Street views: the story behind the name of Rue Sheppard

Photo: Photo by Bill Cox

A beautiful spring morning on Rue Sheppard Street at the corner of Avenue William in Sillery. "

Rue Sheppard runs from the eastern end of Chemin Saint-Louis to Avenue Maguire. It is named for William Sheppard, who was born in 1784 in England and came to Canada with his father in 1792. By 1809 he was a merchant living in Montreal. The same year he married Harriet Campbell in Quebec City. She was the daughter of the King's notary, Archibald Campbell. They settled in Quebec City and he amassed a fortune as a timber merchant. He also took an interest in shipbuilding, and in 1826, launched a brig and another vessel.

In 1816 Sheppard acquired a magnificent villa in Sillery, surround by 100 acres of park and orchards. This estate had been named Samos by Bishop Pierre-Herman Dosquet. It was later renamed Woodfield. Sheppard had a library of 3,000 volumes, a picture gallery and a small museum of natural history in his home.

Sheppard and his wife, who was a friend of the Countess of Dalhousie, were highly regarded in Quebec City's intellectual and social circles. In 1824 he took part in the organization of the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, as did the governor general, Lord Dalhousie. Sheppard was its president in 1833-34,1841, 1843 and 1847.

On August 22,1837, he was appointed to the Executive Council of Lower Canada and remained a member until 1841 but showed little enthusiasm for the great game of politics. In 1847 Sheppard, who had invested the bulk of his fortune in the timber trade, experienced a serious financial setback. He had to get rid of Woodfield (part of which is now St. Patrick's Cemetery), which he had rebuilt after a fire in 1842. He then retired to his residence of Fairymead at Drummondville.

Each year, however, he returned to Sillery to collect rents from the villagers of Sheppardville, a town he founded around 1850 on the northern sector of Woodfield. Later it naturally came to be called Bergerville by the Francophone inhabitants, and is now Sillery. Each of the roadways in the village were named for a member of the Sheppard family: Charles, Charlotte, Harriet, Laight, Maxfield (Avenue du Chanoine-Morel), Sarah and William. Rue Sheppard was opened much later, in 1910.

Stricken by apoplexy while on his way to the Anglican synod in Quebec City, William Sheppard died on the Trois-Rivières dock around midnight on the auspicious date of July 1, 1867. He left a large number of descendants.

Most of this information is taken from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

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