DUMOULIN, SÉVÈRE (baptized Sévère-François-Pierre), lawyer, businessman, politician, and office holder; b. 4 Feb. 1829 in Trois-Rivières, Lower Canada, eldest son of Pierre-Benjamin Dumoulin* and Hermine Rieutord; m. first 23 Sept. 1862 Frances Sophia Mary Macaulay (d. 24 Feb. 1875) in Lévis, Lower Canada, and they had two children; m. secondly 5 July 1877 Elizabeth Broster in Trois-Rivières; they had no children; d. there 17 May 1910.
Sévère Dumoulm’s career was similar in many respects to that of his father. After studying at the Séminaire de Nicolet from 1840 to 1846, and at the Jesuit college in Fordham (New York), he was called to the Lower Canadian bar on 3 May 1852. He practised law in partnership with his father until the latter’s death in 1856.
Dumoulin’s involvement with the business community of Trois-Rivières began early. From 1854 to 1885 he was a director of the Three Rivers Gas Company, which operated the lighting in the city’s public places. From 1856 to 1863 he was also manager of the local branch of the Bank of Upper Canada. In 1859 he went into partnership with Édouard-Louis Pacaud*, his brother-in-law, and with business magnate Louis-Adélard Senécal* in the Compagnie de Navigation de Trois-Rivières. Later he was agent in the city for the Imperial Fire Insurance Company and one of the founders of the Three Rivers Permanent Building Society. The latter company, formed in 1871, included 26 persons, most of them English-speaking. It was replaced in 1874 by the Société Permanente de Construction des Trois-Rivières, which had 24 founding members, almost all French-speaking. Dumoulin held the office of vice-president. Set up to lend members sums corresponding to the value of their shares, which could be paid for in instalments over a period of time, the company succeeded during the first year in raising $121,700 from the sale of shares. It ceased operations around 1881. Dumoulin had invested $1,800 in it.
Although he was involved in various companies, Dumoulin was most active in the field of real estate. Early in his career he became a major landowner. The 1861 census lists him as owner of 638 acres in the seigneury of Sainte-Marguerite. He also bought land in the fief of Saint-Maurice and lots in Trois-Rivières. The sale of these lots between 1859 and 1870 brought him nearly $5,000. Most of his holdings were purchased at sheriff’s sales. In addition to his land transactions, Dumoulin was delegated by his mother to manage his late father’s property. Several years before his death, his father had owned a total of nearly 1,700 acres in the parish of Immaculée-Conception at Trois-Rivières and in the seigneuries of Sainte-Marguerite and Saint-Maurice. When their mother died, Sévère and his brothers and sisters inherited all the real and movable property in the estate. Before the bulk of it was put on sale at public auction in 1870, Sévère bought two lots, as well as the fief of Haut-Boc (45 lots) in the Notre-Dame ward of Trois-Rivières, for $5,044.
During the 1870s Dumoulin gradually moved from speculation in land to lending mortgage money. He was selective in his choice of clients, usually furnishing large sums. In the period 1874–89 he granted 16 loans totalling more than $34,500, almost all of them to residents of Trois-Rivières. After 1890 he lent considerably less money.
Like his father, Dumoulin succumbed to the lure of politics. He entered on the municipal level. Elected alderman in 1857, 1859, 1860, and 1864, he served as mayor of Trois-Rivières from 1865 to 1869 and from 1879 to 1885. Under his administration an attempt was made to modernize and industrialize the city. In 1868–69 the produce market was enlarged. In 1869 the municipality bought a central property and created the Carré Champlain, its first public park. The water-mains system was extended in 1884; several streets were widened and new ones opened. It was also during Dumoulin’s mayoralty that Trois-Rivières adopted a policy of encouraging industrial expansion. In 1882 a motion was passed granting $25,000 to the Three Rivers Cotton Company. In 1883 there were two offers to build factories, one to make shoes, the other coffins, on condition that the city give a subsidy of $10,000 to the first venture and $30,000, plus a ten-year tax exemption, to the second. The following year a local lawyer asked for various concessions in order to set up the Compagnie de Transport de Trois-Rivières.
Dumoulin entered provincial politics in 1867, when he ran as Conservative candidate in Trois-Rivières and was defeated by Louis-Charles Boucher* de Niverville, another Conservative. In the by-election of 16 Oct. 1868 in the riding, he stood again for the Conservatives and won. He resigned on 16 Sept. 1869 upon being appointed sheriff of the District of Trois-Rivières, a position he would hold until 1882. On 2 Dec. 1881 he was again elected as a Conservative mla by a narrow majority of 51 votes. Early the next year a local farmer and merchant demanded the election be annulled on grounds that Dumoulin and his agents, most of them middle-class Conservatives of Trois-Rivières, had been guilty of bribery and intimidation. The election was declared void in 1883 and in the 1884 by-election Dumoulin was defeated by Arthur Turcotte. As a legislator, Dumoulin had often spoken in support of the railways.
Dumoulin was a prominent and respected citizen and over the years he held various positions of responsibility. He was chairman of the school board, president of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptists from 1878 to 1881, and vice-president of the St Maurice Turf Club. Highly regarded by his colleagues, he was twice chosen bâtonnier, or president, of the district lawyers’ association. Along with Napoléon Bureau and William McDougall, he sat on the Trois-Rivières section of the board of examiners that evaluated candidates for admission to the Lower Canadian bar.
Sévère Dumoulin was significant as a representative of the Trois-Rivières bourgeoisie during the second half of the 19th century, active in public affairs and well placed in the informal networks of influence and power. As was the case with many other prominent citizens, his economic activities were confined to the local scene and directed mainly towards land transactions and money-lending.
AC, Trois-Rivières, Qué., Dossiers de la Cour supérieure, no.2, Joseph Desmarais, pétitionnaire, vs Sévère Dumoulin, défendeur, 1883; État civil, Catholiques, Immaculée-Conception (Trois-Rivières), 19 mai 1910; Minutiers, Valère Guillet, 1864, 1870; Reg. des déclarations de sociétés, 1857–85. ANQ-MBF, CE1-48, 5 févr. 1829, 27 févr. 1875, 5 juill. 1877. ANQ-Q, CE1-100, 23 sept. 1862. Arch. du Séminaire de Trois-Rivières, 0133 (fonds St Lawrence Gas Company); 0184 (fonds P.-B. Dumoulin); 0307 (fonds Soc. Permanents de Construction des Trois-Rivières). BE, Trois-Rivières, reg.B, 7–57. NA, RG 31, C1, 1851, 1861, Trois-Rivières. La Concorde (Trois-Rivières), 18 juin 1879. Le Constitutionnel (Trois-Rivières), 9 juin 1873, 11 avril 1883. Le Journal des Trois-Rivières, 20 juin 1870; 14 nov., 6 déc. 1881; 9 mars, 6 avril 1882; 5 mars 1883; 17 nov. 1884. J.-A.-I. Douville, Histoire du collège-séminaire de Nicolet, 1803–1903 . . . (2v., Montréal, 1903). Alain Gamelin et al., Trois-Rivières illustrée (Trois-Rivières, 1984). François Guérard, “Les notables de Trois-Rivières au dernier tiers du XIXe siècle” (thèse de ma, univ. du Québec à Trois-Rivières, 1984). Quebec Official Gazette, 25 Sept. 1869.