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Ludger Gravel Fonds (P091)

Certificate presented to Florence Lalime, winner of the first prize in arithmetic (detail), 1926. Gift of Mr. Maurice Gravel, Ludger Gravel Fonds P091, P091/C3.1 © McCord Museum

Ludger Gravel, great patron of excellence

"Miss Florence Lalime, a student at the Académie Prince who won first prize in arithmetic for the year 1926, has been awarded the medal provided by Mr. Ludger Gravel, a merchant from the city of Montreal.

In witness whereof, we have signed.
In S. Hyacinthe, this 21[sic] day of June
Sister Marie H Edouard,

In recognition of her hard work, Florence Lalime, a student at a Saint Hyacinthe girls' school, received both this certificate and a bronze medal with the likenesses of Pope Sylvester II and King Solomon, two key figures in the development of mathematics. Initiated in 1901, this medal of excellence given to Quebec's most outstanding arithmetic students was the creation of Montreal businessman Ludger Gravel, a well-known philanthropist whose interests included education, public health, culture and heritage.

An avid collector and coin expert, Ludger Gravel minted numerous commercial and commemorative medals and tokens that are highly prized by today's collectors. However, the Ludger Gravel Medal is particularly special because it embodies this great philanthropist's commitment to education, a cause that he championed on a number of fronts throughout his life.

P091 Ludger Gravel Fonds. - [1870?, 1889-1986]. - 65 cm of textual records and other material.

Biographical Sketch

Ludger Gravel was born on November 6, 1864, in Île Bizard. Shortly thereafter, his family moved to Montreal, to Mignonne Street (now De Maisonneuve Boulevard) in the neighbourhood known as Saint Louis. He married Laura Roy (1865-1943) in 1891. The couple had fourteen children, six of whom reached adulthood.

In 1881, Ludger Gravel began working on Jacques Cartier Square as a clerk at hardware wholesaler P. P. Mailloux et Barsalou (which became P. P. Mailloux in 1886), a business that he eventually purchased in 1901. Renamed Maison Ludger Gravel, this firm specialized in carriage, hardware and blacksmith supplies quickly expanded, adding a paint and varnish section in 1905. Recognizing the economic potential of the automobile, in 1918 he founded Ludger Gravel & Fils, a subsidiary devoted to automotive accessories that was run by his son, Pierre. The two companies co-existed until 1930, when all the business lines were brought together under the name of Ludger Gravel & Fils Limitée. To meet his needs for print catalogues and various other promotional documents, Ludger Gravel also started a printing company, which operated until about 1930.

In addition to his business pursuits, Ludger Gravel was actively engaged in his community. From 1910 to 1914, he was president of the Society of French-Canadian Artisans, an organization he first joined in 1902. He was also a member of the Montreal Catholic School Board. A special symbol of his passion for education was the Ludger Gravel Medal, awarded annually to outstanding students in arithmetic from 1910 to 1933, the year of his death. Having joined the Antiquarian and Numismatic Society of Montreal in 1895 (he became a governor in 1904), Ludger Gravel helped save the Château Ramezay. He also helped organize the annual convention of the American Numismatic Association in 1909 and the International Eucharistic Congress in 1910, both of which were held in Montreal. In 1914, he was elected to chair the Commission permanente des Affaires municipales, the Commission permanente des Fers et Métaux, and the Montreal Chamber of Commerce.

A great philanthropist, Ludger Gravel was chairman of the board of L'Assistance Publique (a charity he co-founded in 1903) and a director of the Child Welfare Association, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and the Notre-Dame de la Merci Hospital. He was also a renowned collector of items such as coins, medals, weapons, taxidermied animals and books of all kinds. At the time, his collections were among the largest in Quebec and were stored in his personal museum, known as "Villa Antique," in the Laurentian village of Saint-Colomban. The Ludger Gravel Museum did not outlive its creator by many years and, starting in 1935, the collections were sold off.

Ludger Gravel died in Montreal on April 6, 1933.

Scope and Content

The fonds focusses on Ludger Gravel's personal life, his commitment to various social and cultural organizations, and the businesses he founded. The majority of the documents date from the first half of the 20th century.

Several biographical texts, personal documents and press clippings chronicle certain stages of his personal and family life. The series documenting Ludger Gravel's businesses contains the largest number of records. It includes Maison Ludger Gravel and Ludger Gravel & Fils catalogues, various commemorative and advertising documents, and a legal factum and brief recounting his dispute with J. A. Globensky.

