The Grignon Family of St-Adèle

Wilfrid Grignon (1854-1915)

Dr Wilfrid Grignon

He was known as the “grinning ruddy-faced giant”. Given his ardent love for the Laurentians, Joseph Beaubien, Minister of Agriculture at the time, said of him in 1894: “That man has been bitten by Curé Labelle.” Doctor Wilfrid Grignon was Sainte-Adèle’s jack-of-all-trades: in addition to medicine, he took an avid interest in agriculture, politics, fishing, news and colonization.

Mayor from 1886 to 1892, then again from 1899 to 1902, Wilfrid Grignon worked to improve roads and to build the first sidewalks, aqueducts and sewers. He worked tirelessly to attract investors to the area and convinced Rolland Paper Mill to set up in the municipality.

«Petit livre d'or» of Dr Wilfrid Grignon

In addition to the newspaper articles he published as a correspondent, he placed advertisements in Montreal daily newspapers to promote the natural beauty of Sainte-Adèle. Charmed by what they saw, tourists – among them Henri Bourassa – could even rent one of Dr. Grignon’s eight houses or houses of private citizens when they wished to visit the area.

Dr. Grignon also wanted to help his fellow citizens: he published the Petit livre d’or (Little Golden Book), a textbook of veterinary medicine that he wrote to help settlers who didn’t have access to specialists. With his son, Louis, he opened a veterinary pharmacy in Mont-Laurier. He set up an “experimental farm”, contributed to improving horse and cow breeding, gave lectures and introduced farmers to new crops.

He passed away in Sainte-Adèle in 1915 at 61 years of age.

Claude-Henri Grignon (1894-1976)

Born Eugène-Henri, he was the youngest of Wilfrid Grignon and Eugénie Baker’s nine children. His independent nature asserted itself early when, after having dropped his classical studies at Saint-Laurent College, he went against his father’s wishes and abandoned the idea of becoming a doctor and an agronomist. He continued to study classical French literature on his own. His decision was already made: he was going to become a writer.

After spending 14 years in Montreal, he came into his own professionally upon his return to Sainte-Adèle. Ses Pamphlets de Valdombre, a critical political and literary newspaper published from 1936 to 1943, demonstrated his talent for polemics and militant journalism, which was his intent.

Mr Grignon with Father J. Arsène Aubin

It was, however, with the book Un homme et son péché (1933) that Claude-Henri Grignon would put his mark on Quebec’s collective imagination. The novel tells the story of Séraphin Poudrier, a miserly, money-lending farmer who, at the time of Laurentian colonization, profits at the expense of cash-strapped citizens.

The novel takes place during the stock market crash of 1929, when the crisis is at its worst. People from rural communities, just trying to survive, migrate towards Montreal where over a third of the labour force is out of work. In this context of economic domination by external factors, Séraphin becomes an uncompromising and merciless “banker” driven by greed. French-Canadian society responds to this feeling of deprivation by turning away from its traditional values: language, faith, family, country; the same values exemplified by Claude-Henri Gagnon’s characters throughout his career.

Gagnon’s story would go on to be adapted many times, with great success. From 1939 to 1962, for fifteen minutes fives times per week, Quebeckers were glued to their radios to follow the story of Séraphin in a radio series. Upon the arrival of television, the Les belles histoires des Pays-d’en-Haut series was broadcast to great acclaim from 1956 to 1970. It was re-broadcast five more times between 1972 and 1989.

The Cedars

The Cedars of Sainte-Ade%u0300le.

A sled in Sainte-Adèle

Winter in Sainte-Adèle.


Historical and iconographic research, text:
Marc-André Lapointe and Samuel Mathieu
Michèle Dubuc, Sainte-Adèle à travers le temps, 1842-2005. Éditions Sainte-Adèle, 2005.

Serge Laurin, Histoire des Laurentides, Institut québécois de recherche sur la culture, 1989.

Pierre Grignon, préface à Séraphin, Nouvelles histoires des Pays-d’en-Haut, Québec Amérique, 2013.

Antoine Sirois and Yvette Francoli, preface to Un homme et son péché, Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1986.

Serge Laurin, Histoire des Laurentides, Institut québécois de recherche sur la culture, 1989.

Langevin-Lacroix, E. (1927). Histoire de la Paroisse de Sainte-Adèle.
Enregistré conformément à l’acte du Parlement du Canada au bureau du Ministre de l’Agriculture, en 1903

Société d’histoire de la Rivière-du-Nord, Fonds Claude-Henri Grignon. Claire Grignon, collection de la Société d’histoire et de généalogie des Pays-d’en-Haut, 46-01-50

Collection de la Société d’histoire et de généalogie des Pays-d’en-Haut, 46-01-73c

Collection de la Société d’histoire de Sainte-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson et d’Estérel

Extract of
Great Developers of Pays-d'en-Haut

Great Developers of Pays-d'en-Haut image circuit

Presented by : MRC des Pays-d'en-Haut

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