Hilaire Béliveau: Urban Realities – Expansion

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

On February 5, 1862 Hilaire and Célina welcomed their second child, a daughter named Marie Célina Eliza. The next day she was baptised in Notre Dame parish. Her maternal grandfather Benjamin Cadotte is her godfather and Adelaide Richard is her godmother.

On October 24, 1863 twins Joseph Arthur Ernest and Marie Philomene Ernestine arrive. Sadly, Philomene dies barely a year later. Another daughter, Marie Ernestine, is born on March 28, 1865.

Marie Anna arrives on February 28, 1866 and was baptised the following day. Her godparents were her aunt Adelaide Cadot and William Bedard, likely a relation of her grandmother Adelaide Bedard.

In 1865, Hilaire secures a sub-let from his uncle of a property on rue St-Paul for two years at an annual rent of $163. This is probably the advertised location given in the 1866 Lovell Directory for his hardware business at 193-195 St-Paul Street, close to Bonsecours Market. The same listing seems to indicate that the family are living at 43 St-Hubert Street – probably located to the east of Bonsecours Market near rue St-Paul.

Engraving post card bonsecours market.
“Le Marché Bonsecours la veille de Noël”, 1870. Ink on paper. Gift of Mr. Charles deVolpi. © McCord Museum. More information: http://collections.musee-mccord.qc.ca/en/collection/artifacts/M983.52.76/

Barely five years after the last flood disaster, another series of severe and extensive floods hits Montréal. First a flood in January had many areas of downtown under water, sparing most of rue St-Paul. Then spring melts and ice jams afflicted a wider area and had many streets under six feet of water despite remedies put in place after the 1861 floods. It was to become known as the city’s worst flood of the 19th century. As a result, a royal commission investigated causes and flood control measures to protect the port area and the commercial district. Finally, in 1899, a flood wall was completed that is now part of Cité du Havre.

In 1867 Hilaire signs a lease to let a 3-story building on rue St-Paul street (part of his existing location?) to Claude Melancon for 3-5 years, beginning on May 1. The quarterly rent for this location near Bonsecours Market is $140.


The British North America Act created the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867. An election was called for August/September to elect a new Canadian parliament. Hilaire’s name is present on the electoral roll for the riding of Montréal Centre. His business is located at 193 rue St-Paul and his occupation is given as merchant. Sir John A. Macdonald was elected prime minister when his Conservative party won a majority of parliamentary seats. The turnout was high by modern standards at 73% of those eligible to vote. It’s not likely that Hilaire voted as, in his riding of Montréal Centre, Liberal Thomas Workman won by acclamation. The majority of contested seats in Québec went to the Conservatives.

In Megantic, the likely riding of Hilaire’s parents and siblings, the Conservative candidate George Irvine won by a large majority.
Célina’s father, Benjamin Cadotte, appears on the voter list as well for Montréal Centre. His address is a few doors down from Hilaire’s property, at 209 rue St-Paul. His occupation is also listed as merchant.