PHILIPPON, JOSEPH-ANTOINE, teacher, militia officer, and merchant; b. 19 March 1789 at Quebec, son of Yves Philippon, dit Picard, a shipwright, and Marie-Louise Faucher; m. 11 Aug. 1817 Claire Taschereau, illegitimate daughter of Thomas-Pierre-Joseph Taschereau, at Sainte-Marie-de-la-Nouvelle-Beauce (Sainte-Marie), Lower Canada; buried there 4 June 1832.
On 8 April 1801 the lieutenant governor of Lower Canada, Sir Robert Shore Milnes*, gave assent to the act setting up the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning. The legislation, which provided the governor with wide powers in the field of education, was received coldly by the Catholic clergy. At Sainte-Marie-de-la-Nouvelle-Beauce the parish priest, Antoine Villade, would probably not have agreed to the creation of a royal school if prominent individuals had not intervened. On 4 March 1814 Jean-Thomas Taschereau and Olivier Perrault presented a petition to Governor Sir George Prevost* for such a school. Four days later the request was granted; Joseph-Antoine Philippon is believed to have started teaching on 11 March.
Philippon received an annual salary of £54. It is thought that he lived in the presbytery until he was married and that he gave his lessons in a house belonging to Father Villade and then at his own house, which was near the parish church. In 1820 he was teaching English, French, writing, and arithmetic to 25 schoolboys. At that time there were only a few families in the village, and they, like the clergy, were not all in favour of the royal schools. This may partially explain the small number of pupils. The secretary of the Royal Institution, Joseph Langley Mills, nevertheless demanded that a school be built, and it was put up in 1823. Three years later Philippon’s salary was reduced to £30 a year on the ground that the school was “being held irregularly.” Philippon tried to defend himself by citing the severity of the winter, the distance of pupils from the school, and the topography of the parish as reasons for the absenteeism. But a few months later Mills announced that the establishment would soon be shut and offered Philippon a teaching post at Terrebonne, which he refused. The school finally closed on 12 Jan. 1828.
Because of his education and initiative Philippon had become an important person who was held in esteem in the parish. After his marriage his father-in-law had given him a house. Subsequently Philippon bought 120 arpents of land. While teaching he had been at the same time engaging in trade and serving in the local militia. On 2 Jan. 1818 he was commissioned captain and ten years later he held the rank of major. In 1821 he became secretary of the Société d’Agriculture de la Nouvelle-Beauce, which had been founded that year. In this capacity he had to prepare reports on agricultural exhibitions and competitions which were held at Sainte-Marie-de-la-Nouvelle-Beauce.
Joseph-Antoine Philippon drowned in the Rivière Chaudière, but the circumstances surrounding his death are not recorded. Following an inquest, his body was buried at Sainte-Marie-de-la-Nouvelle-Beauce on 4 June 1832. After this tragedy Philippon’s family, which included several children, moved away to other parishes in the vicinity.
ANQ-Q, CE1-1, 19 mars 1789; ZQ6-45, 11 août 1817, 4 juin 1832. Boulianne, “Royal Instit. for the Advancement of Learning.” Provost, Sainte-Marie; hist. civile; Sainte-Marie; hist. religieuse. L.-P. Audet, Le système scolaire; “Deux écoles royales, 1814–36: Sainte-Marie de la Nouvelle-Beauce et Cap-Santé,” RSC Trans., 3rd ser., 50 (1956), sect.i: 7–24.