JOSEPH-BALSORA TURGEON,
FIRST FRANCOPHONE MAYOR OF BYTOWN
 
Born at L'Assomption, Quebec, April 22 1816, Joseph-Balsora Turgeon came to Bytown (Ottawa) about 1840 to practice the blacksmith’s trade. Four years later, he was elected town councillor and was involved in a violent confrontation between the Tories and the Reformers, known as Stony Monday (1849). The founding president of the Institut canadien-français, Turgeon was first an alderman and then mayor of Bytown from 1853 to 1854, the first French-speaker to occupy the position. Turgeon promoted a series of reforms and proposed that the name Bytown be replaced by Ottawa. Appointed a school trustee in 1855, he obtained a system of separate schools six years later. A prominent figure in Ottawa’s French-Canadian community, Joseph-Balsora Turgeon epitomizes the strategic interests promoted by the community’s elite in the mid‑19th century. He died in Hull on September 17, 1897.