Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:

Biographies of Prominent Quebec and Canadian

Historical Figures


Gustave Lanctot




Damien-Claude Bélanger,

Department of History,

McGill University.

Historian, archivist, journalist, and soldier, was born at Saint-Constant, Quebec. He was educated at the Collège de Montréal and the Université de Montréal. Called to the Quebec Bar in 1907, Lanctot soon abandoned law for journalism and worked for Le Canada and La Patrie before being awarded a Rhodes Scholarship. He spent the next several years studying history and political science at Oxford University and literature at the Sorbonne. Returning home in 1912, he found work at the Public Archives of Canada. Soon after the outbreak of war, Lanctot enrolled as an officer in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and served overseas as the assistant director of war trophies. Demobilized in 1918, he was awarded a doctorate from the Université de Paris in 1919 for his dissertation on L'administration de la Nouvelle-France (published in Paris in 1929). Upon his return to Canada, he became the director of the Public Archive's French Section and taught at the University of Ottawa. In 1937 he was appointed deputy minister and Dominion Archivist, a position he would hold until his retirement in 1948. A prolific author and historian, Lanctot was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 1926 and served as its president in 1948-1949. He also served as the president of the Canadian Historical Association in 1941. An admirer of British institutions, Major Lanctot stands alongside Sir Thomas Chapais as one of the main expositors of French Canadian loyalism. He edited Les Canadiens français et leurs voisins du sud (1941), the only French-language volume the series of twenty-five studies on Canadian-American relations sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and participated in three of the conferences on Canadian-American affairs organized by the Endowment. In 1965 he published Le Canada et la Révolution américaine. Lanctot was awarded a number of distinctions over the course of his career, including the French Légion d'honneur and the Royal Society of Canada's J. B. Tyrrell Medal for outstanding work in the history of Canada. His Canadiens français et leurs voisins du sud was awarded the Prix David.



© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College