BARNARD, JOSEPH (baptized Joseph-Marie-Basile), lawyer, journalist, and archivist; b. 14 June 1872 in Trois-Rivières, Que., son of James Barnard and Eliza Marchand; m. there 9 Jan. 1905 Alida Perreault, and they had two sons and a daughter; d. there 24 Feb. 1939.
The son of a civil engineer and land surveyor in Trois-Rivières, Joseph Barnard came from a family that had been living in the Mauricie region since the arrival of his grandfather, Edward Barnard. Of English origin and Protestant conviction (he renounced those religious beliefs in 1828 on his marriage to a French Canadian), Edward Barnard represented Trois-Rivières in the House of Assembly from 1834 to 1838 as a member of the Parti Patriote. He was sent to prison in Montreal in 1838 for taking part in the rebellion. A lawyer by training, he became clerk of the crown and protonotary of the district of Trois-Rivières (1844), clerk of the Circuit Court (1849), and clerk of the Superior Court. He purchased 34 acres of land and established a farm on it that was bought by the Collège des Trois-Rivières in 1867.
Joseph Barnard had his early schooling with the Brothers of the Christian Schools in Trois-Rivières and did his classical studies at the Séminaire de Saint-Joseph des Trois-Rivières, but later left his native city to study law at the Université Laval in Montreal. After he had earned his degree and been admitted to the bar of the province of Quebec in July 1897, he worked in Montreal, first in the law office of his uncle Edmund Barnard and then in his own practice. During this period he took his first steps in journalism by contributing to various publications. He also campaigned for the Conservative Party during the federal election of 1900.
From the fall of 1902 Barnard practised law in Trois-Rivières, and he would do so for the rest of his life. Little is known about his legal career. Over the years, he probably devoted more and more time to journalism. Whenever Fortunat Lord was absent, he acted as the deputy recorder for the district of Trois-Rivières. Around the 1920s he is believed to have also acted as legal counsel for some French companies doing business with the Trois-Rivières shipyards.
Barnard set up his law office in the building housing Le Trifluvien, the city’s leading newspaper, which was Conservative and ultramontane in allegiance. In October 1902 he began writing the political section of the paper. After the great fire of 1908, during which the publication’s premises were among those destroyed, Bishop François-Xavier Cloutier of Trois-Rivières, with the assistance of parish priests and prominent citizens, launched Le Bien public in the city to replace the now-defunct newspaper, which had been a valuable ally of the ecclesiastical world. In this period, following the writings of popes Leo XIII and Pius X in favour of developing the “good press,” other Catholic newspapers were springing up in the province, including L’Action sociale in Quebec City in 1907 [see François-Xavier-Jules Dorion; Paul-Eugène Roy*] and Le Devoir in Montreal in 1910 [see Henri Bourassa*].
The episcopal corporation of Trois-Rivières, which financed Le Bien public when it was founded on 8 June 1909, chose Barnard as the weekly’s manager and editor-in-chief. From 1911 he worked under the authority of an executive board responsible for ensuring that the publication conformed to certain moral principles decreed by the bishop; as a result, many articles and editorials dealt with such topics as the temperance movement, charitable societies, agricultural and labour unions, and savings and loan cooperatives. In December 1913, after trying for years to secure the newspaper’s survival in the face of insufficient revenue, the episcopal corporation found a way of sharing the financial risks. Management of the enterprise was handed over to the Compagnie Le Bien Public, with the episcopal corporation as its majority shareholder. Barnard stayed on as editor-in-chief, but not as manager. He became instead, as secretary of the company, an active member of the management committee. According to the minutes of the general meeting of 4 Feb. 1914, he did not have to pay to become a shareholder because of his “services from the beginning” to the paper. In addition, the episcopal corporation cancelled the debts he had incurred on behalf of Le Bien public. He had, indeed, invested money in 1911 when he purchased printing equipment and a supply of paper from F.‑X. Vanasse for $7,000, payable in monthly instalments of $500.
The episcopal corporation, which would again become the sole owner of Le Bien public in 1925, still had difficulties to face, but through the determination of a number of people, including Barnard, it would manage to keep the newspaper under religious authority for some 20 years longer. Le Bien public met a serious competitor in 1920 with the establishment in Trois-Rivières of the daily Le Nouvelliste. As editor-in-chief, Barnard had to join in the effort to revive his paper. There were campaigns to attract subscribers, advertisers, and donors; two issues were published each week instead of one; new features (travel, historical, and literary columns, news items, crossword puzzles) were added. In 1921 it had a circulation of 5,600, an increase of 600 since 1915: this was a record, according to Barnard. Three years later Le Nouvelliste was printing more issues than Le Bien public, whose financial situation continued to deteriorate.
