PACAUD, PHILIPPE-NAPOLÉON, notary and Patriote; b. 22 Jan. 1812 at Quebec City, son of Joseph Pacaud, a carpenter, navigator, and merchant, and Angélique Brown; m. first 9 Sept. 1834 Julie-Aurélie Boucher de La Bruère at Boucherville, Lower Canada; m. secondly 19 Jan. 1847 Clarice Duval at Trois-Rivières; d. 27 July 1884 at Saint-Norbert-d’Arthabaska (Norbertville), Que.
Philippe-Napoléon Pacaud studied at the Séminaire de Nicolet from 1821 to 1829. After serving as a clerk for Louis Panet at Quebec City, he received his commission as a notary on 23 Jan. 1833. The following year Pacaud settled at Saint-Hyacinthe where he went into practice as a notary and apparently opened a business which eventually flourished. When his brother Charles-Adrien and his brother-in-law Dr Pierre-Claude Boucher* de La Bruère founded the Banque Canadienne de Saint-Hyacinthe in 1836, Pacaud was one of its principal directors.
In April 1837, following the adoption by the British government of Lord John Russell’s resolutions which frustrated hopes of government reform, Patriote leaders decided to organize protest meetings [see Denis-Benjamin Viger*]. A permanent central committee was soon set up and Pacaud and Louis-Antoine Dessaulles* were among the Patriotes of Saint-Hyacinthe who went frequently to Édouard-Raymond Fabre*’s Montreal bookstore where the committee met. That autumn Pacaud helped to form at Saint-Hyacinthe a section of the Fils de la Liberté, of which he was appointed captain. Soon after, he met the Patriote leaders at Saint-Denis, on the Richelieu River, and suggested that to finance their struggle they issue bank notes redeemable by the state after it gained independence. The plan was adopted and Pacaud, who was appointed commissary general of the Patriote armies, was made responsible for implementing it. But the British troops and the Patriotes clashed too soon for him to launch the first $300,000 issue of this currency.
In November 1837, after fighting at Saint-Denis and Saint-Charles, Pacaud tried to flee to the United States with his brother Charles-Adrien and his brother-in-law. When their route was cut off, they had to turn back to Saint-Hyacinthe. Pacaud, who was wanted by the authorities, resorted to ruse to evade his pursuers. He hid in the attic of his own house, and then, disguised as a priest, took refuge for a while in the Séminaire de Saint-Hyacinthe. He subsequently hid in various other places until the proclamation of amnesty on 28 June 1838 made it possible for him to return home with impunity.
When there was renewed unrest that autumn the authorities made a number of preventive arrests. On 2 December Pacaud was apprehended for having attended a meeting on 2 November which had been called by Édouard-Elisée Malhiot*, a Patriote leader who had returned from the United States to organize a new armed uprising. Pacaud was committed to jail in Montreal but was released on 22 Jan. 1839 without having to stand trial. No doubt influenced by the death of his wife and two of their three children soon after he left prison, Pacaud left Saint-Hyacinthe in the 1840s. He sought his fortune at Saint-Norbert-d’Arthabaska, in a region newly opened to settlement which in all likelihood offered more prospects than Saint-Hyacinthe where there were already several other notaries.
In September 1854 the Crown Lands Department put Pacaud in charge of constructing a colonization road through the townships of Chester, Ham, and Wolfestown. He stood as a candidate in the ruing of Drummond and Arthabaska in the 1857–58 elections but withdrew in favour of his friend Jean-Baptiste-Éric Dorion*. At Saint-Norbert-d’Arthabaska in 1862 Pacaud simultaneously held the offices of justice of the peace, captain in the militia, postmaster, and clerk of the court of commissioners for the district of Arthabaska. In 1864, fortified by his status and probably inspired by the radical ideas he had harboured in the turmoil of 1837–38, Pacaud brought an action against the parish priest of Saint-Norbert, Pierre Roy, accusing him of having embezzled, as secretary treasurer of the “local school corporation,” $111.30 intended for school funds. His claim was rejected by the circuit court of the district of Arthabaska on 7 March 1865, whereupon Pacaud launched an appeal. On 20 March 1866 the Court of Queen’s Bench decided in his favour and fined the defendant $40. The trial, at which Pacaud’s attorney, his brother Édouard-Louis, had demanded that the parish priest be jailed, was a cause célèbre.
Unlike his brothers Georges-Jérémie, Édouard-Louis, and Charles-Adrien, who were all to some extent active in business, Pacaud confined himself, from his earliest days in Arthabaska until 1883, to his notarial practice and to offices such as those he held in 1862. He seems to have been removed from these offices following the return to power of Sir John A. Macdonald* and the Conservatives in 1878, and thus to have been placed in a precarious financial position.
Pacaud, who died in 1884, had remained an unquestioning admirer of Louis-Joseph Papineau*; according to Pacaud’s own statement – which was noted around 1878 by Louis-Honoré Fréchette*, a close family friend – on the eve of the battle at Saint-Denis he had ordered the Patriote leader not to expose his life needlessly and had forced him at gunpoint to leave the area. Two of the five children of Pacaud’s second marriage played important roles on the political scene. Jean-Baptiste-Napoléon-Gaspard became the member for North Essex and speaker of the Ontario legislature. Philippe-Olivier-Ernest*, the founder of the Quebec City newspaper L’Électeur, which subsequently became Le Soleil, was the principal political organizer for Wilfrid Laurier* and Honoré Mercier*.
AC, Arthabaska, État civil, Catholiques, Saint-Norbert (Norbertville), 30 juill. 1884. ANQ-M, État civil, Catholiques, Sainte-Famille (Boucherville), 9 sept. 1834. ANQ-MBF, État civil, Catholiques, Immaculée-Conception (Trois-Rivières), 19 janv. 1847. ANQ-Q, AP-G-239/79; État civil, Catholiques, Notre-Dame de Québec, 23 janv. 1812; QBC 7, 7, Trois-Rivières; 17, Arthabaska; QBC 9, 7: f.94; QBC 25, Événements de 1837–38, nos.1551, 1555–59, 1563, 3548. ASN, AO, Séminaire, Inscription des élèves; AP-G, M.-G. Proulx, V: 4. Can., prov. du, Assemblée législative, App. des journaux, 1854–55, XIII, app.N.N.N. Examen de fait et de droit touchant la cause jugée en Cour du banc de la reine, sur appel, à Québec, entre Philippe N. Pacaud, Ecr., appelant, et le révérend Pierre Roy, prêtre, intimé, le 20 mars 1866 (Québec, 1867). L’Électeur (Québec), 30 juill. 1884. L’Opinion publique, 4 oct. 1877, 27 févr., 6, 13 mars 1879 (the author of the articles in the last three issues, Jules Airvaux [L.-H. Fréchette], brought them together in Philippe-N. Pacaud: biographie (s.l.n.d.)). Fauteux, Patriotes, 117, 340–42, 383. P.-G. Roy, Fils de Québec (4 sér., Lévis, Qué., 1933), III: 173–75. David, Patriotes, 111–30. Robert Rumilly, Papineau et son temps (2v., Montréal, 1977). F.-J. Audet, “Philippe-Napoléon Pacaud,” BRH, 33 (1927): 554–55.