CUSHING, LEMUEL, pioneer of the Ottawa valley, businessman of Chatham, Que., volunteer militiaman during the 1837 insurrection; b. 29 April 1806 at Trois-Rivières, L.C., eighth child of Job Cushing and Sarah (Sally) Rice; d. 18 May 1875 at Montreal, Que., and was buried in Chatham.
Lemuel Cushing belonged to an illustrious English family which crossed to America in the 17th century, in the wake of the Mayflower. On 10 Aug. 1638 Matthew Cushing had taken up residence at Hingham in Massachusetts, not far from Boston. His descendants emigrated to Canada when the government of Lower Canada opened the Eastern Townships to settlement. In the autumn of 1798 Elmer and Job Cushing received uncleared land in Shipton Township, which today forms part of Richmond County. Six years later Job moved to Trois-Rivières, where Lemuel was born.
Lemuel was eight years old when his family went to live in Montreal. On his father’s death, 21 Jan. 1821, he set out for the United States, where he apparently lived for some months at Peacham, Vermont. But at the time of the American infiltration into the Ottawa valley he returned to Canada, to take part in the settling of Chatham Township. Although he was only 16 and had little capital, Lemuel Cushing started a retail business on his own account, at the very place where the municipality of Cushing is today, between Carillon and Grenville. Thanks to his energy, perseverance, and strong constitution, he triumphed over seemingly insurmountable odds and became very rich. On three occasions he was the owner of the famous Caledonia Springs. In 1859 he bought an island in the country of his ancestors, in the harbour of Portland, Maine; Cushing Island became a renowned tourist centre because of Ottawa House, which Cushing built there.
As a rich businessman, Cushing naturally enjoyed great prestige in Chatham Township. For more than 40 years he was one of its justices of the peace, with a jurisdiction extending for a time to the town of Montreal. He was successively mayor of the municipality of Chatham Township, from 1861 to 1872, and warden of the electoral constituency of Argenteuil until his death.
At the time of the 1837 insurrection Cushing had armed a group of volunteers, and with them went to the defence of the English flag. His intervention prevented the pillaging of Saint-Eustache and the destruction of the registry office of Saint-Benoît, where precious documents were held.
On 25 Aug. 1836 Lemuel Cushing had married Catherine Hutchins, of Lachute. Thirteen children were born of this marriage, among them eight sons, who were all active and powerful businessmen. Moreover, one of these sons, Lemuel Cushing (1842–81), won distinction in the parliament of Canada and at the bar of Montreal.
Lemuel Cushing died on 18 May 1875; he had contributed substantially to the development of the Ottawa valley, and the considerable influence that this development has had on the economic destiny of the province of Quebec is well known.
AJTR, Registre d’état civil. Archives de la municipalité du canton de Chatham (Saint-Philippe-d’Argenteuil, Qué.). Private Archives, Bruce Wright (Fredericton, N.B.), 30, pp.13327, 13333; 37, pp.17127–28 (microfilm at PAC). PAC, MG 30, D62 (Audet papers), 9, pp.400–4; RG 1, L3, C bundle 3, no.110; L3L, pp.66528, 66556; L1, 42, p.423. Argenteuil Advertiser (Lachute, Que.), 9 June 1875. Montreal Herald, 20 May 1875. P.-G. Roy, Les noms géographiques de la province de Québec (Lévis, Qué., 1906), 142–43. Lemuel Cushing, The genealogy of the Cushing family (Montreal, 1877). Cyrus Thomas, History of the counties of Argenteuil, Que., and Prescott, Ont., from the earliest settlement to the present (Montreal, 1896), 297–99.