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Louis-Alexandre Taschereau Fonds (P632)

Excerpt from the diary of Louis-Alexandre Taschereau (1867-1952) (detail), 1883-1884. Gift of Michel Taschereau, Louis-Alexandre Taschereau Fonds P632, M2004.13.1 © McCord Museum

Louis-Alexandre Taschereau: An ambition commensurate with the family's stature

"I've gone all out today, preparing for next Saturday's History essay. I'm studying as hard as I can to stay ahead of P. Laflamme on the class ranking. I've been beating him until now, but I could lose everything with just one mistake."

So ends the journal entry for February 27, 1883, written by Louis-Alexandre Taschereau, then a student in the classical curriculum at the Petit Séminaire de Québec. Although young Taschereau's diary contains very few details about his private life, thoughts or secrets that could give us an idea of his personality, it nonetheless reveals his ambition, competitive nature, and highly disciplined approach to achieving top honours.

Reading between the lines, one can almost detect the pressure felt by this descendant of one of French Canada's most prestigious families: his desire to be worthy of the Taschereau name, borne by so many great jurists, politicians and clergymen.

This ambition would eventually lead Louis-Alexandre Taschereau to the highest office in the provincial government: from 1920 to 1936, he was Premier of Quebec.

P632 Louis-Alexandre Taschereau Fonds. - 1883-1885. - 5 cm of textual records.

Biographical Sketch

Born in Quebec City on March 5, 1867, Louis-Alexandre Taschereau was the son of Jean-Thomas Taschereau (1814-1893), a lawyer and Supreme Court judge, and Marie-Louise-Joséphine Caron (1840-1915).

Descended from an illustrious family of seigneurs, magistrates, businessmen and clergymen, young Louis-Alexandre received an education typical of that given to children of the elite. Initially home schooled by his mother, in 1878 he was admitted as a day student to the Petit Séminaire de Québec, then regarded as the top classical college. He excelled at the school, consistently ranking among the top students and receiving several awards. Upon completing the classical curriculum, Louis-Alexandre received a Bachelor of Arts from Université Laval in 1886, and then began studying law. He finished his law degree in 1889, earning the Tessier, Angers, and Governor General's medals, among other honours. After articling with Me François Langelier, he was admitted to the Bar of the Province of Quebec on July 9, 1889.

On May 26, 1891, he married Marie Emma Adine Dionne (1871-1952), the daughter of Élisée Dionne (1828-1892), a lawyer and member of the Legislative Council of the Province of Quebec, and Clara Têtu (1835-1920). The Dionnes had been family friends of the Taschereaus since the previous generation. Louis-Alexandre and Adine had six children, five of whom reached adulthood: Paul, Robert, Gabrielle, Charles-Roger and Juliette.

Louis-Alexandre Taschereau began his career as a lawyer with the firm of Charles Fitzpatrick and Simon-Napoléon Parent in Quebec City. He also worked with the lawyers and politicians Lawrence Arthur Cannon, Georges Parent and Léon Casgrain, along with his two sons, Paul and Robert. Appointed syndic of the Quebec Bar from 1908 to 1909, he also served as President of the Bar from 1911 to 1912.

In addition to his law practice, Louis-Alexandre Taschereau occasionally wrote for the Union libérale, a newspaper published during the 1880s and 1890s. He was also active in the field of finance, notably as a director and Vice-Chair of the Quebec Savings Bank. Furthermore, he served on the boards of many banks and businesses, including Barclays Bank (Canada) Ltd., the Royal Trust, the Caisse d'économie, the Molson Bank, the Bank of Montreal, the Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada and the Metropolitan Life Assurance Co.

Louis-Alexandre Taschereau entered politics in the 1890s. Following his defeat as a Liberal candidate for Dorchester in 1892, he was finally elected to the Legislative Assembly as a Liberal MLA for the county of Montmorency in 1900 and re-elected in 1904. He was also involved in municipal politics, serving as alderman for the Saint-Pierre district on the Quebec City municipal council from 1906 to 1908.

Re-elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1907, he was the Minister of Public Works and Labour in the Liberal cabinet of Lomer Gouin from October 1907 to August 1919, and Attorney General from August 1919 to July 1920. In July 1920, he became Premier when Gouin resigned. As party leader, he was re-elected Premier in 1923, 1927, 1931 and 1935. He also held the positions of Attorney General (July 1920 to March 1936), Minister of Municipal Affairs (April 1924 to June 1935) and Treasurer of the province (November 1930 to October 1932). During the 1930s, the Taschereau government's inability to implement social reforms to mitigate the effects of the Great Depression led to growing public dissatisfaction. Louis-Alexandre Taschereau finally resigned in 1936, handing the reins of power to Adélard Godbout.

