DUMOUCHEL, RAOUL (baptized Joseph-Léandre-Raoul), actor, notary, sports administrator, singer, journalist, and politician; b. 9 Nov. 1870 in the parish of Saint-Enfant-Jésus, Montreal, son of Louis-Napoléon Dumouchel, a notary, and Caroline Leblanc; m. 20 Aug. 1918 Blanche Laplante in Pointe-aux-Trembles (Montreal); d. there 12 Sept. 1931.
Raoul Dumouchel’s first school was the Collège Joliette, where his father had taught for a short time. In 1880–81 he took a bilingual commercial course there and won numerous prizes. The following year he attended the Petit Séminaire de Montréal. Dumouchel finished his classical studies in the period from 1888 to 1890 at the Collège Sainte-Marie. A brilliant student, he won the silver medal awarded by the governor general, Lord Stanley*. In 1891 he was admitted to the faculty of law at the Université Laval in Montreal. He articled with his father’s law office from 1891 to 1893, completed his llb in 1894, and was licenced as a notary on 8 September. He would be in partnership with his father until the latter’s death in 1904.
Throughout his career Dumouchel would never shirk his professional obligations. At the end of his life his minute-book would contain more than 7,000 instruments. According to his contemporaries, his office was one of the busiest in Montreal. But it was his involvement in the field of sports that would secure his claim to fame. Faithful to family tradition, which attached importance to physical fitness (his father had been a soldier), Dumouchel seems to have been able to strike the right balance between physical and mental development. As a student he had played baseball, lacrosse, football, handball, and hockey, among other sports. In the fall of 1896 he went to the Montreal Handball Club to coach the physician Joseph-Pierre Gadbois*, whom he had probably met at the Petit Séminaire de Montréal. Later on, the rapport between the two would be evident on many occasions.
Having worked as a journalist during his classical studies, Dumouchel became a sports editor at La Minerve in 1897, a position he held at several periodicals until 1904. La Minerve, which was attempting to modernize its content in order to compete with the new, French-language popular press, recognized the notary’s vast knowledge of sports and his connections with that world. (It would soon be said that he was a walking encyclopedia.) After La Minerve ceased publication in 1899, Dumouchel worked for Le Journal, the organ of the Conservative Party, which first appeared on 16 December. In 1901 he wrote for the Montreal periodical Le Pionnier and in 1903 for a new weekly published in that city, Le Sport (which would become Le Bulletin). He also penned many articles for La Patrie and La Presse.
At a time when a genuine sports culture was developing among francophones, Dumouchel often refereed important matches. His skills were much sought after by sports enthusiasts. In 1898, when the Montreal branch of the Association Saint-Jean-Baptiste came up with the idea for a grand sports tournament to enliven the French Canadian celebration, Dumouchel was one of the men chosen to organize it. The tournament being a success, the society again put its faith in him the following year and made him a member of its games committee. In September 1899 Dumouchel was a judge at a Labour Day athletic competition. He judged or refereed many matches of lacrosse, one of the most popular sports of the day. It was not only francophone groups that valued his vast knowledge of the game’s rules, but also, oddly, anglophone clubs who respected his impartiality.
His interest in trials of strength and his friendship with Gadbois, who was a supporter of these activities, led him to draw up the contract that would be signed by two strong women, Flosie La Blanche of New York and Magie Cloutier of Sherbrooke, Que. Not limiting himself to his role as notary, Dumouchel participated enthusiastically in lengthy discussions on how to determine the winner of a match: by the total number of points gained or the total number of pounds lifted. He and Gadbois were inclined to favour total weight, which they regarded as the more scientific approach. Dumouchel would maintain a keen interest in strong-men competitions throughout his life. In 1918 Léo Dandurand, who was to become one of the owners of the Canadiens hockey club, would pick Dumouchel to sit on a commission he had set up to organize a weightlifting tournament that would determine the champion strong man of North America.
But above all, it was his role in the administration and development of the Association Athlétique d’Amateurs Nationale that would ensure Dumouchel a certain longevity in the sports world. On 11 May 1895 he joined that important francophone organization founded on 2 April 1894 and better known, after 1918, as the Palestre Nationale. On 15 Dec. 1896 Dumouchel bought a $100 share, which made him a life member. At the annual meeting on 11 Nov. 1897 he was one of the nine members elected to the board of directors on which, until 22 November of the following year, he held the office of secretary (a post that he would again hold from 1912 to 1918). Among the responsibilities his colleagues assigned him was that of setting up activities intended to put money into the association’s coffers.
