The Chevalier House
George Pozer was one of the most important businessmen in Quebec City at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century. He is a prominent figure in the city’s history, not only because of his enormous fortune, but also because of his eccentric lifestyle and his numerous conflicts with the local aristocracy.
In 1752, George Pozer was born in Wilstedt, now in Germany, in modest circumstances. When he was 21 years old, he was recruited by Great Britain for service in the North American colonies, like many young Germans looking for work at the time. As a result, he moved to New York in 1773, shortly before the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. He operated a bakery and a grocery store there, and his grocery store supplied the garrisons of the British army. In 1776, he married the German citizen Magdalen Sneider in the colony of New York. In 1783, independence was officially recognized in the United States, and the Americans expelled the British, along with anyone who had supported them. George Pozer had to leave the USA with his wife and their children.
After a short stay in Europe, the family settled in Quebec in 1785. Since Pozer had a good amount of capital available, he bought a grocery store and became even richer. In addition, he initiated the implementation of a system of personal loans for local business people, all at a time when the banking network in Quebec was not yet developed. His wealth amassed quickly, allowing him to gradually buy several properties in Quebec, as well as manors outside the province. In 1817, when he was 65 years old, George Pozer had become one of the richest businessmen in the city and province of Quebec. He operated several businesses in the provincial capital, owned farming acreage in the country, and had sawmills in wooded areas. He hired local workers and approximately 200 immigrants from Germany to work at his businesses.
George Pozer, who had little education, exhibited all the behaviours of the nouveau riche of the time. Breaking with convention for men of his status, he surrounded himself with a large circle of factory workers and small-time traders. He regularly socialized with people from modest circumstances in his home and his businesses. Because of this, George Pozer remained on the fringe of the British and local Anglican elite. To show that he was different, he dressed in the old-fashioned way of the 18th century, with high-shoes, buckled shoes, a frock coat and a felt tricorn. As the Victorian style began to develop, this old-fashioned attire, contributed to making him an eccentric and marginal figure in the eyes of the aristocracy. George Pozer died in 1848, at the age of 96, in Quebec City, bequeathing most of his immense fortune to one of his sons and a friend.
Among the buildings owned by George Pozer, the Chevalier House (maison historique Chevalier) is surely one of the most symbolic. This building (built in 1752 for the shipyard owner Jean-Baptiste Chevalier) was bought by George Pozer in 1807. He turned it into a small inn called the London Coffee House. The building kept this name throughout the 19th century until George Pozer’s death. Today, it is a historical house open to the public. With a bit of imagination, you can still feel the presence of the eccentric homeowner, who greatly enjoyed spending time in his inn surrounded by the people.
It is also worth mentioning that there is a monument connected to this historical figure located in the municipality of Saint-Georges, approximately 100 km south of Quebec City. The monument marks the grand William-Miburn-Pozer property, which George Pozer had built in 1879 on one of the estates owned by his father.
50 Rue du Marché-Champlain
Quebec, QC G1K 4E8