Henri Bourassa
Overview
 
Joseph-Napoléon-Henri Bourassa (September 1, 1868 – August 31, 1952) was a French Canadian
French Canadian
French Canadian or Francophone Canadian, , generally refers to the descendents of French colonists who arrived in New France in the 17th and 18th centuries...

 political leader and publisher. He is seen by many as an ideological father of Canadian nationalism
Canadian nationalism
Canadian nationalism is a term which has been applied to ideologies of several different types which highlight and promote specifically Canadian interests over those of other countries, notably the United States...

.
Born in Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

, Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, to Napoléon and Marie Bourassa, Henri Bourassa was a grandson of the pro-democracy reformist politician Louis-Joseph Papineau
Louis-Joseph Papineau
Louis-Joseph Papineau , born in Montreal, Quebec, was a politician, lawyer, and the landlord of the seigneurie de la Petite-Nation. He was the leader of the reformist Patriote movement before the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837–1838. His father was Joseph Papineau, also a famous politician in Quebec...

. He was educated at École Polytechnique de Montréal
École Polytechnique de Montréal
The École Polytechnique de Montréal is an engineering school/faculty affiliated with the University of Montreal in Montreal, Canada. It ranks first in Canada for the scope of its engineering research. It is occasionally referred to as Montreal Polytechnic, although in Quebec English its French...

 and at Holy Cross College
College of the Holy Cross
The College of the Holy Cross is an undergraduate Roman Catholic liberal arts college located in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA...

 in Worcester, Massachusetts
Worcester, Massachusetts
Worcester is a city and the county seat of Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. Named after Worcester, England, as of the 2010 Census the city's population is 181,045, making it the second largest city in New England after Boston....

. In 1890, he became mayor of the town of Montebello
Montebello, Quebec
Montebello is a municipality located in the Papineau Regional County Municipality of Western Quebec . As of the 2001 census, there were 1,039 permanent residents. The village has a total area of , and is located at the eastern edge of Canada's National Capital Region.The village is world famous for...

, Quebec, at age 22.

In 1896, he was elected to the House of Commons
Canadian House of Commons
The House of Commons of Canada is a component of the Parliament of Canada, along with the Sovereign and the Senate. The House of Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 308 members known as Members of Parliament...

 as an independent Liberal
Liberal Party of Canada
The Liberal Party of Canada , colloquially known as the Grits, is the oldest federally registered party in Canada. In the conventional political spectrum, the party sits between the centre and the centre-left. Historically the Liberal Party has positioned itself to the left of the Conservative...

 for Labelle
Labelle (electoral district)
Labelle was a federal electoral district in Quebec, Canada, that was represented in the Canadian House of Commons from 1896 to 1988.This riding was created in 1892 from parts of Ottawa riding....

, but resigned in 1899 to protest against the sending of Canadian troops to the Second Boer War
Second Boer War
The Second Boer War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State...

.
Encyclopedia
Joseph-Napoléon-Henri Bourassa (September 1, 1868 – August 31, 1952) was a French Canadian
French Canadian
French Canadian or Francophone Canadian, , generally refers to the descendents of French colonists who arrived in New France in the 17th and 18th centuries...

 political leader and publisher. He is seen by many as an ideological father of Canadian nationalism
Canadian nationalism
Canadian nationalism is a term which has been applied to ideologies of several different types which highlight and promote specifically Canadian interests over those of other countries, notably the United States...

.
Born in Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

, Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, to Napoléon and Marie Bourassa, Henri Bourassa was a grandson of the pro-democracy reformist politician Louis-Joseph Papineau
Louis-Joseph Papineau
Louis-Joseph Papineau , born in Montreal, Quebec, was a politician, lawyer, and the landlord of the seigneurie de la Petite-Nation. He was the leader of the reformist Patriote movement before the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837–1838. His father was Joseph Papineau, also a famous politician in Quebec...

