is to begin on May 1. The buyer will pay all future seigneurial fees and $1250.

Early in 1872, Hubert’s brother-in-law Louis Troie took a $400 mortgage loan on half of a two-storey brick house from Hubert. The debt is related to their agreement made in April 1871 to build a house for Troie.

On May 4, 1872 Charles Reeves, Alvina’s father, makes the final payment of 400 piastres regarding the donation he promised his daughter in 1865 – either as a dowry or an advance on her inheritance.

In 1876, Hubert and Alvina draw up their wills before notary Octave Regnier. Only Hubert’s copy has been found, but it’s likely Alvina’s contains similar provisions. Hubert’s will also lists a number of specific stipulations:

  1. To pray for his soul and commend him to God
  2. That his debts be paid
  3. That He be buried in the parish cemetery in Pointe-aux-Trembles
  4. He leaves his belongings and property to his wife
  5. If his wife and heir remarry, she must undertake an inventory and valuation of the estate
  6. If one any of their children die, their successors inherit on their behalf.


  • Fonds Cour Supérieure. Greffes de notaires; Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, Montréal, Québec, Canada.
  • Hopkins, H.W. Atlas of the city and island of Montreal, including the counties of Jacques Cartier and Hochelaga from actual surveys, based upon the cadastral plans deposited in the office of the Department of Crown Lands. http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/
  • Lovells Quebec directory 1871. Library and Archives Canada. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca