Photo by W. Notman | Courtesy of Billingsley and Ward families
PÂQUET, ANSELME-HOMÈRE (baptized Michel-Anselme, but signed his marriage certificate A. H. Pâquet), physician, politician, and professor; b. 29 Sept. 1830 in Saint-Cuthbert, Lower Canada, son of Timothée Pâquet and Françoise Robillard; m. 25 Sept. 1854 Henriette Gariépy in L’Assomption; d. 22 Dec. 1891 in Saint-Cuthbert, Que.
Anselme-Homère Pâquet came from a family of farmers. In 1842 he became a student at the Collège de L’Assomption. After finishing his classical studies, he enrolled in the Montreal School of Medicine and Surgery in 1849. He was admitted to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Lower Canada on 12 May 1853 and then opened a practice in his native village.
In 1863 Pâquet was tempted into politics. He first ran for the Legislative Council in a by-election on 6 April in Lanaudière division, but lost to Louis-Auguste Olivier. He stood again that summer in the general election for the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada, in the constituency of Berthier, and on 23 June he defeated Pierre-Eustache Dostaler by 378 votes. Pâquet sat in the house as an independent, vigorously opposing the plan for confederation. In 1865, on the basis of a petition from eight municipalities in his riding, he made a speech in the assembly pointing out the meagre benefits of the confederation arrangement favoured by the coalition government of Sir Étienne-Paschal Taché* and John A. Macdonald.
Pâquet’s opposition to the union of the British North American colonies did not, however, prevent him from running in Berthier in 1867 in the first general election for the House of Commons. He won the seat, but by only 36 votes. He now threw in his lot with the Liberal party. In 1872 he defeated Conservative Édouard-Octavien Cuthbert, the mayor of Berthier (Berthierville), by 742 votes, and two years later he was re-elected by acclamation for Berthier.
Pâquet resigned his seat in the commons early in 1875, and on 9 February he moved to the Senate to represent La Vallière division, which had become vacant when Charles-Christophe Malhiot* died. He held this position until his death in December 1891.
Pâquet was also president of the Société Permanente de Construction du Comté de Berthier and a founding director of the Banque Ville-Marie in 1872; a member of the American Public Health Association, he also served on the Central Board of Health of the province of Quebec. In 1884 and 1885 he was professor of clinical medicine at the Hôtel-Dieu in Montreal and at the same time he taught hygiene and public health at the Montreal School of Medicine.
Anselme-Homère Pâquet was highly regarded as a physician and as a politician in his community and he made his mark on public life for nearly 30 years. Many of his friends and adversaries came to pay their respects at his funeral.
ANQ-M, CE5-14, 25 sept. 1854; CES-19, ler oct. 1830. “A-H. Paquet,” Journal d’hygiène populaire (Montréal), 8 (1891), no.8: 255. L’Événement, 21 déc. 1891. Canadian directory of parl. (Johnson). CPC, 1870, 1875, 1891. Cyclopædia of Canadian biog. (Rose and Charlesworth), 1: 535. J. Desjardins, Guide parl., 169, 252, 279. Florian Aubin, La paroisse de Saint-Cuthbert: histoire et album souvenir, 1765–1980 (2v., s.l., 1981–82), 1: 493, 780–81. Anastase Forget, Histoire du collège de L’Assomption; 1833 – un siècle – 1933 (Montréal, ), 542. Marcel Fournier, La représentation parlementaire de la région de Joliette, 1791–1976 (Joliette, Qué., 1977), 191–92. Édouard Desjardins, “L’évolution de la médecine interne à Montréal: le premier centenaire (1820–1920),” L’Union médicale du Canada (Montréal), 106 (1977): 242. Jacques Rainville, “Vers notre tricentenaire; nos députés fédéraux,” Le Courrier de Berthier (Berthierville, Qué. ), 21 mars 1968: 15.