During the late 1890s Dumouchel took issue with the directors who wanted the AAAN to invest all its energy and its meagre resources in lacrosse. He argued in favour of an organization that would encompass a broad range of sports disciplines and would be competitive with the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association [see William George Beers*]. In the spring of 1913 and the spring of 1914 he obtained financial support from the AAAN for the runner Édouard Fabre, who in 1915 became the first French Canadian to win the Boston marathon. That year Dumouchel declared that to make the association better known, all sports should be encouraged. Ever persistent, he would voice this opinion again in November 1921. In his view the list of sports offered to members should be extended to include, among others, tennis, basketball, volleyball, and lawn bowling. He added that French Canadians had a talent for music and that this activity should be included in the AAAN program. In the same spirit, from AAAN’s earliest years, he had supported the proposal to build a huge gymnasium. This idea reappeared regularly on the agenda of the board of directors, but it would not begin to take definite shape until the extraordinary session of 13 Sept. 1913. That day Adolphe-Louis Caron, the president, submitted a proposal to the directors to purchase a large tract of land on Rue Cherrier. Dumouchel applauded this initiative, which, he believed, would enable as many members as possible to exercise.
A democrat at heart, Dumouchel encouraged members to participate in making the administrative decisions of their association. Thus, in May 1906 he had opposed, in vain, the majority of directors, who wanted to reserve directorships for life members. A pillar of the AAAN, Dumouchel attended almost all the general meetings held from 1895 to 1930. He sat on the board of directors as secretary, second vice-president (11 Dec. 1918 to 11 Nov. 1919), first vice-president (12 Nov. 1919 to 9 Nov. 1920) and president (10 Nov. 1920 to 8 Nov. 1921). He became the administrator when this position was created in 1920 and held the post for the remainder of his life. For several years he audited the financial statements. The directors elected him a member, secretary, or chairman of various committees: baseball, lacrosse, hockey, bowling and billiards, water polo, and physical education. He was their delegate to meetings of the National Amateur Lacrosse Union, the Dominion Lacrosse Association, the intermediate hockey league, the football league, and the Amateur Athletic Union of Canada.
On joining the board of the AAAN, Dumouchel had been given a mandate to revive Le National baseball club. This move came at a time when baseball was growing in popularity among French Canadians following the formation in 1896 of the Montreal Baseball Club and its subsequent affiliation in 1897 with the professional Eastern League. During the 1897 season the Montreal team, made up of American players, had drawn crowds to its field at the corner of Rue Sainte-Catherine and Avenue Atwater. That fall, to realize a return on its investment, the team asked Joseph (Joe) Page, an important figure in developing and popularizing baseball in the province of Quebec, to organize a league that would play on the club’s diamond, but the project did not materialize. The best amateur clubs in Montreal feared that the Eastern League would walk off with some of their gate receipts. To counter this risk several proposals for leagues were put forward. In February 1898 Le National considered setting up a provincial league composed of teams from Trois-Rivières, Sorel (Sorel-Tracy), Saint-Jean (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu), Hull (Gatineau), Farnham, and Saint-Hyacinthe. Aided by J.‑A. Marier, the president of the Indépendants de Montréal, Dumouchel sent a circular to several clubs and went in person to encourage those that were ambivalent. On 7 April 1898 the rules of the Ligue de la Province de Québec, commonly referred to as the Ligue Provinciale, were adopted. Dumouchel was named president of the association, which opened its season on 22 May and brought together three clubs from Montreal (National, Mascotte, and Indépendants), as well as teams from Sorel, Saint-Hyacinthe, and Saint-Jean. The new organization, created in response to the arrival of professional baseball in Montreal, may have seen itself as the future farm team of the Montreal club. Indeed, at the request of Charles Dooley, that club’s manager, Dumouchel assembled a team composed of the best players from the Ligue Provinciale, which played on 24 July against the Cuban Giants, a professional club established in New York City and made up entirely of American blacks. In this way Dooley hoped to pick up a few local players in order to attract more francophone spectators.
The growing popularity of baseball created a demand for rules written in French. At the end of the 19th century there was nothing readily available in the province of Quebec except Spalding’s base ball guide … and Reach’s official base ball guide, published respectively in Chicago and Philadelphia. To remedy this situation Dumouchel, with the help of Joseph Marier, sports editor at La Patrie, and J.‑P.‑R. Drouin, the manager of the Montagnard baseball club, published in June 1900 Canada’s first book on sports written in French. Entitled Le Sport, guide official … (Montréal), it devoted 48 of its 234 pages to the rules of baseball, “as adopted by the National League and the American Association.”
Dumouchel was also among those calling for the incorporation of the Richelieu Athletic Club, which was accomplished on 21 June 1900 with a social fund of $5,000. About two months later he was elected to the board of directors of the Association des Francs-Tireurs de Montréal, where he rubbed shoulders with Gadbois and Arthur Lamalice. In 1904 he was president of the Royal, one of the better Montreal bowling clubs. On 2 April 1914 he was present at the founding of the Ligue Provinciale de Crosse. In the late winter of 1918 the owners of billiard halls and bowling alleys in Montreal formed an association; regarding Dumouchel as a loyal supporter of these two sports, they elected him president. In that year Dumouchel also presided over the increasingly uncertain fate of the National Amateur Lacrosse Union. In 1921 he headed a group working to send the swimmer Omer Perrault to England to swim across the English Channel.
