Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
March 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Pierre Joseph Olivier Chauveau


Chauveau, Pierre Joseph Olivier (1820-1890), prime minister of Quebec (1867-73), was born at Quebec, Lower Canada, on May 30, 1820, the son of Charles Chauveau and Marie Louise Roy. He was educated at the Quebec Seminary, and was called to the bar of Lower Canada in 1841 (Q.C., 1853). He represented Quebec county in the Legislative Assembly of Canada from 1844 to 1855, and in the Canadian House of Commons Legislative Assembly of Quebec from 1867 to 1873. From 1851 to 1853 he was solicitor-general for Lower Canada in the Hinks-Morin administration, and provincial secretary from 1853 to 1854. He continued as provincial secretary in the MacNab-Morin administration of 1854; but in 1855 he resigned from parliament in order to accept the appointment of superintendent of public instruction in Lower Canada. His tenure of this office was marked by the founding in 1857 of the Journal of public instruction (published, both in English and French, until 1879), by the establishment of normal schools in Lower Canada , and by the creation of separate schools in Lower Canada in 1863. In 1867 he became first prime minister of the province of Quebec , holding the portfolios of minister of education and provincial secretary. In 1873 he resigned, and was called to the Senate of Canada, of which he was speaker from 1873 to 1874. In 1878 he was appointed professor of Roman law at Laval University, Montreal, and later became dean of the law faculty. He died at Quebec on April 4, 1890. In 1840 he married Marie Louise Flore, daughter of Pierre Massé; and by her he had two sons and six daughters.


He was no less notable as a littérateur than as a politician. He was an LL.D. of McGill University and a D.C.L. of Laval; and at different times he was president of the Quebec Literary and Historical Society, the Royal Society of Canada, the Institut Canadien of Quebec, and the Institut Canadien Français of Montreal. His writings include poems, novels, and political and educational essays. His poetry, most of which appeared in Le Canadien and other journals between 1838 and 1850, was collected in Le répertoire national (Montreal, 1848-50). His best known novel was Charles. Guérin, roman de moeurs canadiennes (Montreal, 1852). Among his other publications, the most notable were Relation du voyage de S. A. R. le Prince de Galles en Amérique (Montreal, 1861), L'instruction publique au Canada (Quebec, 1876), Souvenirs et légendes (Quebec, 1877), François- Xavier Garneau (Montreal, 1883), and Bertrand de la Tour (Lévis, 1898). A history of the universities of Laval, McGill, and Toronto, written by him, appeared serially in his Journal of Public Instruction. See L. O. David, Biographies et portraits (Montreal, 1876), Feu P. J. O. Chauveau (Trans. Roy . Soc. Can., 1891), and Mes contemporains (Montreal, 1894).

Source  : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., pp. 41-42.


© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College