JACQUIES, ADOLPHE, shopkeeper, printer, trade unionist, and newspaperman; b. c. 1798 in Bordeaux, France, son of Hilaire-Jacob Jacquies and Adélaïde Prahm; m. 10 June 1828 Catherine Ponsy at Quebec, and they had nine children; d. there 30 Jan. 1860.
Adolphe Jacquies arrived in Quebec shortly before 1826, and at first opened a confectioner’s shop on Rue Saint-Jean. He became a typographer, and struck up a friendship with Napoléon Aubin*, for whom he printed from 1837 the weekly Le Fantasque, one of the most widely read newspapers in the city. Although moderate in its political leanings, the paper was distinguished by an ironical tone and lively satire. Not surprisingly, because of its articles criticizing the government and its acknowledged sympathy for the Patriotes of 1837, it drew the wrath of Quebec’s chief of police, Thomas Ainslie Young. When Aubin was arrested on 2 Jan. 1839, Jacquies was not spared; he was taken into custody, and his presses, paper, and type were seized. He was held in an unhealthy prison without any charges being laid by the crown, and was released on bail on 22 February at the request of several doctors. The incarceration had a lasting effect, depriving him of the ability to move normally for the rest of his life. Several months later his presses and type were returned to him in damaged condition. In 1846 he claimed compensation from the government for the wrongs done to him on this occasion; in 1852 the rebellion losses commissioners appointed by the government granted him an indemnity of £100.
In July 1839, having recovered his presses, Jacquies decided to print and publish his own newspaper, the Canadian Colonist and Commercial Advertiser, an English-language bi-weekly. This paper consisted largely of advertisements and material reprinted from other newspapers but it also contained political articles by Jacquies. When the Act of Union came into effect, the paper immediately denounced the anti-democratic character of this measure, which deprived the inhabitants of Lower Canada of fair representation and established a sizeable civil list. In Jacquies’s view the act constituted an impediment to democracy, “strik[ing] a fatal blow at Colonial liberty.” The printer also protested against the dubious practices employed by the governor, Lord Sydenham [Thomson*], during the 1841 elections. Conscious that the timber trade was important for the Canadas, he opposed the advocates of free trade in England, noting that Canadians needed revenues protected by imperial preference to buy manufactured goods from Great Britain. Although the paper ceased publication in 1841, certain news items imply that Jacquies favoured Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine*’s strategy of seeking a rapprochement between the reformers of Lower Canada and those of Upper Canada.
That year Jacquies became the owner of the British North American, a tory tri-weekly published at Quebec that he renamed the Quebec Argus. Unfortunately there are only two issues of this paper extant and it is impossible to follow the political direction pursued by its publisher. From 1844 to 1847 Jacquies put his presses at the disposal of the Quebec Times, a tory tri-weekly under the editorship of John Cordner* and John Henry Willan*. Nothing is known of Jacquies’s career in later years, but it is possible that he took up residence at Montreal, for his wife died there in 1847.
More noteworthy than his activity as printer and newspaper editor is the interest Jacquies showed in unionizing the printers of Quebec. By 1827 they had started a union that apparently was short-lived. Under Jacquies’s stimulus it was reorganized in 1836, under the name Canadian Typographical Union. Initially, this body had 66 members, and it set as its objectives “to promote good understanding between employers and workers, to establish a reasonable pay scale, to prevent competition often unfair to conscientious employers, to educate members, and to help the families of members stricken by illness.” In 1839 it demanded a salary increase from the master printers, citing the higher cost of living. It is not known what attitude Jacquies adopted on this question, which was of direct concern to him since he was then a master printer. During the first half of the 19th century the idea of trade unions showed a good deal of originality; he probably had been persuaded to it in France.
One of the first to defend workers’ rights, Adolphe Jacquies had also promoted liberal ideas in Lower Canada. Responsible government meant for him the political freedom of the people, while trade unionism represented his wish for economic democracy for the workers.
ANQ-Q, CE1-1, 10 juin 1828. Can., Prov. of, Legislative Assembly, Journals, 20 April 1846. Canadian Colonist and Commercial Advertiser (Quebec), 16 Nov. 1840; 22 March, 12, 26 April 1841. Le Journal de Québec, 31 janv. 1860. Beaulieu et Hamelin, La presse québécoise, 1: 107–8, 118, 132. Fauteux, Patriotes. Montreal directory, 1842–60. Quebec directory, 1847–60. 100e anniversaire de l’Union typographique de Québec no. 302 (Québec, 1936). Charles Lipton, Histoire du syndicalisme au Canada et au Québec, 1827–1959, Michel Van Schendel, trad. (Montréal, 1976), 40–41. J.-P. Tremblay, À la recherche de Napoléon Aubin (Québec, 1969). F.-J. Audet, “Les Canadiens et la Guerre de Sécession,” BRH, 46 (1940): 357–58. “L’imprimeur Adolphe Jacquies,” BRH, 42 (1936): 540.