LANGLOIS, dit Germain, AUGUSTIN-RENÉ, bookseller and militia officer; b. 3 May 1770 at Quebec, son of Louis Langlois, dit Germain, and Catherine Sauvageau; m. there 24 June 1799 Marie-Josephte Laforce (Pépin, dit Laforce), and they had one child; d. 11 Sept. 1852 in Château-Richer, Lower Canada.
The father of Augustin-René Langlois, dit Germain, was an important merchant in the town of Quebec after the conquest. At his death he owned numerous properties, including a wholesale business on Rue de la Fabrique, a retail store on Rue Saint-Jean, and another in Saint-Cuthbert. After Augustin-René had studied at the Petit Séminaire de Québec from 1782 to 1791, he worked for his father. On the latter’s death in 1798 he settled the estate under the supervision of Mathew Lymburner and Jean-Antoine Panet*, who were the executors as well as intimate friends of the family. He then opened a business at 10 Rue de la Fabrique and obtained his merchant’s licence on 25 April 1800.
In the parish census of 1805 the priest listed Germain as a merchant living at 5 Rue de la Fabrique. The 1818 census, which gave his address as Rue Sainte-Anne, called him a bookseller, as did the Quebec directory of 1822 and 1826. His father had announced in 1764 that he was opening a circulating library – the first in the province – and he had sold hundreds of catechisms, novenas, and other devotional texts to parish priests. It is not known whether Augustin-René sold books before 1815, the year he was in London to negotiate with Peter and William Wynne, who had imported books from France for him. His purchases, worth several hundred pounds, arrived at Quebec and were received by printer John Neilson* late in the summer. In early September a fire destroyed the warehouse storing the books, but they survived the disaster. On 2 Nov. 1815 Germain announced that they were on display on the second floor of the bishop’s palace, but he did not succeed in selling all his stock.
In 1821 Germain published a catalogue containing 695 titles; 97 per cent of them were in French, the remainder in Latin. They included 262 books on religion and 177 on law, as well as volumes on science, the arts, history, and belles-lettres. The catalogue’s title specified that these were books “recently arrived from France” and obtainable from Germain at Quebec and from Joseph Roy in Montreal. Germain received another imported collection in 1822, and published a second catalogue in 1826 on his return from a business trip to France. This time the books were for sale at Montreal through Isidore Malo’s store rather than Roy’s.
The second catalogue was the last; on 29 Dec. 1828 La Minerve announced that bookseller Théophile Dufort of Montreal had bought Germain’s and Malo’s stock. The transaction did not prevent the store on Rue de la Fabrique from later providing space to the Nouvelle Librairie and other booksellers. Germain was probably the first French-speaking bookseller at Quebec, long before Joseph and Octave* Crémazie.
The sale of Germain’s book business occurred after the death in 1827 of his brother Pierre-Olivier, the parish priest at Château-Richer, of whom he and his brother Charles were joint heirs. Charles died the following year leaving Augustin-René sole heir to the properties of his father and Pierre-Olivier. The latter’s estate included a house at Château-Richer, located on land a league deep fronting on the river, and a site near the church. Germain was consequently assured of an income that would enable him to maintain his family in reasonable comfort.
Germain continued a tradition begun by his grandfather and father of participating in Quebec public life. For 20 years he was a member of the Quebec Fire Society, and he was several times called to sit on its committee for Upper Town. In the 1808 elections Augustin-René ran for York constituency, as his father had done in 1792, but he was defeated. He tried again in Montmorency in 1832 only to be beaten by Elzéar Bédard*. He was promoted major in Quebec’s 1st Militia Battalion in 1808, and at his death held the rank of colonel. Also in 1808, as a mark of esteem, he was granted the title écuyer.
Germain left Quebec permanently some time after 1832 to settle in Château-Richer. There he passed the time managing his properties in the town and on the Beaupré shore. In 1844, when ill health caused him some concern, he gave special powers of attorney for himself and his wife to Amable Berthelot*, a lawyer and assemblyman.
Augustin-René Langlois, dit Germain, had only one child, Augustin-Hyppolite, born 28 July 1805. After attending the Petit Séminaire de Québec for some years as his father and uncles had done, he is thought to have studied medicine in Chicago. Augustin-René’s legacy was so strong that the premature death of Augustin-Hyppolite in 1829 did not prevent the latter’s son from also carrying the title “gentleman farmer” at the time he married in Château-Richer.
ANQ-Q, CE1-1, 3 mai 1770, 24 juin 1799, 28 juill. 1805; CE1-6, 14 sept. 1852; CN1-230, 23 juin 1799; P-193, 1–35. ASQ, C 37–C 43; Fichier des anciens. PAC, MG 24, B1, 187: 2869–73. “Les dénombrements de Québec” (Plessis), ANQ Rapport, 1948–49: 164. Recensement de la ville de Québec en 1818 par le curé Joseph Signaÿ, Honorius Provost, édit. (Québec, 1976), 258. Le Canadien, 23 oct. 1822. La Minerve, 29 déc. 1828. Quebec Gazette, 2 Nov. 1815. Catalogue de livres . . . à vendre chez M. Augustin Germain, à Québec, et chez M. Joseph Roi, à Montréal (Québec, 1821). Catalogue de livres . . . à vendre chez Mr. Aug. Germain, à Québec, et chez Mr. Isidore Malo, à Montréal (Québec, 1826). Quebec directory, 1822, 1826. [Catherine Burke, named de Saint-Thomas], Les Ursulines de Québec, depuis leur établissement jusqu’à nos jours (4v., Québec, 1863–66), 4: 422.