GARNEAU, ÉDOUARD-BURROUGHS (baptized Pierre-François-Édouard-Burroughs), merchant, capitalist, and politician; b. 18 Jan. 1859 at Quebec, son of Pierre Garneau* and Charlotte-Louise-Cécile Burroughs; m. there 25 Oct. 1882 Laure Braün, and they had two sons and three daughters; d. there 18 Aug. 1911 and was buried 21 August in Notre-Dame de Belmont cemetery in Sainte-Foy, Que.
Édouard-Burroughs Garneau studied at the Académie Commerciale de Québec, the Quebec High School, and Eastman’s National Business College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; then, in 1875, he began an apprenticeship in the family dry goods business, a large wholesale operation located at Quebec and headed by his father. In December 1882 he and his uncle François-Xavier Garneau became full partners in the enterprise, which assumed the name P. Garneau, Fils et Compagnie. Garneau gradually acquired experience and responsibility in the management of the firm. By the time his brother Georges* became a partner in 1888, he had travelled through Europe as a buyer and had made several visits to the West Indies, likely as an agent of the company. His main task, however, continued to be the development of the market in the Maritime provinces.
Garneau’s election as president of the Quebec Board of Trade in May 1894 attested to his reputation at the regional level. He served until December 1895, and during his term of office he supported various projects to modernize the infrastructure of the port of Quebec and increase the volume of merchandise shipped to and from the city. He had to come to terms, however, with the powerful influence exerted there by his father, the real promoter of the Great Northern Railway, and by Richard Reid Dobell*, the prime mover behind the establishment of a transatlantic steamship line. Like most of the city’s younger generation of businessmen, he simply supported the private initiatives of an élite that had much more experience than he, without really managing to become a part of it. His sphere of influence was confined to the dry goods trade, and he was still identified with his father’s firm. Nevertheless, in December 1895 he was elected to the board of the Dominion Commercial Travellers’ Association. This directorship, the first held by a member of the Quebec City business community since the founding of the association in 1875, and his participation as a delegate at a preparatory meeting for the Congress of Chambers of Commerce of the Empire, held in London, England, in June 1896, opened new horizons for him.
Garneau by degrees broke away from his father’s control and created his own network of connections and influence. He worked his way into the circles of Louis-Joseph and Rodolphe Forget, prominent Montreal financiers and capitalists. In 1898 he became a director of the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company, of which Louis-Joseph was president. In this capacity he presented to the Quebec press in 1900 the plans and estimates for construction of the Manoir Richelieu at Pointe-au-Pic, and the following year he joined the Forgets in organizing the Pointe au Pic Land and Construction Company. Garneau was much more widely associated with the two men during the first decade of the 20th century. He was a partner in most of the Forget empire’s mega-projects: the Canada Cement Company, the Canadian Car and Foundry Company, the Dominion Textile Company, the Banque Internationale du Canada, the Quebec and Saguenay Railway Company, and the Quebec Railway, Light, Heat and Power Company. Within this group of businesses, Garneau was neither a decision-maker nor a promoter, still less a strategist. He was instead a useful figurehead for identifying certain transactions with local interests, especially in the case of the two companies of which he was made a director, the Quebec and Saguenay Railway Company and the Quebec Railway, Light, Heat and Power Company.
Garneau’s business network was not limited to the Forget enterprises. When he succeeded his father on the Legislative Council of Quebec in April 1904, he created new political and commercial relationships with, among others, three Montrealers, Trefflé Berthiaume, François-Xavier Dupuis, and Lawrence Alexander Wilson, who founded the Quebec Land Company, a property development firm incorporated in August 1906. In November it purchased an immense landed estate in Limoilou, on the outskirts of Quebec. Before long the three speculators had attracted the interest of a group of young Quebec capitalists which Garneau joined. Some of the newly acquired land was quickly surveyed and subdivided. The streets and avenues were laid out in rectangular blocks reminiscent of the squared pattern of American cities. The promoters were trying to create a new type of urban community, a Greater Quebec, as their publicity put it, using the urban forms of an American metropolis and drawing inspiration from the Central Park development in New York.
