BARNARD, ÉDOUARD-ANDRÉ (baptized Edward André Benjamin), farmer, militia officer, Papal Zouave, editor, office holder, author, and lecturer; b. 30 Sept. 1835 in Trois-Rivières, Lower Canada, the son of Edward Barnard and Mathilde Blondin; d. 19 Aug. 1898 in L’Ange-Gardien, Que.
The Barnard family, which was originally from England, emigrated to New England in the 17th century. Édouard-André grandfather came to the province of Quebec in 1774. His father, Edward, a lawyer, became a member of the House of Assembly, Patriote, court clerk, and protonotary in Trois-Rivières. Third in a family of ten children, Barnard entered the Séminaire de Nicolet in 1846, but broke off his schooling in 1851. He later admitted that he had little inclination for classical studies; it appears, however, that he left the seminary because of financial difficulties and the precarious state of his father’s nerves. He went to work as a clerk for a merchant in Trois-Rivières, tried his luck in Montreal, and eventually returned to Trois-Rivières to look after his father’s farm. In 1862, in the hope that he might succeed his father as protonotary, he began studying law, but continued to work the family farm; he was called to the bar in 1867.
Barnard did not practise his new profession, choosing a paramilitary occupation instead. He had served in the militia since 1862 and was promoted major in 1867, the year that Giuseppe Garibaldi’s troops were attacking the Papal State at Rome and several countries were sending volunteers to help Pope Pius IX. On the strength of his experience, Barnard, obtaining a leave from the militia, placed himself at the disposal of the bishop of Montreal, Ignace Bourget*, and in October 1867 offered to put together a volunteer detachment. On 26 December he joined the committee in charge of organizing the first Canadian contingent of Papal Zouaves (on which his brother Edmund also sat), and in mid February 1868 he went to New York to make arrangements for transporting them across the Atlantic. As soon as the first group left, on 19 February, the committee set about preparing to send a second, but difficulties arose over the maintenance of the Zouaves in Italy.
At the end of March, Barnard was dispatched to Rome to negotiate conditions for the reception of the Canadian contingents and for their living accommodation. On his return, he redoubled his efforts to carry out plans for further detachments. His initiatives met with little success, however, whether at home or in Rome, where the touchy chaplain of the Zouaves, Louis-Edmond Moreau, had seen Barnard’s arrival as a sign that the Catholic hierarchy of Quebec lacked confidence in him, and had begun nursing a personal rivalry. Moreover, since Barnard gave the impression of wanting to run everything, questions were raised about his refusal to enlist as a common soldier; despite his undeniable good qualities, he was suspected of being unscrupulously ambitious.
According to historian René Hardy, Barnard did indeed see the Zouave movement as a means of getting ahead socially. This ambition and his consequent impatience compromised the prospects of his project, especially since his vision that a bona fide army of Canadian Zouaves would engage in dramatic military operations to crush Garibaldi’s troops did not correspond to the expectations of the Canadian Catholic Church. In Bourget’s opinion, it was not a matter of raising a large and powerful army, but of using the situation to foster a renewal of devotion to the pope and a sustained interest in the question of the future of the Papal State. Despite his personal aims, however, Barnard was able, as Hardy notes, “to summon enough humility for the unpleasant side of some of his undertakings to be overlooked.”
Late in 1868 Barnard returned to Trois-Rivières and to agriculture. He became a correspondent for La Semaine agricole (illustrée), a weekly published in Montreal from the fall of 1869 by the Council of Agriculture in collaboration with the agricultural school at L’Assomption. The periodical replaced Joseph-Xavier Perrault*’s La Revue agricole (Montreal), for which Barnard had written previously. In 1870 he became editor of the new publication and began giving talks on farming. It was at this time that he moved to Varennes, near Montreal. His articles and lectures soon brought him to the attention of the Quebec commissioner of agriculture and public works, Louis Archambeault*, who sent him to Europe in 1871 as an immigration agent. Barnard’s mission, which was one element in a strategy of agricultural education and rural economic development, was to bring good French-speaking Catholic farmers from France, Belgium, and Switzerland to Quebec. During this first trip (and a six-month stay in 1872 on behalf of the federal government), he visited schools of agriculture and farm organizations.
Back in Quebec Barnard remained in the employ of the Department of Agriculture and Public Works as a settlement agent. He travelled around the province to assess the performance of the colonization companies and gave a series of lectures on the art of good farming. It was probably on the basis of this experience that the government later set up a small group of speakers who were to visit farm clubs and teach the principles of scientific farming.
