CHABOT, JULIEN, canotier, innkeeper, shipbuilder and owner; b. 20 Jan. 1801 at Saint-Laurent, Île d’Orléans, tenth of the 18 children of François Chabot, a farmer, and Marie-Françoise Pépin, dit Lachance; m. 2 Feb. 1830 Suzanne Carrier, and they had eight children; d. 10 Aug. 1864 at Lévis.
A little before 1820, Julien Chabot settled in Lévis, and with his brother Laurent plied the trade of canotier. At that time communications between Quebec and Lévis generally were provided by these canotiers, usually natives of the Île d’Orléans, who carried people, light merchandise, and even cattle in boats 25 to 30 feet long. Chabot subsequently diversified his activities. At the end of the 1820s he apparently became one of those innkeepers called passager because they lodged travellers in transit.
Around 1828 the horse-boat appeared on the St Lawrence; this was a flat barge with paddle wheels turned by horses, which made crossing safer and increased the transport capacities between the two shores. Julien Chabot undertook at that time to build and operate one, in partnership first with Auguste Bégin, and, after 1838, with his widow. According to Pierre-Georges Roy*, Julien Chabot was the first to equip his horse-boat with a steam engine.
In 1843, when Jean-Baptiste Beaulieu put the steamboat Charles-Édouard in service between Quebec and Lévis, Julien Chabot set about building a bigger one, the Dorchester. Thus he competed with Beaulieu on the St Lawrence for several years. After building barges and small light boats on his property at Pointe-Lévi, Chabot tackled the building of steamboats, although he entrusted the machinery (motors and accessories) to another contractor, as is shown by a contract he made with Benjamin Franklin Tibbits, an engineer and brother of James Tibbits, a shipbuilder at Lévis.
In the 1850s, Julien Chabot used his steamboats mainly for towing in the port of Quebec and on the St Lawrence. At this time he also made his son Julien* a partner in his undertakings. When the St Lawrence Tow Boat Company, which included most of the tugboat owners of the port of Quebec, was organized in 1863, Julien Sr became one of its directors. After his death his son was to have important interests connected with the port of Quebec.
Julien Chabot and his brother Laurent joined businessmen and “ferrymen” of Pointe-Lévi in helping to found the Parish of Notre-Dame-de-la-Victoire at Lévis in 1850. When the church and presbytery were being built and the cemetery enlarged, they backed the parish priest Joseph-David Déziel*, by giving land, granting long-term loans, and participating in the collection of funds.
Julien Chabot died in this parish on 10 Aug. 1864, after an active career in the Quebec-Lévis “ferry trade” and in towing on the river and in the port of Quebec. In competitive times he was able to foresee and take advantage of changing maritime techniques, and he left the image of an ambitious and progressive entrepreneur.
ANQ-Q, État civil, Catholiques, Notre-Dame de Lévis, 13 août 1864; Greffe d’Archibald Campbell, 10 déc. 1851; Greffe de J.-B. Couillard, 12 août 1829, 8 juin 1833, 14 avril 1838; Greffe de F.-M. Guay, père, 27 avril 1859. Can., prov. du, Statuts, 1863, c. 59; Conseil législatif, Journaux, 1857, IV, app.9. Le Journal de Québec, 11 août 1864. Canada directory, 1857–58. Cyclopædia of Canadian biog. (Rose, 1888), 381–82. Frère Eloi-Gérard [Talbot], Recueil de généalogies des comtés de Beauce-Dorchester-Frontenac, 1625–1946 (11v., Beauceville, Qué., [1949–55]), II. P.-G. Roy, Dates lévisiennes (12v., Lévis, Qué., 1932–40), I, II; Profils lévisiens (2 sér., Lévis, 1948), 1re sér., 18–29; La traverse entre Québec et Lévis (Lévis, 1942).