Pierre Péladeau, CM, OQ, businessman, publisher and founder of Quebécor Inc. (born 11 April 1925 in Outremont, QC; died 24 December 1997 in Montréal, QC).
Education and Early Career
Pierre Péladeau is the son of Henri Péladeau, a wealthy lumber merchant who lost his fortune in the 1929 stock market crash (see Great Depression). He died penniless, leaving his family in debt. Before entering the business world, Pierre studied philosophy at l’Université de Montréal and law at McGill University.
After graduating from McGill in 1950, Péladeau purchased Le Journal de Rosemont, a local newspaper that was in financial straits. In the years that followed, he purchased a number of neighbourhood weeklies and arts publications. Seeking to create a diversified and integrated media conglomerate, Péladeau bought his own printing presses and laid the groundwork for Québecor’s distribution network, Messageries Dynamiques (see Media Ownership). A brilliant businessman, he took advantage of a strike at La Presse in 1964 and establishedLe Journal de Montréal, a daily tabloid and the most broadly distributed French newspaper in North America. Three years later, he launched Le Journal de Québec.
In 1965, Péladeau’s empire expanded under the name Québecor Inc. In just a few decades, it became a major newspaper chain in Québec, the rest of Canada, and internationally, publishing local and big-city newspapers, regional weeklies, books, and magazines (see Periodicals).
In 1972, Québecor went public on the New York Stock Exchange and the Montréal Exchange in order to fund its development and vertical integration in the communications sphere (see Stock and Bonds). In early 1980s, Péladeau acquired many English language newspapers in Québec and elsewhere in Canada. In addition, Québecor integrated several of its presses in the United States and Canada, enriching its network of print facilities.
In 1987, Québecor acquired Donohue Inc., a well-known papermaking company. Doing so provided Québecor with a stake in each stage of the print production process and independence from big pulp and paper companies supplying raw materials. Coupled with the creation of new businesses, Québecor’s acquisitions exemplified Péladeau’s expansionist ambitions during this period. As a result, Québecor exceeded one billion dollars in revenue in the late 1980s. In the 1990s, Québecor continued to penetrate the American and European markets. In 1995, the company’s assets included 44 weekly newspapers, 12 weekly magazines, four dailies, four publishing houses and 84 print shops and related services.
Charitable Involvement and Honours
Péladeau was a colourful character who was known for his outspoken nature and love of music. A philanthropist, Péladeau provided financial support to a variety of organizations involved in medical research, helping those in need, and arts and culture. From 1975, he devoted his time and money to a foundation in the Laurentians called Pavillon Ivry-sur-le-Lac, a treatment centre for alcoholism.
He chaired several fundraising campaigns for charitable organizations, including the Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal, where $8.5 million were raised. He helped to restore the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal’s finances and donated a million dollars towards the construction of l’Université du Québec à Montréal’s centre for music and dance named Centre Pierre-Péladeau.
Péladeau was a member of the board of directors at the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and the Canada Development Investment Corporation. He was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1987, an Officer of the National Order of Québec in 1989 and received the French Legion of Honour in 1997. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from l’Université du Québec (1985) and from l’Université Laval (1997). In 2000, he was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame.
Pierre Karl Péladeau has led Québecor since his father’s death in 1997. Under his leadership, Québecor continues to expand and diversify. At the beginning of his presidency in 1998, Québecor’s business concentrated on printing and pulp and paper (accounting for $7.9 billion of the company’s $8.4 billion revenue). By 2009, the company had shifted its focus to telecommunications, including cable television, telephone and cellular networks, and internet services. Québecor continues to publish many newspapers, magazines and books and to distribute and sell a wide range of products.
Since 1999, Québecor Inc. has awarded three Pierre-Péladeau Bursaries per year (worth $50,000, $30,000 and $20,000) to students enrolled in universities in Québec. The main goal is to help young entrepreneurs start a business, carry out their business plan and develop their products and markets, regardless of their field of study or the nature of their endeavour. In 2001, the Pierre-Péladeau Leadership Chair was created and is hosted by École des Hautes Études Commerciales (HEC) at l’Université de Montréal.