TOURANGEAU (Guillet, dit Tourangeau), ADOLPHE (baptized Adolphe-Elzéar), notary, politician, businessman, and office holder; b. 15 Jan. 1831 at Quebec, son of Jean Guillet, dit Tourangeau, and Adélaïde Bernier; m. there 28 Oct. 1861 Victoire-Adélaïde Jourdain; d. there 9 Oct. 1894.
Little is known about Adolphe Tourangeau’s youth. After studying at the Petit Séminaire de Québec from 1841 to 1850, he attended Quebec High School. He was an articled clerk in the office of notary Louis Panet, and at the age of 24 undertook studies in law at the Université Laval. On 5 Nov. 1855 Tourangeau was authorized to practise as a notary and he combined his notarial practice with the insurance business. In the early years he opened an office in the Lower Town of Quebec, and in 1878 he moved to Rue Saint-Jean. From 1862 to 1883 he served as an agent for various insurance companies, including the Provincial Insurance Company of Canada, Aetna Fire Insurance of Dublin, and the Reliance Life Insurance Company of London.
Tourangeau also ventured into the fields of brewing, finance, and transportation, but met with little success. In 1865 he and a partner set up a brewery under the name of Tourangeau, Lloyd and Company, but they gave it up the following year, probably because the competition was too strong. He was an interim member of the board of the Stadacona Bank as well as a director of both the North Shore Railway and the Quebec and Gosford Railway, which would become the Quebec and Lake St John Railway in 1875.
Tourangeau was to become best known in municipal politics. A councillor for Saint-Roch ward from 20 January to 3 July 1863, he was chosen by his colleagues to replace the mayor, Thomas Pope, who died that June. He held the mayoralty until 12 July 1866. During his term of office he devoted much time to reducing the municipal debt and revising the tax system. Taking as his model what was being done in New York and Boston, he hoped to impose taxes on both fixed and movable property and then to include income earned in business as well, so that taxes would no longer be levied solely on the basis of property.
Under Tourangeau’s administration a regular ferry service was inaugurated between Quebec and Lévis. In a break with previous custom, the contract was awarded to only one applicant. The police department also underwent changes. Thus in 1864 the Quebec police committee put firemen and policemen under separate control. With Tourangeau, it changed departmental rules to ensure more effective protection to movable property during fires. It also raised the salaries of firemen.
In 1863 Tourangeau’s plan to widen all the city gates encountered opposition. Joseph-Édouard Cauchon* was among those protesting the project in Le Journal de Québec, and La Scie illustrée published a cartoon of the mayor and the Saint-Jean gate. In fact it was the one that would be modified, the change entailing the widening of Rue Saint-Jean at the same time. Two years later Tourangeau received permission to demolish the gate and build a new one with four openings, two for carriages and two for pedestrians.
As a member of the Quebec Harbour Commission, Tourangeau sought to improve the port of Quebec. Plans called initially for the purchase of a number of wharfs to provide better facilities for transatlantic steamers, and secondly for a wharf to be built east of the mouth of the Rivière Saint-Charles and a dry dock to be equipped. Tourangeau also supported a proposed amendment to the banking laws allowing banks to provide financial assistance for shipbuilding. At stake economically was supplying the markets of the Canadian West and foreign countries.
On 10 Jan. 1870 Tourangeau began a second term as mayor of Quebec, which would end on 2 May. Not long after he took office, a bill to change the regulations of its municipal council was presented in the Legislative Assembly of the province of Quebec. It was enacted, and as a result of the statute Tourangeau and his councillors had to seek a new mandate from the people. In a departure from the previous practice of election by citizens, however, the mayor was now to be chosen by the councillors. Tourangeau at first refused, in early April 1870, to sign the voters’ lists, alleging that they had not been revised. He ran in Saint-Roch ward and was elected to the council. Then, on 2 May, just as the names of the newly elected councillors were being proclaimed, he and a few members of council surreptitiously took possession of city hall, claiming that the election was invalid.
Tourangeau occupied the premises until 4 May. Pierre Garneau*, who had been designated the new mayor two days earlier, had the building put under police surveillance and called on Tourangeau to surrender, but to no avail. On 4 May Garneau sent for two companies of the 69th Foot under Captain Pyke. This move took Tourangeau by surprise, but up to the very end he considered himself “the only person legally invested with all the powers and privileges . . . to be Mayor of this city and consequently its chief magistrate until the legal election of a successor.” After supplies for Tourangeau and his colleagues had been cut off and a group of young people had forced open the doors of city hall, they acknowledged defeat. It was a memorable event. L’Opinion publique of 26 May carried an illustration of the siege.
Although he was now determined to leave the municipal scene, Adolphe Tourangeau remained in the public eye. He turned to federal politics, of which he had already had a taste in 1863 and 1864, when he ran unsuccessfully as the Liberal candidate in Montmorency against Joseph-Édouard Cauchon. His political convictions had been severely shaken by the experience, and in the by-election of 14 and 15 July 1870 he ran as an independent Conservative in Quebec East. His opponent, Pierre-Vincent Valin, also a Conservative, had the backing of Cauchon, François Evanturel, Le Journal de Québec, and Le Canadien. Tourangeau was supported by the organization of Hector Fabre* and by L’Evénement. He won by 175 votes and in the 1872 general election he was returned by acclamation. He sat in the House of Commons from July 1870 until January 1874, when he declined to stand for re-election because of the Pacific Scandal [see Sir John A. Macdonald; Sir Hugh Allan*]. In the by-election of 1877, Tourangeau again had a strong team supporting him: Hector-Louis Langevin*, Macdonald, Pierre Garneau, and Joseph-Adolphe Chapleau. But running against Wilfrid Laurier*, with his entourage of Joseph Shehyn*, Henri-Gustave Joly*, Charles Langelier*, and Honoré Mercier, Tourangeau had to admit defeat. No doubt disillusioned with politics, he returned to his office and remained in notarial practice until 1883, when he became postmaster, a position he held until his death on 9 Oct. 1894 at Quebec.
AC, Québec, État civil, Catholiques, Saint-Roch, 12 oct. 1894; Minutiers, Adolphe Tourangeau, 1856–93. ANQ-Q, CE1-1, 28 oct. 1861; CE1-22, 15 janv. 1831. ASQ, Fichier des anciens. AVQ, Aqueduc, comité de l’aqueduc, procès-verbaux, 1857–65; P17; Police, comité de police, procès-verbaux, 1859–66. Comptes du trésorier de la cité et autres documents de la corporation de Québec pour l’année 1863 (Québec, 1864). Le Journal de Québec, 9 juin 1863. L’Opinion publique, 26 mai 1870. Canadian directory of parl. (Johnson), 575. Cyclopædia of Canadian biog. (Rose and Charlesworth), 2: 477–78. C. E. Goad, Insurance plan of the city of Quebec . . . (Quebec, 1910). Quebec directory, 1861–90. L.-M. Côté et al., Les maires de la vieille capitale. J. [E.] Hare et al., Histoire de la ville de Québec, 1608–1871 (Montréal, 1987). J.-C. McGee, Laurier, Lapointe, Saint-Laurent: histoire politique de Québec-Est (Québec, ). “Les maires de la cité de Québec,” BRH, 38 (1932): 647–58.
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Cite This Article
Yves Hébert, “TOURANGEAU, ADOLPHE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 12, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed May 30, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/tourangeau_adolphe_12E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||Yves Hébert|
|Title of Article:||TOURANGEAU, ADOLPHE|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 12|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||1990|
|Year of revision:||1990|
|Access Date:||May 30, 2023|