During one of these speaking engagements, Barnard met Amélie Chapais, the daughter of Jean-Charles Chapais*, a Conservative senator and father of confederation, to whose home in Saint-Denis, near Kamouraska, he was invited. He soon fell in love with her. But the prospect of a marriage between his daughter and this man 17 years her senior, who was considered unstable by the senator’s acquaintances, did not appeal to Chapais. Barnard, hoping to win favour with him, ran as a Conservative candidate for Verchères in the elections of January 1874. He was defeated. An approach to Mme Chapais, to whom he had written a long autobiographical letter on 4 June 1873, proved more successful. At Saint-Denis on 22 July 1874, amid great pomp and ceremony, the 38-year-old Barnard married young Amélie. By this marriage he consolidated his position as a full-fledged member of the French Canadian bourgeoisie. To please his wife he gallicized his name, signing himself Édouard rather than Edward. They were to have 14 children, 3 of whom died at an early age.
Barnard had also come back from Europe with an idea that sugar-beet farming could be introduced in Quebec to create a new market for farmers and reduce dependence on imported sugar. Although it did not become as widespread as he had hoped, it did get under way in the province, despite the difficulties involved in establishing the refineries required for a sugar industry.
With the coming of confederation in 1867 and the establishment of provincial governments, Quebec had had to create a new agricultural organization in keeping with the spirit of the constitution. The Board of Agriculture of Lower Canada had been replaced by the Council of Agriculture of the Province of Quebec, which was given jurisdiction over the county societies. On several occasions Barnard rebelled against this council, which confined itself to organizing, with the help of the local societies, exhibitions at which good farmers, who did not need government assistance, shared among themselves in the form of prizes the public funds intended for improving agriculture. In his opinion, this costly system did not assist Quebec’s agricultural development, and others agreed with him. He encouraged the formation of farm clubs, which with the support of the clergy operated at the parish level, and he was an ardent champion of their educational and economic activities. The clubs were not officially recognized until 1894, by which time they covered virtually the whole province and had a significant number of members. In retrospect, they can be said to have spearheaded the modernization of Quebec agriculture, giving rise to an agricultural cooperative movement that has become a significant economic force in Quebec.
For a long time the agricultural élite had been talking about the need to publish a major newspaper that would help educate farmers. After considerable debate the provincial government decided in October 1876 to finance Le Journal d’agriculture (Montreal) and to make Barnard its editor. He was also named director of agriculture within the Department of Agriculture and Public Works. These moves were a personal triumph for him. Convinced that the Council of Agriculture was ineffective, he wanted the newspaper to be free of its control and under the department. With his appointment as director, Barnard became, in a sense, an influential adviser to the commissioner and gained the freedom to carry out his cherished projects for the progress of agriculture. He did excellent educational work through the newspaper, which, given the means available at the time, was of superior quality in both appearance and content. It must be admitted, however, that this method of popularization was not really appropriate for an agricultural class with little or no education.
Barnard’s most notable contribution to the progress of agriculture in Quebec was undoubtedly the expansion of the dairy industry. In his many talks to farm clubs, as well as in his writings, he extolled the financial advantages that would accrue both to farmers and to the province’s economy from butter and cheese production. Although some of his observations display a rather traditional view of farming, Barnard, in a demonstration of his brilliance as an agricultural economist, wrote a paper in 1880 that showed, with statistics, the economic advantages of concentrating on dairy products as compared with the production of meat or grain, which had been declining in Quebec since the opening of the Canadian west. He encouraged farmers to establish small parish dairies for making butter and cheese. To stimulate the growth of this industry, he went into partnership with his brother-in-law, Thomas Chapais*, in 1881, and founded a dairy-school at Saint-Denis to train operators and the first government inspectors of dairy plants. He also helped set up the Industrial Dairy Society of the Province of Quebec in 1882. Through the zealous work of Abbé Théophile Montminy, it would become an important instrument for promoting and developing the industry, thereby revitalizing an agriculture in need of reorientation since the early 19th century. During his travels in Europe, Barnard had correctly assessed the prospects of selling Canadian butter and cheese to the British market; towards the end of the century a spectacular increase in exports of these products would bring new prosperity to the Quebec countryside.
