DORION, PIERRE-ANTOINE, merchant, office holder, politician, and jp; b. c. 1789, son of Noël Dorion and Barbe Trudelle; d. 12 Sept. 1850 in Drummondville, Lower Canada.
An active and enterprising man, Pierre-Antoine Dorion set up a flourishing lumber business at Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade (La Pérade) that assured him a comfortable living. In 1829 the legislature of Lower Canada passed a schools act providing for the election of syndics, or trustees, to administer schools in every community. Dorion was chosen as a trustee in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade. According to a report written in 1832, there were six schools in the district; their success was probably directly related to the competence of the teachers, but also to the trustees’ energy. The achievements of the 1829 legislation must be credited in part to the dedication of people like Dorion and Jean-Baptiste Meilleur*.
By taking on this initial responsibility Dorion attracted the attention of his fellow citizens. Consequently, on 26 Oct. 1830 he was elected to the Lower Canadian House of Assembly for Champlain, and he sat until 27 March 1838, when the constitution was suspended and the assembly done away with because rebellion was brewing. While he was a member, Dorion held meetings at his home of assemblymen and Patriote sympathizers and showed himself to be an ardent defender of the principles being put forward by Louis-Joseph Papineau*.
To administer the school laws of the period the assembly in 1831 had formed a standing committee on education and schools, which was to receive the annual reports of the members of the house who had been named visitors, or inspectors, of the schools in their ridings. Dorion took his task as visitor seriously. In his report for 1835–36, for example, he indicated that in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, English, French, arithmetic, bookkeeping, and geometry were taught, noting that “the school teacher is very competent.” Similarly he saw to the purchase of books for impoverished pupils. He also concerned himself with the school timetable and even complained that there were too many holidays.
In August 1830 Dorion had been appointed commissioner to prepare the plans and estimates for the construction of a bridge over the Rivière Sainte-Anne. Six years later he became commissioner for erecting this bridge. On 13 April 1837 he was made justice of the peace for the district of Trois-Rivières.
Dorion seems to have had a distinct liking for lawsuits, a liking shared with the seigneur of Sainte-Anne-De La Pérade, Charles-Louis Tarieu* de Lanaudière. The two men would journey to Quebec and go their separate ways, only to meet at the courthouse. Whatever the outcome of the case, they would return home in as good a mood as when they had left. It may have been this propensity for litigation and quibbling that was at the root of the “unfortunate business affair” which almost ruined Dorion around 1837.
On 21 Feb. 1814 Dorion had married Geneviève Bureau, the daughter of Pierre Bureau; they had ten children, among whom were Antoine-Aimé*, Jean-Baptiste-Éric*, Vincislas-Paul-Wilfrid*, and Marie-Céphise, who became superior of the Sisters of Charity of Providence.
ANQ-MBF, CE1-48, 21 févr. 1814; CE2-6, 14 sept. 1850. PAC, RG 68, General index, 1651–1841. L.C., House of Assembly, Journals, 1835–36, app.OO. F.-J. Audet et Fabre Surveyer, Les députés de Saint-Maurice et de Buckinghamshire. Desjardins, Guide parl. P.-G. Roy, Les juges de la prov. de Québec. L.-P. Audet, Le système scolaire, vol.5; 6: 35, 47, 52. Ægidius Fauteux, “Sir Antoine-Aimé Dorion,” La Rev. du droit (Québec), 13 (1934–35): 589–97.