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Biographies of Prominent Quebecers


Last revised:
August 2004


Harry Bernard




Damien-Claude Bélanger,

Department of History,

McGill University

Journalist, novelist, and literary critic, was born at London, England. The son of a restless French Canadian businessman, he studied as a boy at Soissons, at Paris , and at St. Albans, Vermont. In 1906 his family returned to Canada and settled in Quebec's Eastern Townships before relocating to Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec. From 1911 to 1919 he studied at the Séminaire de Saint-Hyacinthe. After a dozen years in the Province of Quebec, his family moved to Boston and Bernard trained briefly in the American army's Reserve Officer Training Corps in the summer of 1918. A year later, he entered the world of journalism at Ottawa's Le Droit. In 1923 he became the editor of the weekly Courrier de Saint-Hyacinthe. He would hold this position until his retirement in 1970. Bernard's earliest novel, L'homme tombé (1924), was the first a series of regionalist works of fiction published in the twenties and early thirties. He was the founding editor of one of Quebec's most influential intellectual journals, L'Action nationale, from 1933 to 1934. Bernard was also active in the founding of the Association des hebdomadaires de langue française in 1932. He received a licence ès lettres from the Université de Montréal in 1942 and obtained a doctorate from the same institution in 1948 for a dissertation on Le roman régionaliste aux États-Unis (1913-1940). Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, his doctoral research brought him into contact with the leading figures of literary regionalism in the United States. He was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 1943. Harry Bernard was the first French Canadian writer to produce a major study of American literature. His doctoral dissertation was published in 1949, though early versions of several chapters had previously appeared in the Revue de l'Université d'Ottawa. A conservative intellectual generally critical of the American society he knew so well, Bernard was nonetheless attracted by the genuine vitality of its regionalist literature.


© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College