Hilaire Béliveau: Urban Realities – On to Montréal

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

In Québec (city), the Cadot family welcomed their third child, Célina on December 27, 1836. Célina would become Hilaire’s first wife in 1859. She was baptised in Notre Dame parish the following day and her godparents were Flavien and Caroline Bedard, her maternal aunt and uncle – both of whom were able to sign the register. Her older sisters were Marie Adelaide (born 1832) and Caroline Eléonore (born 1834).

By 1840, the Cadotte family are in Montréal, living in the western outskirts of Queens Ward. They don’t own their property – it’s leased under feudal tenure (seigneurial system) at 1 sous/arpent. Benjamin is a trader, and there are five people in his household: wife Adelaide Bedard and daughters Caroline, Adelaide and Célina.

Map of Montreal Wards in 1840
Montreal Wards 1840. Monrtreal Archives

Not appearing in this census are a daughter and son who both died young. Marie Rosalie, born in 1840. died just eight months after birth. In 1841 Louis Joseph joins the family but dies at five months old. Célina acquired another brother in 1842 with the birth of Pierre followed by Joseph Benjamin on March 17, 1843 and Francois Xavier Marie Joseph in 1846 who died two years later. Another sister, Marie Emilie, was born on May 2, 1849 in Montréal.

Later that year, Célina’s grandmother Angele Vallerand died at the age of 63, probably in Québec. Then the births of two more boys complete the family: Placide in 1854 and Louis Napoleon in 1858. Célina and her future husband, Hilaire Béliveau, are named godparents for Louis Napoleon.

With the Cadots initially located in Québec, then in Montréal, and the Béliveaus in St-Grégoire, how did Hilaire and Célina meet? As it happens, the parish registers for St-Grégoire contain many Cadots so it’s quite possible the two families were known to each other, despite living miles apart.

The Cadot family’s location in the relatively rural Queen’s Ward district was possibly connected to Benjamin Cadotte’s ties to the tanning industry as a leather trader or dealer. Côte-des-Neiges Road was within the upper limits of the ward and as early as 1737 tanners were attracted to the area because of plentiful running water. The Côte-des-Neiges area was beginning to develop into a village with large, established tanneries as the primary industry by 1860.

Life in mid-19th-century Montréal had its own share of civic disruptions. In 1844 violence erupted during a hotly contested Montréal byelection when reformer Lewis Thomas Drummond defeated brewer William Molson (1343 to 463). One man died and dozens of others were wounded.

In 1847 a typhus and cholera epidemic decimate the Irish refugee population, as well as many Montréalers, killing thousands. The epidemic even claims the life of John Easton Mills, mayor of Montréal, as he tended to the sick in the fever sheds.

On April 25, 1849, English-speaking protestors against the Rebellion losses bill in Canada East (a similar bill was passed for Canada West) quickly became a mob and set fire to the Parliament buildings in Montréal. The bill authorized compensation to people who suffered losses as a result of the Patriote uprisings of 1837-1838.

On July 8, 1852 more than 10,000 people were left homeless when the east side of Montréal went up in flames, destroying 1,100 houses. 20% of the eastern side of the city is devastated. The following year riots kill 40 people sparked by Alessandro Gavazzi’s anticlerical speeches at Montréal’s First Congregational Church (Zion Church).

Building in flames
Engraving by John Henry Walker, 1850–1885.
McCord Museum

Fortunately, it appears that all of these events had little effect on the Cadotte family – other than prompting lively discussion at the dinner table about the news of the day. We lose track of the Cadot family for a while after 1851 as they have not been located in the 1851 census.

THE BEAUDRYS OF POINTE-AUX-TREMBLES

The other family that will develop ties with Hilaire Béliveau is the Beaudrys of Pointe-aux-Trembles. Aglaë Beaudry was born on November 11, 1841 In Pointe-aux-Trembles, and she will become Hilaire’s second wife in 1882. She had two siblings at the time of her birth: Marie Odile (born 1839) and Camille (born in 1838). Aglaë was baptised at St-Enfant-de-Jesus church with Modeste Beaudoin and Monique Regnier as her godparents. Her brother Alfonse Baudry is born on September 20, 1844. Lastly, Zotique joins the Beaudry family on May 25, 1847 in Pointe-aux-Trembles.

The Beaudry family are farmers in Pointe-aux-Trembles, which is still a mostly rural community. The municipality is officially constituted as the parish of L’Enfant-Jésus-de-la-Pointe-aux-Trembles in 1845.

By 1851, Jacques Beaudry is a 33-year-old farmer living with his family in Pointe-aux-Trembles. In their single-story wood home are his wife, Elizabeth Bricault (44); Theophile (21) and Joseph Bricault (20) who are possibly relatives or sons from a previous marriage; their children: Camile (13), Odile (11), Aglaë (9), Alphonse (7) and Zotique (4). Aglaë and Alphonse are the only two attending school.

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