DUPUIS, JOSEPH-NAZAIRE (baptized Nazaire), founder of one of the great Montreal commercial enterprises; b. 1 Aug. 1844 at Saint-Jacques-de-l’Achigan (Saint-Jacques, Montcalm County), L.C., son of Joseph Dupuis, a farmer, and Euphrasie Richard, of Acadian ancestry; d. 24 Aug. 1876 at Montreal, Que.
On his father’s death in 1864, Joseph-Nazaire Dupuis came to Montreal with his family to try his fortune there and support his dependants. In 1868, after acquiring a working knowledge of business as an employee for four years, he opened a fancy goods shop at the corner of Sainte-Catherine and Montcalm streets, in the east end. The business, a modest one, occupied a building 25 feet by 50. Two years later, success obliged him to enlarge his undertaking, and he established himself on the corner of Sainte-Catherine and Amherst streets.
At this period the population of Montreal was nearing 100,000. Full of initiative, Joseph-Nazaire Dupuis crossed the Atlantic no less than five times for his business affairs, and established profitable contacts with European industrialists, particularly with those of Lancashire, England. He had gradually got his numerous brothers interested in his firm, which, despite the economic crisis that struck the continent after 1872, continued to prosper. But in August 1876 Joseph-Nazaire Dupuis died prematurely. He was only 32.
The legal proceedings which ensued nonetheless indicated that, thanks to his shrewdness, Joseph-Nazaire Dupuis had already acquired substantial assets, valued at more than $215,000. Fortunately his estate, properly administered, ensured the continuation of the firm, reconstituted shortly after his death as a limited liability company. This business, which became a large store known as Dupuis Frères, Limitée, moved in 1882 to the corner of Sainte-Catherine and Saint-André, a spot it occupied until it closed in 1978. With varying fortunes, the company remained under the management of the brothers, the nephews, and a great-nephew of the founder until 1961 [see Joseph-Narcisse Dupuis*].
On 8 Feb. 1870, in Montreal, Joseph-Nazaire Dupuis had married Alphonsine Saint-Onge, who would survive him by 40 years. At his death he left several children, the eldest son being Joseph-Nazaire-Odilon Dupuis*, who became parish priest of Saint-Eusèbe-de-Verceil and a distinguished personality in Montreal life during the first third of the 20th century. The name of Joseph-Nazaire Dupuis has its place on the list of those creative spirits who, in each generation, make an appearance in the economic and social history of Canada.
AJM, Greffe de J.-L. Coutlée, succession Nazaire Dupuis, 7 sept., 16 sept. 1876; Procédures noncontentieuses, sept.–déc. 1876; Registre d’état civil. Guy Courteau et François Lanoue, Une nouvelle Acadie, Saint-Jacques de l’Achigan, 1772–1947 ([Montréal, 1947]), 321–24. Roger Duhamel, Une grande aventure commerciale (Montréal, ). “Canadian Chamber’s executive faces year of surging growth and activity,” Canadian Business (Montreal), XXIX, no.11 (1956), 18–19. Noella Desjardins, “Dupuis et Frères un centenaire canadien-français,” Le Magazine de La Presse (Montréal), 24 févr. 1968.
Revisions based on:
Bibliothèque et Arch. Nationales du Québec, Centre d’arch. de Montréal, CE601-S1, 8 févr. 1870, 12 janv. 1873; CE601-S15, 3 févr. 1874; CE601-S51, 21 nov. 1870, 17 déc. 1871; CE605-S31, 1er août 1844. La Gazette de Joliette (Joliette, Québec), 29 août 1876.