Simons family big contributors to Quebec City's economy

From the archives of the Chronicle-Telegraph

"La Maison Simons'" story began when Peter Simons, born in 1785 in Scotland, settled in the Quebec City area on a small farm on Lac Duchesnay (now Lac Beauport) to raise his family of five children. In 1840, one of his sons, 17 year-old John, moved to Quebec City. With his luggage filled with selected products from England and Scotland, he opened his first small dry goods store near La Porte St.-Jean. He had a keen sense of business and quickly understood that satisfied customers were his best measure of success.

Quebec City's economy began to falter in the 1860's. England had found new wood supplies, steel-hulled ships had put an end to sail-boat construction and dredging work on the St. Lawrence River and the opening of the Lac Saint-Pierre channel had made it possible for ships to bypass Quebec City's port and go straight to Montreal. The city needed to diversify its economy. Shoemakers breathed new life into Saint-Roch and not only Simons, but various other companies helped to improve the city's economy. Some still exist today - (William Henderson Co. which later became Holt Renfrew - The Brunet Pharmacy (1855) and the J.B. Laliberté fur shop (1867.)

When a fire destroyed his shop in 1870, John Simons moved his business to its current main office at 20 Côte de la Fabrique, the former site of the oldest tavern in Canada.

The years passed and Gordon Simons succeeded his father. The thriving company prospered and became a highly respected fixture in the heart of Old Quebec.

In 1952, Donald Simons entered the scene, ushering "La Maison Simons" into the modern era, transforming it into a department store and a leader on the fashion scene of this city. New markets became available in the suburbs, and Simons opened branches at Place Ste-Foy in 1961 and Les Galeries de la Capital in 1981. People came from near and far to shop at the boutiques, and under the young leadership of the next generation, Peter and Richard Simons the company's concept moved beyond our city's limits. Shops opened in Sherbrook, downtown Montreal, St. Bruno and Laval and, rumor has it that they may even be enticed to spread their wings and offer Torontonians the same quality and service that we in this city have enjoyed for almost 170 years.

While on a trip to France, Peter Simons discovered a forgotten treasure in a flea market. It was "La Fontaine de Tourny .Without the least hesitation, he brought it home to Canada, had it refurbished on the Island of Orleans and last year, the Simons family presented it as a gift to the City of Quebec for its 400th anniversary. This monument dates back to the second half of the 19th century. Produced in the famous Barbezat art foundry, Fontaine de Tourny was designed by sculptor Mathurin Moreau, who won gold for his work at the Paris World Fair in 1855. His ornaments evoke the imaginary world of the sea. .


The Chronicle Telegraph and the English community of Quebec City wish to thank The Simons Family for their many years of service to the community and their many philanthropic endeavors. We also wish to congratulate Mr. Peter Simons for the honorary doctorate he recently received from Laval University.