After modest beginnings, P. T. Legaré became a veritable commercial empire in Quebec in the early 20th century. The company made itself known in rural areas by selling ultra modern agricultural equipment.

In the 20th century, as the communication of techniques and knowledge improved, so did the quality and effectiveness of agricultural equipment. Books played a major role in the transmission of knowledge in this field, but so did catalogues and that is too often forgotten. Although the documentary sources are few, it is possible to affirm that P. T. Legaré Limitée was an agent of agricultural modernization.

In the 1900s, the company played a key role in the development of agricultural equipment, which it manufactured and sold. Its catalogue featured a wide range of products and made new techniques known throughout rural Quebec.

The Businessman

Pierre-Théophile Legaré was born in Charlesbourg in 1851. In the late 1860s, he and his father (who was a farmer) opened a small factory in their hometown to manufacture ploughing implements. When Pierre-Théophile Legaré started his own business in 1879 he wa Read More
After modest beginnings, P. T. Legaré became a veritable commercial empire in Quebec in the early 20th century. The company made itself known in rural areas by selling ultra modern agricultural equipment.

In the 20th century, as the communication of techniques and knowledge improved, so did the quality and effectiveness of agricultural equipment. Books played a major role in the transmission of knowledge in this field, but so did catalogues and that is too often forgotten. Although the documentary sources are few, it is possible to affirm that P. T. Legaré Limitée was an agent of agricultural modernization.

In the 1900s, the company played a key role in the development of agricultural equipment, which it manufactured and sold. Its catalogue featured a wide range of products and made new techniques known throughout rural Quebec.

The Businessman

Pierre-Théophile Legaré was born in Charlesbourg in 1851. In the late 1860s, he and his father (who was a farmer) opened a small factory in their hometown to manufacture ploughing implements. When Pierre-Théophile Legaré started his own business in 1879 he was far from being a novice. He became a representative of Cossitt Brothers of Brockville, Ontario, a company that specialized in the same field. Then, in 1890, he began an association with Robert Johnston Latimer, a Montreal manufacturer. From this union was born Latimer & Legaré. Legaré wanted to be the sole director of the company and ended the association with Latimer in 1896. The company was renamed P. T. Legaré and, in 1921, it was changed to P. T. Legaré Limitée. It is estimated that at the time it was worth $25 000 to $30 000. Legaré branched out and teamed up with brothers Joseph-Hermann and Pierre-Wilfrid Fortier, with whom he was already working. In 1903, the Fortier brothers became full partners in the company.

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Black and white photo and caption from P.T. Legaré Limitée Catalogue No. 44

Pierre-Théophile Legaré (1851-1926), founder of P. T. Legaré Limitée, 1920. This photograph appeared in P. T. Legaré Limitée Catalogue No. 44, 1920, p. 2.

Library and Archives Canada

© Library and Archives Canada.


Black and white catalogue page of photos of three P.T. Legaré Buildings

This page of P. T. Legaré Limitée Catalogue No. 44, 1920, features the company's head office in Québec and its stores in Sherbrooke and Montréal. It also provides interesting statistics on Legaré's commercial empire.

Library and Archives Canada

© Library and Archives Canada.


After this partnership was concluded, the company began expanding throughout Quebec. According to its catalogue, in 1912 it had 11 branches in Quebec in Rimouski, Montmagny, Sherbrooke, Victoriaville, Saint-Hyacinthe, Chicoutimi, Lac-Mégantic, Beauceville, Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, Saint-Évariste, and Courcelles. In 1910, P. T. Legaré became P. T. Legaré Limited, and Pierre-Théophile Legaré was its president. The following year, he founded the Legaré Automobile and Supply Company Limited. Then, in 1916, P. T. Legaré Limited bought the Percival Plow & Stove Company Limited located in Merrickville, near Ottawa. With this acquisition, the company established itself in Ontario.
After this partnership was concluded, the company began expanding throughout Quebec. According to its catalogue, in 1912 it had 11 branches in Quebec in Rimouski, Montmagny, Sherbrooke, Victoriaville, Saint-Hyacinthe, Chicoutimi, Lac-Mégantic, Beauceville, Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, Saint-Évariste, and Courcelles. In 1910, P. T. Legaré became P. T. Legaré Limited, and Pierre-Théophile Legaré was its president. The following year, he founded the Legaré Automobile and Supply Company Limited. Then, in 1916, P. T. Legaré Limited bought the Percival Plow & Stove Company Limited located in Merrickville, near Ottawa. With this acquisition, the company established itself in Ontario.

