GIROUX, ANDRÉ-RAPHAËL, sculptor and architect; b. 21 April 1815 at Charlesbourg, near Quebec, son of Michel Giroux, carpenter, and Marie-Anne Pageot; d. 25 Dec. 1869 at Saint-Casimir, Quebec.
The name Giroux was connected with religious architecture long before the beginning of André-Raphaël’s career. Indeed, at the beginning of the 19th century an outstanding group of this family, which had originally settled at Beauport, was active in various building trades at Quebec, particularly in the faubourg Saint-Roch. In his will Thomas Baillairgé* bequeathed to Giroux his sketch books, his architectural manuals, and some tools; presumably Giroux served his apprenticeship with the master and received his training as sculptor and architect on Baillairgé’s numerous building sites. The name of André-Raphaël Giroux, sculptor, first appears in the record in 1838, when he married Sélina Bédard at Quebec. She died soon afterwards and he married again on 22 Oct. 1844, his second wife being Adélaïde Michaud.
From 1847 to 1850 André-Raphaël Giroux worked on the chapel of the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec, where he carved the side altars according to Thomas Baillairgé’s plans. In 1853 Giroux’s design for the new high altar of the church of Saint-Roch was chosen over those of Thomas Fournier and Louis-Thomas Berlinguet. He executed this work the following year, and left Ancienne-Lorette, where he seems to have lived from 1850 to 1853, to settle in the faubourg Saint-Roch of Quebec. From 1853 on, he was also involved in the interior decoration of the church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Victoire, Lévis. In 1854 he agreed to undertake the interior decoration of the chapel of the Sisters of Charity at Quebec, following the plans of Charles Baillairgé*, Thomas’ nephew; this work was praised in the Quebec papers at the dedication of the chapel. When the wing for the Université Laval at the Séminaire de Québec was built in 1857, Giroux again collaborated with Charles Baillairgé.
Paralleling Giroux’s career as a sculptor was his work as an architect after 1858. He planned and built the Saint-Joseph and Saint-Thomas wings of the Ursuline convent, Quebec, and in 1859 drew up the plans and specifications for a church at the Percé mission. He also had a share in drafting the plans for the Saint-Laurent church, on Île d’Orléans.
A second phase in André-Raphaël Giroux’s career began at Cap-Santé in 1859, where his work truly became original. In partnership with a master-plasterer, and using his own plans, Giroux began work on the whole of the church’s interior architecture (completed in 1863). In 1861 he opened a second large building yard at Saint-Pierre-les-Becquets (Les Becquets, Que.), where he saw to the completion of the church interior and the construction of a sacristy (finished in 1866). Working without respite, André-Raphaël Giroux accepted a contract in 1862, proposed by the parish council of Saint-Casimir, for the completion of the interior of that church (finished in 1868). While directing these three large work sites on opposite shores of the St Lawrence, Giroux, whose reputation as an architect now seemed established, was also called upon to intervene as an expert when conflicts occurred between churchwardens and contractors, notably at Deschaillons in 1862.
This increasing volume of work did not, however, bring prosperity. In 1867, to cover his mortgages, Giroux was forced to cancel his agreement as a contractor with the parish council of Saint-Casimir, and to complete this undertaking while being paid as a day labourer. Although completely ruined, he undertook the interior architectural work for the church of Gentilly in 1869, the year of his death. Two of his sons, Alfred and Eugène, took over from him there; they were joined around 1880 by their younger brother, Joseph, who was sometimes an architect, sometimes a contractor; the latter’s sons, during the first half of the 20th century, were to be the pillars of the Giroux dynasty of Saint-Casimir, contractors of high repute in the field of ecclesiastical architecture.
In what is customarily called the Thomas Baillairgé school, the place occupied by André-Raphaël Giroux is important. He shared in most tasks undertaken by the master-architect towards the end of his career, and the plans he devised at that time continued those of Baillairgé. More interesting, however, is Giroux’s work as sculptor and architect after Thomas Baillairgé’s death. From the beginning, at Cap-Santé, André-Raphaël Giroux displayed a creativity vastly superior to that of Thomas Baillairgé’s other followers. Generally he kept alive the architectural detail typical of the Louis XVI style, but imbued it with a lightness and a decorative grace unknown before. His interiors are, moreover, well designed, for his sculptural skill ensured that architectural elements would be prominent rather than buried under superfluous ornament. An innovation was the projection of retables into the sanctuary, in which he freely employed curved form to give artistic unity to the design. Elongated lines characterized his style. Thus, more than the Baillairgés, Giroux heralds the monumentality of architecture in the second half of the 19th century. Coming just before the generation of architects who were to introduce into Quebec the eclectic architecture of the European 19th century, André-Raphaël Giroux is an important link in the chain that unites them to Thomas Baillairgé.
AJQ, Greffe de C.-A. Lemay, 30 avril 1862. ANQ-Q, Greffe de Joseph Bernard, 23 nov. 1859, 27 mars 1863; Greffe d’Henri Bolduc, 2 mars 1852; Greffe de Charles Cinq-Mars, 6 mars 1854; Greffe de C.-M. Defoy, 13 mai 1841; Greffe de F.-L. Gauvreau, 17 mai 1848, 13 sept. 1853; Greffe de James Haney, 23 déc. 1869; Greffe de A.-Archange Parent, 4 mars 1818. Archives des ursulines de Québec, Journal, 18, 30 oct. 1858, 21 sept., 6 nov., 1859; 19, 17 juin 1860, 6 mars 1861. Archives du monastère de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, Livre des dépenses de la communauté, 9, pp.301–3, 321–22, 406; 10, pp.3–4; Livre des recettes et des dépenses de la communauté, 1825–57, pp.364–79, 406, 425. Archives judiciaires de Richelieu (Sorel, Qué.), Greffe de Paul Payan, 2 nov. 1864, 9 sept. 1865. Archives paroissiales, Saint-Casimir (Saint-Casimir, Qué.), Livres de comptes et de délibérations, 1868; Saint-Jean-Baptiste (Deschaillons, Qué.), Livres de comptes, III (1861–1915), dépenses 1867; Saint-Laurent (île d’Orléans, Qué.), Livres de comptes, V (1863–1900), 7 avril 1860; Saint-Pierre (Les Becquets, Qué.), Livres de comptes et de délibérations, 1861, 1866; Devis de la voûte par André Paquet; Saint-Roch (Québec), Livres de comptes et de délibérations, 21 févr., 2 avril 1848, comptes de 1853. ASQ, C 4, p.472; Polygraphie, XIX, 59. IBC, Centre de documentation, Fonds Morisset, Dossiers Giroux; Charles Baillairgé; Dossiers Cap-Santé; Deschaillons; Gentilly; Lévis; Notre-Dame-de-la-Victoire; Québec; Saint-Roch; Saint-Pierre-les-Becquets; Yamaska. Le Courrier du Canada, 3 janv. 1870. Le Journal de Québec, 4 mai 1854, 13 sept. 1856, 4 août 1859. La Minerve, 21 août 1873. Gérard Morisset, Le Cap-Santé, ses églises et son trésor (Québec, 1944); “L’influence des Baillairgé,” Technique (Montréal), XXVI (1951), 307–14.