Category: Individuals and Families

  • Chronicles

  • Gertrude Émard : A Forgotten Political Pioneer

    It was a female voice, which firmly responded to the roll call of Saint-Lambert’s city clerk, to confirm the presence of the alderman for seat number one. It was May 5, 1947 and the voice belonged to Gertrude Émard, the newly elected city councillor, only the second woman in the province of Quebec to do so. She would serve two terms, first with Mayor C.A. Comeau and then with Mayor N.H. Simms. But these tenures turned out to be no smooth sailing, for a woman, through hitherto unchartered political waters.

    The honour of being the trailblazing politician falls to Kathleen Fisher, who won a seat on Montreal’s City Council as early as December 1940. This is a rather remarkable fact, considering that the right to exercise their franchise was given to women in Quebec only in the spring of that same year. Although women could vote and stand for office in federal elections, a right won nationally in 1918, la Belle Province clung stubbornly to the old ways and treated them as nonpersons, on the same level as chattel, children and imbeciles. It would take another twenty-two year struggle to achieve feminine suffrage.

    Gertrude Émard (tiré du Suburban News, avril 1952)

    Gertrude Émard (from the Suburban News, April 1952)

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    The Smith Family : an English Presence for 185 years

    From early on Saint-Lambert had English pioneer settlers, but none of them stayed on for long. One exception is the Smith family, even if some would consider them latecomers; their presence here goes back for more than 185 years.

    William Smith, the patriarch, was born in Cambridge, England, in 1786 and died in Saint-Lambert in 1852. He came to Canada around 1815 and settled close to Montreal, in the district of Griffintown. In 1816 he became the owner of one of the first brickworks in Montreal. With the construction of the Lachine canal from 1822 to 1825, his brickyard, located in the triangle of the future streets of Ottawa, Murray and McCord became very cramped in. William Smith decided to move lock stock and barrel across the river to Saint-Lambert. Through a notary’s act, signed October 29, 1832, we learn that the family bought a huge property in the Mouillepied.

    Members of the Smith's family on their farm on Riverside (Source : Walker Family)

    Members of the Smith’s family on their farm on Riverside (Source : Walker Family)

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    The Boissys, a dynasty in commerce and politics

    In 1881, newlyweds Alexandre Boissy (1857-1940) and Anastasie Lajeunesse (1857-1949), move to Saint-Lambert and make their home on Lorne Avenue. He hails from Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville and is an employee of the Grand Trunk Railway Company. Nine years later he lists his occupation as carter to which he adds grocer in 1895. Successful in his new enterprise, Boissy makes a move to the main street. He installs his growing family—11 children, born between 1883 and 1904—at 412 Victoria Avenue, and his business at 504, corner of Green. For some years Alexandre keeps a horse stable, which allows him to offer home delivery to his customers. He is very much involved in his community and eventually becomes a verger of the Saint Lambert Parish.

    Boissy Market, Ave Victoria pres de Green, 1902, coll Guy Boissy. – Read More –