Gourmet Food Store
Coming in to J.A. Moisan is like stepping back in time.
Shop in a warm atmosphere recalling the good old general store with its charming wood decor, antiques and traditional music. J.A. Moisan is a historical jewel of Quebec City. You will notice that still today the gourmet food store has lost nothing of its old character.
J.A.Moisan is a one of its kind fine gourmet food store and a real Ali baba’s cave. You will find quality products from around the world as well as authentic local products. Our dynamic team will be happy to serve you.
- To be recognized for our unique food concept, in the region, in Quebec, in Canada and abroad.
- To be recognized for the quality of our products as well as the knowledge and know-how offered by our staff.
- To be recognized for the qualityexcellence of our products and our the exceptional customer service.
- To be recognized for our professionalism in developing a partnership that is always mindful of our community.
Gourmet food store J.A. Moisan is an institution in the business and cultural sectors of Quebec City. Its recognition goes beyond the city and the province. It is obvious that its reputation is acquired. However, we want people to know and appreciate the potential of this institution through J.A. Moisan, his life and the premises where he lived with his family in the 19th century.
Consequently, we have renovated and restored the J.A. Moisan family apartments, located above the gourmet food store. Moreover, we have developed the architecture potential of the premises to remind people of J.A. Moisan' accomplishment. A house which he got inspiration from its former owner, captain John Dick, retired chief of the Port of Québec. Everything is in perspective with the activities of the area and of the time. We offer you the possibility to visit the apartment of a French businessman who knew how to succeed despite a time where business was mostly reserved to the English speaking world.
J.A. Moisan was born on December 25, 1848. His parents were Jean Moisan, carpenter of the faubourg, and Marie Anne Gingras. He grew up in the faubourg Saint-Jean in the Haute-Ville de Québec, where he established his store in 1871: gourmet food store J.A. Moisan, and raised his children.
In 1885, J.A. Moisan became owner of the building located at 699, Saint-Jean Street. The clientele of his grocery store was people from all the society classes. We could already find rare products, not available at market Berthelot in the Haute-Ville or at market Finlay in the Basse-Ville. In 1921, Mr Moisan bought the residence next to his store (today the annex at 685, rue Saint-Jean), to expand his store. The expansion project never took place. He rather made the first floor a commercial space and rented it to the Commission des liqueurs du Québec.
He died at 78 years old, leaving into mourning his second wife Ludovine Boudreault and his 7 children from his first marriage with Laetitia Clavet. His funeral was held on Easter Monday at his church in Saint-Jean-Baptiste, in the heart of the faubourg where he ruined his business.
Fifty-six years after the establishment of the store, on Good Friday April 15, 1927, the readers of l’Événement newspaper could read:
"One of the oldest and most appreciated shopkeeper of Québec died yesterday: Mr Jean-Alfred Moisan, founder of the Maison J.-A. Moisan, who had an exemplary grocery store for more than half a century at 341 Saint-Jean Street. Mr Moisan was an active man who worked hard. Despite a disease who had kept him away from his business for several months, he liked to track the developments of his store. Working too hard for his age, these last days, he aggravated his state. Last Sunday, he got rheumatism pain while going to church and he felt weaker. He died at around 6 last night, surrounded by his spouse and children".
J.A Moisan witnessed troubling events, such as the grand fire in 1845 that his parents saw and destroyed almost the whole faubourg Saint-Jean (1200 houses were burnt down and 9000 persons lost their home). Mr Moisan survived some deadly epidemics like the cholera epidemic in 1866 and 1871. Afterward, he faced, but this time as a shopkeeper and a father of a big family, two major fires: the fire in faubourg Saint-Louis (1876) and the deadly one in faubourg Saint-Jean (1881); 1500 families lost their home as 800 houses were in flame. While a part of faubourg Saint-Jean west of Côte Sainte-Geneviève was on fire, including the church Saint-Jean-Baptiste, the gourmet food store J.A. Moisan was spared. Witness of the commercial heritage of the neighbourhood, this store continues to play an important role in the revitalization of the area.
