Gabriel Caron (1808-1895):
One of the first French-canadian settlers in Lennoxville
Around 1953, the City of Sherbrooke opened a street in the Collinsville part of Sherbrooke, to the south of Drummond Road (now Galt Ouest). It was named Caron, after Gabriel Caron, the founder in 1858 of the Société Saintjean-baptiste du Diocèse de Sherbrooke. But before all else, Gabriel Caron was one of Lennoxville’s pioneers.
Gabriel Caron was born in Rivière-duloup, December 18, 1808. In 1831, he was one of the first French-canadians to settle in Lennoxville. He was a well-to-do blacksmith, having the means to buy considerable amounts of land. In 1844, in St. Colomban Parish (now Saintmichel Cathedral), he married Marie Opportune Royer (1826-1912). They had 13 children, all born in Lennoxville: Charles-olivier (1845), George (1846), Gabriel Godfroi (1848), Émilie Emma (1849), Hermine Blanche (1850), Jean John Ludger (1853), Joséphine Antoinette (1855), Jean-philippe (1857), Albert Édouard (1860), Philippe Alfred (1862), Georgiana (1863) as well as twins Eugénie and Eugène Prosper (1865).
From 1845 to 1861, Gabriel Caron owned the land where the following year John Barney Paddon would begin to develop the Uplands estate. Starting in 1851, on the east side of the St. Francis River, he lived on a farm that he had bought from Elim Warner. There he planted an avenue of willows – hence Willowdale, the name of his home and farm. This is also the name of the present street running on that site. Caron’s home is still standing there, at 220 St. Gabriel Caron.
Francis Street. He also cleared five acres on land on île Marie, where ploughing matches were held. The island is now a camping ground. Gabriel Caron likely farmed his 700 acres until they were bought in 1881 by Herbert Ernest Bieber (1845-1920). An involved citizen, Gabriel was a justice of the peace, a member of the Ascot School Commission, one of Ascot Township’s overseers of roads in 1844-1845 and an Ascot town councillor from 1858 to 1861 and in 1870. Finally, in 1871 he was elected a councillor of the new town of Lennoxville. In 1879, Gabriel Caron was president of an agricultural association set up in Sherbrooke for the farmers of Ascot and Orford townships. He died February 11, 1895 and is buried with his wife in Saintmichel Cemetery.
Mimi-shea Street is named for one of his great-grand-daughters, by his son Jean Ludger: Eugénie Mimi Shea (19121985). She was a prominent Townships musician and played a great part in the artistic life of Sherbrooke.
Willowdale, the former residence of Gabriel Caron at the beginning of the 1880’s.