CARROLL, HENRY GEORGE, lawyer, politician, judge, and office holder; b. 31 Jan. 1865 in Saint-Louis-de-Kamouraska (Kamouraska), Lower Canada, son of Michael Carroll, a mail driver and secretary to judge Joseph-André Taschereau*, and Margaret Campbell; m. 1 June 1891 Amazélie Boulanger in Sainte-Agathe, Que., and they had two daughters; d. 20 Aug. 1939 at Quebec and was buried 23 August in Kamouraska, Que.
The son of an Irish Catholic father and a Scottish Protestant mother, who were both immigrants, Henry George Carroll was considered by his contemporaries “a French Canadian, by education, language, heart, and mind,” as he would be portrayed by the Montreal newspaper Le Devoir shortly after his death. Doing his classical studies at the Collège de Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière (1879–85), studying law in the Université Laval at Quebec (1885–89), and, of course, marrying a woman of French Canadian origin were factors in his acculturation.
Having obtained his llb degree at the end of the 1888–89 school year, Carroll was called to the Quebec bar in early July 1889. From 1890 to 1897 he would work at Quebec in partnership with Adélard Turgeon*, who was elected the Liberal mla for the riding of Bellechasse on 17 June 1890. Appointed a provincial qc on 9 June 1899, he went into partnership with Edgar-Horace Cimon. He exercised his profession in Fraserville (Rivière-du-Loup), where he built up a large and lucrative practice.
In 1891 Turgeon suggested to Charles-Alphonse-Pantaléon Pelletier*, who played an important role in the Liberal organization at Quebec, that he choose Carroll to succeed Alexis Dessaint, the mp for Kamouraska, who had died in an accident the previous year. In the general election of 5 March 1891, the 26-year-old candidate defeated his Conservative opponent, Thomas Chapais*, who was then the editor of Le Courrier du Canada at Quebec.
Initially, Carroll was a member of the opposition. His first important speech was on a motion attacking the new postmaster general, Sir Adolphe-Philippe Caron*. In 1892 the Liberals accused Caron of having diverted to an election-fund grants intended for the Quebec and Lake Saint John Railway and the Temiscouata Railway. The opposition wanted the matter to be examined by the select committee on privileges and elections [see Sir James David Edgar*].
In April 1894, in the committee of ways and means, Carroll denounced the damaging effects of protectionism. He took the occasion to outline his main concerns. He spoke of the thousands of people who were leaving the country to work in the United States and again accused Caron of corruption, but above all he blamed the government of Manitoba for having created a secular school system in 1890 [see Thomas Greenway*].
In the debate on the Manitoba school question, Carroll championed that province’s minority again in March 1896, when parliament was studying the remedial bill during second reading. In an elegant speech, he approved the principle of the bill, but considered it too coercive to be applied and favoured “arbitration” instead. As a francophile, he proclaimed his disagreement. “I am against this law because I think it is the death-blow to the French language in the province of Manitoba.” He thus supported opposition leader Wilfrid Laurier*’s proposal that the discussion of the bill be delayed for six months.
In the general elections of June 1896 and November 1900 Carroll’s opponent was Thomas-Linière Taschereau, the former Conservative mp for Beauce. In 1896 Taschereau was counting on the influence of Chapais, speaker of the Legislative Council of Quebec, to tip the scales. During the 1900 campaign, Carroll criticized Chapais, according to historian Robert Rumilly*, for “his tactic of attributing everything that went wrong to Laurier [and] everything that went right to Providence.” Carroll was re-elected both times and continued to sit in the House of Commons.
Now prime minister, Laurier, who thought highly of the mp from Kamouraska, made him solicitor general on 10 Feb. 1902 to replace Charles Fitzpatrick*. Carroll was unopposed in the by-election of 28 Feb. 1902, and thus his appointment was confirmed. It was a banner year for him not only politically but also professionally for in 1902 he also became a doctor of laws of the Université Laval and was made a federal kc. In 1904, while on a trip to London, he informed the prime minister that he was quitting politics because of a lung condition. His closest friends had long been aware of his desire to give up public life, and the Quebec newspaper Le Soleil would report on 30 January that “it was at their urgent insistence that he had not done so sooner.” Before leaving, Carroll recommended Ernest Lapointe* to succeed him in the riding.
Carroll became a judge of the Quebec Superior Court for the district of Gaspé on 29 Jan. 1904, the day after he resigned as an mp, and then in 1907 for the district of Rimouski. He was elevated to a deputy judge of the Court of King’s Bench on 27 Nov. 1908 and in 1909 to a judge of this court, an office he would retain until 1921. As deputy judge to Jean Blanchet, he acted in 1908 as the official commissioner for the revision and consolidation of the statutes of Canada. He had also been a member of the Council of Public Instruction in August 1906.
In 1912 Carroll was chairman of the commission to inquire into the sale of intoxicating liquors in Quebec. In his report, which was published the following year, the judge proposed the Swedish system, based on monopoly, as a model. In 1921 the government of Louis-Alexandre Taschereau* passed a bill setting up the Quebec Liquor Commission. Carroll was vice-president of this body from 1921 until 1929.
Because of the sudden death on 28 March 1929 of Sir Lomer Gouin*, the lieutenant governor of Quebec, the government was forced to adjourn the sitting for that day, after which parliament would be prorogued. It was judge Carroll who on 4 April was appointed as the 16th lieutenant governor. On the day of his swearing-in he read the speech proroguing the session of parliament.
One of Carroll’s duties as the king’s representative was to pronounce on the legitimacy of the bill to amend the Quebec Controverted Elections Act. Usually known by the name of the member who introduced it in the Legislative Assembly, Joseph Henry Dillon, the bill was adopted following the provincial election of 24 Aug. 1931, when the Liberals won a crushing victory. For the Conservatives, who took only 11 of the 90 seats, it was a bitter defeat. Although the legitimacy of Taschereau’s mandate was not in question, Camillien Houde*, the leader of the Conservative Party, and Thomas Maher, a wealthy party organizer, undertook to contest the elections of 63 Liberal mlas. Taschereau’s government reacted dramatically. To foil the plan of the Conservatives, the Dillon bill was introduced in the house. The act would require a challenger to pay “from his own moneys” the deposit of $1,000 required for the appeal, and would apply retroactively to any disputes then in progress. As a last resort, Houde and 73 other mlas and defeated candidates asked the lieutenant governor not to give royal assent. Convinced that it was his duty to respect the ministers’ decisions, Carroll refused this “appeal to the throne” and the bill was assented to on 17 Dec. 1931. He asserted, however, that the principle of the measure was wrong, but that he was responding to an extraordinary situation.
Carroll remained in office until 3 May 1934, when he was succeeded by Esioff-Léon Patenaude*. He then retired to his home on Quebec’s Grande Allée and he continued for a while to participate in public life as vice-president of the Caisse d’Économie de Notre-Dame de Québec. After a long illness, he died at the age of 74 and a half years. Beneath gentlemanly manners, this very modest figure stood out by his attachment to the French language, and, most certainly, the high culture he had acquired through his passion for reading.
The author is grateful to Mme Jeanne Taschereau (Dumais), granddaughter of Henry George Carroll, who granted an interview on 29 Sept. 2003 in Quebec. A magnificent photograph of the subject appears in the book that the author published with Frédéric Lemieux and Pierre Hamelin: L’histoire du Québec à travers ses lieutenants-gouverneurs (Sainte-Foy [Québec], 2005).
Arch. de l’Assemblée Nationale (Québec), P22 (fonds Henry George Carroll). BANQ-BSLGIM, CE104-S3, 1er févr. 1865. BANQ-Q, CE301-S66, 8 juill. 1855; CE305-S2, 1er juin 1891. Le Devoir, 21 août 1939. L’Événement, 21 août 1939. La Presse, 21 août 1939. Le Soleil, 30 janv. 1904. F.‑J. Audet et al., “Les lieutenants-gouverneurs de la province de Québec,” Cahiers des Dix (Montréal), 27 (1962): 252–53. BCF. Can., House of Commons, Debates, 1892, 1894, 1896. DPQ. Parl. of Can., “Senators and members of Parliament”: www.parl.gc.ca/SenatorsMembers.aspx?Language=E (consulted 1 April 2013). Rumilly, Hist. de la prov. de Québec, vols.8–9, 25, 31, 33.
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Cite This Article
Christian Blais, “CARROLL, HENRY GEORGE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 16, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed March 30, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/carroll_henry_george_16E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||Christian Blais|
|Title of Article:||CARROLL, HENRY GEORGE|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 16|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||2013|
|Year of revision:||2013|
|Access Date:||March 30, 2023|