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Joseph-Octave Villeneuve (1894-1896)

Joseph-Octave Villeneuve was born 4 March 1836 in Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines. Businessman, he was mayor of Montréal from 1894 to 1896. He died 27 June 1901 in Montréal.

The Villeneuve family moved to Montréal around 1840. Joseph-Octave took the business course given by the Brothers of the Christian Schools and was hired in 1853 as a clerk by the Benjamin Brothers firm. In 1860, he set up his own transportation company, the Mile End Omnibuses. Two years later, he opened a grocery and  butcher store, which he converted in 1867 into a wholesale wine, spirits, and provisions business.

Villeneuve was, from 1866 to 1886, mayor of Saint-Jean-Baptiste, a village that became a city in 1884. That same year, the council of Saint-Jean-Baptiste adopted a resolution for annexation to Montréal; the construction of waterworks and sewer system generated costs exceeding the city’s financial capacity.

When Saint-Jean-Baptiste became a Montréal ward in 1886, Villeneuve was chosen to sit at the Montréal city council. A little later, he was elected at the Legislative Assembly where he represented Hochelaga (1886-1887, 1890-1896). In 1894, he won the mayoralty of Montréal against James McShane. Conservative close to the ultramontane circles, Villeneuve kept his distance from the Liberal triumvirate (Raymond Préfontaine, Cléophas Beausoleil and Henri-Benjamin Rainville) that dominated the Montréal city council. Villeneuve was the first mayor to be elected for two years.

During Villeneuve’s term, Montréal faced important deficits. Various negotiations took place to increase the budget. In 1895, the provincial government imposed a collection of duties on successions and changes of properties. At the same time, an investigation was carried out about the effectiveness of the police department. But nothing came of it.

A few days before the end of his term, 2 January 1896, Villeneuve was named senator. His primary concern would be banking legislation.

See : Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online


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