Montferrand, Jos

Jos Montferrand (b at Montréal 1802; died at Montréal 1864). Jos Montferrand was a French Canadian of legendary strength who lived in the Ottawa-Montréal region in the early 19th century. His exploits are enshrined in the folklore of the region. He fought many famous boxers of his day, defeating the reigning Canadian Boxing Champion at age 17.

Montferrand, a 2 metre tall lumberjack, was best known for protecting local Frenchmen from English troublemakers, once taking on 20 single-handedly. Jos Montferrand is said to have faced down, with the help of the Virgin Mary, 150 Irishmen on the Chaudiere Bridge near Hull. Exploits of extraordinary strength attributed to him include pointing with a plow to give someone directions and leaping so high in a dance that he left the print of his heel on the hotel ballroom ceiling. Wilfrid LAURIER, who described him as possessing "undaunted bravery, muscular strength, thirst for danger, resistance to fatigue," called Jos Montferrand "the most truly Canadien of all Canadiens ever known."

Tales of the legendary Joe Mufferaw, strongman of the Ottawa Valley, were based on Jos Montferrand. Tales of Mufferaw's power were tempered by his gentle kindness. Anonymous or inexplicable events are often attributed to "Who else but Joe Mufferaw?" Joe Mufferaw is immortalized in the song "Big Joe Mufferaw" by Stompin' Tom CONNORS.

See alsoFOLKLORE.