Source: courtesy Wikimedia Commons
DELAGRAVE, CYRILLE, lawyer, member of the Council of Public Instruction for Lower Canada; b. 25 Nov. 1812 at Sainte-Marie-de-Monnoir (Rouville County), L.C., of the marriage of François Delagrave and Geneviève Amiot; d. 15 Sept. 1877 at Quebec.
Cyrille Delagrave was educated at the Petit Séminaire of Quebec and received his legal training in the office of René-Édouard Caron. He was called to the bar on 8 Aug. 1838, and practised in partnership with the future judge Jean Chabot*. In 1854 he was appointed secretary of the commission responsible for applying the law that abolished seigneurial rights in Lower Canada; he became a member of this commission in 1859, and shared in its activities until its dissolution [see Edward Short]. In 1868 he was offered the opportunity of succeeding Judge John Gawler Thompson on the bench of the Superior Court for the Gaspé district, but he declined for reasons of health. However, on 22 Oct. 1872 he agreed to replace Jacques Crémazie as recorder of the town of Quebec, a post he held until his death.
Cyrille Delagrave had always an intense interest in the education of the young; it is one of the remarkable aspects of his career. On 26 May 1862 he was appointed a member of the Council of Public Instruction for Lower Canada (or Canada East), in place of François-Xavier Garneau*. He took his task seriously, attending 17 of the 20 sessions of that body from 1862 to 1869. On 11 Nov. 1862 he supported the superintendent, Pierre-Joseph-Olivier Chauveau*, who proposed holding sessions of the council only twice a year (in May and November). At the same meeting Delagrave was appointed inspector of the Board of Examiners [see Jean-Baptiste Meilleur], with the duty of submitting reports. The ensuing accounts, which appeared in the Journal de l’instruction publique, show that he performed his task conscientiously.
In 1869, when the Council of Public Instruction was reorganized and divided into two committees, Cyrille Delagrave was nominated to the Catholic committee. In 1871 Bishop Jean-Pierre-François Laforce* Langevin suggested forming a commission, with Cyrille Delagrave as a member, which would be responsible for preparing a series of French reading texts for schools. Final approval of five books written by André-Napoléon Montpetit* was granted by the council on 12 May 1875.
On 9 June 1875 the prime minister, Charles-Eugène Boucher* de Boucherville, consulted Cyrille Delagrave about reorganization of the Ministry of Public Instruction and changes to be made in the composition of the denominational committees of the council. The 1875 law implemented the suggestions formulated by the bishops of Quebec and the members of the council. Once more Cyrille Delagrave was named as a member of the reorganized Catholic committee, which included all the bishops whose dioceses were situated entirely or partly in the province, and an equal number of laymen. He was still a member of it at the time of his death on 15 Sept. 1877 at Quebec. It was at Quebec that on 6 Nov. 1844 he had married Louise Mason, by whom he had at least three children.
AJM, Registre d’état civil (notes biographiques fournies par J.-J. Lefebvre). ANQ, PQ, Éducation, Registre de copies de lettres envoyées, 1868–1919, XVI, 506. PAC, MG 30, D62 (Audet papers), 10, pp.277–81. JIP (Montréal), nov. 1862, 190; oct. 1863, 153. Le Courrier du Canada (Québec), 15 sept. 1877. P.-G. Roy, Les avocats de la région de Québec, 121–22. Audet, Histoire du conseil de l’Instruction publique. Pierre Boucher de La Bruère, Le conseil de l’Instruction publique et le comité catholique (Montréal, 1918).