GUILLET, LOUIS, notary and politician; b. 28 Jan. 1788 at Sainte-Geneviève-de-Batiscan (Que.), son of Jean-Baptiste Guillet, merchant, and Marguerite Langlois; d. 28 Oct. 1868 in the village of his birth.
On 6 Feb. 1809 Louis Guillet was admitted to the profession of notary; he practised at Sainte-Geneviève-de-Batiscan until 1863. The high reputation he soon acquired in his particular circle enabled him to render important services in several fields: thus on 22 May 1830 he was appointed a commissioner for the opening of a road in the parish of Saint-Stanislas-de-la-Rivière-des-Envies; on 5 August of the same year he became a justice of the peace. A few years later, on 10 June 1836, he was appointed a commissioner to oversee the building of a bridge over the Sainte-Anne River. Following the disturbances in Lower Canada in 1837, Guillet was authorized on 21 Dec. 1837 to receive the oath of allegiance of the settlers on the Batiscan seigneury; finally on 2 April 1838 he was appointed commissioner for small causes in the same seigneury.
In 1836 the question of setting up registry offices in Lower Canada for the preservation of deeds or contracts concerning real estate (sales, wills, mortgages, conveyances, transfers, guardianships, and trusteeships), was revived. In reply to a questionnaire sent by a special committee of the Legislative Council, Guillet wrote on 29 Jan. 1836: “I would submit . . . that registry offices are not at all necessary and that they will be more annoying than useful to those living in country districts.” He suggested instead that “deeds signed before a notary and creating mortgages should be considered public deeds, and the notary should be obliged to give discovery of [these documents] to anyone who asked.” Guillet wanted to prevent registry offices from proliferating. In 1830 offices had already been set up in the counties of Drummond, Sherbrooke, Stanstead, Missisquoi, and Shefford, where the majority of inhabitants were English speaking and real property was held in free and common socage. In 1831 similar offices had been opened in the counties of Ottawa, Beauharnois, and Mégantic, and in 1834 in the counties of Deux-Montagnes and L’Acadie. Then, in 1841, against Guillet’s advice, the Special Council of Lower Canada extended the registration requirement to all landed and real property in Lower Canada, whether held in free and common socage or in fee. It also established registry offices in each judicial district, where the district court sat. These measures were designed to avoid “the serious losses and evils resulting from secret and fraudulent conveyancing of landed property, from the mortgages on the latter, and from the uncertainty and insecurity attaching to land titles in this province.” On 30 Aug. 1842, in pursuance of his notarial activities, Louis Guillet applied, unsuccessfully, for nomination as the agent for certain fiefs in the district of Trois-Rivières. On 25 Oct. 1851 and on 4 Dec. 1860, he was appointed census commissioner.
Guillet was a candidate in the 1844 election, in which the Reformers faced the supporters of Governor Charles Metcalfe*, and was elected on the Reform ticket in the county of Champlain. His mandate was renewed in the 1847–48 election, when he defeated the Conservative Joseph-Édouard Turcotte. He therefore sat in the opposition until 1848, and subsequently became a loyal supporter of the government of Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine and Robert Baldwin*. In the 1851 elections, however, the Conservative Thomas Marchildon won in Champlain over Jean-Baptists-Éric Dorion, a representative of the radical Liberals, and Guillet, spokesman of the moderate Liberals.
Louis Guillet had married Louise Leclerc at Saints-Geneviève-de-Batiscan. They had one son and two daughters.
PAC, MG 30, D62, 14, pp.790–91. Bas-Canada, Statuts, 1830, c.8; 1831, c.3; 1834, c.5; Conseil spécial, Ordonnances, 1840–41, c.30. Can., prov. du, Statuts, 1843, c.22; 1854–55, c.99. Elgin-Grey papers, IV, 1510, 1595–96, 1598–99, 1602. Guide des sources d’archives sur le Canada français, au Canada (Ottawa, 1975), 19–20. F.-J. Audet, Les députés de la région des Trois-Rivières (1841–1867) (Trois-Rivières, 1934), 68–70. Cornell, Alignment of political groups, 24, 30. J.-E. Roy, Hist. du notariat, II, 557–94.