Source: courtesy Wikimedia Commons
GAUTHIER, AMABLE, sculptor and architect; b. 11 Nov. 1792 at Saint-Jean-Baptiste-de-Nicolet, L.C., son of Antoine Gauthier and Gosephte Girardin; d. 30 June 1873 at Maskinongé, Que., and buried 3 July at Saint-Barthélémi (Berthier County).
Amable Gauthier was orphaned as a boy, and his uncle found work for him at the studio of the sculptor, Louis-Amable Quévillon*, the head of Les Écorres (an art studio) at Saint-Vincent-de-Paul (Laval). According to tradition the young apprentice, receiving free board and lodging while learning his trade, shared with his companions in the master’s undertakings. In this studio, the largest in the region, they were trained in sculpture, but also in the art of ornamentation by which an architectural creation is embellished and completed. Several of the apprentices, under Quévillon’s influence, were also to take up architecture. Thus Gauthier, with his master’s direction, worked on the churches at Lavaltrie, Saint-Ours, and Maskinongé.
After the master’s death in 1823, Gauthier took up residence at Saint-Barthélémi, near Berthier, and opened his own studio. In his turn, he developed around him a group of bright young architects and sculptors. He remained at Saint-Barthélémi until about 1850, and then went to Maskinongé to live. During the first years of his career he devoted himself to sculpture, and at the same time engaged in business. It was only after 1844 that he adopted the title of architect and contractor.
During half a century of work as a sculptor and architect, Gauthier, whom Gérard Morisset* has called the “prince” of Quévillon’s pupils because of the quality and quantity of his production, completed innumerable undertakings. Among the best known are the church of Sainte-Élisabeth at Berthier; the churches of Saint-Viateur and Saint-Paul at Joliette; the church at Berthier, which he restored and decorated with Alexis Milette; the famous statue of St Cuthbert, the altars of the church of Saint-Isidore at Laprairie, and the pulpit of the church of Saint-Barthélémi, sculpted at the age of 80.
Amable Gauthier had been promoted to the rank of militia captain in 1833, which did not prevent him from devoting himself to the nationalist cause: in 1837, for example, he hid two refugees in his own house.
Gauthier had married Euphrosine Gendron before his arrival at Saint-Barthélémi. They had at least 15 children, several of whom died in infancy. Their son Agapit, a sculptor of promise, died at the age of 25. Louis-Zéphirin, who was also trained in his father’s studio, became known particularly for his extensive work as an architect. He built more than 100 churches, among them those of Hull and Aylmer in Gatineau County.
AJTR, Registre d’état civil, paroisse Saint-Jean-Baptiste-de-Nicolet, 1792. Archives judiciaires de Nicolet (Qué.), Registre d’état civil, paroisse de Saint-Barthélémi. PAC, MG 30, D62 (Audet papers), 13, p.766. Gérard Morisset, Coup d’œil sur les arts en Nouvelle-France (Québec, 1941), 35–39. Émile Vaillancourt, Une maîtrise d’art en Canada (Montréal, 1920).