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DUHAMEL, GEORGES, lawyer, editor, politician, and newspaper owner; b. 2 Jan. 1855 in Belœil, Lower Canada, son of Toussaint Duhamel, a farmer, and Théotiste Ostilly (Ostigny); m. 30 Jan. 1883, in Montreal, Marie-Catherine-Cordélia Dugas, daughter of Adolphe Dugas, a physician and Patriote, and they had three sons and a daughter; d. there 11 Aug. 1892.
After attending the Collège Saint-Marie-de-Monnoir in Marieville, Georges Duhamel decided to become a lawyer. He articled with two Montreal law firms: Longpré et Dugas, and then De Bellefeuille et Turgeon. Called to the bar on 11 Jan. 1879, he went into partnership with Joseph Adam. Adam et Duhamel, which was established at Montreal, continued under that name until 1889, when a new partner was added and it became Adam, Duhamel et Plourde. At the time of Duhamel’s death in 1892, it had recently been reorganized as Duhamel, Pelland, Girard et Pelletier.
From 1878 to 1880 Duhamel was vice-president of the Club Cartier, an organization in which Joseph-Adolphe Chapleau figured prominently; he was chosen its president in 1881. Duhamel took part in several electoral campaigns as a Conservative activist. In 1881 he became editor of the nationalist newspaper Le Courrier de Montréal, which ceased publication in April 1883. Duhamel left the Conservative party in 1885 at the time of the Riel affair [see Louis Riel*] and he was a key figure, with Liberal Laurent-Olivier David*, in the Montreal Comité des Amis de Riel. He was one of the main organizers of the famous rally held on 22 Nov. 1885 on the Champ de Mars in Montreal, which is regarded as the prelude to the formation of Honoré Mercier’s Parti National. He became one of the leading officials of the party in the Montreal area. As co-secretary of the Comité National de Montréal with H. J. Cloran, the editor of the Montreal Daily Post, he took an active part, at Mercier’s side, in the campaign during the provincial election of October 1886. He was to be instrumental in founding a new version of the newspaper Le National at Montreal in 1889 to defend the interests of the Parti National against both the Conservatives and the more radical Liberals, and he remained its owner until his death.
Duhamel had run in Laprairie as a Parti National candidate in the provincial election of 1886 but was defeated. He entered the Legislative Assembly through a by-election on 11 Dec. 1886 in the traditionally Liberal riding of Iberville. He sat as a National Conservative, with Louis-Napoléon Larochelle*, Ferdinand Trudel, and Avila-Gonzalve Bourbonnais, on the cross-benches. When Mercier formed his first cabinet, in 1887, he appointed Duhamel solicitor general. In 1888 the premier made him commissioner of crown lands, an office he held until 1891. In this capacity he was able to get a bill passed on forests giving settlers greater access to the province’s timber [see François-Xavier-Antoine Labelle], as well as one on mines retaining for the provincial government all sub-soil mineral rights. He was re-elected for Laprairie in June 1890 but was defeated with three of his ministerial colleagues in the general election of March 1892, called after the government was dismissed by Lieutenant Governor Auguste-Réal Angers*.
Ruined both financially and physically through his involvement in politics, Georges Duhamel died in Montreal on 11 Aug. 1892, at the age of 37.
ANQ-M, CE1-33, 30 janv. 1883; CE1-49, 2 janv. 1855; CE1-51, 13 août 1892. J. Hamelin et al., La presse québécoise, vols.2–3. Montreal directory, 1889–92. Rumilly, Hist. de la prov. de Québec, 5: 48, 69, 83, 113–14, 163, 191–92, 195; 6: 28–29, 119; 7: 42.