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Raymond Préfontaine

Raymond Préfontaine
25th Mayor of Montreal
In office
Preceded byRichard Wilson-Smith
Succeeded byJames Cochrane
Personal details
Born16 September 1850
Longueuil, Province of Canada
Died25 December 1905(1905-12-25) (aged 55)
Paris, France

Joseph Raymond Fournier Préfontaine, PC QC (16 September 1850 – 25 December 1905) was a Canadian politician. He was the Mayor of Montreal from 1898 to 1902, and sent Captain Joseph-Elzéar Bernier to explore the Arctic.


Born in Longueuil, Quebec, he studied at the law faculty of McGill College, articled with Antoine-Aimé Dorion and Christophe-Alphonse Geoffrion, and was called to the bar in 1873. He was named a Queen's Counsel in 1899.

In 1875, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Quebec for the riding of Chambly. A Liberal, he was defeated in 1878. He was re-elected in an 1879 by-election, but was defeated again in 1881.

He was acclaimed to the House of Commons of Canada for the riding of Chambly in an 1886 by-election. A Liberal, he was re-elected in every election in one or another riding until dying in office in 1905. From 1902 to 1905, he was the Minister of Marine and Fisheries. When Joseph-Israel Tarte resigned from the Cabinet as Minister of Public Works in October 1902, Wilfrid Laurier, under pressure from Montréalers, gave Préfontaine the portfolio of Marine and Fisheries and, for the same reason, transferred to it from public works as "the major services relating to navigation."

The new minister, while maintaining his predecessor's policy, tackled his duties with dynamic energy. He approved experiments in winter navigation and a program for installing illuminated buoys in the channel of the St Lawrence. He appointed a commissioner to preside over all inquiries into marine disasters, in place of the harbour commissioners. He also investigated the possibility of creating an independent Canadian Navy. He sent Captain Joseph-Elzéar Bernier to explore the Arctic in order to strengthen Canada's rights in this region.

In 1905, he went to Great Britain and France, one of his goals being to promote a sea link between Marseilles and Montréal. He was in Paris when he was struck down by angina pectoris on 25 December. The French government held his funeral in the Église de La Madeleine in central Paris. A British battleship brought his remains back to Halifax for subsequent burial in Montréal.

From 1879 to 1883, he was the mayor of Hochelaga, after which the city was amalgamated with Montreal. From 1898 to 1902, he was the Mayor of Montreal.

Montréal's Préfontaine metro station, aréna Raymond-Préfontaine, parc Raymond-Préfontaine and rue Préfontaine are all named in his honour.


Electoral record

1900 Canadian federal election: Terrebonne
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Raymond Préfontaine 2,277 53.1 +4.9
Conservative Léon-Adolphe Chauvin 2,010 46.9 -4.9
Total valid votes 4,287 100.0
  • Works by or about Raymond Préfontaine at Internet Archive
  • Brassard, Michèle; Hamelin, Jean (1994). "Préfontaine, Raymond". In Cook, Ramsay; Hamelin, Jean (eds.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. XIII (1901–1910) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  • Raymond Préfontaine – Parliament of Canada biography
  • "Biography". Dictionnaire des parlementaires du Québec de 1792 à nos jours (in French). National Assembly of Quebec.
Legislative Assembly of Quebec Preceded byGédéon Larocque Member of the Legislative Assembly for Chambly 1871–1875 Succeeded byMichel-Dosithée-Stanislas Martel Preceded byMichel-Dosithée-Stanislas Martel Member of the Legislative Assembly for Chambly 1879–1881 Succeeded byMichel-Dosithée-Stanislas Martel Parliament of Canada Preceded byPierre-Basile Benoit Member of Parliament for Chambly 1886–1896 Succeeded byChristophe-Alphonse Geoffrionas MP for Chambly—Verchères Preceded bySéverin Lachapelleas MP for Hochelaga Member of Parliament for Maisonneuve 1896–1905 Succeeded byAlphonse Verville Preceded byLéon Adolphe Chauvin Member of Parliament for Terrebonne 1900–1902 Succeeded bySamuel Desjardins
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Raymond Préfontaine
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