PERRAULT, LOUIS, bookseller, publisher, and printer; b. 8 Oct. 1807 at Montreal, Lower Canada, son of Julien Perrault, a baker, and Euphradine Lamontagne; m. 11 June 1833 Marguerite Roy, daughter of Charles-Fleury Roy, a merchant; d. 6 Jan. 1866 at Montreal.
Louis Perrault belonged “to one of the oldest and most respected families in this country” according to Laurent-Olivier David*. His father was typical of those Canadians who, without attaining great wealth, managed in the first quarter of the 19th century to improve their social and economic position considerably. A master baker, then an agent for the coach service connecting Montreal and Quebec, Julien Perrault identified himself with the Patriotes, and opened his home to the party’s leaders and their passionate discussions. It was in this atmosphere that Louis Perrault grew up. At the end of his studies at the Collège de Montréal in 1826, he was undecided whether to seek a career in law or in business.
In 1828 he and his brother-in-law Édouard-Raymond Fabre* became partners in a firm importing books and variety wares, known as the Librairie française. That year he spent some time in France “to choose new merchandise” for their firm, and greatly increased business connections between the Montreal bookshop and numerous European suppliers. After seven years the difficult partnership was dissolved in 1835. Perrault found it hard to adapt himself to the budgetary constraints and accounting procedures that explained his brother-in-law’s success. He preferred to spend money for personal reasons rather than reinvest profits in the joint venture. Fabre undertook to continue running the bookshop alone. For his part Perrault then devoted his time to printing and publishing newspapers, in particular the Vindicator and Canadian Advertiser (Montreal).
In 1837 his establishment was sacked by the members of the Doric Club, and his work rooms destroyed. His political commitment to the Patriote party forced him to take refuge in the United States in 1837, and he remained there for 18 months. Perrault’s correspondence reveals he was active among political refugees in the United States. He distributed information from Le Pays (Montreal) to them, and was commissioned by Ludger Duvernay* to collect money to assist them. Perrault had been much disturbed by the death of his brother Charles-Ovide*, killed at the battle of Saint-Denis, by the dispersion of the rest of his family, and by the destruction of his printing shop. He returned to Montreal in 1839 and resumed his activities as a printer and bookseller, but without much success. The last 20 years of his life were difficult, marked by a long paralysis, social and physical inactivity, and financial instability.
ANQ-Q, AP-G-69. Le Canadien, 5 janv. 1866. Ivanhoë Caron, “Papiers Duvernay conservés aux Archives de la province de Québec,” ANQ Rapport, 1926–27, 176–77. Fauteux, Patriotes. David, Patriotes, 170. É.-Z. Massicotte, “Louis Perrault,” BRH, XLIX (1943), 106–7.