Portneuf is a town located near Quebec City.
It has a population of about 3,000. The first settler in the Portneuf area was Pierre Robineau who came here in 1636. Ten years later the seigneury of Portneuf was created. In 1681, it became a barony. Flour mill, a sawmill, a Catholic church and a manor house were built.
During the French regime, the seigniors gave precedence to settlement and agriculture in the area. The English placed more emphasis on commercial exploitation of the forest and of hydraulic power.
In 1801, when Canada was an English colony, Mr. McNider takes a fifty-year lease on the property which later was taken over by Edward Hale, a member of the Council of Lower Canada. Mr. Hale brought in many Irish Protestants to Portneuf. In 1806, industry begins in the town, when W.B. Coltman builds a water-powered sawmill. Lumber mills, shipbuilding and, much later, paper mills were developed here.
In the middle of the 19th century, Joe Ford, a British from Glossip, comes to live in Portneuf. He had experience as a dyer in his father’s mill, thus he was given a job in the Portneuf mill. The saga of the J. Ford & Company, eventually one of the dominant industries in Quebec, began.
In the end of the 19th century the paper industry become the engine of the Canadian economy. In Portneuf, the process is followed by the development of the community with its churches, stores and schools.
The J. Ford & Company produced roofing paper, wallpaper, toilet paper, waxed paper and napkins for every Canadian province and for the US. The company included Joe’s two sons, Joseph Jr. and Thomas. In the 1960ies, the company was one of only two independent family-owned paper companies left in Canada. In 1995, it was bought by Cedrico, and closed in 2003.