Tides of Tadoussac.com Marées de Tadoussac
Joseph Radford 1815 - 1885
There is a window dedicated to the memory of Joseph Radford on the east side of the church. Joseph Radford came to Tadoussac in the 1840s, it is believed from England, and lived in Tadoussac with his wife, Isabella White, and daughter for most of his life, the only anglophone full-time residents of the town at that time.
Joseph Radford was a prominent citizen in the early days of the town of Tadoussac and had many different jobs. He originally came to work in the Price Sawmill in Anse à l’Eau, but in 1848 William Price closed the mill, and Radford became the manager, in a caretaker role, to occasionally operate the mill when enough wood was harvested. In 1874 the old mill was ceded to the Federal Ministry of Marine Fisheries for $1, and Radford directed the renovation of the old building for its new role, as a fish hatchery, which he managed for the next 11 years.
In 1878, surviving documents show that he was paid $400 for “conducting a Fish Breeding establishment,” and the hatchery raised and released up to a million small salmon a year in the area rivers.
Mr. Radford was the last Factor of the Hudson’s Bay Post, which was located in front of the Hotel Tadoussac until it was demolished in about 1870. He was also listed as Tadoussac’s Postmaster, Protection Officer, and Customs Agent, and apparently served as the Swedish and Norwegian Vice Consul. It is uncertain what that job entailed!
When the group of summer residents, Rhodes, Russell, and Urquhart got together to form a company to build the first Tadoussac Hotel in 1864, Joseph Radford was a member of the group. He is also listed as one of the founders of the Tadoussac Protestant Chapel in 1866.
It was in 1863 that he bought the land opposite the Hotel Georges from David Price, and demolished the house that was there, to build a magnificent white house overlooking the old salmon pool and the cove. Early photos of Anse à l’Eau feature two imposing buildings above the wharf and mill, The Hotel Georges and the Radford House.
In 1873 there was excitement in Tadoussac. Lord Dufferin was coming to build a house and become a summer resident. Joseph Radford had been a town councilor and by this time was the Mayor of Tadoussac, although the town had not yet been incorporated so he is not listed as the first mayor officially. However, he and the other prominent people in town at the time wrote a flowery letter of welcome, in which they explained that they could not possibly afford to provide a welcoming reception, being such a small community, but “hope that we may have the pleasure during many future seasons of seeing your Excellencies and your amiable family at our beautiful little seaside village.”
Joseph Radford died in Tadoussac in 1885 at the age of 70, and his family continued to live in the house for many years. His unmarried daughter, Belle, inherited the house and lived there until she was too old to manage it, whereupon she sold it to Lady Price in 1918. Belle went to live in Montreal, but continued to spend her summers in Tadoussac, staying at the Hotel Georges across the street, then known as the Desmeules Boarding House. Ainslie Stephen remembered going with her mother, Dorothy Evans, to visit Belle in the years before her death in 1935.
The Radford house was used to put up overflow guests from Lady Price’s cottage, and as these guests were mainly relatives and friends of her son, young men home from the First World War, it became known as the “bachelor house”. It was destroyed by fire during a strong Northwest storm in the winter of 1932.
Tom & Alan Evans