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Perrault Family Fonds (P539)

Excerpt from the Club de la Petite Malbaie guest book (detail), 1935. Gift of Châteauguay Perrault and Valérie Migneault Perrault, Perrault Family Fonds P539, M999.54.35 © McCord Museum

Poetry, pastiche and fishing!

"It swam by; I likely should have
Cast out the fly as bait, but no;
Instead, I made an awful gaffe
And tried to kill a mosquito.

It tugged; perhaps I should have
Pulled the line and readied the net;
Instead (I know, I'm quite daft),
I idly lit my cigarette.

It bit; I likely should have
Pulled hard the hook to set
Instead (you will no doubt laugh),
By falling slacks I was beset.

It got away; perhaps I should
Abandon this aquatic fellow
But the trout, still seeking kinship would
No doubt come back for a 'Hello!'"

Written in 1935 by Simone de Varennes, the wife of Louis-Arthur Richard, the Deputy Minister of Colonization, this charming little pastiche appears in the Club de la Petite Malbaie guest book. This literary morsel recounts the comical story of a fishing trip, during which the inattentive protagonist misses every opportunity to catch the trout. In fact, this stylistic exercise accurately imitates the structure of the poem "Il passa" (1896), written by Romanian-French author and diplomat Hélène Vacaresco (1864-1947). Although the original version also features "should haves" heavy with regret, these refer instead to the end of a short-lived love affair.

If this admiring reference to the work of poet Vacaresco - a contemporary of Victor Hugo and laureate of the French Academy - is found among the anecdotes of outdoor enthusiasts, it is because Joseph-Édouard Perrault and Madeleine Richard's camp in the Laurentian park (today the Laurentides Wildlife Reserve) was not reserved solely for sportsmen. Among their visitors, the couple welcomed numerous politicians, businessmen, artists, and influential activists from the early 20th century like Louis-Alexandre Taschereau, Antonia David, Thérèse Casgrain, Clarence A. Gagnon, and Jean-Baptiste-Beaudry Leman.

While the various testimonials recorded in this book are as varied in form as their signatories, all share a passion and awe for the dense boreal forest and vast lakes around them.

P539 Perrault Family Fonds. - 1876-[before 1957], predominant 1900-1946. - 6 cm of textual records. - 1060 photographs.

Biographical Sketch

The son of Édouard Perrault and Émilie Mathurin dit Harbour, JOSEPH STANISLAS PERRAULT (1846-1907) was born in L'Assomption and studied at the Collège de L'Assomption and Université Laval. Called to the Quebec Bar in 1870, he practised law in Quebec City, then in La Malbaie. Although defeated when he ran as a Conservative candidate in the 1878 Charlevoix by-election, he was elected a federal MP the following year and served in Ottawa until 1881.

In 1873, he married Louisa Brault (1845-1899), with whom he had five sons: Joseph-Édouard, Gustave, Rodolphe (1879-1935), Antonio, and Lorenzo (1884-1941).

Born in La Malbaie, JOSEPH-ÉDOUARD PERRAULT (1874-1948) studied at Collège de Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière, the Seminary of Quebec and Université Laval. Called to the Quebec Bar in 1898, he moved to Arthabaska to practise law, initially on his own and then in partnership with his brother Gustave. In this municipality, he also held the positions of school commissioner, school board chairman and alderman. In the mean time, he was elected Crown attorney, president of the Bar of Arthabaska and President of the Quebec Bar, in addition to sitting on the boards of directors of several companies and corporations. In 1916, he entered provincial politics, winning the first of six consecutive victories as the Liberal MNA for the county of Arthabaska. Re-elected in 1919, 1923, 1927, 1931 and 1935 under the Gouin and Taschereau governments, he was Minister of Colonization, Mines and Fisheries from 1919 to 1929, Minister of Highways from 1929 to 1936, Minister of Mines from 1930 to 1936, Minister of Colonization from 1935 to 1936, and then Attorney-General in 1936. Under his leadership, the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region expanded and this northwest area of the province began developing its mining industry. Tired of politics, he returned to practising law in 1940, in Montreal.

In 1908, he married Madeleine Richard, with whom he had two children: Richard (1909-1921) and Thérèse (1912-1917).

Born in Winnipeg, MADELEINE RICHARD (1887-1975) was the daughter of Joseph-Auguste Richard, an industrialist, and Albertine Rivard, the sister of Quebec lawyer, writer, judge and linguist Adjutor Rivard. She was educated by the Dames de Sacré-Coeur in Montreal, and then spent three years in Europe, completing her education. She lived in Arthabaska with her husband Joseph-Édouard Perrault and was very involved in several charities and relief organizations, particularly during the two world wars. She also worked to make Sir Wilfrid Laurier's house in the municipality into a history centre to preserve the memory of the former Canadian Prime Minister; the Laurier Museum opened in 1929.

Born in La Malbaie, GUSTAVE PERRAULT (1876-1957) studied at Collège de Sainte-Anne-de-the-Pocatière, the Petit Séminaire de Québec and Université Laval. Called to the Bar in 1900, he worked as a lawyer in Roberval before going into practice in Arthabaska with his brother Joseph-Édouard. In this municipality, he was chairman of the school board, an alderman and President of the Bar. In the 1920s, he was appointed magistrate for the district of Quebec, and then judge and chief judge of the Court of Sessions of the Peace in Montreal.

In 1907, he married Hélène Gagnon (1881-1973), the daughter of merchant Joseph Gagnon and Anna Tremblay. The couple had one son named Châteauguay.

