LA CROIX, HUBERT-JOSEPH DE, doctor, botanizer; b. 1703, son of Dominique de La Croix and Catherine Clément, both from Liège (Belgium); d. 5 Jan. 1760 at Beaumont (Que.).
Nothing is known about Hubert-Joseph de La Croix’s activities prior to his marriage, which took place in Quebec on 4 Feb. 1732. He married Anne-Madeleine Dontaille, who bore him 16 children, 9 of whom died in infancy. The newly married couple seem to have settled at Montmagny, where La Croix practised medicine. Around 1735 the La Croixs came to live in Quebec, Hubert-Joseph hoping to succeed Michel Sarrazin* as king’s physician. The appointment went to Jean-François Gaultier, who was probably better qualified.
La Croix presumably practised his profession at the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec, where he was, moreover, hospitalized in 1740. Little is known about his career as a doctor, but his interest in botany is better documented, thanks to his shipments of plants to enrich the Jardin du Roi (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle) in Paris. On at least two occasions La Croix sent living or dried specimens from the region around Quebec or even Montmagny. In 1739 Intendant Hocquart* dispatched to Buffon, the intendant of the Jardin du Roi, “a case of plants” collected by La Croix. The following year the intendant of New France mentioned to Maurepas, the minister of Marine, that “an excess of plants [had] been collected by the Sieur La Croix, a surgeon at Quebec”; the intendant emphasized that he had even awarded him a gratuity. This financial aid [see Jean-Baptiste Gosselin] and the encouragement given to the study of the natural sciences by the Académie des Sciences of Paris allowed new botanizers to be recruited more easily to take the place of the conscientious botanist and observer Michel Sarrazin.
Hubert-Joseph de La Croix died at Beaumont on 5 Jan. 1760. One of his sons, also Hubert-Joseph*, was a member of the first House of Assembly of Lower Canada in 1792. La Croix did not have Sarrazin’s talent and great ability; his contribution to the advancement of Canadian botany is minimal or else unknown; but he belongs to the group of doctor-naturalists whose scientific activity deserves to be emphasized.
AHDQ, Registres des malades. PAC Report, 1905, I, pt.vi, 20, 36, 59. P.-G. Roy, Inv. contrats de mariage, III, 287. Tanguay, Dictionnaire. Ahern, Notes pour l’histoire de la médecine, 124–27. Gosselin, L’Église du Canada jusqu’à la conquête, II, 384. Arthur Vallée, Un biologiste canadien: Michel Sarrazin, 1659–1735, sa Vie, ses travaux et son temps (Québec, 1927), 195. Jacques Rousseau, “Michel Sarrazin, Jean-François Gaultier et l’étude prélinnéenne de la flore canadienne,” Les botanistes français en Amérique du Nord avant 1850 (Colloques internationaux du C.N.R.S., LXIII, Paris, 1957), 155.