Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Philippe-Aubert de Gaspe

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 6
Philippe-Aubert de Gaspe

by Lionel Lindsay


A French Canadian writer, b. at Quebec, 30 Oct., 1786, of a family ennobled by Louis XIV in 1693, d. 29 Jan., 1871. His grandfather fought under Montcalm at Carillon (Ticonderoga ). He studied at Quebec Seminary and after a brief practice of the law, was appointed sheriff. Forced by misfortune to retire to his ancestral home at Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, on the St. Lawrence, he there spent thirty years in study. At the ripe age of seventy-five, he produced a work, "Les Anciens Canadiens" (Quebec, 1861), which is a household word throughout Canada. This historical novel, almost entirely based on fact, illustrates Canadian national tradition, character, and manners. The author has interwoven the events of his own chequered life with the tragic tale of the struggles and fall of New France, and of the change of regime, the eyewitnesses of which he had personally known. In 1866, Gaspe published his "Mémoires", which continue and amplify the precious historical notes contained in his other works. Less brilliant and attractive than his novel, the "Mémoires" are an excellent specimen of anecdotal history. The author's standing and experience, the latter embracing directly or indirectly the space of a century dating from the Conquest, constitute him an authentic chronicler of an obscure yet eventful period of history.

LIONEL LINDSAY