Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub
[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]

CANADIAN MAGAZINE.

VOL. VIII.

THE

FEBRUARY, 1897.

THE PREMIERS OF QUEBEC SINCE 1867.

BY GEORGE STEWART, D.C. L.

the Hon. Pierre J. O. Chauveau, who in Au

gust succeeded in forming one of the strongest administrations that the province has ever had. Those were the days of dual representation. In

WHEN the Dominion of Canada was

created in July, 1867, the Hon. Joseph Cauchon, then at the head of affairs at Quebec, found himself unable to form a government. The task fell upon the shoulders of

Mr. Chau

veau were united the arts of statesmanship and letters. He possessed great tact and suavity of manner. He was never aggressive or daring. Sometimes he was timid. Small matters worried his kindly, sensitive nature, but his colleagues always regarded him as a safe leader, and accordingly, when

he began the making of a new Quebec, no support of value or consequence was denied him. He probably loved literature better than politics, but he was a man who never shrank from performing a public duty.

In his youth

he was de

No. 4.

[graphic]

THE HON. P. J. O. CHAUVEAU, LL.D., F.R.S.C.

[blocks in formation]

newspapers, he was an exceedingly graceful poet, and his articles in the press and reviews were admirable and scholarly. Once he

published a
novel
"Charles
Guérin"

which gives a good picture of FrenchCanadian life and character; but romance not being his forte, he added nothing further to the fiction of his native province. His tastes lay

[graphic]

HON. GEDEON OUIMET, LL. D.

1

in the direction of education, and the present school system of Quebec is largely due to his guiding hand. He represented Quebec County at the time of Confederation in both the House of Commons and the Assembly of Quebec. Born at the Ancient Capital in 1820, he became Premier and Provincial Secretary of Quebec at the age of 47. He was only 24 when he defeated the Hon. John Neilson by a majority of over 1,000 votes. He was a supporter of Lafontaine, but left him in pique, and joined the forces of Papineau. He identified himself with the claims of his compatriots, espoused the cause of the Bermuda exiles, spoke warmly in favour of the Rebellion Losses Bill, and obtained a committee of the House to enquire into the causes of emigration of French-Canadians to the United States. He became SolicitorGeneral and Provincial Secretary in the Hincks-Morin Ministry, and in 1855 he retired from politics to succeed the late Dr. Meilleur as Chief Superintendent of Public Instruction. He edited

in 1856 Le Journal de l'Instruction Publique. He made a study of the systems of education of Europe, Great Britain and the United States, and visited those countries to see the plans in operation. Some of these he subsequently adopted for his department. When the Union took place he re-entered public life and became the first Prime Minister of Quebec, as we have seen. A difference with his colleagues arose in 1873. He resigned from the Cabinet, was defeated at the polls, but a short time afterwards was called to the Senate as Speaker of that body. When the Hon. Alexander Mackenzie came to power Mr. Chauveau retired from the Upper House. Three years later he was appointed sheriff of Montreal, which office he held until his death in 1890. His contributions to French-Canadian letters have been numerous. He was an orator in both languages, and his services at the inauguration of corner-stones and monuments were in frequent requisition. These speeches were characterized by grace, dignity and eloquence. When the Royal Society of Canada was founded by Lord Lorne, Mr. Chauveau became one of its first Fellows, and succeeded Sir William Dawson as its second president, the first French-Canadian to occupy that distinguished position. The universities of McGill and Laval granted him the degree of LL.D., while many important scientific and literary corporations in various parts of the world recognized his abilities by admitting him to honourary membership. On two occasions he arose to his country's call for aid, forming a company of Chasseurs Canadiens at the time of the Trent affair, and commanding as Lieut. -Colonel a battalion of Home Guards during the first

Fenian invasion. In 1840 he married Miss Marie Louise Masse.

