QUIROUET (Quirouët, Quirouêt, Kirouet), FRANÇOIS (baptized Pierre-François), merchant, militia officer, auctioneer, jp, office holder, and politician; b. 28 Feb. 1776 at Quebec, son of François Quirouet and Marie-Anne Hil (Isle); d. 27 Sept. 1844 in Saint-Gervais, Lower Canada.
Nothing has been discovered of the early part of François Quirouet’s life. Since he had the same given name as his father and grandfather, he probably came from a family that valued tradition. When he married Catherine MacKenzie, daughter of a Quebec cooper, on 10 June 1799, he called himself a merchant.
From 1805 until 1811 Quirouet acted as adjutant for the parish of Sainte-Anne, at Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière (La Pocatière), in the Kamouraska battalion of militia, from 1810 the Rivière-Ouelle battalion. The following year he was a lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion of Quebec’s militia. He was promoted captain in that unit in 1821 and eventually reached the rank of lieutenant-colonel. His militia duties, which reflected his growing prestige, remained of minor importance in his career, however.
Besides being a merchant, in 1811 Quirouet had an auctioneer’s licence, which was renewed in 1816. He owned two houses at Quebec, his residence at the corner of Rue Sainte-Anne and Rue du Trésor and his business premises at 11 Rue du Sault-au-Matelot. He rented part of the latter building to his friend Martin Chinic, and he, his brother Olivier Quirouet, and Chinic carried on a flourishing enterprise, Quirouet, Chinic et Compagnie, there. Specializing in importing, auctioneering, and commission work, Quirouet amassed a tidy fortune in the course of the first three decades of the 19th century and became a respected member of the Quebec financial world. On 7 May 1818 he was elected vice-president of the Quebec Benevolent Society, which he had joined in 1807. This mutual aid society lent money, gave its members financial and moral support in times of illness, and paid for their funerals. On 6 May 1819 Quirouet succeeded John Neilson as its president and he retained the office until 1829, except during 1822. As a director of the Bank of Montreal’s Quebec branch in 1820 and 1821 [see Daniel Sutherland*], he also helped establish the banking system at Quebec. When the Quebec Savings Bank opened on 26 March 1821, he assumed the vice-presidency and held it for eight years.
Quirouet also played an important role in the life of the town. In 1819 he became president of the Quebec Fire Society for a year. From 1821 to 1827 he was a member of the Education Society of the District of Quebec. As a justice of the peace he took an active part in local government from 1 Aug. 1821 till 3 July 1826. In this capacity he approved numerous plans for laying down mains and for draining, macadamizing, extending, and repairing streets in the wards of Upper and Lower Town as well as in the faubourgs Saint-Jean and Saint-Roch. After 1828 he was less involved in Quebec’s social life. Having given up his building on Rue du Sault-au-Matelot and then his residence in Upper Town, he moved to Saint-Gervais on the south shore. In the 1831 census he was listed as a “bourgeois” in that locality and described as owning about 787 arpents of land on which he grew oats, potatoes, and peas. He was also justice of the peace in Saint-Gervais and commissioner for the summary trial of small causes in the seigneury of Livaudière.
Quirouet returned frequently to Quebec, however, to carry out his duties as a member of parliament, since on 11 April 1820 the voters of Orléans had chosen him as their sole representative to the House of Assembly. He was re-elected three times, and then from 1830 to 1833 represented the riding along with Jean-Baptiste Cazeau. In his early days in the assembly, Quirouet brought forward a bill for the construction of a road from Saint-François to Saint-Jean on Île d’Orléans, but it was rejected by the Legislative Council. On 26 Dec. 1820 he introduced a measure dealing with the maintenance of order in churches, this time meeting with success; the act was renewed in 1823. During the same session, on 16 Jan. 1821, he moved first reading of a bill to incorporate the Quebec Fire Assurance Company, but in the end it was denied royal assent. In January 1822 he informed the house that during a meeting of the Legislative Council John Richardson* had claimed there was a secret committee of the assembly deliberating the recall of Governor Lord Dalhousie [Ramsay]. The house reacted swiftly. After an inquiry confirmed Quirouet’s statement, the assembly requested the governor to dismiss Richardson from council. Dalhousie refused, alleging that the resolution touched upon freedom of debate and was couched in terms unbefitting a legislative body. In 1823 Quirouet managed to have an act passed to authorize the construction of treadmills for the use of houses of correction. That year he attempted to get the town of Quebec incorporated, but the measure was rejected by the Legislative Council. On 21 May 1826 he brought forward his final bill, which dealt with repairing the Quebec jail. He subsequently worked mostly on assembly committees, in particular those on banking (1826), public accounts (1831), and trade and commerce (1831–32). On 25 Oct. 1833 he was called to the Legislative Council, being sworn in on 9 Jan. 1834. He remained on it until the constitution was suspended.
François Quirouet had an unusual career for a Canadian in the first half of the 19th century, but it typified several interests in play at Quebec at the time. After making a fortune in the import trade, he became an influential figure in the financial élite. An assemblyman for nearly 14 years, he opposed the union bill of 1822 [see Denis-Benjamin Viger*], supported Louis-Joseph Papineau*, and fought against voting supplies en bloc [see Sir Francis Nathaniel Burton*]. In 1833, however, he apparently dissociated himself from the radicals and refused to back the resolutions denying the constitutional utility of the Legislative Council. He was appointed to the council that year and, unlike his colleague Viger, he never dissented from its decisions. On the outbreak of the rebellion, he was made a commissioner for administering the oath of allegiance. When he died at the age of 68 years and 7 months, all the leading citizens of the Bellechasse region attended his funeral; he was buried in the nave of the church of Saint-Gervais.
ANQ-Q, CE1-1, 29 févr. 1776, 10 juin 1799; CE2-17, 30 sept. 1844. AVQ, I, 1, juillet 1814–juin 1823; V, B, juin 1823–mai 1833; VII, E, 1. PAC, RG 31, C1, 1825, Haute-Ville de Québec; 1831, Saint-Gervais; RG 68, General index, 1651–1841. L.C., House of Assembly, Journals, 1820–33; Legislative Council, Journals, 1834–37. Quebec Benevolent Soc., Rules of the Quebec Benevolent Society . . . (Quebec, 1819). Recensement de Québec, 1818 (Provost). F-J. Audet, “Les législateurs du Bas-Canada.” Desjardins, Guide parl. J.-J. Lefebvre, Le Canada, l’Amérique: géographie, histoire (éd. rév., Montréal, 1968). Quebec almanac, 1806–41. Quebec directory, 1822, 1826. Turcotte, Le Conseil législatif.