Despite his considerable influence in the growth of the dairy industry in Quebec, Barnard was not able to achieve a like success in his efforts to set up an effective system for research in agronomy and training for farmers. Even while carrying out his administrative duties, he was almost always working a piece of land which he hoped to turn into an experimental farm that would be recognized and taken over by the government and the professionals in agriculture. Unfortunately, whether at Trois-Rivières, Varennes, Rougemont, or L’Ange-Gardien, all his interesting experiments in techniques such as fertilization, conservation of natural fertilizers, land drainage, crop rotation, weed control, improvement of livestock, and silo construction, met with failure at every turn and he fell heavily into debt. When it came to teaching, Barnard was not always kind to the agricultural schools at Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière (La Pocatière) and Rougemont, which were under the control of the local classical colleges. He hoped to see an increased number of such schools set up, each in affiliation with an experimental farm and run by a community of farming monks. A debate was then raging as to the relative merits of building a single large agricultural school or several establishments in different regions. According to his biographer Marc-André Perron, Barnard proposed the most logical solution: several elementary agricultural schools, but only one for agronomy. He also initiated the teaching of domestic science, participating from 1891 to 1895 in founding the first institution devoted to the subject, a school run by the Ursulines at Roberval to instruct girls who would marry farmers in the complexities of rural home economics.
Barnard was dead before any organizations able to ensure the development of an authentic Quebec agronomy were set up, but he had defined a program of research and experimentation for them, notably in “Éloge de l’agriculture.” This address, delivered in 1878, had won him the prize at the public-speaking contest on this theme organized by the Institut Canadien of Quebec and was published in Le Journal d’agriculture in February 1879. It is not only a remarkable plea in favour of training for farmers, but also a collector’s item for the study of the ultramontane ideology that had swept over Quebec with the 1871 Programme catholique [see François-Xavier-Anselme Trudel*]. Barnard begins with a reference to agriculture as a divine institution, quoting Bishop Félix Dupanloup; he ends his eulogy with practical comments on the sorry state of agriculture among French Canadians, mentioning, for example, waste of manure and ignorance about fertilizers and drainage. In his view, the solution lay in the education of farmers and especially in a revaluation of agriculture by the well-to-do classes.
When Honoré Mercier became premier in 1887, his government sought to establish its authority by effecting a number of administrative reforms, including the creation in 1888 of a Department of Agriculture and Colonization; the premier assumed this portfolio himself, with curé François-Xavier-Antoine Labelle as his assistant commissioner. Despite his Conservative connections Barnard was invited, at Labelle’s request, to move to Quebec and, by an irony of fate, become secretary of the Council of Agriculture, the body whose ineffectiveness and even fraudulent practices he had constantly criticized. To him this move represented a kind of demotion, a dismissal from his prestigious position as director of agriculture. However, even when the Conservatives were returned to power in 1891 and Louis Beaubien* became commissioner of agriculture, Barnard’s professional status remained unchanged. He did not see eye to eye with Beaubien, either on matters of agronomy or on the social and economic organization of agriculture; for instance, Beaubien did not believe in the existence of the “Canadian cow,” for which Barnard had won recognition as a “thoroughbred” and which he had worked so hard to encourage farmers to breed.
Although this last period of Barnard’s life was less dramatic, it was none the less extremely active and full of accomplishments. First there was the drafting of regulations for the Mérite Agricole. This order, instituted in 1890, revived the farm contests held by county agricultural societies under the auspices of the Council of Agriculture, and was modelled on the Mérite Agricole of France, for which Jules Méline had drawn up the legislation in 1883. However, according to Barnard, who had been working on this project for several years, the resemblance was in name only. The French order was an honorary distinction given at the government’s discretion to reward a long and productive career in agriculture, whereas in Quebec the award followed a competition, with an independent jury visiting farms.
Barnard’s name was also linked to the formation of the Syndicat des Cultivateurs of the province of Quebec, a proposal which had resurfaced in January 1892 at a convention of the Industrial Dairy Society. For a long time Barnard had been toying with the idea of a large-scale farmers’ union that would bring together the members of the farm clubs set up in most parishes, and would take as its mandate an economic restructuring on cooperative principles. He hoped the Council of Agriculture, which dealt with all aspects of agricultural activity, would make this project its own, but it was the Industrial Dairy Society that took the initiative and in 1892–93 launched an organizational drive with the help of the bishops, who promoted it in their pastoral letters. However, in the absence of government grants the union slowly and quietly expired. The commissioner of agriculture, Beaubien, chose instead to support the formation at Montreal in 1892 of the Syndicat Central des Agriculteurs du Canada; but this body never managed to attain a leadership role and proved even more ephemeral than the other union.