The second Premier of Quebec was also a lawyer, and a sound educationist. The Hon. Gédéon Ouimet, Attorney-General in M. Chauveau's Government, was selected to reorganize the Cabinet, which he did on pretty much the same lines as those of the previous one. The new leader was born in St. Rose, Laval County, on the 3rd of June, 1823, and received his education at the Colleges of St. Hyacinthe and Montreal. In 1844 he was called to the Bar, and it was not long before he had considerable practice in his profession. At Confederation he received the Silk, and occupied for a period the post of Batonnier for the Province. In the old Parliament of Canada he sat in the House of Assembly for Beauharnois from 1857 to 1861, and from 1867 to 1876 he represented Two Mountains in the Quebec Legislature. On taking the office of Premier he assumed the portfolios of Public Instruction and Provincial Secretary, the Attorney-Generalship going into the able hands of the Hon. George Irvine, Q.C., now Judge of the Vice-Admiralty Court at Quebec. It was soon discovered, however, that Mr. Ouimet could not fill two such heavy positions without serious injury to his health. On the Ist of February, 1876, he resolved to retire from public life for a time, and the Superintendency of Education was offered to him. This he accepted, and began the work of reconstruction of his department with his usual energy and zeal. A man of moderate views, high principle, and a disposition which tolerates nothing unfair or unreasonable, he performed his duties for many years with great acceptance,

pleasing alike the Protestant and Roman Catholic populations of Quebec-no light task, as all thinking men may well believe, for in that province religious feeling often runs high. He was not a voluminous writer, but among his contributions to the literature of Canada, his "Law on District Magistrates" may be mentioned with approval. He always spoke well in the House, and there was a charm and a beauty about his little speeches at public gatherings, and the like, which stamped at once his standing as a speaker. In 1886 he went to England as Commissioner to the Indian and Colonial Exhibition, and at the Chicago World's Fair, under his auspices, Quebec was well represented in the Education Exhibit. He is a D.C. L. of Laval University, and the University of Bishops College, Lennoxville, and Officier d'Instruction Publique of France-the latter a decoration of which literary Frenchmen are deservedly proud, for it is seldom lightly bestowed. A few months ago

[graphic]

HON. CHAS. EUGENE DE BOUCHERVILLE, M.D.

[graphic]

treme partisan. He had been in the old Legislature the member for Chambly from 1861 until Confederation. When union came he was appointed a member of the Legislative Council, which position he still holds, as well as a seat in the Senate of Canada, which was granted to him in 1879. From July, 1867, to February, 1873, he was Speaker of the Upper House of Quebec, and when the Ouimet Government resigned in 1874, he added to the post of Premier the offices of Provincial Secretary and Registrar, and Minister of Public Instruction. In January, 1876, he was transferred to the Department of Agriculture and Public Works. In December of this year, LieutenantGovernor Caron, father of Sir A. P. Caron, and of Mrs. Charles Fitzpatrick, the accomplished wife of the present Solicitor-General of Canada, died, and in his room the Hon. Luc Letellier de St. Just was sent to Spencerwood by Mr. Mackenzie. Mr. Letellier was an ardent Liberal, and a man of sterling honesty of purpose. Of his strong partisanship there can be no doubt, and he recognized at once in Mr. de Boucherville, and his AttorneyGeneral, Mr. Angers, two very determined political foes, at whose back great majorities stood in both the houses of legislation. It was not long before His Honour and his advisers were at cross purposes. The ministers took the ground that the nominal chief of the executive was a mere figurehead. His name was introduced into measures that he had never seen, and when he asked for information he was referred to the newspapers. Things could not go on in this way forever, and the governor, acting upon his un

HON. SIR H. G. JOLY DE LOTBINIERE, K.C.M.G., D.C.L.

Mr. Ouimet retired from his place in the Education Department and became a member of the Legislative Council, where his zeal for the improvement of Quebec's Educational System will have ample scope.

It was a strong hand which came to the front in 1874, and during his career Quebec made history very rapidly. A grave Constitutional question was precipitated, and the powers of Lieutenant-Governors formed the subject of thousands upon thousands of articles and pamphlets, which were scattered broadcast all over the country. The new Premier was the Hon. Charles Eugene de Boucherville, the descendant of an old historic family which traced its origin as far back as 1653. His profession was that of medicine. His social position was that of an aristocrat. A stern, unbending man he was to all except his intimates, and of the latter he could count upon but few. Honest to a degree he was also. An extremist in religious opinions, he was also an ex

[merged small][ocr errors]
« PředchozíPokračovat »