THIBAUDEAU, JOSEPH-ÉLIE, merchant, politician; b. 2 Sept. 1822 at Cap-Santé, Portneuf, L.C., son of Pierre-Chrysologue Thibaudeau and Émilie Delisle; d. 5 Jan. 1878 at Cap-Santé, Que.
Joseph-Élie Thibaudeau was born to a Cap-Santé merchant-politician family which included an older brother Isidore* and a younger Joseph-Rosaire. Thibaudeau’s life centred around Cap-Santé. He married a local girl, Félicité Larue, and when he left his business it was to represent his county in the Legislative Assembly. From 10 Aug. 1854 until after the 1857 general elections Thibaudeau was a moderate Liberal who usually supported the Liberal-Conservative coalition government. Then in 1858, as a means of embarrassing the ministry, he moved that double majority be adopted as a principle of government although since 1856, when it had actually used double majority to oust Sir Allan Napier MacNab* from leadership, the ministry had lost its Upper Canadian, therefore double, majority. Thibaudeau’s motion and various amendments were defeated, but the government cunningly resigned soon after making use of strong, if not majority, disapproval of the queen’s choice of Ottawa as the seat of government. George Brown formed a new Executive Council and named Thibaudeau president and minister of agriculture. On 4 August, two days after its formation, this “Short Administration” fell. Thibaudeau was re-elected after having resigned to accept office, but never again reached the executive level. In the 1861 general elections he was defeated by Jean-Docile Brousseau*, a Bleu. This defeat ended Thibaudeau’s political career. In 1863 the government of John Sandfield Macdonald and Antoine-Aimé Dorion* appointed him registrar for Portneuf County, a post he held until his death in 1878.
Thibaudeau was a typical middle-class French Canadian even though his family had a business rather than professional tradition. His political career was not outstanding, though he was a competent and articulate representative for his constituency, the District of Quebec, and Lower Canada.
Archives paroissiales de Sainte-Famille-du-Cap-Santé (Cap-Santé, Qué.), Registres des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures, 1822, 1878. Canada, Province of, Parliamentary debates, 1858–61. Political appointments, 1841–1865 (J.-O. Coté). Careless, Brown, I. Chapais, Histoire du Canada, VI, VII. Cornell, Alignment of political groups. Dent, Last forty years. David Gosselin, “L’honorable Élie Thibaudeau,” BRH, VI (1900), 62. “Les Thibaudeau,” BRH, XXXIX (1933), 58–59.