I-19184.1 | Victor Hudon, Montreal, QC, 1865

Victor Hudon, Montreal, QC, 1865
William Notman (1826-1891)
1865, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Albumen process
8.5 x 5.6 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  male (26812) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

In 1874, merchant, banker and industrialist Victor Hudon (1812-1897) opened a cotton mill in Hochelaga called the Compagnie des moulins à coton Victor Hudon. He was, in his day, one of only a few French Canadians to belong to Montreal's bourgeoisie. In the second half of the
19th century, his business grew to become a leader in the textile industry.

This industry generated a significant workforce, made up in part of women and children. Long work days, poor wages and a lack of health and safety measures were the norm in large, textile operations.

In the early days of his company, Hudon was hailed by the media and looked upon as the pride of French Canada. But thanks to the harmful effects of the first cartels, or groups of businesses joined together to control the market and prices, his glory was short-lived.

Despite his company's financial success, Hudon would yield control of his mill in 1882 to more powerful interests. Undeterred, he founded a new company, the filature Sainte-Anne, later the same year. But one more setback would occur when this new business merged with his former one and Hudon was ousted from the board of directors. From there, the Compagnie de filature de coton d'Hochelaga fell into the hands of the cotton industry cartel when it was amalgamated with 14 other Canadian mills into the Dominion Cotton Mills Company (Limited) and the Canadian Colored Cotton Mills.

  • What

    This portrait, in business card format, comes from the Notman Studio of Montréal. It was one of more than 4,800 portraits made in the studio that year.

  • Where

    Born in the Lower Canada village of Rivière-Ouelle, Victor Hudon moved several times. He lived in Quebec City, Montréal and Saint-Césaire before settling back in Montreal in 1842.

  • When

    During the 1860s, Victor Hudon imported and exported a wide range of products, notably sugar and molasses from Cuba and wood from Canada.

  • Who

    When he opened his textile factory in 1874, Victor Hudon expressed the desire to repatriate some of those Canadians who had left the country to work in American mills.