Joseph-Édouard Cauchon (1816-1885)

Joseph-Édouard Cauchon

Bibliothèque et archives du Canada, PA 025562


Journalist, businessman and politician, JosephÉdouard Cauchon was born in the Parish of Saint-Roch, Quebec City, on 31 December 1816. A descendant of one of New France’s oldest families, he became one of the most powerful Conservatives of Lower Canada and a staunch supporter of Confederation 
in 1864. Following the Canadian Confederation in 1867, Cauchon was asked to form the Government of Québec. Unable to find an Anglophone to accept the Provincial Treasurer ministry, he failed to become the first Premier of the new province of Québec. Speaker of the Canadian Senate from 1867 to 1869, Cauchon would later ally himself with the Liberal Opposition of the House of Commons during the Pacific Scandal that toppled the Macdonald government. On 4 October 1877, he was named Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba and took office on 2 December 1877. In 1879, he refused to sign a provincial law that would have abolished the publication of official provincial documents in French, reserving Royal Ascent to the Governor General of Canada. He left the office of Lieutenant-Governor on 1 December 1882. 
Joseph Cauchon was active in business in Québec as well as in Manitoba. Arriving in Winnipeg at the height of the Boom fuelled by the construction of the
Canadian Pacific railroad, he speculated in real estate. In December 1880, he bought for $283,000 a parcel of land in the heart of Winnipeg where he had built, at a cost of $100,000, the luxurious Cauchon Block. The crash of 1882 ruined him financially, and Cauchon finally had to abandon his “palace” in September 1884. He retired with his son Joseph to a homestead in Whitewood (North West Territories, later Saskatchewan), in the Qu’Appelle Valley, where he lived on “bannock and bacon” until his death on 23 February 1885. 

See also the brochure The Heritage Wall.

Andrée Désilets, «Joseph-Édouard Cauchon», Dictionnaire biographique du Canada, Volume XI.


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