The Zoo is born (1944-1955)

The Zoo is born (1944-1955)
Monday, July 3, 2023

Now a major tourist attraction in Québec and a conservation organization dedicated to preserving the animal world, 

the Zoo de Granby is celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2023. To mark the occasion, we invite you to discover, through a series of events and memorable anecdotes, some of the elements that have made a lasting impression on people and contributed to the Zoo’s history.

Chapter one : The Zoo is born ( 1944-1955)

The Zoo de Granby, first of all, the zoo was the dream of one man, M. Pierre-Horace Boivin, born in 1905. Young Horace was the son of a prosperous industrialist and mayor of Granby between 1917 and 1933. 

From his early childhood, he developed a true passion for animals! In fact, he owned a ½ dozen dogs, which he trained with incredible skill! 

But it was his famous goat, born with just three legs, that gave rise to what was to become the Zoo de Granby. To keep his little resident company, the young man welcomed foxes, beavers and white-tailed deer into the fenced backyard of the family home. 

The public, curious about this unusual menagerie, visited the Boivins in increasing numbers to observe the animals!

Like father, like son!

In 1939, following in his father’s footsteps, Pierre-Horace Boivin ran for mayor of Granby, a position he held for 25 years, until 1964. 

Shortly after his election, he launched the project to give his city a proper zoo, initially by persuading close friends to cede the land of what was then known as the Marc-Aurèle farm to the city. 

In 1944, the Boivin residence’s small menagerie moved to the new site and quickly expanded. 

To cover the costs of caring for the animals and maintaining the buildings, visitors were charged a 10-cent admission fee.


Having become a prosperous industrialist in his own right, Mayor Boivin travelled all over the world and never missed an opportunity to talk about “his zoo”. 

Rare were the trips that didn’t result in the very persuasive mayor to return with new exotic species to enrich the small menagerie, gifts from the dignitaries of the places visited. 

Primates, zebras, giraffes and kangaroos were all acquired through his negotiations. 

In exchange, Mr. Boivin often offered a male and female beaver to his generous donors!

Two of these strapping rodents were presented to Prince Rainier of Monaco when he married the American actress Grace Kelly in 1956; the story spread worldwide!

The new Zoo was expanding so rapidly that it soon outgrew its current space. Mr. Boivin then managed to persuade the Notre-Dame parish priest in Granby to cede him a portion of the land he was keeping for the eventual purpose of extending the city cemetery. 

Indeed, after much deliberation, he succeeded in securing 66 acres! The year was 1953. On July 7 of the same year, the Société zoologique de Granby was incorporated, and its first task was to install the hundred or so animals on the new site obtained by the mayor. 

In addition to the land, Mr. Boivin asked architects Paul-O. Trépanier and Gilles R. Bélanger to draw the plans for the new Zoo free of charge. The plans were presented to the public in 1954. 

Finally, the Zoo de Granby officially opened its gates on May 28, 1955, to great fanfare and in the presence of the Governor General of Canada at the time, Vincent Massey.

70 years of exciting memories

Relive our 70-year history with us through a multitude of photos, videos and anecdotes!

Other chapters