HUBERT, LOUIS-ÉDOUARD, merchant, politician, and militia officer; b. 15 Feb. 1766 in Montreal, son of Pierre Hubert and Marie-Josephte Chartier; d. 9 Nov. 1842 in Saint-Denis on the Richelieu, Lower Canada, and was buried in the crypt of the parish church.
Louis-Édouard Hubert was a descendant of a respected family of Parisian magistrates that had come to New France around 1665 and that gave Quebec its ninth bishop, Jean-François Hubert*. His father engaged in shipbuilding in Montreal and was a foreman and inspector of timber under the French régime. He was still a foreman and inspector in 1775 when the Americans took Montreal, drove him from his house, and forced him into hiding for several months.
Louis-Édouard studied in Montreal and at the Petit Séminaire de Québec. He then settled at Saint-Denis on the Richelieu, a country town, set in the prosperous seigneury of the same name, which was experiencing rapid growth in trade and commerce; parish priest François Cherrier* even saw it as the future seat of a bishopric. On 22 Nov. 1796, at Saint-Antoine-de-la-rivière-Chambly (Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu), Hubert married Cécile Cartier, daughter of the wealthy merchant Jacques Cartier* and subsequently aunt of Sir George-Étienne Cartier*. Through her mother, Cécile was a cousin of Bishop Joseph-Octave Plessis*. The couple were to have a large family, of whom three daughters and four sons are known.
Hubert soon became a leading local figure. He bought properties and ran a large business in the parish, which was renowned for wheat production. On 5 July 1800 he was elected for Richelieu to the House of Assembly and he sat, with no great regularity, until 1804; he did not seek re-election. At the opening of the first session of this third parliament he had agreed to serve on a committee to set up free schools, yet he was not in attendance when the bill was introduced. During his entire term he voted on only eight occasions, supporting both the Canadian and the English parties. At this time he was experiencing the effects of an economic slump and his business was deteriorating. In June 1804 several creditors obtained an attachment against a number of his properties. He retrieved the situation, however, and when Sir James Henry Craig* visited Saint-Denis in 1810, Hubert could stable the horses of the governor and his entourage with no difficulty.
During the War of 1812 against the United States, Hubert took an active part in the defence of his country. By 15 Sept. 1812 he had been commissioned lieutenant and quartermaster of the 2nd Select Embodied Militia Battalion of Lower Canada and by 7 October he had reported to the camp at La Prairie. He accompanied the troops on manœuvres that took them as far as Lacolle, marching in all weathers and sleeping on the ground – rough exercise for a man of nearly 50. Except for a stint in Chambly he seems to have spent the rest of the war at La Prairie.
Hubert resigned his commission on 24 May 1814 and resumed his commercial and agricultural activities. He took an interest in his children’s education, sending two of his sons to the Collège de Saint-Hyacinthe and a daughter to the Ursuline convent in Trois-Rivières. He also settled the large estate his father-in-law had left. By a proclamation of the Prince Regent, Hubert was entitled as a militia officer to 500 acres in the Eastern Townships; he applied and on 24 July 1823 secured a certificate for lots in Upton Township. Although he took all kinds of steps and even incurred the expense of surveyor’s fees, he never succeeded in obtaining them. Incensed at learning that these lots had been granted to the Martignys in spite of his efforts, he accused that family of collusion with the surveyor general. He pressed his claims until 1837 and was offered land in various townships, but got no concrete results. His services to the crown were no more recognized than those rendered in 1775 by his father, in whose name he had submitted a similar fruitless request.
At the time of the rebellions in 1837–38 Hubert did not support the Patriotes. His home was ransacked none the less by British troops after the battle of Saint-Denis. Two of his sons were at Saint-Eustache with Patriote Jean-Olivier Chénier, and he went through an anxious period after they were taken into custody at Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu, where they had gone into hiding. They were held from 6 Jan. 1838 until July, when they were released – in at least one case on £2,000 bail. In 1840 a committee of the Special Council recommended that Hubert be paid nearly £115 in compensation for the damages he had suffered, but nothing was done on his behalf at the time and the whole matter caused a great stir for a decade.
Louis-Édouard died at 76 years of age, leaving his wife and a number of descendants. Rue Saint-Hubert in Saint-Denis on the Richelieu is a reminder of the family who once lived there and of its head, Louis-Édouard, a highly regarded member of a bourgeoisie still not well known that, through social, economic, and political activity, had a considerable influence on the community at large.
A portrait of Louis-Édouard Hubert wearing his red militia coat was painted by his friend the notary Jean-Joseph Girouard* at Laprairie during the War of 1812.
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