At the end of 1893, at Beaubien’s request, Barnard wrote his Manuel d’agriculture, for which he was to receive $2,500, a sum he badly needed because of his many debts. On the basis of his earlier talks and his personal experience, he produced one of the first authentic works of Quebec agronomy, which made a typically Quebec science of agriculture available to the farming sector. Before it was published in May 1895 in Montreal, the only treatises available on agriculture were slightly modified works by French writers, who, in the spirit of the times, did their best to help the farming population but who had no specific knowledge of the subject. A print run of 2,500 – about half the circulation of Le Journal d’agriculture, of which Barnard was still the editor – was distributed free of charge by the Department of Agriculture to the directors of agricultural organizations, but there were unfortunately not enough copies to supply all farmers with this 534-page popularizing work, containing 1,000 articles and more than 250 illustrations.
Although Barnard’s attempt to have a second edition printed was unsuccessful, in 1897 he published another work, La colonisation bien faite, from which he took a series of articles that appeared in the Quebec newspaper La Vérité from March to July of that year. According to Perron, Barnard was prompted to demonstrate his knowledge of and interest in the question of settlement by the prospect of obtaining the position of assistant commissioner in a new Department of Colonization and Mines: its first incumbent, sworn in in January 1897, was none other than his brother-in-law, the Conservative Thomas Chapais, who had supported him in his work and in his financial difficulties. Despite his complete and devoted obedience to the Catholic Church, Barnard was far-sighted and courageous in strongly opposing the system of settlement organized by the church along the lines of a public charity. According to him, colonization could not be run “by beggars for beggars,” but had to be undertaken by members of a respectable and socially recognized profession (to use modern terms).
At the Council of Agriculture Barnard was preoccupied with other questions, such as the role of the clergy in promoting agriculture. Under his influence the Catholic Church in January 1894 instituted the agricultural missionary movement, which brought together parish priests who were already prime movers in the farm clubs. These agricultural missionaries eventually persuaded the political authorities in the province to introduce a program in agronomy at the university level and to put the first graduates in agricultural science at the service of the farming community, a stage reached by 1913. In 1895 Barnard also helped to create the Société des Bons Chemins and became its secretary. This pressure group wanted the government to play a more active role in regard to rural roads (at that time a municipal responsibility), since their poor condition had become an obstacle to the progress of agriculture. Barnard was also president of the Société Générale des Éleveurs d’Animaux de Race Pure du Québec from its foundation in September 1895 until 1898. A tireless worker, he still found time to collaborate with Hadelin Nageant, his assistant editor at Le Journal d’agriculture, in research and experimentation on a new, entirely Canadian, chemical fertilizer composed of phosphates and soluble in potassium carbonate. In 1897, however, the Patents Branch of the Department of Agriculture refused to recognize this invention.
To sum up the enormous life work of Édouard-André Barnard, who is described by Quebec historians as one of “the most famous agronomists and lecturers in the province of Quebec,” is no easy task. One of its essential elements is clearly his notable contribution to the development of the dairy industry. Professional agronomists, moreover, recognize that he was a forerunner who realized that the agricultural sciences could only develop through experiments on the land in which the variables of a region’s ecology could be controlled. Lastly, the contribution of the “great agricultural educator,” as Perron termed him, lay in his concern not only to contribute new knowledge but to popularize agronomy for the benefit of farmers, and hence of society itself.
AC, Québec, État civil, Catholiques, L’Ange-Gardien, 22 août 1898. ANQ-MBF, CE1-48, 1er oct. 1835; P-3. ANQ-Q, CE3-15, 22 juill. 1874; P1000-58-1125. CRCCF, P 32/I/A: 61; Ph 32 (photographies). Que., Parl., Doc. de la session, 1880, no.2, Rapport du commissaire de l’agriculture. L’Événement, 19 août 1898. René Hardy, Les Zouaves; une stratégie du clergé québécois au XIXe siècle (Montréal, 1980). Bruno Jean, Les idéologies éducatives agricoles (1860–1890) et l’origine de l’agronomie québécoise (Québec, 1977). J.-C. Magnan, Le monde agricole (Montréal, 1972), 12–13. M.-A. Perron, Un grand éducateur agricole: Édouard-A. Barnard, 1835–1898; étude historique sur l’agriculture de 1760 à 1900 ([Montréal], 1955). J.-B. Roy, Histoire de la Corporation des agronomes de la province de Québec, 1937–1970 ([Montréal], 1971). L. de G. Fortin, “Rôle des agronomes,” Semaines sociales du Canada, Compte rendu des cours et conférences (Montréal), 12 (1933): 101–2. Magella Quinn, “Les capitaux français et le Québec, 1855–1900,” RHAF, 24 (1970–71): 538, 559.