J.B. Laliberté is a clothing store for men and women best known for its fur department. Located on St. Joseph Street East in Quebec City, the business is one of the few remaining stores from the St. Roch district’s commercial heyday, an era when stores like Pollack, Paquet and Syndicat made it the city’s prime shopping destination.
Founded in 1867 by Jean-Baptiste Laliberté, the store initially specialized exclusively in the production and sale of fur coats and items.
It then diversified to include the wholesale and retail sale of clothing and hats for men and women. Upon its founder’s death in 1926, the store was taken over by his son John Laliberté. In 1943, it was sold to a group of shareholders who turned it into a department store that sold furniture.
However, this new focus did not prove successful and J.B. Laliberté nearly went bankrupt. The store was subsequently sold at a discount to businessman François Morisset, who enjoyed 20 years of prosperity. A difficult period began in the 1970s, when suburban shopping malls became more popular. Affluent customers abandoned the downtown area to go shopping on Laurier Boulevard in Sainte-Foy.
In 1972, François Morisset’s son Jacques took over the reins of the company. J.B. Laliberté significantly reduced its operations in 1995, cutting back from four floors of merchandise to only one, and from 150 to 35 employees. In 1999, these vacant spaces were transformed into commercial and residential lofts, adding rental income to the company’s coffers.
To celebrate the store’s 150th anniversary in 2017, historian Jean-Marie Lebel published a book about its history entitled Laliberté se raconte. As of 2018, Jacques Morisset was still president of J.B. Laliberté. At the age of 94, he continued to go to the store every day. His children, Lucie, Suzon, Louise and Jean-François, are co-owners of the company. Still at the same location as when it was founded, J.B. Laliberté continues to specialize in the creation, restyling, sale and storage of fur, in addition to selling ready-to-wear collections.
Hat, J. B. Laliberté, about 1900. Gift of Mr. Châteauguay Perrault and Valérie Migneault Perrault, M999.54.52 © McCord Museum
Hat (detail), J. B. Laliberté, about 1900. Gift of Mr. Châteauguay Perrault and Valérie Migneault Perrault, M999.54.52 © McCord Museum
LaFerrière, Michèle. « 150 ans de Laliberté : histoire de résilience, de passion et de fidélité » Le Soleil, Groupe Capitales Médias, 10 June 2017, https://www.lesoleil.com/maison/150-ans-de-laliberte-histoire-deresilience-depassion-etdefidelite-fa21b48bcc97eb3c2aa43238c5e7aa30. 2018.
Registraire des entreprises Québec, Gouvernement du Québec, https://www.registreentreprises.gouv.qc.ca/RQAnonymeGR/GR/GR03/GR03A2_19A_PIU_RechEnt_PC/PageEtatRens.aspx?T1.JetonStatic=384c6979-0542-4cb3-8a5a-2ed551fee5a0&T1.CodeService=S00436. 2018.
Thivierge, Sylvie. «Commerce et architecture», Continuité, no 42, Winter 1989, p. 27.
Trépanier, Paul et Céline MÉRETTE. «Le grand magasinage. Une tournée des magasins qui ont fait les beaux jours des rues commerçantes», Continuité, no 42, Winter 1989, p. 36.
Madeleine Goubau, Contributor
© McCord Museum 2019