TASCHEREAU, JOSEPH-ANDRÉ, lawyer, politician, and judge; b. 30 Nov. 1806 at Sainte-Marie-de-la-Nouvelle-Beauce (Sainte-Marie, Que.), son of Thomas-Pierre-Joseph Taschereau and Françoise Boucher de La Bruère de Montarville; d. 30 March 1867 at Kamouraska, Canada East.
Joseph-André Taschereau, a timid and withdrawn child of the celebrated seigneurial family, was educated at home by such tutors as Abbé Édouard Quertier*. He early developed his passion for the law, described as “the only love in his life,” and articled with Charles Panet, Judge George Van Felson*, and Judge William Power*. On 15 Feb. 1828 he was admitted to the Lower Canadian bar in company with his elder brother Pierre-Elzéar.
After less than a year of joint practice in Quebec City, Pierre-Elzéar, who in 1826 had inherited his father’s seigneury, returned to the manor at Sainte-Marie-de-la-Nouvelle-Beauce. Joseph-André continued his practice from 1830 to 1835 while Pierre-Elzéar represented Beauce County as a radical Reformer in the assembly. After the latter resigned in November 1835, Joseph-André immediately contested and won the seat. During the crucial years between 1835 and 1837, Taschereau was one of the few French Canadians to desert the Patriote party’s ranks, often voting with the largely English Conservative minority. In the 1841 general elections in Dorchester County (which now included Beauce County) after the union he was soundly defeated by his uncle Antoine-Charles Taschereau, the Reform candidate.
In 1842 Taschereau was named one of three commissioners inquiring into seigneurial tenure. A year later they submitted to parliament an elaborate report, with detailed descriptions of tenure as practised in Lower Canada and with a generally pro-seigneur tone. On 13 April 1843 Taschereau gave up his law practice to become inspector and superintendent of police for Quebec City. Though technically this public office made him ineligible, he contested Montmorency in the next year’s general elections against the Reformer Joseph-Édouard Cauchon*, a supporter of Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine; he was defeated. On 21 Aug. 1845 Taschereau relinquished his duties as superintendent of police and accepted the non-cabinet position of solicitor general for Canada East in the administration of William Henry Draper* and of his friend Denis-Benjamin Viger.
This appointment was made less than a month after the death of his brother Pierre-Elzéar, whose Dorchester seat Joseph-André won on 15 September defeating Horatio Patton, a local figure. The election in Canada East’s largest constituency became a political cause célèbre which tested the relative strength of the rival factions under Montrealer Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine and “reactionist” Quebec mayor René-Édouard Caron*. Using all his influence, including the support of his cousin, seigneur of Sainte-Marie, “reactionist” Taschereau campaigned as a man whose principles were as “liberal as it is possible for them to be under a monarchical constitution,” and as a French Canadian nationalist with the motto: “My country before all.” Asked about his deceased brother’s different political principles, he replied merely that one must speak justly of the dead.
Taschereau had almost two disillusioning years in office, and was passed over in favour of William Badgley* as a successor for Attorney General James Smith in Canada East; he resigned as solicitor general. He also announced his intention of joining the opposition, a contingency the ministry avoided by appointing him circuit judge on 22 May 1847. On 25 Nov. 1857 he was named judge of the Superior Court for the District of Kamouraska, where he had gone to live in 1852. He died in Kamouraska on 30 March 1867, still a bachelor, still in harness, of a disease of the nervous system.
Joseph-André Taschereau, younger brother of the seigneur and nephew of the regional political leader, was a maverick in the Taschereau clan. When both his brother and his uncle were confirmed Reformers, Joseph-André gravitated towards the Conservatives. His final political act was to join the administration to which his dead brother had been opposed. His holding of office and his political contest with his uncle suggest more family feuding and personal rebellion than genuine expressions of political conviction. His bachelorhood, his preference for books over friends, and his hermit-like existence, also indicate a certain bleakness in his personal life. As a lawyer, however, Taschereau excelled, and in his erudition, impartiality in rendering decisions, and intellectual capacity he achieved as much as any other member of his dynamic clan.
Le Courrier du Canada, 1er, 3 avril 1867. Le Journal de Québec, 2 avril 1867. Morning Chronicle (Quebec), 1 April 1867. Le Jeune, Dictionnaire. Political appointments, 1841–65 (J.-O. Coté), 5. P.-G. Roy, Les juges de la prov. de Québec, 535. [M.] E. [Abbott] Nish, “Double majority: concept, practice and negotiations, 1840–1848” (unpublished ma thesis, McGill University, Montreal, 1966). Cornell, Alignment of political groups. Dent, Last forty years, II, 89–90. Maurice Grenier, “La chambre d’Assemblée du Bas-Canada, 1815–1837” (thèse de