CIMON (Simon), SIMON-XAVIER, merchant, contractor, and politician; b. 4 Dec. 1829 at La Malbaie, Lower Canada, son of Hubert Simon and Angèle Simard; m. 9 Nov. 1848 Marie-Claire, daughter of Pierre Garon of Rivière-Ouelle, Canada East, who represented Rimouski in the Legislative Assembly of Quebec; d. 26 June 1887 at La Malbaie.
Simon-Xavier Cimon studied at the Petit Séminaire de Québec from 1841 to 1843. He dabbled in business in Quebec City before he became a building contractor. As a builder he was known particularly for the construction of the Parliament Building at Quebec City in 1878. That same year he found himself involved in a general strike of construction workers. This strike, which affected more than 1,000 men, was sparked by the plan of contractors such as Cimon to reduce daily wages from 60 to 50 cents. The strikers resorted to violence and damaged the property of a number of contractors. Cimon announced his intention of suing the city for each day of work lost because of inadequate police protection. The demonstrations subsequently escalated into riots, and the militia was called in to restore order. The workers immediately returned to their jobs, but received substantial pay increases. Cimon was actually to be accused of inciting the strike by a political opponent, Charles Langelier*, who asserted that his attachment to provincial Conservative leader Joseph-Adolphe Chapleau* had led him to bribe workers to strike in order to embarrass the government of Henri-Gustave Joly*. In the 1880s Cimon set up a pulp and paper mill at La Malbaie, and at the end of his life he was reputed to be very wealthy.
In 1867 Cimon had been elected to the House of Commons for Charlevoix as a Conservative, but in 1872 was defeated by the independent candidate Pierre-Alexis Tremblay*. He ran unsuccessfully in the provincial general election of 1875 and in the February 1879 by-election in Charlevoix. He was eventually elected a federal representative for Charlevoix in a by-election on 19 March 1881 and continued to serve until his death, although in parliament he was always a secondary figure.
Cimon was co-owner, with Edmund James Flynn*, of the Journal de Québec, which served the Conservative party’s interests after 1880. However, irritated because Sir John A. Macdonald*’s government had granted contracts to Liberals, Cimon during the 1887 session voted with the opposition, thus earning himself the designation “independent Conservative.” Further, a month before his death, he threatened the prime minister that he would take Wilfrid Laurier*’s musket and fight. But, while preparing to go to welcome Honoré Mercier* and his colleagues, he was stricken with apoplexy and died on 26 June 1887 at his residence. His son, Simon Cimon, succeeded him as Conservative member for Charlevoix in the House of Commons, serving from 28 Sept. 1887 to 3 Feb. 1891.
AC, Saguenay (La Malbaie), État civil, Catholiques, Saint-Étienne (La Malbaie), 1829. ASQ, Fichier des anciens. PAC, MG 26, A, 442. Le Canadien, 1867–87. Le Courrier du Canada, 1867–87. Le Journal de Québec, 21 mars 1881, 26 juin 1887. Beaulieu et J. Hamelin, Journaux du Québec, 198. Canadian directory of parl. (J. K. Johnson), 121. CPC, 1887: 105; 1889: 113. Jean Hamelin et al., Répertoire des grèves dans la province de Québec au XIXesiècle (Montreal, 1970), 43–45. Charles Langelier, Souvenirs politiques [de 1878 à 1896] (2v., Québec, 1909–12). Rumilly, Hist. de la prov. de Québec, III: 36–37, 56–57; V.