DE LISLE (Delisle), AUGUSTIN (also known as Augustin-Stanislas), notary and botanist; b. at Montreal and baptized 4 Nov. 1802, last child of Jean De Lisle* de La Cailleterie and Suzanne Lacroix-Mézières; d. 8 Jan. 1865 at Varennes, Canada East.
Augustin De Lisle received his classical education at the Collège de Montréal from 1813 to 1822. His first wife was Henriette, daughter of Pascal Trudel and Marie Charbonneau, whom he married on 18 May 1825 at Sainte-Famine-de-Boucherville. His second was to be Charlotte-Henriette, daughter of Joseph Ainsse Jr, seigneur of the Île Sainte-Thérèse, and Charlotte Vigneau; they were married on 15 May 1844 at Sainte-Anne-de-Varennes. He received his commission as a notary on 17 Dec. 1827, and practised his profession for nearly 17 years at Boucherville, then at Montreal (1845–47), Saint-Henri-de-Mascouche (1847–54), and again at Montreal until 1858. He was appointed curator of the Montreal Bar library in 1854, and held this position until his death.
As early as 1825, De Lisle, who inherited from his father a liking for the sciences, turned to the study of botany and started an herbarium. The majority of his manuscripts, however, date from after 1852, when he was living at Saint-Henri-de-Mascouche and visited Abbé Louis Gagné, a fellow enthusiast of the sciences staying at the local parish priest’s house. Thus De Lisle dedicated to Abbé Gagné, for his birthday in 1852, his “Hortus Eremi . . .” in which were described the trees and plants of Gagné’s garden, of the parish, and of the neighbourhood. In 1859 Jean-Baptiste Meilleur*, who had known De Lisle at the college and who corresponded with him, mentions a work on Canadian plants that De Lisle was trying to get published. This is probably “Essai, arbres arbrisseaux et arbustes du Canada dont le bois de service, les gommes, ont été présentés à l’Exposition de Paris, 1855,” a notebook of 142 pages with a few illustrations. Only one other notebook, more voluminous, seems to have been made ready for publication. Entitled “Petite pharmacie végétale . . .” and dated 1857, this manuscript comprises 271 pages and enumerates and describes the plants which have properties and medicinal qualities that may be domestically useful. The author mentions his authorities, such as Charlevoix* and Asa Gray, evidence of his considerable erudition. A reading of his manuscripts and notes reveals a sound knowledge acquired through regular consulation of the works of the great botanists of the period, botanizing excursions, and the practice of horticulture. This knowledge is manifest in the numerous notes at the bottom of the pages of a copy of Flore canadienne . . . which Abbé Léon Provancher* had presented to him, as well as in a manuscript prepared in 1856 and entitled “Phytographie et taxonomie, catalogue de plantes du Canada, cueillies et classées par la comtesse Dalhousie, présentées en 1827 à la Société historique de Québec, avec remarques et notes par A.D. . . .” A final manuscript, dated 1863 and unfinished, is called “Entretiens de deux jeunes botanistes canadiens dans l’isle de Montréal et quelques paroisses environnantes.”
As well as being meticulous and methodical, De Lisle must have been modest. All his manuscripts bear only his initials, or a pseudonym, such as “un amateur de botanique montréalais” or “un amateur de botanique canadien.” It was as the latter that he signed his only publication, a letter in La Minerve on 10 March 1859. It was an erudite and objective contribution to the controversy between Meilleur and Pierre-Joseph-Olivier Chauveau* over the name to be given to Sarracenia purpurea, a plant first described by Michel Sarrazin* which Chauveau wrongly called “Sarrazine.”
Although his achievement in botany was not outstanding, since his manuscripts remained unpublished, De Lisle gave valuable assistance to Abbé Provancher when the latter was compiling his Flore canadienne. Provancher mentioned him particularly in Le Naturaliste canadien: “In the compiling of our Flore, we were able to avail ourselves of the kindness of this gentleman in order to obtain a great deal of information concerning the geographical distribution of our plants.” Of the various amateurs who helped Provancher, such as Judge Louis-David Roy*, Bishop Edward John Horan*, and Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Ferland, De Lisle was certainly the most scholarly and persevering.
Institut botanique de Montréal, Papiers Augustin De Lisle. “Correspondance,” Le Naturaliste canadien (Québec), 2 (1869–70), 150–52. La Minerve, 10 mars 1859. Allaire, Dictionnaire. J.-E. Roy, Hist. du notariat, III, 95. Léon Lortie, “Deux notaires amateurs de science: Jean De Lisle et son fils Augustin-Stanislas De Lisle,” RSC Trans., 3rd ser., LV (1961), sect.i, 39–47; “Notes sur le ‘Cours abrégé de leçons de chymie’ de Jean-Baptiste Meilleur,” Assoc. canadienne-française pour l’avancement des sciences, Annales (Montréal), 3 (1937), 261. É.-Z. Massicotte, “La famille de Jean De Lisle de La Cailleterie,” BRH, XXV (1919), 175–86. Le Naturaliste canadien (Québec), 5 (1872–73), 230.