With the resurgence of nationalism among many francophones, Dumouchel put his journalistic pen to work for French Canadian athletes, whom he considered unfairly attacked by some anglophones. He fought to have the national lacrosse team designated the only one authorized to sign francophone players. He also wanted to increase the popularity of athletic activities. For him sports, a source of pleasure and a school for discipline and solidarity, contributed to the physical improvement of a race, trained men of action, and served as a safeguard against vice. Dumouchel believed that if the men he cited as heroes of New France had accomplished such great things, it was because they combined exceptional physical qualities with courage and intelligence. He said that he was proud of the success of his contemporaries (Louis Cyr*, for example) and was delighted by the notably large part that sports played in the lives of French Canadians.
Dumouchel was also interested in the arts and literature. He was born into a family in which everyone – particularly his uncles Léandre-Arthur and Édouard Dumouchel – loved music. From his earliest childhood he studied piano and singing. In 1896 he was the secretary of the choir of Le Gesù, where he took courses given by the conductor, Alexandre-Marie Clerk. Choir members sang at musical events organized by the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association on 16, 17, and 18 Feb. 1897 at the Academy of Music. Dumouchel sang the tenor role in Gounod’s L’affût in the company of Lamalice, A. Comtois, and Raoul Masson. In 1900–1 he was a member of the singing group the Soirées de Famille, which performed plays and music. When he left the Collège Sainte-Marie, he joined the Cercle Ville-Marie, which was run by the Sulpicians. From 1891 to 1894 he had roles in at least eight comedies mounted by that group, including Les deux timides by Eugène Labiche and Marc-Michel, and two operettas. Like his father, he had a passion for Canadian history and especially for the rebellion of 1837–38, in which his grandfather, Ignace Dumouchel, had taken an active part, even giving shelter to the Patriote leader, Louis-Joseph Papineau*.
Dumouchel was also interested in politics. He helped Gadbois win a seat on the city council in Montreal’s Saint-Louis Ward in 1906. He himself would be elected a municipal councillor in Pointe-aux-Trembles, where he lived after his marriage in 1918. He was active in the federal Conservative Party, for which he was an unsuccessful candidate in the riding of Maisonneuve in the election of 1926.
Raoul Dumouchel was one of those worthy French Canadians – notaries, physicians, journalists, hoteliers, small businessmen – who, at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, established clubs and associations and encouraged participation in sports. They also played a part in developing a sports culture among their fellow citizens.
The gist of Raoul Dumouchel’s biography is drawn from newspapers, particularly Le Devoir, 1910–31, La Patrie, 1898–1901, 1920–31, and La Presse, 1893–1931. The following newspapers were also used: L’Autorité nouvelle (Montréal), 26 avril 1914; Le Canada (Montréal), 29 août 1903; 6 mars, 15 avril, 17, 28 août 1918; 26 mai 1924; Le Journal (Montréal), 18 déc. 1899–28 sept. 1901; La Minerve (Montréal), 11 oct. 1897; Le Monde illustré (Montréal), 11 juin 1898; Le Nationaliste (Montréal), 21 févr. 1911, 14 nov. 1920; and Le Réveil (Montréal), 15 sept. 1915.
Arch. de l’Univ. du Québec à Montréal, 1P. Arch. du Séminaire de Joliette, Québec, Fichier des anciens élèves. BANQ-CAM, CE601-S21, 10 nov. 1870; CE601-S45, 20 sept. 1839; CE601-S51, 10 sept. 1867; MSS125, 2006-10-001/772; 2006-10-001/1053. FD, Saint-Enfant-Jésus-de-la-Pointe-aux-Trembles (Montréal), 20 août 1918. Annuaire sportif national (Montréal), 1 (1919), 1, special no. titled Numéro souvenir: l’inauguration du Palestre de l’A. A. d’A. nationale de Montréal. BCF, 1926: 492–93. Collège Joliette, Directory (Joliette), 1880–81. Directory, Montreal, 1866–1912. A.‑C. Dugas, Gerbes de souvenirs ou mémoires, épisodes, anecdotes et réminiscences du collège Joliette (2v., Montréal, 1914), 2: 106–7. Alfred Dumouchel, “Notes d’Alfred Dumouchel sur la rébellion de 1837–38 à Saint-Benoît,” BRH, 35 (1929): 31–51. Encyclopédie de la musique au Canada (Kallmann et al.), 1: 975. Jean Hétu, Album souvenir, 1878–1978: centenaire de la faculté de droit de l’université de Montréal (Montréal, 1978). J.‑M. Larrue, Le théâtre à Montréal à la fin du XIXe siècle (Montréal, 1981). Olivier Maurault, Le collège de Montréal, 1767–1967, Antonio Dansereau, édit. (2e éd., Montréal, 1967). Quebec Provincial Board of Notaries, Tableau général des notaires de la province de Québec ([Montréal], 1928), 95. Quebec Official Gazette, 1900: 1380. Répertoire et compte rendu des noces d’or du collège Joliette, 1846–1897 (Joliette, 1897). R.‑L. Séguin, Le mouvement insurrectionnel dans la presqu’île de Vaudreuil, 1837–1838 (Montréal, 1955). “Soirées de famille,” L’Annuaire théâtral (Montréal, 1909), 58–65.