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  Pierre-Théophile Legaré 
founder of P. T. Legaré Limitée.  

Enlarge image.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.


P. T. Legaré
by Hélène Plourde

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.

The Businessman | The Rise of the Company | Advertising | Acknowledgements | Further Reading

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.

   Ad for Latimer &  Legaré in 
de Québec et Lévis, 1893-1894.   

Display ad for Latimer & Legaré, 1893, published in L'indicateur de Québec et Lévis: Adresses des citoyens de Québec et Lévis par ordre alphabétique et par rues, 1893-1894, Quebec City: Boulanger et Marcotte, 1893.

Enlarge image.
   P. T. Legaré's head office 
in Québec and stores in Sherbrooke and Montreal, 1920.   

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.

Enlarge image.

The Rise of the Company

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.

   Percival factory in Merrickville, 
P. T. Legaré Limitée 1920, p. 12.   

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.

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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.

   Is it Laurier? Ad for a contest 
organized by P. T. Legaré Limitée in 1918.   

Is it Laurier?, a contest organized by P. T. Legaré Limitée in 1918. This type of contest could be found in some francophone newspapers. The object of this one was to find ten of the country's political and industrial figures. The ad appeared in Le Saint-Laurent, a newspaper published in Rivière-du-Loup, on March 21, 1918, p. 7.

Enlarge image.

  P. T. Legaré 

Enlarge image.Legaré incubator, 1917. 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.

  Sulky Percival plough sold by 
P. T. Legaré, 1910.  

Enlarge image.Sulky Percival plough sold by P. T. Legaré, 1910. This humorous ad was published in L'Éclaireur, a Beauceville newspaper, on September 15, 1910, p. 2.


  Seeder and cultivator, 
P. T. Legaré Limited 1912, p. 16.  

Enlarge image.Legaré seeder and cultivator, 1912. The use of English and French in the company's catalogues shows that Legaré tried to woo both the anglophone and francophone markets. P. T. Legaré Limited Catalogue, No. 13, 1912, p. 16.


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.

  P. T. Legaré targets 
areas, 1920.  

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

  P. T. Legaré No. l 5 

Enlarge image.The Legaré no. 5 plough in catalogue No. 44, 1920, p. 19. Legaré brand products were highlighted in the company's catalogues.


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.



The author wishes to thank Mr. Antonio Lechasseur, Library and Archives Canada, for his invaluable assistance in this research.

Further Reading

Giroux, Jean-Luc. "Chronique du jeton: Jeton P. T. Legaré." Bulletin de liaison (Société numismatique de Québec), May-June 1998, pp. 69-70.

Lechasseur, Antonio. "Pierre-Théophile Legaré." This article will appear in an upcoming volume of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

"Legaré Firm to Reorganize, Charges Laid." The Financial Post, July 25, 1936, p. 11.

Lessard, Michel. "L'empire P. T. Legaré Limitée." Cap-aux-Diamants 40 (Winter 1995), pp. 34-37.

Library and Archives Canada, RG-95, Corporations Branch, series 1, vol. 1612, various documents on P. T. Legaré Limitée.

P. T. Legaré Limited Catalogue, No. 13, 1912, 204 pp.

P. T. Legaré Limitée Catalogue, No. 44, 1920, 422 pp.



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