Jean-Étienne Fournier (1852-1929) was a man whose legacy and dedication live on in Greater Sudbury. He became the first mayor of the Town of Sudbury in 1893.
Also known as John Stephen Fournier, he moved to the infant railroad town in 1884 with his wife, Vitaline Ouellette.
Fournier was born in Quebec and worked for the Canada Central Railway before coming to Sudbury. He became Sudbury’s first postmaster, a position he would hold for the next 13 years.
In 1885, he opened the city’s first general store, located at Elm and Elgin streets. That year he was elected reeve of the Township of McKim, and when Sudbury became a recognized town eight years later, he was elected mayor. He and his family lived in a large residence on Elm St.
City records also show that after his first year in office, Fournier was able to balance the city’s books. Sudbury was in the black by a sum total of $618. This was Sudbury’s first balanced budget and surplus.
In 1886, French speaking residents established a Roman Catholic school. This new school was deemed a private facility and was not recognized by the Department of Education, making it ineligible for any goverment funding. Fournier provided the school with the use of his vacant home for classes. On April 9, 1888, the Catholic seperate school received official recognition by the Department of Education.
The list of “firsts” for Fournier doesn’t stop there. He was a founding member of the Sudbury Board of Trade, the Sudbury Boating Club, the Sudbury Agricultural Society and an original member of the Sudbury Curling Club. He was a founding member of the Collège du Sacré-Coeur de Sudbury (1913).
In 1907 Fournier became the registrar of deeds and master property titles, a position he held until his death.
Fournier blazed a trail of results for Sudbury and his work, accomplishments and legacy are an example for citizens, public servants and politicians to this day.
He and his first wife had nine children, and some of their descendants continue to make contributions to the community to this day.