Charles-Émile Trudeau

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Charles-Émile Trudeau
Joseph Charles-Émile Trudeau

(1887-07-05)July 5, 1887
DiedApril 10, 1935(1935-04-10) (aged 47)
Occupation(s)Entrepreneur, lawyer
SpouseGrace Elliott
Children4, including Pierre Trudeau
RelativesTrudeau family

Joseph Charles-Émile "Charley" Trudeau (July 5, 1887 – April 10, 1935) was a French Canadian attorney and businessman. He was the father of Pierre Trudeau, the 15th Prime Minister of Canada, and the paternal grandfather of Justin Trudeau, the 23rd and current Prime Minister of Canada.

Life and career[edit]

Charles-Émile Trudeau was born on his family's farm in Saint-Michel-de-Napierville, Quebec, the son of Joseph-Louis Trudeau (1848–1919),[1] a semi-literate farmer, and Malvina Cardinal (1849–1931), whose own father was Solime Cardinal (1815–1897), mayor of Saint-Constant, Quebec. Malvina insisted that her sons be given a strong education; her husband agreed to send them to College Sainte-Marie. Trudeau later studied law at the Laval University's campus in Montreal, which in 1919 became the University of Montreal. After a ten-year courtship, he married Grace Elliott (1890–1973), the daughter of a prominent Scots-Quebecer entrepreneur, Philip Armstrong Elliott (1859–1936), and his wife Sarah Sauvé (1857–1899), on May 11, 1915, in Montreal at the original Saint-Louis-de-France Roman Catholic Church on Roy Street at Laval Avenue, which was later destroyed by fire in 1933. They had four children, their first child dying at birth.[2] Charles-Émile Trudeau was considered gregarious, boisterous, and extravagant.

Trudeau, a lawyer by training, practised for 10 years with Ernest Bertrand, at that time the senior Crown prosecutor, as well as with Charles E. Guérin. Trudeau accumulated a fortune by building gas stations around the Montreal area and a loyalty program known as the Automobile Owners' Association, which by 1932 had 15,000 members patronizing Trudeau's 30 stations.[3] He sold his business to Champlain Oil Products Limited for $1 million, while remaining with Champlain as general manager for that subsidiary.[4] Among his other investments, Trudeau had interests in mining companies. He was a noted baseball enthusiast: he was the largest shareholder and member of the board of directors of the Montreal Royals baseball team, and the team's vice-president at the time of his death.[2][5] He was also vice president of Montreal's Belmont Park and a prominent philanthropist, including as a benefactor of the Hôpital Sainte-Jeanne d'Arc, for which he also served as director at the time of his death.[4][6][7]

Politically, Trudeau was a strong supporter of the Conservative Party, as opposed to Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, the longtime leader of the Liberal Party.[8] Pierre Trudeau recalled that "political arguments never lacked liveliness" between Charles and his friends.[9]

Death and legacy[edit]

Building constructed of grey granite blocks, adorned with a cross above a metal door, and what plaques with names inscribed
Trudeau family crypt

He died of pneumonia in 1935 in Orlando, Florida, while on the road with the Royals baseball team, and was laid to rest at his family vault in St-Rémi-de-Napierville Cemetery.[10] Due to Trudeau's business, Pierre Trudeau himself inherited wealth. Trudeau served as an inspiration to the future prime minister. As Jim Coutts, Pierre Trudeau's aide, recalled, Trudeau "talked, at times, of his father, whom he greatly admired, but who was too busy to understand his son's interests or spend much time with him."[11] Pierre Trudeau named his third son, Michel Charles Émile Trudeau, after him.[12]


  1. ^ Memoirs, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1993
  2. ^ a b "Mort de M. J.-C.-E. Trudeau". Le Devoir (in French). 11 April 1935. p. 1. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  3. ^ Ricci, Nino (March 31, 2009). Extraordinary Canadians Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Penguin Canada. ISBN 9780143175230.
  4. ^ a b "J.C.E. Trudeau dies in Florida: French Canada Loses Prominent Businessman". Montreal Gazette. 11 April 1935. pp. 1, 10. Archived from the original on 20 May 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  5. ^ David Luchuk (2007). Blue Jays 1, Expos 0: The Urban Rivalry That Killed Major League Baseball in Montreal. McFarland Publishing. ISBN 9780786453856.
  6. ^ The General Star Archived 2006-09-22 at the Wayback Machine at
  7. ^ "Le baseball perd un apôtre en M. Trudeau". La Patrie. 11 April 1935. p. 14. Archived from the original on 28 April 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  8. ^ Trudeau, Pierre Elliott. Memoirs, McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1993, p. 184.
  9. ^ Trudeau, p. 10.
  10. ^ Jim Coyle (2015-10-18). "Justin Trudeau's childhood marked by privilege and upheaval". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2017-07-21. Retrieved 2017-08-25. But as the 20th century arrived, Joseph Trudeau and his wife, Malvina, encouraged their son Charles to aspire to something else, to get an education. Charles did that, and more, and in the doing he would alter the course of Canadian history.
  11. ^ Jim Coutts, "Trudeau in Power: A View from Inside the Prime Minister's Office," in Trudeau's Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, eds. Andrew Cohen and J. L. Granatstein, Vintage Canada, 1999, page 146.
  12. ^ "Trudeau Names Son Michel". The Ottawa Citizen. UPI. 1975-10-16. Archived from the original on 2015-11-17. Retrieved 2015-10-29.