. He was educated at École Polytechnique de Montréal
École Polytechnique de Montréal
The École Polytechnique de Montréal is an engineering school/faculty affiliated with the University of Montreal in Montreal, Canada. It ranks first in Canada for the scope of its engineering research. It is occasionally referred to as Montreal Polytechnic, although in Quebec English its French...

 and at Holy Cross College
College of the Holy Cross
The College of the Holy Cross is an undergraduate Roman Catholic liberal arts college located in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA...

 in Worcester, Massachusetts
Worcester, Massachusetts
Worcester is a city and the county seat of Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. Named after Worcester, England, as of the 2010 Census the city's population is 181,045, making it the second largest city in New England after Boston....

. In 1890, he became mayor of the town of Montebello
Montebello, Quebec
Montebello is a municipality located in the Papineau Regional County Municipality of Western Quebec . As of the 2001 census, there were 1,039 permanent residents. The village has a total area of , and is located at the eastern edge of Canada's National Capital Region.The village is world famous for...

, Quebec, at age 22.

In 1896, he was elected to the House of Commons
Canadian House of Commons
The House of Commons of Canada is a component of the Parliament of Canada, along with the Sovereign and the Senate. The House of Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 308 members known as Members of Parliament...

 as an independent Liberal
Liberal Party of Canada
The Liberal Party of Canada , colloquially known as the Grits, is the oldest federally registered party in Canada. In the conventional political spectrum, the party sits between the centre and the centre-left. Historically the Liberal Party has positioned itself to the left of the Conservative...

 for Labelle
Labelle (electoral district)
Labelle was a federal electoral district in Quebec, Canada, that was represented in the Canadian House of Commons from 1896 to 1988.This riding was created in 1892 from parts of Ottawa riding....

, but resigned in 1899 to protest against the sending of Canadian troops to the Second Boer War
Second Boer War
The Second Boer War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State...

. He was re-elected soon after his resignation. He argued that Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Canada
The Prime Minister of Canada is the primary minister of the Crown, chairman of the Cabinet, and thus head of government for Canada, charged with advising the Canadian monarch or viceroy on the exercise of the executive powers vested in them by the constitution...

 Wilfrid Laurier
Wilfrid Laurier
Sir Wilfrid Laurier, GCMG, PC, KC, baptized Henri-Charles-Wilfrid Laurier was the seventh Prime Minister of Canada from 11 July 1896 to 6 October 1911....

 was un vendu ("a sell-out") to British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 imperialism
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

 and its supporters in Canada.

To counter what he perceived to be the evils of imperialism, in 1903 he created the Nationalist
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 League (Ligue Nationaliste
Ligue nationaliste canadienne
The Ligue nationaliste canadienne, also known as the Ligue nationaliste, was a nationalist and anti-imperialist organization in Quebec, Canada during the early 20th century. Founded by journalist Olivar Asselin, his newspaper Le Nationaliste was its official organ. -See also:*Quebec...

) to instill a pan-Canadian nationalist spirit in the Francophone
Francophone
The adjective francophone means French-speaking, typically as primary language, whether referring to individuals, groups, or places. Often, the word is used as a noun to describe a natively French-speaking person....

 population. The League opposed political dependence on either Britain or the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, supporting instead Canadian autonomy within the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

.

Bourassa left the federal parliament in 1907, but remained active in Quebec politics. He continued to criticize Laurier, opposing Laurier's attempts to build a Canadian navy
Royal Canadian Navy
The history of the Royal Canadian Navy goes back to 1910, when the naval force was created as the Naval Service of Canada and renamed a year later by King George V. The Royal Canadian Navy is one of the three environmental commands of the Canadian Forces...

 in 1911, which he believed would draw Canada into future imperial wars between Britain and Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. He supported the eventual creation of an independent navy, but did not want it to be under British command, as Laurier had planned. Bourassa's attacks depleted Laurier's strength in Quebec, contributing to the Liberal Party's loss in the 1911 election
Canadian federal election, 1911
The Canadian federal election of 1911 was held on September 21 to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 12th Parliament of Canada.-Summary:...

. Ironically, Bourassa's moves aided in the election of the Conservatives
Conservative Party of Canada (historical)
The Conservative Party of Canada has gone by a variety of names over the years since Canadian Confederation. Initially known as the "Liberal-Conservative Party", it dropped "Liberal" from its name in 1873, although many of its candidates continued to use this name.As a result of World War I and the...

