DEVISME, LÉOPOLD (named at birth Pierre-Jean-Baptiste-Furcy-Léopole), teacher and office holder; b. 24 Sept. 1816 in Domart (Domart-en-Ponthieu), France, son of Pierre-Louis-Fleur Devisme, a currier, and Geneviève-Adélaïde-Albertine Helluin; m. 7 May 1855 Aurélie Denis in Berthier-en-Haut (Berthierville), Lower Canada, and they had at least two children; d. 24 Feb. 1900 in Amiens, France.
Little is known about the life of Léopold Devisme before he came to Lower Canada. He studied at the Université de Paris and then is believed to have taught for about ten years in London, England. The first known date concerning his life in Lower Canada is that of his marriage, 7 May 1855. He was then teaching at the Académie de Berthier [see Louis-Marie-Raphaël Barbier*].
In 1857, when the École Normale Jacques-Cartier was founded in Montreal [see Pierre-Joseph-Olivier Chauveau*], Devisme was hired as a regular master, with full-time responsibilities at an annual salary of £350. He was assigned to teach analytical reading, French and English grammar, literature, elocution, and oratory, as well as geography and the history of France and of England. In addition, he took part in the public lectures organized by the school, speaking on the topics of French grammar and philology. For reasons of health he resigned his teaching position in July 1865; at this time he was earning $1,000 a year. By May 1866 Devisme was in Quebec, where he began working as a supernumerary clerk in the Department of Public Instruction, the successor to the Board of Education from 1856. He was hired for a three-month period at $1 a day, but three months stretched into 21 years of service. Devisme remained with the department until 1887. Soon after his arrival he became responsible for statistics. In 1880 he was appointed first clerk of French and English correspondence and first clerk of statistics. In 1883 he obtained the position of clerk first class, with an annual salary of $1,400. His intelligence, assiduity, and enthusiasm for his work earned him the respect of his superiors.
On 25 April 1887, in a letter to Gédéon Ouimet*, superintendent of public instruction, Devisme requested sick leave until 1 July, while waiting for the Council of Public Instruction to grant his application for a retirement pension. That year he went back to Montreal, residing for a short time at 263 Rue Amherst. On 8 Nov. 1888, having made arrangements for his pension to be transferred to him in France, he returned to his native land. He settled in Amiens, where he endured the ordeal of a lengthy illness that forced him heavily into debt.
There is little information about Devisme’s family life. His wife died at Quebec on 16 July 1877 at the age of 44. At least one of their two daughters accompanied him to France.
AD, Somme (Amiens, France), État civil, Domart (Domart-en-Ponthieu), 24 sept. 1816. ANQ-M, CE5-1, 7 mai 1855. ANQ-Q, CE1-22, 18 juill. 1877; E13/1865, no.1615; E13/1866, no.734; E13/1873, no.699; E13/1880, no.94; E13/1881, no.1683; E13/1882, no.1534; E13/1883, no.36; E13/1887, no.468; E13/1888, no.1538; E13/1900, no.633. Arch. du Tribunal de grande instance (Amiens), État civil, 24 févr. 1900. Quebec directory, 1868–69, 1876–78, 1880–81, 1883–87. [L.-]A. Desrosiers, Les écoles normales primaires de la province de Québec et leurs œuvres complémentaires; récit des fêtes jubilaires de l’école normale Jacques-Cartier, 1857–1907 (Montréal, 1909), 291, 375. Labarrère-Paulé, Les instituteurs laïques, 193, 200, 204, 207.
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