Trevanion W. Hugo

Trevanion Hugo, Duluth mayor form 1900 to 1904 and again in 1920. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

The studious interest he takes in the history of the Head of the Lakes country and the reputation he has gained as an authority on many phases of Duluth and the Range affairs is a byproduct and incident of Mr. Hugo’s long and active participation in the very practical affairs of this section. In a business and professional way he has been identified as an engineer with activities both afloat and ashore.

Mr. Hugo was born July 29, 1848, at Bodinnoc, Cornwall, England, where the family had lived for many generations of the old Cornish stock. The motto on the coat of arms of the family is “Ubi libertas ibi patria,” suggesting the independence, enterprise and daring that have inspired the different generations to exploits by sea and by land. His father, Nicholas K. Hugo, served an apprenticeship as a ship builder with John Marks and married his employer’s oldest daughter, Mary Rundle Marks.

Trevanion W. Hugo as a young boy was brought to America and was reared at Kingston, Ontario, attending public schools. For his record in his studies he received a scholarship called the Chairman’s prize by the Chairman of Queens College and the Chairman of the Grammar School.

After completing his college career he took up his profession as a mechanical engineer, serving five years of practical apprenticeship in Kingston in the foundry and engineering works of that city. While employed as a marine engineer on lake steamers he first became identified with Duluth in 1878, and subsequently was a stationary engineer with shore duties and is still practicing his profession as a consulting mechanical engineer in Duluth and throughout the state of Minnesota. He was one of the first members of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, being elected in 1882, the second member from Canada then and the oldest now from there in point of membership, and he has recently been elected a life member.

As a very young man in Canada Mr. Hugo was a member of the Fourteenth Battalion Princess of Wales Own Rifles, and had a period of real military discipline and duty during the Fenian raid while stationed at Cornwall, Ontario. His public record at Duluth has been one of well deserved honor. He was for four years an alderman of the city, four years a director of the Board of Education, and then in 1900 served as mayor four years, and sixteen years after his first term was again called to the same office, which office he held until the spring election 1921.

He was the first chairman of the Public Affairs Committee of the Commercial Club; is a stanch Republican in political affiliation, and for half a century has been a member of the Masons and Odd Fellows. In Odd Fellowship he has held every Grand and Subordinate office and the same has been true of his Masonic affiliation except in the Blue Lodge. He is a Past Grand Sovereign, Grand Cross of Constantine; Senior Substitute Magus, High Council Societas Rosicrucinae, U. S. A., and Honorary Magus, IX° of the Rosicrucians in England, and holds several other foreign honorary affiliations. He is the Active Sovereign Grand Inspector General, thirty-third degree in Minnesota and is the Grand Minister of State of the Supreme Council, A. and A. S. Rite, So. Jur. He is editor and writer of the Duluth Masonic Calendar; director of the Scottish Rite infant welfare work in Duluth; member of the Charter Commission of Duluth from 1908 to the present time; originator of the Duluth Masonic Free Sunday Concerts; for ten years president of the I. O. O. F. Home Board of Minnesota and at present is vice president of the Masonic Home Board of the state, wrote the 1920 Duluth Pageant and is the author of a monograph on the French gentleman after whom Duluth is named. His writings on Masonic subjects are many, including a “Digest-Index” of Albert Pike’s “Morals and Dogma.” Mr. Hugo married Miss Jane Lanigan in Kingston, who died a number of years ago. The eldest son, Victor, died in St. Louis, Missouri, and his widow makes her home at the family residence in Duluth with her two daughters. Rene T. Hugo, the younger son, is married and lives in Duluth. He is president of the Hugo Manufacturing Company.


Trevanion William Hugo, a man of considerable prominence in his line, was born on August 29, 1848, at Cornwall, England, and comes of old and highly respected Hugo and Trevanion families of that place. He immigrated to Ontario, Canada, in early life and there acquired a good education in the common schools, winning the “Chairman Scholarship,” after which he attended the grammar school connected with Queen’s University course two years. After leaving school he served five years’ apprenticeship in the Kingston Foundry and Engine Company, Kingston, Ontario; then for twelve years Mr. Hugo acted as a marine engineer, after which he worked as an engineer on shore and still later as a consulting mechanical engineer. During his residence in Canada he served as a private in the Fourteenth Battalion of the Princess of Wales’ Own Rifles, going to the front in Company No. 2 at the time of the “Fenian raid” and gaining a service medal.

Since living in Duluth Mr. Hugo has served as alderman four years, being president of the city council three years, and for four years served as mayor of the city. He was also a member of the board of education four years and for three years served as president of that body. Mr. Hugo has also served four years as chairman of the committee on public affairs of Duluth. Active and influential in his profession, he takes part in the councils and affairs of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Stationary Engineers’ Association, in which he holds membership. He is also active in fraternal and club circles, being a member of the Masonic and Odd Fellows orders and the Kitchi Gammi and Commercial Clubs of Duluth. Mr. Hugo is a well read and widely informed man and has written numerous valuable articles on engineering, Masonic and historical subjects.

Mr. Hugo is a widower with two sons, viz., Victor, now of St. Louis, Mo., and Rene, who lives at home.


Trevanion Hugo, Duluth Mayor 1900 – 1904; 1920

An immigrant from Boddinoc, Cornwall, Trevanion Hugo moved to Kingston, Ontario, while still a boy. He worked as a machinist before becoming an engineer on Great Lakes steamers, settling in Duluth in 1881 to take a job as the chief engineer of grain elevator B. He served as a city alderman and director of the Board of Education before his election. As a Republican he ran against popular democratic incumbent Henry Truelson, who the papers thought would win handily. Instead, Hugo won—by six votes. A recount cost him one vote, but he had gained the office. In November 1901 he announced he would not seek reelection. Despite this, Hugo’s supporters began a petition drive that convinced him to run again. On February 4, 1902, he went up against Truelson once again, this time winning by eight votes. Hugo joked that he congratulated himself that he had “made two new friends” between elections. The recount went back and forth, and in the end, Hugo again had a plurality of just six votes. Hugo was so popular as mayor that in 1920 he was called upon by his fellow citizens to act as interim mayor after Clarence Magney resigned so he could run for Sixth District Court Judge. As that term ended, Hugo was again asked to run for mayor; this time he declined. He died suddenly in Duluth in February, 1923. At the time of his death, he was one of the most prominent Masons in the world as grand chancellor of the supreme council of Scottish Rite Masonry and sovereign grand inspector general for Minnesota.


  • Van Brunt, Walter, ed. Duluth and St. Louis County, Minnesota Vols. 1 – 3. The American Historical Society. Chicago: 1922.
  • Woodbridge, Dwight and John Pardee, eds. History of Duluth and St. Louis County Past and Present Vols. 1 – 2. C. F. Cooper & Company, Chicago: 1922.
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