Born in La Malbaie, ANTONIO PERRAULT (1880-1955) was a lawyer, doctor of law, and author. Before being called to the Bar in 1906, he studied at the old Seminary of Quebec and Université Laval. He then practised law in Montreal, working with names such as Sir Lomer Gouin, Rodolphe Lemieux and Maxime Raymond. A professor of commercial and maritime law at Université de Montréal, Antonio was also legal counsel for the newspaper Le Devoir and one of the founders of The Canadian Bar Review.

In 1909, he married Marguerite Mousseau (1884-1936), the daughter of Joseph-Alfred Mousseau, who was Premier of Quebec from 1882 to 1884, and Hersélie Desrosiers. The couple had four children: Odile (1910-1982), Jacques (1912-1957), Ghislaine (1914-1976) and Francine (1918-1932). In 1934, he started the firm of Perrault and Perrault with his son Jacques.

Born in Arthabaska, CHÂTEAUGUAY PERRAULT (1909-2000) studied at Université de Montréal and Harvard University. Called to the Bar in 1934, the following year he started his own firm in Montreal with partners Albert Lagnado, Rock Pinard and Antoine-Bernard Bissonnette. In the 1940s, he began teaching at McGill University, and then Université de Montréal. He was also head counsel in Quebec for the Canadian National Railway Company until 1968, the year he was appointed a Superior Court judge, a position he held until his retirement in 1984.

He married Valérie Migneault (1914-2003), the daughter of Arthur Migneault and Béatrice Boyer, in 1946. The couple had five children: Thérèse, Anne, Dominique, Alix and Nicolas.

Scope and Content

This fonds focusses on the leisure and recreational activities of members of the Perrault family and their friends, during the first half of the 20th century. Although it documents a lifestyle reserved for the wealthy classes, the fonds also paints an overall portrait of Quebec's burgeoning tourism and leisure industry.

It contains a brochure on wildlife conservation and a guest book from the Club de la Petite Malbaie. The latter features signatures, reminiscences and poems from visitors who vacationed at Joseph-Édouard Perrault and Madeleine Richard's fishing camp. Located on Crown land rented from the government beginning in 1931, the "club's" cottage was built on the shores of Petit lac Malbaie (now Lac à la Cruche), between Baie-Saint-Paul and Saguenay. From 1932 to 1947, it hosted numerous visitors who described their day-to-day activities in the guest book: cottage living, excursions and, of course, catches. In particular, this document mentions the concerns of certain members of the group, who were affected by the absence of those fighting at the front during the Second World War. In addition to members of the Perraults' extended family, the list of names in the guest book includes figures working in politics, culture, the voluntary sector, economics, and industry like Louis-Arthur Richard, Joseph-Napoléon Francoeur, Wilfrid Girouard, Hector Authier, Louis-Alexandre Taschereau, Atanase David and his wife Antonia, Thérèse Forget Casgrain, Télesphore-Damien Bouchard, Frédéric-Auguste Béique, Edmond Turcotte, Ralph-Albert Benoît, Louis-Joseph-Adjutor Amyot, Jacques De Gaspé Beaubien, Viscount Roger de Roumefort and his wife Madeleine, and Jean-Baptiste-Beaudry Leman. The guest book also pays tribute to the beauty of the boreal forest and its rich and diverse wildlife with the help of magnificent, sometimes amusing and often very elaborate, drawings. Two signed sketches, drawn by painters Clarence A. Gagnon and Robert Wakeham Pilot during their stay at the camp, are among these illustrations.

In addition to fishing and cottage life, the Perrault family also enjoyed the arts, particularly music, as evidenced by the musical score and show programs preserved in the fonds. Likely belonging to Hélène Gagnon, the wife of Gustave Perrault, these documents chronicle a certain popular culture, both urban and modern, that was unique to Quebec. They were produced for performances given in 1930 or so, at the Capitol Theatre and Palace Theatre, both of which were located on St. Catherine Street West in Montreal. Among the songs performed at a series of shows entitled Canadian Folk Songs Old and New were "En roulant ma boule, roulant," "À la claire fontaine," and "Un Canadien errant."

Completing the fonds are various photographs of family members, collected in three albums by Gustave and Châteauguay Perrault from 1900 to 1938. There are snapshots of happy days that capture Sunday drives, trips to the cottage, fishing and hunting, hikes, swims and musical performances. For the most part, they illustrate family visits and vacations in various parts of Quebec, like Chicoutimi, Arthabaska, Percé, Baie-Saint-Paul and Montreal. The collection also includes photos taken at the Club de la Petite Malbaie. Finally, the fonds contains several studio portraits of Joseph-Édouard Perrault and Madeleine Richard.

Variations in title: Formerly known as the Dominique Perrault Fonds.

Source of title: Based on the creators of the fonds.

Immediate source of acquisition: The fonds was donated to the McCord Museum by Châteauguay Perrault and Valérie Migneault in 1999.

Language: The documents are in French and English.

Associated material:

BAnQ (Old Montreal): Fonds Familles Laurendeau et Perrault (CLG2)

Université de Montréal - Rare Books and Special Collections Library: Joseph-Édouard Perrault and Madeleine Richard shared a passion for luxury editions and beautifully bound books. The collection donated in 1975 consists of approximately 4,000 documents in the fields of literature, history, biography and art.

General note: Châteauguay Perrault and Valérie Migneault also donated several articles of clothing, artefacts and works of art to the McCord Museum, including a painter's palette that belonged to Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Côté (M999.54.1), paintings by Henry Richard S. Bunnett (M999.54.2-29) and prints by William Henry Bartlett (M999.54.69.1-13).

The fonds is divided into the following series:


Last update: June 6, 2018