MAYRAND, ÉTIENNE, businessman and politician; b. 3 Sept. 1776 at Montreal, Quebec, of the marriage of Jean-Baptiste Mayrand and Agathe Roy; d. 22 Jan. 1872 at Rivière-du-Loup (Louiseville, Maskinongé County), Que.
Young Étienne Mayrand’s intellectual training was probably rather superficial, although elementary schools directed by the Sulpicians did exist at Montreal at that time. He early became interested in the fur trade and travelled in the Canadian west, working for the North West Company; he returned from this venture with a sizeable capital. While he was in the west, Étienne Mayrand had married an Indian; she bore him two daughters, whom he brought back with him to Lower Canada. The exact date of this return is not known, but it was certainly at the beginning of the 19th century, since Mayrand married his second wife, Sophie Héneau, of Berthier on 20 Aug. 1806; they had one child, who died young. He established himself at Rivière-du-Loup, where he made a fortune in the grain and hay business. His success enabled him to act as a moneylender and real estate agent. He built a comfortable stone house measuring 60 feet in length by 35 feet in width, with two large rooms serving as “salons,” one for his family and the other for the master of the house. If an absentminded visitor made his way into the latter without having been expressly invited, “he was withered with a look,” Édouard-Zotique Massicotte* remarked, and he learned with brutal clarity that “the master was not receiving at the moment.”
During the War of 1812 Mayrand served as an officer of the militia. He was promoted lieutenant in the 2nd Rivière-du-Loup Battalion in 1813, and then was appointed captain in the 8th Battalion of the Trois-Rivières division. He kept his interest in the military and, in 1846, was major of the 4th Battalion of Saint-Maurice County. He retired from the militia in 1855 at the age of 79.
Mayrand’s remarkable success in business led him to take an interest in politics. In November 1809 he served as returning officer for Saint-Maurice County, when Louis Gugy* was chosen to represent this county in the House of Assembly. He also canvassed for votes himself in this constituency, which he represented from 1816 to 1820 (according to Édouard-Zotique Massicotte he was an mha from 1816 to 1838). He was a believer in law and order, and in politics was always a thoroughgoing Conservative. On 2 April 1838 he was nominated a member of the Special Council that replaced the House of Assembly during the disturbances of 1837–38, and took part in the deliberations of that body until the setting up of the government of the Union in 1841. Finally, on 9 June 1841 he became a member of the Legislative Council, but resigned on the 22nd of the same month. He then gave his attention to finance and real estate.
In addition to his commercial and political activities, Étienne Mayrand also took on various important responsibilities in the public life of his region and even at the provincial level. He was appointed commissioner for internal communications in Lower Canada (12 Jan. 1818), commissioner for small causes (13 Nov. 1821), member of a commission instructed to make a hydrographic survey of Lac Saint-Louis with a view to improving its navigability (5 July 1836), and commissioner for the administration of the oath of allegiance (21 Dec. 1837).
Francis-Joseph Audet*, in his work on the members of the assembly for Saint-Maurice, states that Mayrand was a “school visitor” for his county (4 July 1826): the statement can only refer to the royal schools created by the school act of 1801, for the law establishing schools under public trustees was not passed until 1829. A royal school did exist at Rivière-du-Loup, and it is probable that Mayrand was named a visitor to it by reason of his social standing. “Visitors,” according to the regulations of the Royal Institution, were to make a report to the corporation every six months, on “the number and progress of the pupils, the conduct of the master, his conformity or nonconformity with the directives of the Institution, any deficiencies in the provisions made for the education offered at the school, and any irregularity in the method of applying them.” They were also to “make a formal inspection of the school . . . , they have the authority to determine the school hours, the number and duration of the holidays and the different feast-days it is appropriate to allocate, to establish the rate of tuition and to name the children who will be admitted free and those whose parents will be obliged to pay, all this being subject to the approval of the Institution.”
Étienne Mayrand died at Rivière-du-Loup, at the venerable age of 96. On 30 Sept. 1811, at Montreal, after his second wife’s death, he had married Thérèse Heney, who bore him eight children and died in 1825. On 2 Aug. 1827, at Quebec, he married again, his fourth wife being Félicité Le Maitre-Bellenoix, Louis Gauvreau’s widow. Étienne Mayrand served his country loyally under four sovereigns, George III, George IV, William IV, and Queen Victoria, no less than 19 governors general, and 21 lieutenant governors. He was a witness of three constitutions: 1791, 1840, and the confederation of Canada.
AJM, Registre d’état civil (notes biographiques fournies par J.-J. Lefebvre). Desjardins, Guide parlementaire. Journal de la chambre d’Assemblée du Bas-Canada, 1824, app.Y, “Règles et règlements pour les écoles de fondation royale dans la province du Bas-Canada sous la conduite de l’Institution royale.” Turcotte, Conseil législatif de Québec; 134–35. Audet, Le système scolaire de la province de Québec, IV, 274–75. F.-J. Audet, Les députés de Saint-Maurice, 1808–1838, et de Champlain, 1830–1838 (Pages trifluviennes, sér. A, 12, Trois-Rivières, Qué., 1934), 45–48; “Membres du Conseil spécial,” BRH, VII (1901), 82–83. F.-L. Desaulniers, “Les députés de Saint-Maurice,” BRH, V (1899), 284–85. É.-Z. Massicotte, “La famille de l’honorable Étienne Mayrand,” BRH, XXXIII (1927), 708–12.