GEOFFRION, FÉLIX (baptized Félix-Éleuthère), notary, office holder, politician, and businessman; b. 3 Oct. 1832 in Varennes, Lower Canada, son of Félix Geoffrion, a farmer, and Catherine Brodeur; d. 7 Aug. 1894 in Verchères, Que.
With no formal education beyond what the rural schoolhouse provided, Félix Geoffrion was largely self-taught. He was commissioned a notary on 18 Oct. 1853 and for the rest of his life remained in notarial practice at Verchères. There, on 20 Oct. 1856, he married Almaïde Dansereau, the under-age daughter of Joseph Dansereau, the town’s mayor. The couple were to have three children: a son who lived only to the age of 20 and two daughters who did not survive early childhood. Mme Geoffrion died in 1881.
Geoffrion was appointed registrar for Verchères County on 6 Sept. 1854 and held this office until 1863. His colleagues elected him to the Montreal Board of Notaries in 1859, 1862, and 1865. He also sat on a committee set up on 2 July 1862 by a general meeting of the Montreal notaries to draft an amendment to the 1847 act establishing the organization of the notarial profession in Lower Canada [see Louis-René Lacoste*]. The intention was to stop the proliferation of notarial boards, but it would not be until 1 Feb. 1870 that a single board for the province was created by statute. Geoffrion would also become president of the Montreal, Chambly and Sorel Railway.
A Rouge candidate in Verchères in 1863, Geoffrion was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada on 20 June. He was part of a group, led by Antoine-Aimé Dorion, which opposed confederation. When the new constitutional régime was inaugurated on 1 July 1867, he again ran as a Liberal; re-elected in the seven federal general elections from 1867 to 1891, he held his seat for Verchères in the House of Commons until his death.
On 25 Jan. 1872 Geoffrion was one of some 200 delegates who convened in Montreal to form a general committee for the Montreal district of the Parti National, which had been launched late in 1871 by a group of Liberals and former Conservatives, such as Honoré Mercier, in preparation for the federal elections expected to be held the following summer. Geoffrion also continued to serve on the executive of the reform association of the Parti National of Montreal, a body largely dominated by Liberal members of the House of Commons.
On 1 April 1874 he seconded a motion brought before the house by Donald Alexander Smith* calling for a nine-member select committee on the causes of the difficulties in the northwest in 1869–70. Elected chairman of this committee, Geoffrion drew up the report submitted to parliament on 22 May, which led the house eventually to grant general amnesty to those implicated in the Red River rebellion, with the exception of Louis Riel*, Ambroise-Dydime Lépine*, and William Bernard O’Donoghue*.
As one of the leading Liberals of the Montreal region, Geoffrion became minister of inland revenue in Alexander Mackenzie’s government on 8 July 1874, in the cabinet shuffle following the appointment of Dorion, the minister of justice, to the Court of Queen’s Bench as chief justice of Quebec. However, stricken with typhoid fever in 1876, he was unable to continue in his ministerial duties because of frequent memory lapses, or to play the role of the party’s Quebec lieutenant. He had to relinquish his portfolio on 8 Nov. 1876 and was replaced by Toussaint-Antoine-Rodolphe Laflamme.
Despite his resignation as minister, Geoffrion held his seat in the house and continued to lend his colleagues strong support during election campaigns. He was at Mercier’s side, for example, throughout the provincial campaign of 1878 in numerous ridings in the Montreal region. During the federal campaign of 1891 he suffered a fall from which he would never completely recover. He died on 7 Aug. 1894. The following year his brother, Christophe-Alphonse, succeeded him as mp for Verchères.
AC, Richelieu (Sorel), État civil, Catholiques, Saint-François-Xavier (Verchères), 12 avril 1881, 10 août 1894. ANQ-M, CE1-26, 20 oct. 1856. NA, RG68, General index, 1841–67; 1867–1908. Can., House of Commons, Journals, 1874, app.6. L’Électeur, 8–9 août 1899. L’Événement, 9 août 1894. Montreal Daily Star, 8 Aug. 1894. La Presse, 8 août 1894. Lucien Brault, “Registrateurs de comtés, B.-C.,” BRH, 43 (1937): 277. Canadian directory of parl. (Johnson). J. Desjardins, Guide parl. Guide to Canadian ministries. Political appointments, 1841–65 (J.-O. Coté; 1866), 71. Bernard, Les Rouges, 225–26, 298. Caya, “La formation du parti libéral au Québec,” 219, 332. J.-E. Roy, Histoire du notariat au Canada depuis la fondation de la colonie jusqu’à nos jours (4v., Lévis, Qué., 1899–1902), 3: 202, 247, 291–93, 321. Rumilly, Hist. de la prov. de Québec, vols.1–3, 6–7. D. C. Thomson, Alexander Mackenzie, Clear Grit (Toronto, 1960), 251, 278. André Vachon, Histoire du notariat canadien, 1621–1960 (2e éd., Québec, 1962), 108–11.