GAUTHIER, LOUIS-ZÉPHIRIN, architect; b. 25 Aug. 1842 in Saint-Barthelémy (Saint-Barthélemy), Lower Canada, son of Amable Gauthier*, a woodcarver, and Euphrosine Gendron; m. first 25 Oct. 1864 Marie-Erménie Bourret in Rivière-du-Loup (Louiseville), Lower Canada; m. secondly 6 Feb. 1890 Marie-Louise Leduc in Sorel, Que.; he was survived by four children; d. 24 Dec. 1922 in Outremont, Que.
Trained by his father, who had been an important artisan in the studio of woodcarver Louis Quévillon* at the beginning of the 19th century, Louis-Zéphirin Gauthier began his career at an early age in the family sculpting and architectural workshop, along with his brothers Édouard, Olivier-Oscar, and Agapit. At the time the Gauthier family was working on the ornamentation for the churches of Sainte-Geneviève (now in Berthierville) and Saint-Barthelémy in the parish which then bore the name Saint-Barthelémi, in partnership with Alexis Milette*, another artisan who had likely come from Quévillon’s studio. In this period, when there were no professional schools, sons were taken into their father’s studios for their training. Once the apprenticeship was completed, the son could be considered a journeyman in the enterprise.
In keeping with tradition, Gauthier did not take over the studio until his father’s death in 1873. His brothers Agapit and Édouard had died by this time and Olivier-Oscar had settled on their father’s land. The diocese of Saint-Hyacinthe, which was developing rapidly, called on his services, and Gauthier drew up the plans for many religious buildings in the region, including the Collège du Sacré-Cœur in Sorel, the Saint-Hyacinthe cathedral, and the parish churches of Immaculée-Conception in Saint-Ours and Sainte-Anne and Saint-Joseph in Sorel. He also carried out repairs to many churches, all of them located in the Richelieu valley. The architect, who produced traditional construction plans using only stone and wood, made his home in Sorel until at least 1888. In all likelihood that was the year he went into partnership with Victor Roy, an important Montreal architect who had begun his career in Chicago, where he had learned to use structural metal. Together they built the parish churches of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce in Hull, Saint-Joseph in Ottawa, and Saint-Victor in Alfred, Ont.
After 1890 Gauthier relocated to downtown Montreal on Rue Saint-Jacques. The city was enjoying prosperous times and its population was growing rapidly, circumstances that made it attractive to experienced architects. Gauthier and Roy drew up the plans for other large churches in the diocese of Ottawa, while also keeping busy with residential construction in Montreal. This collaboration produced such large-scale buildings as the churches in Embrun, Vankleek Hill, Hawkesbury, Casselman, and Rockland, in Ontario, and those in Aylmer, Chapeau, and Grenville, in Quebec. But it was in Montreal that the two architects created their most striking religious structure, the parish church of Saint-Louis-de-France, which they began building in 1890 on Rue Roy near Rue Saint-Denis. It is a perfect example of late Victorian architecture and bears witness to the extreme wealth of decoration in which the architects of the period could indulge. Like most of the churches built at that time in large parishes, both urban and rural, the building had a steel framework, which made it possible to create large spaces unobstructed by columns.
After his partner’s death in 1902 Gauthier carried on his work in the field of religious architecture with Joseph-Égilde-Césaire Daoust, a young architect trained at the École Polytechnique in Montreal. The firm extended the reach of its expertise by designing institutional buildings. The architects were then concentrating their efforts in the diocese of Saint-Hyacinthe and the archdiocese of Montreal, where the great parish church of Saint-François-d’Assise in Longue-Pointe, built in 1913, remains their major achievement. At the same time, but especially from 1905 to 1908, they continued to renovate and enlarge existing Roman Catholic churches. Sometimes, as in the case of the church of Sainte-Geneviève (now in Pierrefonds), their mandate was to bring them into line with contemporary taste. They also drew up the plans for a number of residential buildings, including the houses of Joseph-Édouard Laberge and Olivier Gratton, built in Outremont in 1906 and 1912 respectively.
Two other large buildings in Montreal grew out of the collaboration between Gauthier and Daoust: the École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Montréal, a magnificent building begun in 1907 that bears witness to the determination of French Canadians to gain acceptance for themselves in the world of business, and the Male Institution for the Catholic Deaf and Dumb of the Province of Quebec, built in 1916. The church of Saint-Viateur in Outremont, which harked back to Gothic shapes, was the last major work designed by Gauthier. Construction began in 1911, and in 1921 the painter Guido Nincheri, an Italian who had settled in Montreal a few years earlier, began decorating the interior.
Louis-Zéphirin Gauthier, who died in 1922, had carried on the tradition begun by his father Amable, adapting it to the needs of an urban, industrial society. As requested by the dioceses, he provided them with large-scale religious buildings that reflected the triumphalism of the church at the time. His forays into secular construction confirmed his respect for the art of the early 19th century. His son Joseph-Zéphirin, who was born in 1900 and also became an architect, would succeed him. It was in the new city of Outremont, where the family was then living, that he in turn would deploy his talent.
ANQ-M, CE603-S7, 6 févr. 1890. ANQ-MBF, CE401-S12, 28 août 1842; S15, 25 oct. 1864. Le Devoir, 26 déc. 1922. Le Journal de Québec, 4 juill. 1876. La Minerve, 11 août, 29 sept., 29 oct. 1888; 9 sept. 1889; 3 mai 1890; 26 févr. 1895. La Presse, 10 mai 1913. Price Current (Montreal), 29 Aug. 1890: 15; 2 Dec. 1892: 11; 13 July 1894: 586; 31 Jan. 1895: 864; 6 March 1896: 28; 21 Jan. 1898: 776; [1 April 1905]: 52; [31 March 1906]: 44; [14 July 1906]: 45; [10 Nov. 1906]: 44; [23 Feb. 1907]: 44; [9 Nov. 1907]: 162; [19 Dec. 1908]: 42; 7 July 1916: 32. P.-R. Bisson et Suzel Perrotte, Inventaire des travaux d’architectes à Outremont de 1904 à 1987 ([Montréal], 1987). Raymonde Gauthier, Construire une église au Québec: l’architecture religieuse avant 1939 (Montréal, 1993); La tradition en architecture québécoise; le XXe siècle (Québec, 1989). J. R. Porter et Jean Bélisle, La sculpture ancienne au Québec; trois siècles d’art religieux et profane (Montréal, 1986). Paul Racine, “Louis-Zéphirin Gauthier: un architecte à Sorel à la fin du XIXe siècle,” Le Carignan (Sorel, Qué.), 5 (1991-92), no.2: 54-62. Émile Vaillancourt, Une maîtrise d’art en Canada (1800-1823) (Montréal, 1920).