This paperweight promotes the grocery business of O. Carignan & Fils. The photograph placed under the glass reveals the inside of this store, the display cases and shelves filled with all sorts of products, and even the cash register behind the counter.

You have to go all the way back to 1865 to find the origins of this business. Located on rue des Forges in Trois-Rivières across from the public market, this grocery store was, however, in its infancy only in the name of Onésime Carignan.

A native of Champlain, a municipality located on the banks of the Champlain River in Mauricie, Onésime Carignan was born on October 16, 1839. He was the son of Josephte Turcot, baptized Marie Josette (1796-1890), and Pierre Carignan (1791-1844), a farmer. The young Onésime came to settle in Trois-Rivières around 1860. In 1861, the Canadian census specified that he was a clerk and that he lived with Jacques Nault, a merchant, and his family.

Then, Onésime went into business with François Hamel under the company name Hamel & Carignan. Onésime Carignan married Aglaé Lebel on November 15, 1864, in the parish of Saint-Roch-de-Québec.

The following year, Hamel & Carignan was dissolved by mutual consent. Onésime Carignan then informed his friends and the public through the newspapers that he would henceforth conduct the business of that company in his own name and on his own account.

On October 24, 1884, very early in the night, the building housing the business was the target of an armed burglar. Indeed, an individual entered the apartments located on the upper level of the store. These premises were occupied by Uldoric Carignan and his wife, Annie Comtois; Uldoric was the nephew and employee of his uncle Onésime. Climbing through a window, the robber grabbed the key to the store. Then, as he was going down to the safe, Uldoric woke up and became aware of the situation. The thief panicked and fired a shot at Mr. Carignan without hitting him. The thief quickly rushed outside, jumping out the window. He dropped the key to the store, which was found later in the yard. The thief was never found. Fortunately, there was more fear than harm.

Despite this incident, the boss of the store continued his business with determination; his grocer’s licence was renewed annually. However, he became increasingly interested in municipal politics. He served as an alderman (municipal councillor) from 1876 to 1888 in Trois-Rivières.

In the July 31, 1889, edition of Le Trifluvien, O. Carignan, importer, published an advertisement in which he offered his customers wine, brandy, whisky, rye, and other fine liqueurs, as well as his specialties such as flour, remedies, mineral water, and complete assortments of wholesale and retail groceries.

As he was also interested in the development of his region, broadly speaking, he wanted to get involved. In early February 1891, Onésime Carignan was part of a delegation of public figures that travelled to Ottawa to obtain support for the organization of a model farm in Saint-Tite in Mauricie, a town located north of Trois-Rivières. He then entered active politics by being elected as a Conservative Party Member of Parliament for the federal riding of Champlain for one term between 1891 and 1896. Hector-Louis Langevin (1826-1906), representing the same political party, was the MP for the federal riding of Trois-Rivières at that time.

Through the 1891 Canadian census, we learn that Pierre-Lucien (1867-1944) worked as a sales clerk at his father’s store. The following year, Onésime was appointed justice of the peace for the city of Trois-Rivières. As for Pierre-Lucien, he married Angéline de Blois, a native of Quebec City and the daughter of Joachim de Blois and Marie Artémise Fréchette, in February 1893 in Ottawa. Angéline de Blois was the sister of Dr. Charles Numa de Blois.

Then, in 1895, Onésime entrusted his business to two of his sons, Pierre-Lucien and Émile-Donat (1875-1958), the latter having joined the grocery store after working for a short time (1891-1892) at the Banque d’Hochelaga. The two brothers now formed the company O. Carignan & Fils. The following year, they broadened their horizons even more and acquired a paint factory called The Champlain Oxide Company, of which Pierre-Lucien assumed the management.

As for Émile-Donat, he continued to operate the grocery business. Like so many others, he had to recover from the disaster that occurred on June 22, 1908. As the Montreal daily newspaper La Presse clarified the same day, a “terrible fire rages in Trois-Rivières. […] The flames have engulfed the commercial part of rue des Forges. […] The wholesale and retail grocery store O. Carignan & Fils […] (is) also in flames.”

They had to rebuild.

Then, in June 1912, La Gazette officielle du Québec confirmed that the two brothers formed the Compagnie des Terrains Notre-Dame du Cap along with three other partners: a pensioner, Isaïe Horey de Grandmont, and two surgeons, Louis-Philippe Normand and Charles Numa de Blois, their brother-in-law.

Émile-Donat Carignan continued to manage O. Carignan & Fils until 1925.

At the age of 58, Onésime Carignan died suddenly on September 20, 1897. His death occurred four months after his daughter Émilie married Louis Gagnon on May 25, 1897, and just eight days before his son Émile-Donat married Marie Lucinda Bernadette Bourgeois, the daughter of Flore Beauchemin and Benjamin Bourgeois, a civil engineer.

Musée Pierre-Boucher Collection
2003 368 I