LAVIOLETTE, GODEFROY (baptized Eustache-Pierre-Godefroy), surveyor, businessman, politician, and office holder; b. 1 Nov. 1826 in Saint-Eustache, Lower Canada, son of Pierre Laviolette* and Elmire Dumont, daughter of Nicolas-Eustache Lambert* Dumont; d. 26 March 1895 in Montreal.
After classical studies at the Petit Séminaire de Montréal (1837) and at the Petit Séminaire de Sainte-Thérèse (1839–47), Godefroy Laviolette was commissioned a surveyor on 25 July 1848. Two years later, on 10 September at Saint-Eustache, he married Octavie Globensky, the daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Maximilien Globensky*. They were to have three girls and three boys, all baptized at Saint-Jérôme. One of their sons, Sévère, following the example of Godefroy, would become mayor of that town.
In 1851 Laviolette settled in Saint-Jérôme. He managed the communal mill on the seigneury of Mille-Îles, where his father had become co-seigneur upon Lambert Dumont’s death in 1835. He was able to expand the enterprise, adding a sawmill, a carding-mill, and a woollen-mill.
In 1856, five years after his arrival, Laviolette was chosen mayor of Saint-Jérôme, which had recently been incorporated as a village. In addition to putting in place the necessary municipal services, he turned his attention to developing this area close to the Laurentians. It was his ambition to make it into an important manufacturing centre, indeed, a city. In all his dealings he showed great integrity. After 18 years of loyal service he gave up the office of mayor because, as he wrote in his letter of resignation, “the great majority of voters in the municipality have demanded through a petition that stores be licensed to sell hard liquor.” In all conscience, he could not condone such a policy.
By 1879 the situation had changed. Once again approached by his fellow citizens, Laviolette was returned to power. Two years later he resigned to become warden of St Vincent de Paul Penitentiary in Montreal. On Laviolette’s departure, the municipal council paid tribute to him, praising “his honest administration” and “his devotion to the working class,” and also extolling “that spirit of progress which has so greatly contributed to making Saint-Jérôme a manufacturing and commercial centre of major importance.”
On Saturday 24 April 1886, when a riot broke out in the penitentiary, Laviolette again demonstrated his moral rectitude and his sense of duty. The Monday edition of La Presse reported that the warden, who had been captured by the insurgents, had shouted, “Guards, shoot anyway!” He was wounded in the skirmish and remained handicapped the rest of his life.
Returning to Saint-Jérôme, Laviolette served as manager of the local branch of the Banque Ville-Marie for three years from 1887 and was re-elected mayor in 1888. Ill health prevented him from carrying out his duties and forced his resignation at the end of 1889. He went to live in Montreal, where he died on 26 March 1895. Two days later he was buried in the Côte-des-Neiges cemetery.
Godefroy Laviolette was one of those men of drive and vision who, according to Le Nord of Saint-Jérôme in 1881, “were able to make [this] place what it is and this very attractive region of the north what it promises to be in the future.”
ANQ-M, CE6-11, 2 nov. 1826, 10 sept. 1850. AP, Saint-Eustache (Saint-Eustache), reg. des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures, 2 nov. 1826, 10 sept. 1850; Saint-Jérôme (Saint-Jérôme), reg. des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures, 1851–95. Arch. de la ville de Saint-Jérôme, 1856–81. Montreal Daily Star, 26 March 1895. Le Nord (Saint-Jérôme), 15 sept. 1881. La Presse, 26 avril 1886, 27 mars 1895. “Arpenteurs du Bas et Haut Canada, 1764–1867,” BRH, 39 (1933): 731. É.-J.[-A.] Auclair, Saint-Jérôme de Terrebonne (Saint-Jérôme, 1934). Germaine Cornez, Saint-Jérôme (2v., Saint-Jérôme, 1973–77). Maurault, Le collège de Montréal (Dansereau; 1967), 526. J.-J. Lefebvre, “Le capitaine Jean-Pierre Anthoine-Guermier-Laviolette (1732–1797), De Boucherville et sa famille,” BRH, 69 (1967): 10–11. “St Eustache et ses hommes de distinction d’autrefois,” La Presse, 25 oct. 1904: 11.