In 1933 the episcopal corporation sold Le Bien public to Clément Marchand and Raymond Douville, two dynamic young laymen well known in literary circles, who became editor and manager respectively. Barnard left the post of editor-in-chief, which he had held for more than a quarter of a century, without bidding goodbye to readers. This soon aroused the indignation of Camille Duguay, the manager of La Voix des Bois-Francs in Victoriaville. The new owners explained that the episcopal corporation had first offered to sell Le Bien public to Barnard, but that he had declined the proposal. They added that they could not pay him the salary required to keep him on the editorial staff. During the last years of his life, Barnard contributed to Le Nouvelliste on several occasions. From November 1936 he was also publisher of the monthly Le Mauricien in Trois-Rivières, working with its editor, Charles-Auguste Saint-Arnaud. When Saint-Arnaud accepted a position with Le Droit in Ottawa, he suggested that Marchand and Douville take his place at Le Mauricien. Barnard decided in the spring of 1937 to leave the publication, probably because of a dispute about his salary and the paper’s content.
In June 1921 Barnard had received for his dedicated work in the Catholic press the title of knight of the Order of St Gregory the Great, a pontifical honour obtained for him by Bishop Cloutier during a visit to Rome. As Cloutier noted in 1925 in the Bulletin paroissial de Notre-Dame des Sept Allégresses (Trois-Rivières), Barnard accepted it as the “son of a former Papal Zouave.” His father had fought in Italy from 1867 to 1870, while his uncle Édouard-André Barnard* had been mainly involved in organizing contingents of Zouaves in Canada. Around 1886, the two men were living with their families in the same residence in the parish of Sainte-Ursule. It was there that Joseph had grown up, surrounded by fervent Catholics.
In addition to acting as a lawyer and a journalist, Barnard was one of the group that in 1926 founded the Société d’Histoire Régionale des Trois-Rivières, where he focused on research in legal history. Its some 50 members, mainly amateur historians recruited from the clergy and members of liberal professions in the region, urged for many years that an archivist be appointed for the district of Trois-Rivières. Barnard’s name was put forward as a candidate as soon as he left Le Bien public. The provincial government of Maurice Le Noblet Duplessis* found him a position in the courthouse archives in October 1938. Barnard died four months later.
An educated man who loved his native city, Joseph Barnard was one of the leading figures of Trois-Rivières. He devoted all his energy to his legal profession and his journalistic career. As editor-in-chief of Le Bien public and secretary of the company of that name, he had to satisfy both the moral demands of the bishop and the economic imperatives connected with the development of a newspaper. Like other members of his family who had fulfilled their religious duty by enlisting as Zouaves, Barnard joined the apostles of the “good press,” to which he gave his all throughout his working life.
Arch. de l’Évêché de Trois-Rivières, Québec, Fonds Le Bien public, procès-verbaux des assemblées générales des actionnaires de la Compagnie du “Bien public,” 1914–25. Arch. du Séminaire de Trois-Rivières, 0014 (fonds Albert Tessier), Q3-1 (Soc. d’hist. régionale de Trois-Rivières); 0021 (fonds Séminaire Saint-Joseph de Trois-Rivières), M1-33 (Barnard, ferme), vente par Wm McDougall, ecuier es qualité, à George Badeaux, ecuier es qualité, 5 mai 1868; 0368 (fonds Trifluviens du 19e et 20e siècle), 009 (Barnard, famille). BANQ-MCQ, CE401-S48, 15 juin 1872; P3. FD, Immaculée-Conception, cathédrale l’Assomption (Trois-Rivières), 9 janv. 1905. Le Bien public (Trois-Rivières), 7 juin 1921, 1er juill. 1926. Le Devoir, 24 févr. 1939. Le Nouvelliste (Trois-Rivières), 31 oct. 1938, 24 févr. 1939. Le Trifluvien (Trois-Rivières), 14 oct. 1902. BCF, 1922. Brigitte Hamel, Recensement de la paroisse de Trois-Rivières, 1886 (Trois-Rivières, 1990). René Hardy et al., Histoire de la Mauricie (Sainte-Foy [Québec], 2004). Mandements, lettres pastorales et circulaires des évêques de Trois-Rivières (34v., Trois-Rivières, 1852–1999), 8. “M. Joseph Barnard,” Le Mauricien (Trois-Rivières), 1 (1936–37), no.1: 1. Maude Roux-Pratte, “Le Bien public (1909–78): un journal, une maison d’édition, une imprimerie; la réussite d’une entreprise mauricienne à travers ses réseaux” (thèse de phd, univ. du Québec à Montréal, 2008).