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Economic Development

Black & white photograph of a group of nine people standing on the shore of a rushing river. At left, a man is perched partway up a tree trunk. Curé Labelle, a heavy-set man, is seen wearing a cassock and a wide-brimmed felt hat. At centre and right are six men and a teenaged boy wearing three-piece suits and top hats, caps or felt hats. Two of them are smoking pipes.

Curé Labelle and several Saint-Jérôme residents at Saunderson Falls

For a far-sighted visionary, Curé Labelle was firmly rooted in reality. He knew full well that agriculture alone could not ensure that a region’s development would be sustainable. Commerce, industry and education were also essential to the growth and stability of new parishes.

He therefore got involved in the advancement of all areas of activity that would help ensure a future for the people who would settle in the developing regions. He wanted to make sure that young people who didn’t have any land would be able to find regular jobs. The townships would need healthy industries and businesses—economic activity that would provide jobs for store clerks, carters, sawmill labourers, etc. Education was another of his priorities. At his request, the Clercs de Sainte-Croix moved to Saint-Jérôme and set up a business college for boys in the parish.

Image of an oblique map depicting a small town seen from the air in 1881. The black & white map is hand-drawn. A number of streets are seen on either side of a river, along with a church, several houses, industrial buildings, and three bridges. A legend beneath the map lists 17 points of interest.

Bird’s-eye view of the Town of Saint-Jérôme in 1881


He also glimpsed the tourism potential of the Laurentians: “The North will be the province’s paradise. People will come from all over to admire the wonders of nature.” Today, the tourism industry has indeed become one of the driving forces of the Laurentian economy.

Transcription of the video: Economic Development