Throughout his career, he was recognized with numerous honours and awards: honorary Doctorate of Law from Université Laval (1908) and University of Toronto (1921), Officer of the Legion of Honour (1924), Commander (1927) and Grand Cross (1934). He was also an Honorary Patron of Victory Loans initiative from 1939 to 1945.

Louis-Alexandre Taschereau died in Quebec City on July 6, 1952, at the age of 85.

Scope and Content

Made up of two diaries written over a period covering nearly two and a half years, this fonds chronicles the classic studies of Louis-Alexandre Taschereau at the Petit Séminaire de Québec. It focusses more specifically on the later years of the classical curriculum, at the end of which Taschereau received a Bachelor of Arts from Université Laval. This fonds makes a significant contribution to Quebec's social and political history by shedding light on a little-known aspect of the life of Louis-Alexandre Taschereau, a prominent figure in Quebec politics. Documenting the daily life of an affluent Quebec student of the late 19th century, these archives also make a significant contribution to the history of education and personal writing.

These two notebooks record notable events of the day, the first covering the period January 23, 1883, to January 22, 1884, and the other January 23, 1884, to June 8, 1885. Louis-Alexandre Taschereau used them primarily to record his school activities. Despite adopting a relatively impersonal style that makes these volumes seem more like logbooks than diaries, Louis-Alexandre Taschereau nonetheless offers many details about his daily life in these pages. He occasionally shares his impressions of events and his thoughts, particularly his academic concerns and desire to do well.

In addition to his studies, Louis-Alexandre Taschereau writes about the interests and health of his friends and family (including his brothers Antoine and Edmond, fellow students at the Petit Séminaire). He also records his leisure activities and certain festive events. With his brother Edmond, he enjoyed skating on the ice bridge that formed on the St. Lawrence River during the winter or on the rink located near his family home. To his great regret, this neighbourhood rink was destroyed when the (former) Quebec courthouse was built between 1883 and 1887. He also describes Quebec Winter Carnival festivities and the many religious celebrations during the school year, including those associated with St. Francis de Sales, the secondary patron of the Séminaire de Québec. During the summer, the diaries chronicle the fishing trips and forest walks that filled his summer holidays at the family estate known as Castel Coucy and stays in the Beauce region. The future Prime Minister also shows an interest in current affairs. On April 20, 1883, he recounts a visit to the site of the Parliament Building, at that time located on Côte de la Montagne, which had been destroyed by fire the day before. The young man's affinity for politics was already evident. On March 12, 1885, he notes that he went to Parliament "to see and hear how the country's affairs are being run" (M2004.13.2).

The daily entries follow an almost standardized format. They usually take up a single page, nearly always mention the weather and the hour when Taschereau finished his entry to go to bed, and close with his signature. While the first diary contains entries produced every day for an entire year, the second book reveals that Louis-Alexandre Taschereau struggled to maintain this discipline. Of particular note is a six-month period (June 1884 to January 1885) when he wrote nothing at all. These volumes contain 381 and 172 pages, respectively.

Source of title proper: Title based on the creator of the fonds.

Immediate source of acquisition: The documents were donated to the McCord Museum in 2004 by Michel Taschereau, the grandson of Louis-Alexandre Taschereau.

Language: The documents are in French.

Associated material: BAnQ (Quebec City): Fonds Louis-Alexandre Taschereau (P350)

Documents associated with Louis-Alexandre Taschereau are also preserved in a number of BAnQ fonds and archival collections, such as the Lionel Groulx (CLG1), François-Xavier Lemieux (P145), Famille Thomas-Jacques Taschereau (P238) and Famille Prévost (P268) fonds.

Related groups of records: The McCord Museum's Textual Archives collection contains archives of individuals and families whose activities are related to those of Louis-Alexandre Taschereau or his family. This is notably the case with the Des Rivières and Taschereau Families Fonds (P752) and the Thematic Resources collection, which contains a file devoted to the Taschereau family (C069/B,731).

The fonds is made up of the following documents:

  • M2004.13.1 Diary of Louis-Alexandre Taschereau. - 1883-1884. - 1 textual record ; 18 x 11.7 cm.
    Digitized document: Part 1 - Part 2
  • M2004.13.2 Diary of Louis-Alexandre Taschereau. - 1884-1885. - 1 textual record ; 20.5 x 14 cm.
    Digitized document


Last update: February 15, 2019