Ludger Gravel's involvement with organizations like the Society of French-Canadian Artisans and the Montreal Catholic School Board is recorded in press clippings, an excerpt from an official publication and a death benefit certificate. A certificate, a medal and information booklets provide evidence of the Ludger Gravel Medal and chronicle the history of this award of excellence.

There are also copies of a souvenir booklet from a sugaring-off excursion, printed by Ludger Gravel in 1929. Catalogues, a notarial act (donation) and flyers chronicle how part of his coin collection was donated to the Saint Joseph's Oratory Museum while another part was sold.

File cards, correspondence, and interview recordings and transcriptions document the research conducted by Laurette B. Richer when writing a biography about her grandfather, Ludger Gravel.
Photographs of Ludger Gravel, his family, friends and Villa Antique complete this collection of documents.

Source of title proper: Title based on the creator of the fonds.

Physical description: The fonds also contains 132 photographs (negatives, proofs and B&W and colour slides), 3 objects and 1 audio cassette.

Immediate source of acquisition: The fonds was donated to the McCord Museum by Mr. Maurice Gravel, Ludger Gravel's grandson. Additions were made in 1994, 1997, 1998 and 2000.

Arrangement: Following an initial treatment, 13 cm of textual records were removed from the fonds, the majority of which were photocopies or duplicates. Some of these documents are preserved in the Fonds P091 information file.

Language: The documents are in French and English.

Associated material:

BAnQ (Old Montreal): Fonds Studio O. Allard photographes incorporée (P244); Fonds Albert Ferland (MSS4,S5,SS2,D10); and Fonds Ministère de la Culture et des Communications (E6,S8,SS1,SSS568,D2376)
LAC: National Medal Collection (R11552-0-2-E)

The fonds is divided into the following series, subseries, and files:

  • P091/A Personal Life
      • P091/A,1 Biographical documents
      • P091/A,2 Notebook
      • P091/A,3 Correspondence
      • P091/A,4 Estate documents
      • P091/A,5 Other personal and family documents

  • P091/B Business Activities
    • P091/B1 Communications
      • P091/B1,1 Catalogues
        • P091/B1,1.1 Catalogue No. 150. Ludger Gravel/Ludger Gravel & Fils. - [1925?]. - 1 textual record ; 26 x 18.5 cm.
          Digitized document: Part 1 - Part 2

          Scope and Content:
          This annotated catalogue from about 1925 presents the items sold by Ludger Gravel's two main businesses: one specialized in carriage, hardware and blacksmith supplies, the other in automotive supplies and accessories. In addition to illustrating the number and variety of the wares sold by this Montreal merchant, this catalogue records a period of transition, when animal-drawn transportation was gradually being replaced by motorized transportation. As such, it is a reference on the history of transportation.

          Source of title proper: Based on the title of the document.

          Language: The document is in French and English.

      • P091/B1,2 Advertisements
      • P091/B1,3 Flyers
      • P091/B1,4 Promotional case and envelopes
      • P091/B1,5 Le Signal [publication]
    • P091/B2 Globensky Affair
    • P091/B3 Commemorations

  • P091/C Cultural, Philanthropic and Social Activities
    • P091/C1 Society of French-Canadian Artisans
    • P091/C2 Montreal Catholic School Board
    • P091/C3 Ludger Gravel Medal. - [1926-1927]. - 0.5 cm of textual records. - 1 object.
      Digitized documents

      Scope and Content:
      This subseries illustrates Ludger Gravel's commitment to the education of Quebec youth, through his sponsorship of a medal given to outstanding arithmetic students. It contains a certificate awarded to a young winner in 1926 and a case containing a bronze medal. There are also two copies of a booklet that recounts the history of this award of excellence begun in 1901 and a short biography of Ludger Gravel.

      Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the subseries.

      Language: The documents are in French.

    • P091/C4 Collections of Ludger Gravel
    • P091/C5 Sugaring-off excursion
    • P091/C6 Other

  • P091/D Book by Laurette B. Richer
      • P091/D,1 Interview recordings and transcriptions
      • P091/D,2 List of print sources
      • P091/D,3 Correspondence
      • P091/D,4 Other

  • P091/E Photographs


Last update: August 30, 2017