ROULEAU, ÉDOUARD-HECTOR, physician; b. 31 Oct. 1843 in L’Isle-Verte, Lower Canada, son of Joseph Rouleau and Euphrosine (Euphrosie) Patouël (Patoine); m. 8 April 1883 Catherine O’Meara of Bryson, Que., and they had five children, one of whom died in infancy; d. 29 Sept. 1912 in Calgary.
After graduating from the École Normale Laval in Quebec City in 1861, Édouard-Hector Rouleau studied at the Séminaire de Nicolet from 1862 to 1865. During the 1860s events south of the border made the defence of Canada a matter of public concern; Rouleau was a captain in the militia company at the seminary and he attended the School of Military Instruction of Quebec for two months in 1864. He studied medicine at the Université Laval and once he had received the necessary degree, in 1870, he practised at Bic, Ottawa, and Bryson. Following the outbreak of the North-West rebellion [see Louis Riel*], he accepted a commission to assist government troops being sent west, and he was stationed at Battleford (Sask.) in 1885. He subsequently returned to Bryson for two more years. Then in 1887 he joined his magistrate brother, Charles-Borromée Rouleau*, in the tiny town of Calgary.
Rouleau practised in Calgary for the rest of his career and was known for his capable thoroughness and concern. For a time he was head of the Holy Cross Hospital and from 22 March 1897 he was assistant surgeon to the North-West Mounted Police detachment. It has been suggested that he had acquired an advanced concept of medical care from being exposed in Battleford to a senior doctor who had worked under Joseph Lister. None the less, his contribution to the social and cultural life of early Calgary is more noteworthy than his medical work.
The Rouleau brothers and their families formed the nucleus of Calgary’s French-speaking community. The area in which they lived, now south of 17th Avenue South and east of 4th Street, became known as Rouleauville (later Mission) and provided the focal point for other French-speaking families including the influential Despins brothers. Édouard-Hector Rouleau was a founding member and first president of the local Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste in 1888. His prominent position in the francophone community was enhanced the same year when he was appointed Belgian consul for the North-West Territories, a position he held for 15 years and for which he was made a chevalier of the Order of Leopold II in 1901.
A devout Roman Catholic, Rouleau involved himself heavily in Calgary’s religious life. He served on the separate school board from 1889 to 1912 and was an active member of the Knights of Columbus and the chancellor of the Catholic Mutual Benefit Association. His son, Albert, was the first native-born priest ordained in the Calgary diocese; his daughter Albertine spent her adult life as a nun with the Sisters, Faithful Companions of Jesus.
In politics Rouleau was recognized as one of the city’s leading Liberals. His appointment as assistant surgeon to the police detachment had been made not long after Wilfrid Laurier’s Liberals came to power in Ottawa, and the pro-Liberal Morning Albertan (Calgary) likely had in mind his outspoken political views when it wrote in April 1912 that his dismissal by the recently elected Conservative government was without just cause or warning.
Édouard-Hector Rouleau remained active right up to the month of his death. He had arrived in Calgary early enough to be one of a handful of medical doctors practising their profession in difficult and often primitive conditions. A cultured humanitarian, he was also able to lend both credibility and status to his role as a founding member of, and spokesman for, Calgary’s nascent French Catholic community.
ANQ-BSLGIM, CE4-2, 1 nov. 1843. GA, Tape RCT 849-1 (interview with Charles Rouleau by Dora Armstrong, 1 Aug. 1985). Calgary News Telegram, 21 Sept. 1912. Morning Albertan (Calgary), 22 April, 30 Sept. 1912. At your service, part one: Calgary’s library, parks department, military, medical services and fire department; accounts by Calgary authors (Calgary, 1975). Canadian album (Cochrane and Hopkins), vol.3. Comité des fêtes du cinquantenaire de l’école normale Laval (Québec, 1907). J.-A.-I. Douville, Histoire du collège-séminaire de Nicolet, 1803–1903 (2v., Montréal, 1903). Genealogy of the Rouleau family, comp. Corinne Dumouchel (Ottawa, 1960; photocopy in GA). A. O. MacRae, History of the province of Alberta (2v., [Calgary], 1912), 1: 507–8. Rolande Parel, “Calgary’s family tree: the French roots,” in Citymakers: Calgarians after the frontier, ed. Max Foran and S. S. Jameson (Calgary, 1987), 333–41. Univ. Laval, Annuaire, 1868–70.