LACOSTE, LOUIS-RENÉ, notary; b. 10 Nov. 1823 in Boucherville, Lower Canada, son of Louis Lacoste*, a notary and politician, and Catherine de Labruère (Boucher de La Bruère); d. unmarried 7 Nov. 1854 in Boucherville.
From childhood Louis-René Lacoste lived among the leading citizens of the Boucherville region. His maternal grandfather, René Boucher de La Bruère, had been the seigneur of Montarville and a militia colonel. His father, an influential man in the lower Richelieu valley, was heavily involved in politics and a strong supporter of Louis-Joseph Papineau*. During the rebellion of 1837–38 young Louis-René saw his father imprisoned.
Lacoste’s background led him to an interest in law, which he studied in Paris in 1844–45. He may well have chosen this city in hopes of finding a cure for a bad leg. On 24 May 1845, while still training to be a notary, he acknowledged receiving £150 from his father, which he used to pay for this study trip to Europe. He simultaneously made over to his father his rights of inheritance from his mother (who had died in 1832), including fishing rights on the Rivière Ouelle. In October 1845 his father gave him a £50 advance on his inheritance from him.
Having obtained his notary’s commission on 25 Aug. 1845, Lacoste drafted his first minute on 28 October, on behalf of Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine*, a family friend. On 23 Jan. 1847 he went into partnership with Octave Morin, and the two notaries established their office at the corner of Rue Sainte-Thérèse and Rue Saint-Gabriel in Montreal, where Louis had taken up residence a short while before. But Morin countersigned only 25 of the original copies of Lacoste’s notarized instruments, for their partnership ended in May. In 1849 Lacoste had his own office on Rue Saint-Louis.
In 1846 Lacoste and his colleague Nicolas-Benjamin Doucet had submitted a petition to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada in the name of their fellow practitioners in Montreal, who were objecting to a bill to regulate the formalities of notarized instruments. That year a bill to organize the notaries of Lower Canada was presented by one of their number, Joseph Laurin*; an essential measure, it was passed on 28 July 1847. The act provided for the creation of three boards of notaries, at Quebec, Trois-Rivières, and Montreal, which would have authority to issue certificates to candidates and supervise professional practice. The first meeting of the Board of Notaries of Montreal took place on 28 Oct. 1847. Lacoste was elected a trustee, André Jobin president, Henry Lappare secretary, and George Weekes treasurer.
Because of his profession and his activity in this body, Lacoste moved among both the business and the intellectual élite of Montreal. Still in his early twenties, he was one of the 40 active members of the important Société des Amis, which had been formed in 1842, two years before the founding of the Institut Canadien. Its members sought to become better acquainted with each other and to further their education in letters, the fine arts, law, jurisprudence, medicine, and economics. To exert some influence on the community, the society had started the Revue canadienne in 1845.
In January 1848 Lacoste published his “Essai de jurisprudence lu devant la Société des amis” in the Revue de législation et de jurisprudence (Quebec); the paper dealt with registration. In 1862, in the case of Rachel Boudrias, the wife of Antoine Couillard, versus John McLean, the judges of the Provincial Court of Appeal referred to this essay and praised Lacoste, terming him a “young legal expert.” Louis-Amable Jetté*, who taught civil law at Université Laval in Montreal before he became lieutenant governor, always spoke highly of the young author to his new students. It was undoubtedly because of his ability that Lacoste was invited by notary Jean-Joseph Girouard to help him inventory the assets of Joseph Masson*, who had died in 1847, and was chosen by La Fontaine and Toussaint Peltier as an arbitrator in a wrangle over a division of property in Montreal between the Hôtel-Dieu and the Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice.
On 19 July 1848, “wishing to leave the profession of notary to take up that of lawyer, counsel, solicitor and attorney,” Lacoste undertook to article for five years with Rouër Roy. He apparently did not finish his training for at his death he was still called a notary. In November 1850 Lacoste, who from the beginning of the year had been kept from sustained work by a fever, returned to live with his father. During the four years that followed he drafted no more than about 20 instruments, probably because of illness. He died in 1854 at the age of 30.
In 1851, in a letter written to a client who was slow in paying him, Lacoste had stated, “I have been ill for a year and a half, and I am very poor.” The inventory of his assets after his death shows that his debts so far exceeded his accounts receivable that his father decided to renounce the estate he had left. Yet at the outset Louis-René Lacoste’s career had been full of promise. In his history of the notarial profession, Joseph-Edmond Roy* reflects: “If this talented young man aroused the admiration of our greatest jurists and earned their praise, we wonder what he would have achieved had the experience of age been allied to the knowledge acquired by dint of study.”
The ANQ-M holds the 467 notarial instruments drawn up by Lacoste between 1845 and 1854, under CN1-226. A photograph of him is in the possession of the ASTR.
ANQ-M, CC1, 8 nov. 1833; CE1-22, 11 nov. 1823, 10 nov. 1854; CN1-46, 12 janv. 1823, 11 avril 1834, 10 mai 1850; CN1-125, 24 mai, 13 oct. 1845; 21 sept. 1846; 23 janv., 25 mai 1847; CN1-237, 14 juill. 1847, 12 oct. 1848; CN1-304, 20 nov., 2 déc. 1854; CN1-315, 2 avril 1834; CN1-396, 19 juill. 1848, 26 mai 1849, 18 mai 1850; P-76; P-155. AUM, P 58, U, Lacoste à Delisle, 23 sept. 1851; P 79. La Minerve, 9 nov. 1854. Montreal directory, 1847–51. [Louis Lalande], Une vieille seigneurie, Boucherville; chroniques, portraits et souvenirs (Montréal, 1890), 211–20. J.-E. Roy, Hist. du notariat, 3: 147, 151, 218–19. “Les disparus,” BRH, 41 (1935): 563. L.-A. Huguet-Latour, “La Société des amis,” BRH, 8 (1902): 121–22. Marc Lacoste, “Rétrospective: l’honorable Louis Lacoste, notaire, premier maire de Boucherville 1857, Patriote, député du comté de Chambly, conseiller législatif et sénateur,” La Rev. du notariat (Lévis, Qué.), 81 (1978–79): 304–17.