Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
March 2005

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


Denis-Benjamin Viger


Viger, Denis Benjamin (1774-1861), president of the Executive Council of Canada (1844-6), was born at Montreal on August 19, 1774. He was educated at the College of St. Raphael, and was called to the bar of Lower Canada. He sat in the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada for the west ward of Montreal from 1808 to 1810, for the county of Leinster from 1810 to 1816, and for the county of Kent from 1816 to 1830. In 1830 he was appointed a member of the Legislative Council of the province. He was an ardent coadjutor of his cousin, L. J. Papineau, and in 1828 accompanied him on a mission to England to press the views of the Assembly on the Colonial Office. In 1834 he was a second time deputed to visit England as an agent of the French Canadians. In 1838 he was arrested on a charge of complicity in the rebellion of 1837, but was released without trial. From 1841 to 184.5 he represented Richelieu in the Legislative Assembly of united Canada, and from 1845 to 1848 Three Rivers. He was not included in the first Baldwin-Lafontaine administration; and in 1844 he accepted office under Metcalfe as Lower Canadian leader of the government, with the portfolio of president of the council. He failed, however, to carry his compatriots with him, and he resigned from the government in 1846. In 1848 he was appointed to the Legislative Council, and he sat in the Council until 1858. He died at Montreal on February 13, 1861. He was the author of Considerations sur les effets qu'ont produits en Canada la conservation des établissements du pays, les moeurs, l'éducation de ses habitants, et les conséquences qu'entraînerait leur décadence (Montreal, 1809), Analyse d'un entretien sur la conservation des établissements du Bas-Canada (Montreal, 1826), Considérations relatives à la dernière révolution de la Belgique (Montreal, 1831), and La crise ministérielle (Kingston, 1844). Some poetry by him was published in Le Spectateur (Montreal, 1813-29). He was the first president of the Société de St. Jean Baptiste; and in 1855 he was made an LL.D. by St. John's College, New York . See J. Royal and C. S. Cherrier, Biographie de l'Hon. D. B. Viger (Montreal, n.d.) ; and Mémoires relatifs à l'emprisonnement de l'Hon. D. B. Viger (Montreal, 1840).

Source  : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. VI, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 398p., p. 241.

© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College