BARBIER, LOUIS-MARIE-RAPHAËL, physician, surgeon, militia officer, office holder, justice of the peace, politician, and landowner; b. 11 March 1792 in Berthier-en-Haut (Berthierville), Lower Canada, son of Raphaël Barbier, a farmer, and Josephte Tellier; m. first 21 Jan. 1815 Elizabeth Walker at William Henry (Sorel), Lower Canada, and they had three children; m. secondly 23 Aug. 1826 in Lanoraie, Lower Canada, Elizabeth Cairns, daughter of Alexander Cairns, the agent of the Berthier seigneury; d. 29 April 1852 in Berthier-en-Haut.
Louis-Marie-Raphaël Barbier studied at the Séminaire de Nicolet from 1805 to 1807. In 1808, at the age of 16, he began his medical training under James Walker of William Henry, where he settled upon being admitted to the medical profession in 1812. He served as a surgeon in the Saint-Ours battalion of militia, and then was transferred to the Voltigeurs Canadiens in 1814 with the title of assistant surgeon. He resigned from this post in January 1815. That year he left William Henry and took up residence at Berthier-en-Haut, where he practised medicine until his death.
Barbier soon took an interest in local questions. He served as commissioner for roads and bridges in Warwick County in 1817. In 1821 he was named a justice of the peace for the district of Montreal, an appointment renewed in 1826, and was also appointed commissioner for the summary trial of small causes at Berthier-en-Haut, a post from which he resigned on 13 Aug. 1837. He was active as well in politics. In 1823 he served as president of the constitutional committee of Warwick County. The following year he was elected for the riding of the same name to the House of Assembly, in a contest in which he had to combat the political influence of Ross Cuthbert*, the owner of Berthier seigneury. Soon after the election Barbier wrote a letter thanking Barthélemy Joliette*, the owner of the neighbouring seigneury of Lavaltrie, for his support during the campaign. He kept his seat until 1827.
Barbier made himself known through his interest in public instruction, as well as through his brief entry into politics. In 1827 he founded the Society of Education at Berthier to “see to the means of spreading the benefits of education to the young people of all classes and beliefs in the parish of Berthier and its environs.” The society opened a non-denominational school which was run on grants from the assembly. In May 1827 the Académie de Berthier, which later became the Collège Saint-Joseph, had 50 pupils. However, the society ceased to exist in 1833, and in 1846 Barbier made over the building that housed the college to the school commissioners of Berthier parish.
Barbier seems to have been quite well off. He owned some lots in and around Berthier-en-Haut, and in 1830 built his residence in the village; it subsequently became known as the “doctors’ house.” The 1851 census listed three servants in his household, and reported that he owned about 130 acres under cultivation.
Louis-Marie-Raphaël Barbier’s career illustrates well the activity of the professional element in the French Canadian petite bourgeoisie of the 19th century, and especially the political and social role it played on the regional scene in Lower Canada.
ANQ-M, CE3-1, 21 janv. 1815; CE5-1, 11 mars 1792, 1er mai 1852; CE5-4, 23 août 1826; CN1-134, 14 nov. 1838; CN3-35, 28 juin 1836, 10 févr. 1846. PAC, MG 24, L3: 10137, 10211; MG 30, D1, 3: 249; RG 31, A1, 1851, Berthier; RG 68, General index, 1651–1841: 196, 255, 350, 358. L.C., House of Assembly, Journals, 1825, 1830. La Minerve, 6 mai 1852. Montreal Gazette, 6 May 1852. Le Pays, 7 mai 1852. F.-J. Audet, “Les législateurs du Bas-Canada.” Desjardins, Guide parl. Mariages du comté de Joliette (du début des paroisses à 1960 inclusivement), Lucien Rivest, compil. (4v., Montréal, 1969). Officers of British forces in Canada (Irving), 105, 185. Arthur Kittson, Berthier, hier et aujourd’hui (Berthier, Qué., 1953). Meilleur, Mémorial de l’éducation (1860), 88. Yves Champoux, “Sur la route de Berthier,” Le Nouvelliste (Trois-Rivières, Qué.), 14 oct. 1972: 9. DuVern [Richard Lessard], “Ls.-N.-Raphaël Barbier, médecin,” L’Écho de Saint-Justin (Louiseville, Qué.), 12 déc. 1935: 1. Édouard Fabre Surveyer, “James Cuthbert, père et ses biographes,” RHAF, 4 (1950–51): 88. “La Société généalogique,” Le Mois généalogique (Montréal), 2 (1949): 18.