William Price was a timber merchant born in England in 1789.
His family could not afford to send him to school, so at the age of 14 he entered the employment of a major London merchant. Six years later, Price arrived in Québec City. He was responsible for exploring the forests to find tall trees that could be used to build boats.
By 1820, William Price was very familiar with the timber trade and had decided to start his own company specializing in the export of timber to England. This timber was used mainly to build ships for the British Navy.
He started out buying trees from contractors, especially pine and oak trees that each spring were floated down the rivers of Upper Canada and of the seigneuries located upstream of Québec City. He would then export this wood to England. He often gave money in advance to these contractors to help them “go to shanty” and bring the wood to Québec City. This gave him control over the timber trade.
Price was already a successful entrepreneur when he settled in the Saguenay region. At that time, the Saguenay was a vast, unexploited territory where there were few people, but many forests. Colonists were quick to move there and work for Mr. Price. He contributed greatly to the development of this region.
William Price died in 1867. A man of his time, he worked hard and mocked those who conducted business from the comfort of their office. He, on the other hand, preferred to be in the forest. One could say that through his work, he helped develop the colony‘s forest industry.
See also – Traces of the past: