Daubigny, François-Théodule (named at birth Théodule-François), veterinarian, teacher, and school administrator; b. 13 Dec. 1865 in Saint-Denis, France, son of Victor-Théodule Daubigny* and Marie-Élise Chouquet; m. 8 Feb. 1897 Eda Gravel in the parish of Notre-Dame, Montreal, and they had one daughter; d. 1 April 1939 in Quebec City and was buried there four days later in Saint-Charles cemetery.
Born in France, François-Théodule Daubigny was to follow in the footsteps of his father, Victor-Théodule, who had come to Canada in 1872 and become a veterinarian (1879) and a teacher in the French section of the Montreal Veterinary College (1879–85). Then, in 1885, he co-founded the École de Médecine Vétérinaire de Montréal, with which he severed ties the following year to establish the École Vétérinaire Française de Montréal. This body, which was initially affiliated with the Université Laval in Montreal, would be the only francophone veterinary teaching institute in the province of Quebec to steer a successful course and survive until at least the beginning of the 21st century (known as the faculty of veterinary medicine of the Université de Montréal from 1969 [see Joseph-Alphonse Couture*].
François-Théodule’s education began in France, where in 1869 he entered the primary school in Saint-Denis. When he lost his mother, who died of puerperal fever on 19 Aug. 1872, barely three months after his father’s departure for Canada, he was placed with his sister Camille under the guardianship of his maternal grandparents. In 1873 he went with them to the Balincourt estate in Arronville. He attended the school at Arronville until he enrolled in September 1877 as a boarder at the Pontoise municipal college, where he did his classical studies. He left that establishment in June 1882 at the age of 16 with the intention of joining his father in Canada. In July of the same year he set sail for the New World; he would become a naturalized Canadian in March 1897.
Shortly after his arrival in Montreal, François-Théodule was encouraged by his father to study in Ontario so as to become proficient in the English language and thereby acquire a definite linguistic advantage in Canada. Following this advice, in the autumn he attended a college in Peterborough. Five years later he passed the entrance examination for the school recently founded by his father. He began his studies there on 4 Oct. 1887 and passed the final examination on 29 March 1889. On 9 April, aged 23, he obtained his diploma in veterinary medicine and received a medal for excellence from the commissioner of agriculture and colonization, William Rhodes.
The man who soon would be known as the “young” Daubigny had, in 1889, begun teaching practical anatomy at the École Vétérinaire Française de Montréal, his alma mater. The institution’s calendars attest to a rapid increase in his teaching load: practical surgery (1890), veterinary clinical practice (1891), bovine and small-livestock pathology (1892), anatomy, obstetrics, and surgical procedures (1901), and clinical medicine (1903). They also indicate his advancement. From 1896, while his father was becoming more involved in veterinary health initiatives in Quebec, François-Théodule was assuming more responsibilities at the school, which, the previous year, had been renamed the École de Médecine Comparée et de Science Vétérinaire de Montréal. In the autumn of 1896, for example, he delivered the opening address for the academic year and dealt with selecting the candidates for the program. His students would remember him as an authoritarian teacher, but one who was jovial and a practical joker. Daubigny also held the office of veterinarian for the city of Montreal from 1906 to 1908.
In 1909 Daubigny succeeded his father, who had died the previous December, as director of the school, which he was to turn into an unprecedented success over the next ten years. The number of students rose until the 1916–17 academic year, when a peak enrolment of 62 was reached. The average annual number of graduates doubled during the 1909–19 period compared with that of 1887–1908. In 1914 the school moved into a magnificent building at the Université Laval in Montréal, on the corner of Rue De Montigny and Rue Saint-Hubert. From 1915 it received a renewable federal grant based on enrolment. In Le Devoir on 20 Jan. 1915, following the opening of the first convention of Quebec veterinarians (organized by Daubigny), the École de Médecine Comparée et de Science Vétérinaire de Montréal was described as the “most modern of its kind in America.”
However, the veterinary hospital where clinical instruction was given had fallen into disrepair. As it had not been adapted to changing needs since the founding of the École Vétérinaire Française de Montréal in 1886, Daubigny wanted to replace it. He capitalized on the professional solidarity demonstrated at the convention, and also on the motion adopted by participants concerning the urgency of applying to the provincial government for financial assistance to build a modern veterinary clinic. Through a $30,000 grant thereby obtained, the school was able to inaugurate its new hospital in October 1918.
The three-year program of study was enriched and extended by one year in 1918. By doing so, Daubigny and the school’s board members sought to raise the status of the veterinary profession and attract more candidates. The establishment was affiliated to the Université de Montréal, and on 14 Feb. 1920 it was renamed the École de Médecine Vétérinaire de Montréal. In October it appeared on the list of institutions recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
In the 1920s, however, the post-war situation and the gradual replacement of horses by motorized vehicles ushered in a period of decline for the École de Médecine Vétérinaire de Montréal. According to Daubigny, students were now turning to disciplines such as medicine and law, which, without requiring more study, were reputed to be of a higher order and more financially rewarding. The school did indeed experience a significant decline in enrolment from 1919, when it had only 23 students; it had 16 in 1920. The federal grant, which was proportional to the number of students enrolled, was reduced and came to an end in 1925, placing the school in a precarious position. In 1927 the establishment, which had 16 students, was running a deficit.
At the same time, practitioners of veterinary medicine were turning their attention increasingly towards the sphere of agriculture, a shift that pointed to a possible linkage of the two fields. On 16 March 1928 the Université de Montréal appointed a committee of key figures in the university administration to examine the issue. On 30 May the committee suggested annexing the École de Médecine Vétérinaire – which would be relocated to Saint-Hyacinthe in 1947 – to the Institut Agricole d’Oka. The move took place during the summer of 1928 and the school, renamed the École de Médecine Vétérinaire de la Province de Québec, was placed in the charge of the Trappists. Daubigny resigned from his post as director the same year.
Because of his health, and perhaps owing to a certain lack of interest in a school of which he was no longer head, Daubigny subsequently taught only a few courses at Oka. In 1931 his name disappeared from the list of lecturers. He and his wife settled in Quebec City, where their daughter lived. There he occasionally practised veterinary medicine on behalf of colleagues. He died in 1939 from complications associated with heart disease.
Daubigny was awarded honours for his zeal in raising the status of the veterinary profession and the teaching standards at his school. From 1910 to 1934 he was governor of Notre-Dame Hospital in Montreal. In 1914 the French government named him a knight of the Order of Agricultural Merit, and then, in 1922, awarded him the officer’s cross. In 1932 he became honorary president of the Collège des Médecins Vétérinaires de la Province de Québec.
François-Théodule Daubigny carried his father’s work to its point of highest achievement by guiding the École de Médecine Comparée et de Science Vétérinaire through its most illustrious period. During his time as director, he helped lay the foundations for the establishment of veterinary medicine as an academic discipline and played a role in enhancing the influence that the profession would enjoy in the province. In his opinion, veterinary medicine was worthy of the same prestige accorded to medicine for humans. As he had stated in his inaugural address in 1896 (published that year in L’Union médicale du Canada), he saw the alliance of these two areas of medical science not only as an essential step towards winning society’s recognition of veterinary medicine, but also as a “condition for their mutual progress.”
François-Théodule Daubigny is the author of the following articles: “Les écoles vétérinaires en Canada,” L’Union médicale du Canada (Montréal), 25 (1896): 666–70 and “The teaching of veterinary science in the province of Quebec,” American Veterinary Medical Assoc., Journal (Ithaca, N.Y.), new ser., 18 (April–September 1924): 14–20.
Arch. en ligne, Saint-Denis, France, “État civil,” Saint-Denis, 14 déc. 1865: archives.ville-saint-denis.fr (consulted 29 Oct. 2012). BANQ-CAM, CE601-S51, 8 févr. 1897, 20 janv. 1899. FD, Cimetière Saint-Charles (Québec), 5 avril 1939. LAC, “Citizenship registration records, 1851–1945 – Montreal circuit court”: www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/immigration/citizenship-naturalization-records/citizenship-montreal-1851-1945/Pages/introduction.aspx (consulted 16 Jan. 2014); R194-40-3, 1259, file 248541; 1323, file 264286. Univ. de Montréal, Div. des arch., D 35, 1289; E 57, annuaire de l’École de médecine vétérinaire, 1920–25, 1926–28; annuaire de l’École de médecine comparée et de science vétérinaire de Montréal, 1896–97, 1901–5, 1906–7, 1909–10, 1911–20; annuaire de l’École de médecine vétérinaire française de Montréal, 1888–90; E 57, C6; E 57, 5B, 1; E 82. Le Devoir, 4 avril 1939. C. A. V. Barker and T. A. Crowley, One voice: a history of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (Ottawa, 1989). BCF, 1925. A. M. Evans and C. A. V. Barker, Century one: a history of the Ontario Veterinary Association, 1874–1974 (Guelph, Ont., 1976). F. E. Gattinger, A century of challenge: a history of the Ontario Veterinary College ([Toronto], 1962). C. A. Mitchell, “A note on the early history of veterinary science in Canada,” Canadian Journal of Comparative Medicine and Veterinary Science (Gardenvale, Que.), 2 (1938), no.12: 322–24; 4 (1940), no.1: 26–29, no.7: 206–8. “Nouvelles et informations: mérite agricole,” Recueil de médecine vétérinaire (Paris), 98 (1922): 412. Michel Pepin, Histoire et petites histoires des vétérinaires du Québec ([Montréal], 1986). Rémy Véronési, “Victor-Théodule Daubigny (1836–1908), promoteur de l’enseignement vétérinaire francophone au Canada (Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec): sa vie, son œuvre” (thèse de phd, univ. de Paris, 1986).