Employed as a clerk for several years at Letendre & Arsenault, Montreal merchants, Edmond Lord, a native of Trois-Rivières, was about to open his own novelty business in February 1887. He decided to join forces with Honoré-Hercule, his brother, and commissioned this commercial sign. An artisan, likely Louis Jobin, created this white sheep. The Lord brothers placed it prominently in front of their shop, located at 1477 (number 577 in 1887), rue Sainte-Catherine in Montreal. The business later expanded to also occupy 1471-1475, adjacent commercial spaces. Their made-to-order clothing department benefitted from the recognized expertise of L. Dragon, tailor.

Under the leadership of Edmond and Honoré-Hercule Lord, Lord & Frère officially opened for business on St. Valentine’s Day in 1887. Their customers quickly said that they did their shopping under the sign of the white sheep.

There were also several businesses in other cities at the same time dealing in “dry goods,” including woollens and fabrics, that advertised their establishment with the illustration of a white sheep, particularly in newspapers. In Trois-Rivières, from the 1870s to 1886, Louis Émerie Gervais’ business on rue Notre-Dame also advertised itself under the sign of the white sheep.

The son of Théodore Lord, a saddler, and Zoé Carrier, Edmond Lord was born on April 17, 1855, and baptized the following day at the Immaculate Conception parish church under the first names Philippe Edmond. In the 1871 Canadian census, Edmond lived with his parents, his brother Alfred, and three sisters: Marie Elvina, Eulalie, and Annie.

The family moved to the metropolis around 1881. Edmond’s elder brother, Honoré-Hercule, was already a sales clerk there.

Ten years after partnering with his brother Edmond, Honoré-Hercule Lord retired from business in January 1897. The white sheep sign remained in place for a few more years. Then, Edmond Lord in turn retired in 1909. He sold his goods, which had an estimated value of $25,000, to E. Z. Leblanc, a merchant from Montreal. The latter, as successor, invited the public to a massive liquidation.

The white sheep sign was entrusted to Alphonse Boisseau, who had been a clerk at Lord & Frère and was married to Edmond’s niece, Zulma Lord, the daughter of Zéphirin Honoré Lord, a tailor, whose business was called “Aux Gros Ciseaux,” and who would also serve as a court usher at the Superior Court of Trois-Rivières.

Edmond Lord and his wife, Marie-Jeanne Jacques, decided to settle in Louiseville, where Jeanne’s parents lived. They moved into a sumptuous home that Edmond had built on rue Sainte-Marie in late November 1909. He had entrusted its construction to a local contractor, Auguste Desrosiers.

Edmond Lord died on June 29, 1911. The funeral was held in Louiseville on July 3, and his mortal remains were transported to and buried in the Trois-Rivières cemetery on the same day.

The production of this commercial sign in the shape of a white sheep is attributed to artist Louis Jobin (1845-1928), a native of Saint-Raymond in Portneuf county.

According to Marius Barbeau (1883-1969), in his booklet Louis Jobin statuaire, published by Beauchemin in 1968, Jobin reportedly said:

“[…] I mostly made signs, as it was in the time when clerks became merchants. So, I made a hanging sheep to represent a tailor (or fabric merchant).”

When Jobin alluded to these facts, he was still in Montreal (1870-1875). This is a little early to have sculpted this sign. In any event, the artist then went on to settle in Quebec City (1875-1896), and he would later have his studio in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré (1896-1928). All this time, he continued his commissioned production of sculpted signs representing figures of all sorts. Jobin also had the annoying habit of not signing his works. Louis Jobin was first a statue sculptor, but he also produced several signs. Unfortunately, few of these types of works have been preserved until the present day.

We learn the rest of the history of this sign thanks to the pen of journalist Pierre L.-Desaulniers in the regional daily newspaper Le Nouvelliste published October 17, 1961. On page 5, despite some vagueness, he reveals to us that Alphonse Boisseau, a native of Verchères, after having spent 19 years at Lord & Frère, opened a business in Louiseville in 1909 and prominently displayed the white sheep there. After Edmond Lord’s death in 1911, Boisseau settled in Trois-Rivières, where he opened a store selling novelties, fabrics, and knitting products. The sign read A. Boisseau, but because of the white sheep hanging in front of the store, everyone had the reflex to name the place “Au mouton blanc” (“at the white sheep”). This business closed its doors in 1921.

The sign was then put away for several years.

Father Lionel Boisseau, the son of Alphonse and Zulma, who completed his studies at the Séminaire de Trois-Rivières, was ordained as a priest in 1930, and served as parish priest of New Carlisle in Gaspésie for 36 years, reportedly entrusted the item to Dr. Conrad Godin around 1950.

In order to ensure the long-term preservation of this sheep sign that bore witness to an endearing commercial history, Dr. Godin convinced the couple to donate it to the Musée Pierre-Boucher.

Donation from Alphonse Boisseau and Zulma Lord
Musée Pierre-Boucher Collection
1979 514 S