top of page

Russell, Willis & Rebecca Page (Sanborn)


Willis Russell & Rebecca Page Sanborn
(1814-1887) (1807-1888)

Willis Russell (b. 1814) came originally from Vermont where he had been associated with his brothers in the paper, pulp and lumber business. Willis married Rebecca Page Sanborn. Rebecca Page Sanborn, wife of Willis Russell, descends from a long line of early New England colonists. Rebecca’s 3rd great grandfather, Lieutenant John Sanborn, was born in Norfolk, England about 1620 and emigrated to the colonies in 1632 with the Rev. Stephen Bachiler party on the ship “William and Frances”, settling in Hampton, NH, the town having been founded by Rev. Bachiler. Many generations later, Rebecca Page Sanborn was born in 1813 in Sanbornton, NH to John Sanborn and Dorcas Nelson. We don’t know much about Rebecca herself other than she married Willis in Franklin, NH in 1835 and 8 years later, they relocated to Quebec City where she and Willis lived until he died in 1887 and she died a year later in 1888 at age 75. An interesting historical note: Rebecca was distantly related to Thomas Nelson Page, the US Ambassador to Italy during the first Word War and a direct descendant of the Virginian, Thomas Nelson Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
After being sent by his family to Quebec to investigate business opportunities there, Willis remained a resident of Quebec City throughout the rest of his life and found himself in the hotel business, owning the St. Louis (near the Chateau), the Albion, and the Russell House (now the Clarendon). When the doctor recommended sea air for Willis’s ailing daughter, his friend Colonel Rhodes of Quebec suggested they try Tadoussac where he had just built a summer cottage. Colonel Rhodes proposed that the Russells buy the property adjoining his and build there so the two men could continue the friendship of the two families, and the men could adjourn to the Marguerite River for salmon fishing. Subsequently, the Ste. Marguerite Salmon Club was founded in 1885 by Willis Russell and Robert Powel of Philadelphia. The Salmon Club leased all the rights on the Marguerite River along which they built 6 cottages. One of these, known as “Bardsville” still stands. A big promoter of Quebec tourism, Willis Russell wrote a book on the history of Quebec which you can still buy on Amazon (Quebec; as it was and as it is). Willis Russell was involved with the Tadoussac Hotel and Sea Bathing Company that opened the original hotel in 1864. He was a lifelong uninterrupted 45-year resident of Quebec City and died there in 1887. He is buried in Mt. Hermon Cemetery. Susie Bruemmer, Willis’s great great granddaughter, now owns the property known as “Spruce Cliff” near the Tadoussac Tennis Club. The Dewarts, Reilleys and O’Neills are also direct descendants of Willis Russell who all summer in Tad in their own cottages.

Brian Dewart

Stairs Canoe2 (1).jpeg
bottom of page