Our First Mayor

Joseph-Léonide Perron was Beaconsfield’s first Mayor from 1910 to 1916. Born on September 24, 1872 in Saint-Marc, Quebec, he became one of the most respected lawyers in Montreal after graduating from the University of Laval in 1892 and his appointment as a King’s Counsel in 1903.

Perron’s political life was rich and varied. He worked in the Taschereau government of Quebec and became Minister for Roads in 1921. He immediately undertook major new road projects which he saw not only as helpful to travel but also as an attraction to tourists.

Meanwhile in Beaconsfield, he bought land and built a summer residence in 1906 where Centennial Hall and Memorial Park stand today. Adjacent to his home he had a model farm and raised prize cattle and horses while also cultivating a vineyard. In 1928 the old Lakeshore Road, which passed in front of his property, was relocated to Beaconsfield Boulevard. This move, while popular with other waterfront residents was not so agreeable to some in the Beaconsfield Citizens’ Association. Nonetheless, Perron’s political career continued.

After having improved the election results for the Liberal Party in 1927,  he was appointed Minister of Agriculture in early 1929 and immediately encouraged the use of new methods of production and marketing, agricultural cooperatives, electrification of the countryside and the export of produce. His efforts were welcomed by the supporters of modernization as Perron aimed to elevate the level of subsistence farming in Quebec to that of an industry.

In 1930 it looked as though Perron was on the verge of making a move for the leadership of the liberal party when he suddenly took a holiday in the United States. Unbeknownst to his family, he suffered chest pains and was advised by his doctors that his prognosis was not good. When he returned from his holiday, he continued to work, but on the November 20, 1930 he died of a heart attack at the age of 58 years of age.

Strangely, rumors surfaced that he had died of gunshot wounds which were reported by various sources. This is not; however, the truth.

For a more complete biography please see: Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online

Sources
¹ Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
² Beaconsfield et Beaurepaire, R. Baird et G. Hall

Researched and written by Judith Clark