, who held more staunchly Imperialist policies than the Liberals.

In 1910, while serving in the Provincial Assembly as the member for Saint-Hyacinthe
Saint-Hyacinthe (provincial electoral district)
Saint-Hyacinthe is a provincial electoral riding in the province of Quebec, Canada. Located in the Montérégie region, the riding includes the city of Saint-Hyacinthe as well as the municipalities of Saint-Damase, Saint-Dominique and Saint-Liboire...

 he founded the newspaper Le Devoir
Le Devoir
Le Devoir is a French-language newspaper published in Montreal and distributed in Quebec and the rest of Canada. It was founded by journalist, politician, and nationalist Henri Bourassa in 1910....

to promote the Nationalist League, and served as its editor until 1932.

In 1913, Bourassa denounced the government of Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 as "more Prussian than Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

" during the Ontario Schools Question crisis (see Regulation 17
Regulation 17
Regulation 17 was a regulation of the Ontario Ministry of Education, issued in July 1912 by the Conservative government of premier Sir James P. Whitney. It restricted the use of French as a language of instruction to the first two years of schooling. It was amended in 1913, and it is that version...

), after Ontario almost banned the use of French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 in their schools and made English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 the official language of instruction. He charged his compatriots to see their enemies inside Canada, in 1915:

"The enemies of the French language, of French civilization in Canada, are not the Boches on the shores of the Spree; but the English-Canadian anglicizers, the Orange intriguers, or Irish priests. Above all they are French Canadians weakened and degraded by the conquest and three centuries of colonial servitude. Let no mistake be made: if we let the Ontario minority be crushed, it will soon be the turn of other French groups in English Canada." [in Wade v 2 p 671]


Bourassa led French Canadian opposition to the participation in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, especially Robert Borden
Robert Borden
Sir Robert Laird Borden, PC, GCMG, KC was a Canadian lawyer and politician. He served as the eighth Prime Minister of Canada from October 10, 1911 to July 10, 1920, and was the third Nova Scotian to hold this office...

's plans to implement conscription
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 in 1917. He agreed that the war was necessary for the survival of France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and Britain, but felt that only those Canadians who volunteered for service should be sent to the battlefields of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. His opposition to conscription brought him the anglophone public's disfavour, as expressed by hostile crowd amassed in Ottawa that threw vegetables and eggs during his oration.

Three months after stating that he had nothing more to do with politics, he returned to the House of Commons in the 1925 election
Canadian federal election, 1925
The Canadian federal election of 1925 was held on October 29 to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 15th Parliament of Canada. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King's Liberal Party formed a minority government. This precipitated the "King-Byng Affair".The Liberals under...

 with his election as an Independent MP, and remained until his defeat in the 1935 election
Canadian federal election, 1935
The Canadian federal election of 1935 was held on October 14, 1935 to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 18th Parliament of Canada. The Liberal Party of William Lyon Mackenzie King won a majority government, defeating Prime Minister R.B. Bennett's Conservative Party.The central...

. In the 1930s, Bourassa demanded that Canada keep its gates shut to Jewish immigrants, as did many other Canadian politicians of the time.

Bourassa also opposed the Conscription crisis of 1944 in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, though less effectively, and was a member of the Bloc populaire
Bloc populaire canadien
The Bloc populaire canadien was a political party in the Canadian province of Quebec from 1942 to 1947. It was founded on September 8, 1942 by opponents of conscription during World War II...

. His influence on Quebec's politics can still be seen today in all major provincial parties.

According to Michael C. Macmillan, Bourassa's political thought was largely a combination of Whig liberalism, Catholic social thought, and traditional Quebec political thought. He was distinctly liberal in his anti-imperialism and general support for civil liberties for French Canadians
French Canada
French Canada, also known as "Lower Canada", is a term to distinguish the French Canadian population of Canada from English Canada.-Definition:...

, while his approach to economic questions was essentially Catholic. While Bourassa embraced the ultramontane
Ultramontanism
Ultramontanism is a religious philosophy within the Roman Catholic community that places strong emphasis on the prerogatives and powers of the Pope...

 idea that the Church was responsible for faith, morals, discipline, and administration, he resisted Church involvement in the political sphere and rejected the corporatism espoused by the Church. Bourassa opposed state intervention wherever possible and increasingly throughout his career emphasized the need for moral reform.

