PRICE, WILLIAM EVAN, businessman and politician; b. 17 Nov. 1827 at Quebec, son of William Price*, the first of his family in Canada, and Jane Stewart; d. 12 June 1880 at the family residence of Wolfesfield, at Quebec, and buried in Belmont cemetery.
When he was still young, William Evan Price joined the enterprise for the commercial exploitation of timber that had been established by his father in the Saguenay region, and comprised numerous centres of production spaced out between Lac Saint-Jean and Sault-au-Cochon (today Forestville), on the north shore of the St Lawrence. He was a bachelor and his usual pied-à-terre was at Chicoutimi; from there he went to the various lumbercamps, sawmills, and ships’ loading points where his presence was required.
Less of a hustler than his brother David Edward, who concerned himself with organization and numerous external activities, William Evan concerned himself particularly with maintenance of the undertaking and effective supervision of operations. However, he allowed himself to be drawn towards politics, like his brothers David Edward and Evan John*. In the federal election of 1872 he stood as Conservative candidate against Pierre-Alexis Tremblay, in Chicoutimi-Saguenay County. A circular sent to his electors recalled discreetly the part he had taken in social works, stressed the economic importance of the Price firm for the region, and promised to press for the building of the railway that was to link this region with the capital of the province; representing an almost entirely Catholic population, although Protestant himself, he undertook furthermore to support Catholic schools with his influence, and to follow “always and above all, in politics, the advice of the bishops and priests.” He was elected on 10 September, and was a member of the House of Commons until the dissolution of parliament on 2 Jan. 1874.
On 20 July 1875 William Evan was elected as a Conservative to the Legislative Assembly of Quebec to represent the same county. He did not attend the 1875 session, but from 1876 to 1878 he served on several special committees, in particular the committee on railways, canals, telegraph lines, mines, and manufactures, and the committee on agriculture, immigration, and colonization. In 1878 and 1879, when the ministry of Henri-Gustave Joly* stayed in power only by a slim majority, Price’s vote with the liberals was sometimes decisive. Because of ill health, which obliged him to make protracted stays in Georgia, he resigned on 13 Feb. 1880; he died four months later.
William Evan Price, who was cultured and benevolent, and a man of refined behaviour, received French language newspapers, was a member of the Mechanics’ Institute and of the Chicoutimi library, and director of the Agricultural Society. In addition he maintained friendly relations with the bishop and the majority of the priests in the region, and enjoyed the respect of his employees and of the people. He showed himself generous and ready to help the unfortunate. The old folk who knew him called him “the best of the Prices.” In 1882 a monument was raised to him at Chicoutimi; it also bore the name of his father, who had died in 1867.
The Price papers, property of the Price Company Limited (Quebec), contain valuable information on the activities of the Price family; they are being reclassified by the company at this time and the author was unable to consult them.
ASHS, Documents, adresse aux électeurs, 1872; Documents, témoignage de J.-A. Gagné, 22 août 1872; Documents, Institut des artisans de Chicoutimi; Dossiers Price, nos.4, 6, 16, 17, 70, 325; Mémoires d’anciens. Quebec, Legislative Assembly, Journals, 1875–80. Le Canadien (Québec), 28 août, 27 oct., 30 oct. 1872; 20 oct. 1873; 14 juin, 16 juin 1880. Le Courrier du Canada (Québec), 4 oct. 1872; 14 juin, 6 août 1880; 5 juill. 1881; 7 juill. 1882. L’Électeur (Québec), 25 juill.1881. Journal de Québec, 7 juin 1870; 24 sept., 4 oct., 7 oct., 28 oct. 1872. Le Nouvelliste (Québec), 26 févr., 14 juin 1880; 7 mai 1881. Desjardins, Guide parlementaire, 188, 223, 281. Dom. ann. reg., 1880–81, 426–27. P.-G. Roy, Fils de Québec, IV, 94–95. Inauguration du monument érigé à Chicoutimi à la mémoire de William Evan Price, 24 juin 1882 (Québec, 1882), A. R. M. Lower, “Lumbering in eastern Canada; a study in economic and social history,” unpublished phd thesis, Harvard University, 1928. Rumilly, Hist. de la prov-, de Québec, I, II. Storied Quebec (Wood et al.), I, 384–85; IV, 403–5. Tremblay, Histoire du Saguenay. “Les disparus,” BRH, XXXII (1926), 126.