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The Gravelle-Leduc House
116 Promenade du Portage

Gravelle-Leduc House

Before 1900, Marie-Louise Fiset had purchased this property from Charles Everett Graham, the husband of Florence Wright, who had inherited it from her uncle Ruggles, son of Philemon Wright. She lived in this house and managed from home the furniture store of her husband, Jean P. E. D'Odet D'Orsonnens, notary, businessman and man of letters, who was mayor of Hull in 1889. Marie-Louise Fiset died on April 23, 1902. Her son Louis sold the house three years later to Elvina Fortin, wife of Joseph-Ephrem Gravelle.

On January 17, 1899, in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Church, Elvina Fortin had married her father's partner, Joseph-Ephrem Gravelle. He was born in Hull around 1864, the son of pioneers of the city, Ursule Ouellette and Hercule Gravelle, who represented Hull on the Council of Hull Township from 1868 to 1870. He had a brother, Damase, and a sister, Marie-Desneiges, wife of the lawyer Henry-A. Goyette. From 1908 to 1911, Gravelle served two terms as Alderman of District 2. He was also a lieutenant colonel in the militia. Joseph Gravelle acquired several properties on Hull Island, mostly on Main Street (du Portage) and Wellington Street.

Gravelle and his father-in-law, Joseph-Napoleon Fortin, were associated in several commercial companies under the name Gravelle et Fortin. In 1896, they still owned the Hub Saloon, a smoke shop and billiard hall acquired in the 1880s. Between 1892 and 1900, they bought land and buildings on the island, west of St. James' Church, where they built the Office Hotel. They sold part of the property in 1907 for the construction of a branch of the Bank of Montreal. On July 3, 1900, they paid William Henry Lyons $850 for a 100-acre phosphate mine in the 14th Concession of Hull Township in Wright County. The phosphate was used in their Hull mica plant.

The Gravelles built this eclectic-style house in 1905. There was a garden on the west side of the building, and the back faced onto the government canal. They spent the rest of their lives in this house. Gravelle died at the age of 76 on August 3, 1940 at the Ottawa General Hospital.

Elvina Gravelle had no children of her own, but was like a second mother to those of her sister Délima who lived with her. Délima was married in 1916 to Valmore Leduc, journalist, alderman and mayor of Hull between 1876 and 1889, and the couple also lived in this house. Valmore Leduc, born in Hull to Ursule Gravelle and Charles Leduc on February 5, 1882, studied at the Collège Notre-Dame in Hull and the University of Ottawa. He worked as a salesman in Gédéon Lafond's store and A.-D. Trudel's hardware store. In 1914, he formed a partnership with Albert-J. Kelly and founded the company Kelly et Leduc Limitée. They bought Ferdinand-A. Barette's hardware store and ran that well-known enterprise until it closed in 1995. Leduc became paralyzed; he died on April 14, 1938. His wife and children lived with Elvina. Two others sisters also came to live in Elvina's house: Annonciade, wife of Joseph Hardoin, and Julia, a recognized pianist who was married to Ernest J. Gagnon.

This house was a literary, artistic and political meeting place. The Leducs may have been related to Eugène Leduc, an opera singer who moved to Hull in 1893. Elvina's niece, Yolande, was a ballerina and held her first ballet classes in the smoking room of her home in Hull in 1940. She later founded the École de ballet Leduc (Leduc Ballet School), which she moved back to Hull from Ottawa in 1960. For a long time, Yolande Leduc was the only ballet teacher in the region, and she was responsible for training major artists, including John Stanzel, soloist with the Grands Ballets Canadiens, Roger Rochon, a former dancer with the same troupe, Jean Stoneham, Joanne Leach, Patricia Wilde and many others. Elvina died at the age of 83 on September 9, 1957 at the Ottawa General Hospital.

Claude Leduc sold the house in 1984. His heirs took some mementoes from the family home: the mirror from the smoking room, the lights from the kitchen on the ground floor, and those of the living room and the den on the second floor. The building would no longer serve as a residence. Fortunately, the current owner has preserved the magnificent woodwork and exceptional stained glass. Wedged in a concrete universe, this beautiful turn-of-the-century home has been converted into professional offices.