As Levitt has shown, attitudes of historians, both Anglophone and Francophone, toward Bourassa consistently have been colored by the position of each historian on the major issues Bourassa addressed. Goldwin Smith
Goldwin Smith
Goldwin Smith was a British-Canadian historian and journalist.- Early years :He was born at Reading, Berkshire. He was educated at Eton College and Magdalen College, Oxford, and after a brilliant undergraduate career he was elected to a fellowship at University College, Oxford...

, a fellow anti-imperialist, introduced him into historical literature in 1902. The isolationism of the 1930s and the biculturalism of the 1960s (Bourassa, while a champion of Francophone rights, always opposed separatism) occasioned favourable treatment among Anglophones, while Lionel Groulx
Lionel Groulx
Lionel-Adolphe Groulx was a Roman Catholic priest, historian and Quebec nationalist. -Early life and ordination:Groulx was born at Chenaux, Quebec, Canada, the son of a farmer and lumberjack, and died in Vaudreuil, Quebec. After his seminary training and studies in Europe, he taught at Valleyfield...

, his onetime foe, described him as "l'incomparable Éveilleur." Bourassa's position on social issues - Catholic, moderately reformist, emphasizing the family and agricultural values - likewise has called forth praise and blame.

Upon his death in Outremont, Quebec in 1952 (one day shy of his 84th birthday), Henri Bourassa was interred in Montreal's Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges.

Henri Bourassa Blvd., Henri-Bourassa
Henri-Bourassa (Montreal Metro)
Henri-Bourassa is a station on the Orange Line of the Montreal Metro rapid transit system, operated by the Société de transport de Montréal . It is located in the Ahuntsic district in the borough of Ahuntsic-Cartierville in Montreal, Quebec, Canada...

 metro station
Montreal Metro
The Montreal Metro is a rubber-tired metro system, and the main form of public transportation underground in the city of Montreal, Quebec, Canada....

, and the federal riding of Bourassa
Bourassa (electoral district)
Bourassa is a federal electoral district in Quebec, Canada, that has been represented in the Canadian House of Commons since 1968...

, all in Montreal, are named for him. He is not related to Robert Bourassa
Robert Bourassa
Jean-Robert Bourassa, was a politician in Quebec, Canada. He served as the 22nd Premier of Quebec in two different mandates, first from May 12, 1970, to November 25, 1976, and then from December 12, 1985, to January 11, 1994, serving a total of just under 15 years as Provincial Premier.-Early...

, the former premier of Quebec.

See also

  • Politics of Quebec
    Politics of Quebec
    The politics of Quebec are centred on a provincial government resembling that of the other Canadian provinces, namely a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. The capital of the province is Quebec City, where the Lieutenant Governor, Premier, the legislature, and cabinet reside.The...

  • Conscription Crisis of 1917
    Conscription Crisis of 1917
    The Conscription Crisis of 1917 was a political and military crisis in Canada during World War I.-Background:...

  • Conscription Crisis of 1944
    Conscription Crisis of 1944
    The Conscription Crisis of 1944 was a political and military crisis following the introduction of forced military service in Canada during World War II. It was similar to the Conscription Crisis of 1917, but was not as politically damaging....

  • National Assembly of Quebec
    National Assembly of Quebec
    The National Assembly of Quebec is the legislative body of the Province of Quebec. The Lieutenant Governor and the National Assembly compose the Parliament of Quebec, which operates in a fashion similar to those of other British-style parliamentary systems.The National Assembly was formerly the...

  • List of third party leaders (Quebec)
  • History of Quebec
    History of Quebec
    Quebec has played a special role in Canadian history; it is the site where French settlers founded the colony of Canada in the 17th and 18th centuries.-Paleoindian Era :...


Primary sources

  • Patrick Allen et al., eds. La pensee de Henri Bourassa (1954)
  • Levitt, Joseph, ed. Henri Bourassa on Imperialism and Biculturalism, 1900-1918 (1970)
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