Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site of Canada
Who Was Mrs. Cartier?
Hortense Fabre, wife of George-Étienne Cartier
© Archives photographiques Notman / William
Notman / Musée McCord, Montréal, I-10346, 1864
In 1846, George-Étienne Cartier married Hortense Fabre (1828-1898),
15 years his junior. She belonged to one of the most important families in
the Francophone bourgeoisie in Montreal. Her father, Édouard-Raymond
Fabre, not only owned a bookstore that was the gathering place for the intellectual
elite of the day, he was also a printer, importer and retailer. One of Hortense's
brothers would become an ultramontane bishop; another, Hector, would become
an influential journalist.
Thanks to her upper-middle-class background, Hortense Fabre received
a "good education". She studied with the Ursulines and then received
special instruction in languages, dance and piano.
The relationship between Cartier and his in-laws would be clouded
by political differences. For example, during the elections for the mayor
of Montreal in 1854, Cartier supported Wilfred Nelson who ran against Édouard-Raymond
Fabre, his father-in-law.
From his union with Hortense Fabre, George-Étienne Cartier had three
children, all girls: Joséphine (1847), Hortense (1849) and Reine-Victoria
(1853). The latter died at the age of thirteen months during the cholera epidemic
of 1854, which also carried off Cartier's father-in-law. His two surviving
daughters never married and had no children. Joséphine died in1886
and Hortense in 1941. Sir George therefore has no direct descendants.