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Joseph Montferrand

Joseph Montferrand

Joseph "Jos" Montferrand (born Joseph Favre; October 25, 1802 – October 4, 1864) was a French-Canadian logger, strong man and hero of the working man, who was the inspiration for the legendary Ottawa Valley figure Big Joe Mufferaw.[1]

Joseph Montferrand, dit Favre was born in the St. Lawrence district of Montreal in 1802. The family men were known for their strength and powerful build. Joe was 6 foot 4 inches (1.94 m) tall with blue eyes and fair hair. Although he was mild in manner and appearance, he could more than hold his own in a street fight. He successfully challenged several famed boxers during his youth. He came to fame as a result of a challenge issued at a boxing match in the Champ de Mars, Montreal. Two English-speaking boxers had just fought for the championship. The organizers then asked if there was anyone in the crowd who wished to challenge the champion of Canada. The sixteen-year-old Montferrand stepped into the ring and with one punch, felled the (former) champion. News of this surprising event spread quickly.

At the age of 21, he joined the Hudson's Bay Company as a voyageur. In 1827, he began work as a logger on the Rivière du Nord in Lower Canada and then moved to the upper Ottawa River. The loggers felled trees over the winter and then drove the logs down the river, eventually arriving at Quebec City. Montferrand spent the remainder of his working years in the lumber trade in the Outaouais. There was ongoing animosity between Anglophones and Francophones and frequent fights between the English, Irish and French Canadian loggers. Montferrand's prowess with his fists and boots was legendary in avenging the wrongs he and his compatriots were subjected to.

Montferrand defended French-Canadian workers against a gangs of Irish known as "Shiners" in the Bytown area. After 1840, he mainly worked the log drives as foreman and retired in 1857. In his later years, he suffered from pain in his back and joints.

He died in Montreal in 1864.

Books about Jos Montferrand

  • Histoire de Jos. Montferrand, l’athlète canadien, Benjamin Sulte, Montreal: J.B. Camyre (1883) OL15743760W.
  • Jos Montferrand, Jean Côté, Quebecor, 1994.
  • Jos Montferrand : le géant des rivières, Mathieu-Robert Sauvé, XYZ, 2007.
  • Montferrand: v.1 Le prix de l'honneur; v.2. Un géant sur le pont, Paul Ohl, Libre Expression, 2009.
  • Jos, P. J. Poirier, Marchand de feuilles, 2010.

External links

  • Biography at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
  • Ressources franco-ontariennes (French)
  • Joseph Montferrand: histoire et légende (French)


  1. ^ NOTE: His Legendary nickname, Big Joe Mufferaw, was believed to be a result of English speaking men mispronouncing "Montferrand"
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