DUBORD, HIPPOLYTE, shipbuilder, politician, and justice of the peace; b. 25 Nov. 1801 at Bonaventure, L.C., son of Louis Dubord and Marie-Antoinette Bourdages; d. 9 Oct. 1872 at Quebec.
The son and grandson of a navigator, Hippolyte Dubord seems to have developed early a liking for things of the sea. When he was quite young he came to Quebec with his parents, and was initiated in shipbuilding. In 1827 he launched a brig of 133 tons, the Bonaparte: it was a time when the Napoleonic legend, long repressed, was finding its way into French Canada. Nine years later he built two barks christened Papineau and Jean-Baptiste; patriotic fever was at its height, and Dubord seems to have associated himself with the demands then being made. He launched a ship again in 1840, but it was particularly after 1845 that his reputation as a shipbuilder became established. In ten years he built some 23 ships, including brigantines, brigs, and barks. From 1856 to 1869 he launched 25 others, 12 of them in 1864 and 1865. Among his most important ships may be mentioned the Pemberton, 1,253 tons (1846), the Crown, 1,284 tons (1851), the Julia, 1,070 tons (1852), the Stambord, 1,272 tons (1853), the Maldon, 1,187 tons (1855), the Québec, 1,257 tons (1860), the Calumet, 1,628 tons (1863), the François Dumas, 1,208 tons (1864), the Steward Lane, 1,180 tons (1864), the Lena, 1,061 tons (1865), and the Algonquin, 1,499 tons (1867).
Setbacks and the generally bad state of his business made him give up shipbuilding around 1869. This industry had been the most important economic activity in Quebec since the end of the 18th century. More than 5,000 vessels had been built there, and during the good years, between 1842 and 1876, more than 5,000 workers were employed. Competition from iron ships, a rise in production costs, due in large measure to an upward movement of salaries, a fall in the prices of ships on the British markets, the lack of capital on the part of Quebec contractors, who operated on a family basis: all these are reasons that help to explain the decline of shipbuilding, and no doubt Dubord’s difficulties at the end of his career.
Dubord had taken part in the political life of Quebec on the municipal and provincial levels. In 1836 he was active as one of the justices of the peace responsible for the administration of the town of Quebec. Five years earlier the city had received a charter by a law passed by the House of Assembly, and therefore the right to administer itself through an electoral body. From 1833 to 1836 the charter had been applied, but when it expired at the end of three years it had not been renewed. The town was then governed by justices of the peace, a regime that had existed between 1764 and 1833. The jurisdiction of the justices of the peace extended in principle to all that concerned the peace and good order of the citizens; it applied to areas as diverse as trade, public works, protective services against fire and disease, and police forces. In 1840 the town reverted to government according to the terms of the charter of 1833, amended.
Dubord represented Quebec Lower Town in the House of Assembly from 1834 to 1838. In 1836 he voted in favour of the famous motion calling for an elected Legislative Council. In 1851 he was mla for the town of Quebec, which he represented until 1854. He returned to the assembly in 1857 and remained there until 1860; at the election of 16 April 1860 Dubord, who contested the election as a Liberal-Conservative, had to yield to a Liberal, Pierre-Gabriel Huot. In the house Dubord kept his distance from the Rouges, and seems to have been concerned above all with local interests, which led him to adopt a line of action that was scarcely partisan. It is, of course, true that all political life in this period was characterized by the absence of party discipline and consequent ministerial instability.
On 31 Jan. 1870, at Quebec, Dubord married Bridget Furlong from Neuville, where he lived at least from then on. He died in dramatic circumstances less than two years later. On a brief visit to Quebec, where he was brought by a lawsuit that could not help but worry him, he put up at the Hôtel Fréchette on the Côte de la Montagne. During the night he fell from his fourth floor window and succumbed as a result of multiple fractures. It appears that Dubord, who was accustomed at home to take the air at night, wanted to step out of his room, thinking he was in his own house where the window of his room gave on to a gallery. At the coroner’s inquest the jury returned a verdict of accidental death.
The reporter of the Journal de Québec praised his excellent spirit and great generosity. The reporter of L’Événement (perhaps Hector Fabre*) described him as “a man whom one could not approach without taking a strong liking to him. To an individual turn of mind, as original as it was piquant, was allied an excellent heart. His conversation was full of quips, a mixture of amusing anecdotes and half jocular, half serious admissions. . . . Like all sincere people he did not spare himself any more than he did others, and when he acknowledged his own mistakes and commented on his contemporaries it was something worth hearing: he was able to etch with one stroke the things in his memory.”
AJQ, Registre d’état civil, paroisse Notre-Dame, paroisse Sainte-Jeanne de Neuville. Le Canadien (Québec), 11 oct. 1872. L’Événement (Québec), 10 oct. 1872. Journal de Québec, 10 oct. 1872. Morning Chronicle (Quebec), 10 Oct. 1872. Desjardins, Guide parlementaire, 152, 163, 178. Chapais, Histoire du Canada, IV. Cornell, Alignment of political groups. Drolet, Ville de Québec, II, III. Fernand Ouellet, Histoire de la Chambre de commerce de Québec (Publ. du Centre de recherche de la faculté de commerce de l’université Laval, série: histoire économique, 1, Québec, ). Narcisse Rosa, La construction des navires à Québec et ses environs; grèves et naufrages (Québec, 1897).