KIMBER, RENÉ, merchant, office holder, jp, and militia officer; b. 1 Sept. 1762 at Quebec, son of Joseph-Antoine Jékimbert (Kimber), who had served in the colonial regulars, and Geneviève Allard; d. 12 Nov. 1841 in Trois-Rivières, Lower Canada.
In 1780, at 18 years of age, René Kimber was working as a clerk for Louis Germain, a Quebec merchant. Whether by ambition or by chance his course was set quite early, since at the time of his marriage on 19 May 1785 he was described as a merchant. The fact that he promised his wife, Marie-Josette Robitaille, a jointure of 1,000 livres seems to indicate that his business was flourishing. They were to have 17 children, but only 3 outlived him. In 1789 he rented one part of the second storey of a building he owned on Rue Saint-Joseph in Upper Town to John Krepper, a merchant furrier, and the other part to notary Joseph-Bernard Planté*. Kimber had a store on the ground floor and lived in the building himself until 1792. What happened in the next three years is not clear. In the 1795 census he is given as living at 16 Rue de la Fabrique and is listed simply as a clerk with C. C. Hall and Company. Had his business failed? If so, he must have made a quick recovery, since in 1798 he is identified in the census as a merchant residing at 17 Rue de la Fabrique.
It is not known when Kimber decided to move to Trois-Rivières and go into business there, but on 25 July 1799 he signed an address from the citizens of the town to Governor Robert Prescott*. Kimber soon became “one of the important figures in Trois-Rivières.” In 1809 he formed a partnership with Pierre Bruneau*, a Quebec merchant, in this way maintaining a link with businessmen in his home town; the partnership ended in 1812. He was supplied by fellow merchant Moses Hart*, who advanced him goods for his store in Trois-Rivières. In 1827 Kimber’s business career earned him the position of warden of the House of Industry there.
Kimber had been appointed inspector of the local Fire Society in 1799. He was commissioned a justice of the peace for the district of Trois-Rivières in 1811, and in this capacity supervised the construction of the House of Correction in 1813–14. In 1819 he became a captain in the Trois-Rivières battalion of militia. His son, René-Joseph, was then a supernumerary officer in that battalion, having served in the 4th Select Embodied Militia Battalion of Lower Canada.
Kimber was also involved in matters of social concern within his community. From 1803 until at least 1832 he served as commissioner for the relief of the insane and foundlings in his district. He was also a commissioner on the Trois-Rivières Board of Health in 1832 and a commissioner for the building of churches and presbyteries from 1832 to 1839. He was on the board of the Trois-Rivières House of Correction for the period 1812–35, serving as its treasurer from 1816 to 1829. In 1818 he was elected a churchwarden in the parish of Immaculée-Conception in Trois-Rivières, and he was also to become chairman of the public trustees of the municipality of Trois-Rivières.
René Kimber carved a remarkable place for himself in Trois-Rivières society early in the 19th century. His will and the inventory of his property after his death show that he was a philanthropist concerned with the well-being of his fellow citizens. For example, he took care to donate a sum to the Séminaire de Nicolet for the “education of young people.” In spite of all his other preoccupations, he evidently managed to increase his wealth, since he was able to leave his two daughters a great many properties. Kimber’s death was noted with regret. The Quebec Gazette of 15 Nov. 1841 eulogized him, observing that “he was a good citizen, an exemplary father of a family, and universally beloved and respected.”
ANQ-MBF, CE1-48, 17 nov. 1841; CN1-6, 26 mars 1800, 10 févr. 1809; CN1-47, 15 oct. 1818; 16 sept., 10 déc. 1841. ANQ-Q, CE1-1, 2 sept. 1762, 19 mai 1785; CN1-205, 17 mai 1785; CN1-230, 6 juill. 1789. ASQ, Séminaire, 16, no.30. ASTR, 0009 (copie aux ANQ-Q). PAC, MG 30, D1, 16: 774–76; RG 4, A1: 40635–36, 40937, 41070; RG 68, General index, 1651–1841. “Les dénombrements de Québec” (Plessis), ANQ Rapport, 1948–49: 11, 65, 114. L.C., House of Assembly, Journals, 1818–32. Quebec Gazette, 26 Dec. 1811, 22 Sept. 1814, 15 Nov. 1841. Quebec almanac, 1813. P.-G. Roy, Fils de Québec, 2: 127–28. Les ursulines des Trois-Rivières depuis leur établissement jusqu’à nos jours (4v., Trois-Rivières, Qué., 1888–1911), 2: 400. “La famille Jékimbert ou Kimber,” BRH, 21 (1915): 201–5. Benjamin Sulte, “Kimber,” Le Trifluvien (Trois-Rivières), 4 déc. 1906: 6.