MASSON, ISIDORE-ÉDOUARD-CANDIDE, businessman and legislative councillor; b. 4 May 1826 at Montreal, L.C., son of Joseph Masson*, seigneur of Terrebonne, and Marie-Geneviève-Sophie Raymond, founder of Collège Masson at Terrebonne in 1847; brother of Louis-François-Roderick* (Rodrigue), lieutenant governor of the province of Quebec 1884–87; d. 5 Aug. 1875 at Montreal, Que., buried 7 August in the old church at Terrebonne, and reinterred in 1880 in the present church in the Masson family’s vault.
Isidore-Édouard-Candide Masson’s family was originally from Vendée. Gilles, the forbear, born at Luçon in 1630, was still young when he emigrated to New France. Édouard’s father belonged to the fifth generation of the Masson family. Around 1805 he left Saint-Eustache, his birthplace, to try his hand at business in Montreal. It was there that Édouard was born, the fifth child of a family of 14, eight boys and six girls.
At six years of age, that is in 1832, Édouard Masson left Montreal. His father had just bought the seigneury of Terrebonne. The new seigneur, who was already “the largest and richest merchant in Montreal,” was able to provide his family with a comfortable existence in an unpretentious house beside the Thousand Islands River, opposite Île Jésus.
Édouard Masson was educated at the college of Montreal, then studied literature and science in England from 1842 to 1846. After his father’s death on 15 May 1847, he and his eldest brother Wilfred (Wilfrid) took over the management of the family business, which consisted chiefly of dealing in cloth and fabrics, as well as in potash. Joseph Masson left three commercial undertakings: Joseph Masson, Fils et Cie., in Montreal; Masson, Langevin et Cie., in Quebec; and Masson, Sons and Company, in Glasgow, Scotland. Édouard Masson was also president of the Montreal Gas Company and major of the 12th Battalion of militia. On 17 Jan. 1848 he married Marie-Josephte-Caroline Dumas, who gave him three boys and two girls.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Édouard Masson became municipal councillor for the eastern district of Montreal in 1855. On 31 Oct. 1856 he was elected legislative councillor for the division of Thousand Islands, which comprised the counties of Terrebonne and Deux-Montagnes. Politically he was opposed to the Rouges of the time, but he maintained an independent position in relation to the Conservative party, of which George-Étienne Cartier, conjointly with John A. Macdonald*, had just assumed the leadership. Masson returned to private life on 28 Sept. 1864, after being defeated by Dr Léandre Dumouchel, an avowed supporter of the Conservative party.
Édouard Masson then devoted his energy and his “very fine intelligence” to the settlement of the vast territories to the north of Montreal. He was the founder and organizer of a large French-Canadian settlement at Sainte-Marguerite, in the picturesque and untouched region of the Laurentians. A large number of settlers came from the Terrebonne seigneury and its vicinity. A mission was founded in 1864, and in 1871 a church was built on a piece of land given in 1869 by Édouard Masson. He had received by letters patent a grant of 1,646 acres of land, which took in the lake that bears his name today. There he erected a saw and flour mill on the outlet, right beside the village. In 1875 the parish of Sainte-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson numbered 700 souls.
Lac Masson, and the municipality of the parish of Sainte-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson, where Édouard Masson lived himself for some years, preserve the memory of what he did for colonization. To the homage represented by the Laurentian place-name can be added that of a contemporary and friend of Édouard Masson: “He was,” wrote Laurent-Olivier David*, “one of the most spiritual, likeable, and generous men of his day.”
AVM, B 2735; Biographies de conseillers. Bibliothèque de l’université de Montréal, Collection Baby, Correspondance et papiers concernant la famille, XXIII, 14225–26 (copies in PAC). PAC, MG 24, D47 (Robertson collection); MG 30, D62 (Audet papers), 20, p.431; RG 4, B28, 138, no.5797. Private archives of Henri Masson (Montreal, Que.), family papers. “Correspondance de Jean Langevin avec son frère Hector (1843–1867),” Béatrice Chassé, édit., AQ Rapport, 1967, 51–55. “Lettres de Joseph-Adolphe Chapleau (1870–1896),” Fernand Ouellet, édit., APQ Rapport, 1959–60, 38–40. La Minerve (Montréal), 8 oct., 15 oct. 1856; 16 sept. 1864; 6 août 1875. Le Nouveau Monde (Montréal), 6 août 1875. Desjardins, Guide parlementaire. Raymond Masson, Généalogie des familles de Terrebonne (4v., Montréal, 1934–31). Turcotte, Conseil législatif de Québec, 2412. L.-O. David, Mes contemporains (Montréal, 1894), 261–68. C.-A. Gareau, Aperçu historique de Terrebonne; 200e anniversaire de fondation et congrès eucharistique (Montréal, 1927). J.-E. Garon, Historique de la colonisation dans la province de Québec de 1825 à 1940 (Québec, 1940). B.-A. Testard de Montigny, La colonisation, le nord de Montréal ou la région de Labelle (Montréal, 1895). É.-J. Auclair, “Terrebonne, les Masson, leur château,” RSCT, 3rd ser., XXXVIII (1944), sect.i, 1–14.