The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/La Fontaine, Louis Hippolyte

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LA FONTAINE, Sir Louis Hippolyte, Canadian statesman and judge: b. Boucherville, Lower Canada, October 1807; d. Montreal, 26 Feb. 1864. He early achieved prominence at the bar, and after the rebellion of 1837, in which he was accused of complicity, he went to England and afterward to France, and on returning to Canada in 1838 was imprisoned but released without being brought to trial. He became prominent in the Assembly of United Canada, was joint first minister in the La Fontaine-Baldwin administrations (1842-43, 1848-51). In the second of these important measures were passed and reforms effected — University and Rebellion Losses bills, the introduction of the decimal currency, reorganization of the postal system and the reduction of rates. La Fontaine worked steadily to create a better feeling between the French and British elements in the two provinces. His was the first cabinet in which the principle of colonial government was recognized. In 1853 he became chief justice of the Court of Queen's Bench of Quebec, and as such presided over the special Seigneurial Court which met in 1855 to adjudicate on claims under the act of the previous year abolishing feudal rights and duties in Lower Canada. He was created a baronet in 1854. Consult ‘Baldwin, Lafontaine, Hincks,’ by S. Leacock, in the ‘Makers of Canada’ series (Toronto 1907).