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Alfred’s arrival in Rivière-Bleue

Damase Lévesque was a merchant from Frenchville, Maine who had come to Quebec to settle with his sons in 1915. An expert trader, he seized all the business opportunities that the new and growing community of Rivière-Bleue had to offer. He built a house there for his son Arthur, who unfortunately drowned in an accident at Beau Lake on July 17, 1916. The house was therefore passed on to Alfred, who had just married. They ran several businesses there that acted as a camouflage for the liquor trade, including a restaurant and a soft drinks bottling company.

A group of hunters in front of a large house

Alfred Lévesque’s residence and store located at 80 Saint-Joseph Street North. Source: Corporation du Patrimoine de Rivière-Bleue.

The house still bears traces of the illicit activities of its owners in the 1920s and 1930s, since it was  converted to meet their needs. Indeed, the house contains trap doors on the main floor that allowed  bottles of alcohol to be passed between the various rooms of the house.

Popular history also tells of a tunnel that once connected Alfred’s house to the train station located just across the street, so that alcohol travelling by train could be moved unseen to and from the house. This story, still told today, is fuelled by the presence of a concrete access to the basement. However, it seems that it is more legend than reality. The property did indeed have various hiding places, including a secret space inside the restaurant’s large cold room which was only accessible from the inside, and which was used to hide alcohol in the time of Émile Lévesque. False artesian wells concealed all over the territory were also used to hide large quantities of alcohol.