Joseph Charles-Émile Trudeau
July 5, 1887
|Died||April 10, 1935 (aged 47)|
|Children||4, including Pierre Trudeau|
Joseph Charles-Émile "Charley" Trudeau (July 5, 1887 – April 10, 1935) was a French Canadian attorney and businessman. His son was Pierre Trudeau, 15th Prime Minister of Canada, and his grandson is Justin Trudeau, 23rd and current Prime Minister of Canada.
Charles-Émile Trudeau was born on his family's farm in Saint-Michel-de-Napierville, Quebec, the son of Joseph Trudeau (1848–1919), 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 would have four children, their first child dying at birth. 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. He sold his business to Champlain Oil Products Limited for $1 million, while remaining with Champlain as general manager for that subsidiary. 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. 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.
Politically, Trudeau was a strong supporter of the Conservative Party, opposed to Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, a long-serving Liberal. Pierre Trudeau would recall that "political arguments never lacked liveliness" between Charles and his friends.
He died of pneumonia in 1935 in Orlando, Florida, while on the road with the Royals, and was laid to rest at his family vault in St-Rémi-de-Napierville Cemetery. 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." Pierre Trudeau named his third son, Michel Charles Émile Trudeau, after him.
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.