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Black and white catalogue page of the Percival Factory

The Percival factory in Merrickville, 1920. The factory was purchased from the Percival Plow & Stove Co. in 1916. The company was founded in 1851. P. T. Legaré Limitée Catalogue No. 44, 1920, p. 12.

Library and Archives Canada

© Library and Archives Canada.


Given the company's success, it was important to offer good customer service. Since the post seemed to be an excellent way to reach potential customers, the company placed ads in francophone newspapers stating that it was seeking representatives for the areas where it did not have sales offices. Flyers and catalogues were available and could be obtained by writing to the company.

The publication of a catalogue was a very effective means of reaching a vast audience. On March 13, 1925, The Financial Post, a Toronto newspaper, referred to the company's catalogue as French Canada's "bible." It was published in English and French. The 1912 catalogue had a black-and-white photograph or drawing of each product, as well as a description. Over half the catalogue was devoted to agricultural machinery and everything needed to run a farm: fencing, fertilizer, harnesses, shovels, carts, buggies, etc. Other items were also offered - sewing machines, safes, winter coats - but the choice was limited. The catalogue also contained about a dozen pages with images of various models of wood stoves.

Over the years, the look of the catalogue changed. The 1920 edition was Read More
Given the company's success, it was important to offer good customer service. Since the post seemed to be an excellent way to reach potential customers, the company placed ads in francophone newspapers stating that it was seeking representatives for the areas where it did not have sales offices. Flyers and catalogues were available and could be obtained by writing to the company.

The publication of a catalogue was a very effective means of reaching a vast audience. On March 13, 1925, The Financial Post, a Toronto newspaper, referred to the company's catalogue as French Canada's "bible." It was published in English and French. The 1912 catalogue had a black-and-white photograph or drawing of each product, as well as a description. Over half the catalogue was devoted to agricultural machinery and everything needed to run a farm: fencing, fertilizer, harnesses, shovels, carts, buggies, etc. Other items were also offered - sewing machines, safes, winter coats - but the choice was limited. The catalogue also contained about a dozen pages with images of various models of wood stoves.

Over the years, the look of the catalogue changed. The 1920 edition was livelier because of the use of colour and it placed more emphasis on the usefulness, and even the necessity, of the products described. It included slogans such as "Essayez la charrue 'Legaré no 5' si vous êtes difficile" (If you are hard to please, try the Legaré No. 5 plough) and "Si vous voulez un silo parfait, achetez un 'Legaré'" (If you want a perfect silo, buy a Legaré). Most of the catalogue was devoted to agricultural equipment, but several other items - furniture, washing machines, pianos and organs - were also included. Clearly, the company's main objective was to target the agricultural community.

Legaré became famous throughout Quebec, in Eastern Ontario and northern New Brunswick. The fact that it was present outside Quebec explains why its catalogues were bilingual. The company flourished until the early 1930s. After Pierre-Théophile Legaré passed away in 1926, his associates had to manage the "Legaré empire." His successors had significant financial and legal difficulties that led to the company's demise.

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Black and white ad for Legaré Incubator

The company's display ads tried to persuade people that the P. T. Legaré brand was the winning choice. Ad from Le Saint-Laurent, Rivière-du-Loup, May 24, 1917, p. 8.

Le Saint-Laurent Portage, Rivière-du-Loup, Québec

© Le Saint-Laurent Portage, Rivière-du-Loup, Québec


Colour cover of P. T. Legaré Limitée Catalogue

P. T. Legaré Limitée Catalogue, No. 44, 1920, cover. The company targeted rural areas. This is clearly reflected in its catalogue covers.

Library and Archives Canada

© Library and Archives Canada.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • observe and identify the characteristics of early 20th century lifestyle;
  • compare the evolution of the Canadian and Quebec society over several decades;
  • explain the similarities and differences between past and present society;
  • discuss the main events of the 20th century (economic crisis, World Wars, unionization, feminist movement) and the impact that they had on Canadian and Quebec societies.

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