Biography of Esdras N. Ouimette

Explore the remarkable life of Esdras N. Ouimette (1838-), from his roots in St. Eustache, Quebec, to becoming a cornerstone of Tacoma, Washington’s early business community. This biography highlights Ouimette’s journey westward, his transformative contributions to Tacoma’s development, including the construction of the city’s first three-story brick building, and his success in real estate. Ouimette’s story is a testament to the enduring impact one individual can have on a city’s economic and social fabric, inviting readers to uncover the details of his legacy and Tacoma’s ascent as the City of Destiny.

ESDRAS N. OUIMETTE. – A portrait of Mr. Ouimette is placed in this work as a representative business man of Tacoma, Washington, and as one who located and pinned his faith to the City of Destiny in the early stages of its organization. Mr. Ouimette is a native of the province of Quebec, Canada, and was born in St. Eustache June 6, 1838. He was educated at the common schools, afterwards graduating from the St. Eustache College. He resided in his birthplace until twenty-two years of age. In 1860 he went to Montreal and engaged as clerk in a general merchandise store, where he remained for nearly five years.

He then concluded to seek his fortune in the golden West, and came to Portland, Oregon, in the latter part of 1865,where he first found employment with the well-known dry-goods house of Jacob & Meyer. One year later he engaged in business for himself in Portland, where he remained until 869. He then removed his stock of goods to Olympia, Washington Territory, where for the following ten years he conducted a large and prosperous business. While in Olympia, Mr. Ouimette was looked upon as one of the most enterprising citizens of the Capital city, and held the office of Mayor of Olympia for two terms. Our subject was one of the first projectors, and mainly instrumental in the building, of the Olympia & Tenino, now the Chehalis Valley Railroad. In Olympia as in Tacoma, Mr. Ouimette has always taken an active part in any movement or enterprise that would benefit the city in which he lived.

In 1878 he concluded to seek a new location. After looking over the territory, he selected Tacoma for his future home, and in the fall of that year purchased sixty-five feet of land on the corner of Eleventh street and Pacific avenue, on which he erected three two-story buildings, in which he embarked in the dry-goods trade until 1883, when his building and stock were consumed by fire, entailing a loss of over ten thousand dollars above insurance. In 1884 he erected on the same site the present beautiful Ouimette Block, the first three-story brick building erected in Tacoma. He then sold his dry-goods business to C.T. Harris & Co., and engaged in the real-estate, insurance, mortgage and loan business, in which he has been very successful.

Mr. Ouimette owns a large amount of real estate on Pacific and Tacoma avenues and on other streets in the city. He purchased eight additions to the city by the acre, and sold the entire property in lots. Mr. Ouimette’s success has been phenomenal, as he is now one of Tacoma’s wealthiest men, as well as one of the most respected in business and social circles of the residents of the City of Destiny. He is vice-president of the Washington National Bank, and is more or less interested in all the different enterprises that tend to benefit the City of Tacoma.

Mr. Ouimette was united in marriage in Upper Canada in 1865 to Miss S.M. Curry. By this union they have five children, one of whom is deceased.



History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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1 thought on “Biography of Esdras N. Ouimette”

  1. Marianne Lincoln

    The street car stop in Summit at 104th & Canyon has the name Ouimette on a 1908 map from the Tacoma Evening News, January 12, 1908. He must have been connected to the financing of the trestle across that vale.

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