Joseph Elzéar (J.E.), son of Jean-Alfred Moisan, succeeded to his father as legal inheritent. In 1939, he went bankrupt and lost his goods. Acquired by his brother in law Jean-Ernest (known as James) Beaudin, also employee of the store, the grocery was saved. In 1978, after 50 years of continuous work, Beaudin sold to Boris Maltais a transformed store where we could still see the old fitting out and many antiques.
At that time the gourmet food store J.A. Moisan got back its old atmosphere thanks to the new owners who favour a respectful approach of heritage restoration and the highlight of old objects found in the store. After more than a century in operation, the grocery store J.A. Moisan continues to offer a quality of life and an interpretation of the faubourg to its residents. This active presence attracts a faithful clientele to which tourists are more and more numerous. Without Moisan, Saint-Jean Street would not have the atmosphere and color it has today.
GOURMET FOOD STORE J.A. MOISAN
As it was mentioned previously, J.A. Moisan founded its store in 1871 on Saint-Jean Street. A grocery store renowned, whose clients come from all social classes and offering rare products not found at Marché Berthelot or Marché Finlay in the Basse-Ville. J.A. Moisan, the Marché Berthelot and the neighbourhood Saint-Jean-Baptiste where they are located became a reference for the other neighbourhoods of the city. This venerable institution represent a model for the faubourg Saint-Jean-Baptiste, as other unique buildings and institutions like the church Saint-Jean-Baptiste, library St-Mattews, drug store Jacques R. Baron, hardware store Saint-Jean-Baptiste, butcher shop R. Bégin, bookstores, etc. Gourmet food store J.A. Moisan is an essential and irreplaceable landmark for the neighbourhood.
Many testimonies confirm to what extent people in the neighbourhood and from outside love to shop at J.A. Moisan. A place where the warm atmosphere cannot be found in larger stores. L’épicerie J.A. Moisan remain a place where people are always welcomed and served warmly.
It is amazing that Mr Moisan, a francophone architect of food, could find his place within an anglophone business environment: these shopkeepers from different countries he had to deal with to find rare products and imported products from different countries. In applying these qualities and this vision, the mission of the current owners of the grocery store is to preserve the image of this historic and cultural building and to preserve it in the interest of all the residents of the neighbourhood.
At the beginning of the French regime, the area that would become the faubourg Saint-Jean(Quartier Saint-Jean Baptiste) was covered by agricultural lands. Until 1790, the lands of coteau Sainte-Geneviève were owned by some great owners. The Ursulines and Hospitalières of l’Hôtel-Dieu shared the biggest part of the territory.
In 1792, the faubourg Saint-Jean was located between the quadrilateral of the streets Saint-Joachim, Richelieu, Côte Sainte-Geneviève and the limit of glacis. The population was then of 845 people. In 1798, Saint-Olivier street was added and the population increased to 1245 inhabitants.
The faubourg Saint-Jean is located at the entrance of the old city and started at Place d’Youville, along chemin du Roi. This road, now Saint-Jean Street, linked Québec and Montréal as soon as 1734.
Mr Moisan spent his childhood in the faubourg Saint-Jean, north of the Haute-Ville. At that time, rue Artillerie was Artillery Street, the rue St-Michel was St-Michael Street and rue Saint-Jean was St-John Without, or "outside the walls". No doubt Mr Moisan had been dreaming of founding a store on this busy street for a long time.
Between 1815 and 1860, immigrants coming from Europe were estimated to one million. Most of them settled down in Haut-Canada and the USA. During this period, the population of the city went from 15000 to 50000. However, a certain number of immigrants, mostly Irish, took up residence in Quebec City so that in 1861, 40% of residents in Québec spoke English. In the faubourg Saint-Jean-Baptiste, most of the Irish settled down on O’Connell, St-Patrick and Scott Streets.
Passage and gate, Saint-Jean Street is one of the oldest street in the country and has preserved their roles while maintaining over time a commercial life in the community of the faubourg.
Today, Saint-Jean Baptiste remains an excellent place for people of Quebec City and the suburbanites to shop and stroll. The testimonies of tourists, Europeans and Americans, confirm its unique character. Only a visit at the grocery store and the time to feel its atmosphere convince the visitors that they are in an exceptionnal neighbourhood.