HALL, WILLIAM, businessman and gentleman farmer; b. 1767; m. Helenore Gowen, and they had ten children; d. 6 Dec. 1854 in the parish of Saint-Joseph (at Lauzon), Lower Canada.
Nothing is known of William Hall’s life until 1791, when he opened a hat shop on Rue Saint-Jean at Quebec, facing the Palais gate. Hall’s first child was born in 1793 and, like his other children, is listed in the registers of the Scotch Church at Quebec. Around 1801 he owned a second shop, at Trois-Rivières. As well as selling hats retail at his two establishments, he sold them wholesale to the small tradesmen of Quebec and the surrounding countryside. His Quebec store was moved in 1797 from Rue Saint-Jean to Rue de la Fabrique, across from the Upper Town market.
Hall soon became the owner of substantial properties. In 1792 he and his uncle Henry Juncken, a businessman, had petitioned for a grant of ten square miles in the Beauce, behind the parishes of Saint-Joseph and Sainte-Marie. On 18 August of that year they secured permission to have a survey done of their land grant, which was then called Broughton Township. In order to comply with a notice published on 17 Jan. 1795 in the Quebec Gazette, the two partners entered into association in 1796 with a number of farmers from the two parishes, and with some artisans from Quebec, in accordance with the system of township leaders and associates [see James Caldwell*]. The associates each received 1,200 acres, and then ceded 1,100 of them to Juncken and Hall as compensation for the costs related to obtaining the concession. On 26 Oct. 1800 a proclamation of the governor officially established Broughton Township and granted a third of it – 22,000 acres – to Juncken, Hall, and their associates. When Juncken died on 10 Oct. 1802 Henry Hall, William’s brother, inherited their uncle’s share in the township. Within two years Henry was dead, and William became sole owner of 18,300 acres.
Hall none the less had maintained his activities at Quebec. On 1 Jan. 1810 he went into partnership with his brother-in-law Hammond Gowen. In addition to engaging in the hat trade, the firm of Hall and Gowen dealt in lumber and foodstuffs. During the War of 1812 the partners sold hats and uniforms to the military. For a while Hall was interested in public works, and in 1812 he obtained a contract to repair Rue Saint-Jean. He terminated his partnership with Gowen on 1 Jan. 1815, and two years later formed a new company with his son Charles Henry under the name William Hall and Son. This partnership was dissolved on 3 March 1819.
In April 1817 Hall was chosen to participate in the work of a commission dealing with transportation in Dorchester County and in that part of Buckingham County within the district of Quebec. As well, on 23 April he published a notice in the Quebec Gazette of his intention to petition the legislature for a licence to erect a toll-bridge at Saint-Henri, on the Rivière Etchemin. When the assembly granted his request in 1818, Hall brought Gowen, merchant Robert Melvin, and three inhabitants of Saint-Henri into the project. Construction began in the spring of 1820.
That year Hall received a prize from the Agriculture Society in the district of Quebec for his harvests of the previous year. At this period it was his son Charles Henry, not he himself, who was living in the spacious residence (known locally as Broughton Manor) that he had built on his estate, located on lot 12, concession 4. Hall also owned a flour-mill and a sawmill on lot 10, concession 5.
On 6 Dec. 1821 Hall put his property on Rue de la Fabrique up for sale or rent, announcing that he wanted to retire to his estate in Broughton the following spring. The property consisted of three stone buildings, each with three storeys: a house, a large building with chimneys used as a hat factory, and, behind it, a warehouse. Legal difficulties during the next two years ended in the sale of the property by sheriff’s auction. Hall abandoned the hatter’s trade for good in 1824. It is not known whether he did so to avoid bankruptcy in the immediate or near future, or to pursue his growing interest in the Broughton properties. Whatever the case, he instructed merchant Joseph Cary to liquidate his Quebec operation.
For the 1831 census Hall declared that he occupied 600 acres in the Beauce and farmed 200 of them. That year he harvested 300 minots of wheat and 500 of potatoes. His livestock included 40 horned animals, 5 horses, 50 sheep, and 12 pigs. Hall continued to operate his flour-mill and sawmill. Twelve people, four of them servants, lived on the Broughton farm. The township’s population went from 55 in 1825 to 111 in 1831, when a group of Irish settlers arrived, and to 612 by 1851.
William Hall succumbed to a haemorrhage of the throat on 6 Dec. 1854 in the parish of Saint-Joseph, where he had been living for a short time. He was then 87 years old and owned 17,150 acres in Broughton Township and a number of lots in Stoke and Shipton townships. His son Charles Henry inherited the manor-house and the lot on which it was built. His other children shared the remainder of his landed property.
ANQ-Q, CE1-66, 4, 7 avril 1793; CN1-178, 10 févr. 1796; 23 mai, 20 août 1804; CN1-232, 25 juin 1856; CN1-253, 4, 8 juin 1812; 24 févr. 1813; 5 avril, 20 mai 1820; 27, 30 sept. 1822; 6 avril 1824. Quebec Gazette, 1 Dec. 1791; 31 March 1803; 11 May 1815; 30 Jan., 1 May 1817; 8 March, 2 April 1818; 24 Feb. 1820; 6 Dec. 1821; 5 June 1822. Quebec Mercury, 11 Dec. 1809, 16 July 1810, 6 May 1811; 1812. J.-A. Lapointe, “William Hall,” BRH, 42 (1936): 431–36.