Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site of Canada

Who Was Mrs. Cartier?

Black and white picture of Hortense Fabre 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.