After his brother Georges was elected mayor of Quebec in 1906, Garneau was named president of the real estate company. The links between the two men could not fail to serve the interests of the developers, especially since both favoured the annexation of Limoilou to the old capital, albeit for different reasons. In 1908 Édouard-Burroughs obtained from the Limoilou municipal council terms extremely favourable for the Quebec Land Company, including a tax exemption for some ten years on the 90 per cent of its property that consisted of unsurveyed and unregistered lots. But this little town of barely 3,000, which was saddled with a debt of $210,000 and had an annual revenue of little more than $10,000, could not guarantee a long-term urban growth that would be sufficiently steady to satisfy the developers. The city engineers at Quebec claimed that the entire water system, as well as street maintenance and fire and crime prevention, needed to be re-examined and improved in order to meet the requirements of an urban development advantageous to both public and private interests.
A quick annexation promised to be of great benefit to the Quebec Land Company and its close rivals, the Compagnie des Terrains d’Orsainville and an enterprise developing a residential project on the Lairet estate (both owned by Eugène Leclerc*, a Liberal supporter). When he was elected mayor of Limoilou in 1908, Leclerc undertook to persuade the electorate of annexation’s advantages. Garneau and the Quebec Land Company discreetly used their influence with the mayor of Quebec and several aldermen. This dialogue made it easy to overcome an opposition, divided along ethnic lines and not as well structured, which had been outraged by the financial concessions granted to the Quebec Land Company. After an advertising campaign in favour of annexation, which appeared in and was backed by Le Soleil, the proposal became a reality in December 1909, when the municipal councils passed by-laws and the citizens of Limoilou ratified the decision by a vote.
Garneau did not live to see the birth of this residential section of Quebec. He died in 1911 and was replaced as president of the Quebec Land Company by Adélard Turgeon*. Georges succeeded him as head of Garneau Limitée, incorporated in 1908. The estate Garneau left bears witness to his financial success – approximately $465,000, comprising personal property valued at nearly $83,000, and transferable securities estimated at about $330,000, mainly in the enterprises in which he had been involved.
Édouard-Burroughs Garneau is unusual among Quebec City businessmen of the late 19th century. Associated for a time with the rising Quebec generation, he broke away from it in the 1890s. This major change can be explained by his astute perception of the city’s future within a continental economy. Like his father’s whole generation, many of his peers still believed that diversification could revitalize the Quebec economy. Garneau, however, realized it would be difficult for his city to attract even some continental freight and harder still for it to become again the hub it had been in mid century. Before long, market forces would inevitably converge on the metropolis of Montreal. His connections with the Forget group and his career as a real estate developer prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he had grasped the new trends of the modern economy. In the business community of Quebec City, there were not many at that time who followed his example.
AC, Québec, Minutiers, J.-A. Charlebois, 30 nov., 17 déc. 1906; 19 févr. 1907; L.-P. Sirois, 27 nov., 13 déc. 1911. ANQ-Q, CE1-1, 19 janv. 1859, 25 oct. 1882; P-90/6/12; T11-1/29, no.2992 (1883). Arch. de la Ville de Québec, M1-2, secrétaire-trésorier, corr., 8 nov. 1909; QP1-4, Quebec Land Company. Hydro-Quebec Arch. (Montreal), Quebec and Saguenay Railway, minute-book, 22 Jan. 1910; Quebec Railway, Light, Heat and Power, minute-book, 12 March 1910. L’Électeur (Québec), 16 juin 1894. La Semaine commerciale (Québec), 14 déc. 1894; 20 sept., 31 oct., 13, 20 déc. 1895; 10 avril 1896; 11 févr. 1898; 2 mars 1900; 11 janv., 22 mars 1901. Le Soleil, 18 août 1911. Réjean Lemoine, “La bataille des annexions: Limoilou, 1909,” Droit de parole (Québec), 10 (1983), no.2: 8–9, 13. Limoilou à l’heure de la planification urbaine, sous la direction de Danielle Blanchette (Québec, 1987). RPQ.
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Cite This Article
Jean Benoit, “GARNEAU, ÉDOUARD-BURROUGHS,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 14, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed March 25, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/garneau_edouard_burroughs_14E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||Jean Benoit|
|Title of Article:||GARNEAU, ÉDOUARD-BURROUGHS|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 14|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||1998|
|Year of revision:||1998|
|Access Date:||March 25, 2023|