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VALLÉE, ARTHUR (baptized Pierre-Marie-Arthur), physician, professor, office holder, and author; b. 5 Nov. 1882 in the parish of Notre-Dame de Québec, son of Arthur Vallée*, a physician, and Honorine Chauveau; m. 19 Oct. 1910 Maud Fraser in the parish of Saint-Patrice-de-la-Rivière-du-Loup in Fraserville (Rivière-du-Loup), Que., and they had nine children; d. 8 Jan. 1939 in Quebec City.

Arthur Vallée was born into a prominent Quebec City family. His father was superintendent of the Asile de Beauport and a professor in the faculty of medicine at the Université Laval in Quebec City; his mother was a daughter of Pierre-Joseph-Olivier Chauveau*, the first premier of the province of Quebec. Arthur pursued his secondary-school education at the Petit Séminaire de Québec from 1894 to 1901, and then enrolled in medicine at the Université Laval. He obtained his md in 1905 “with great distinction.” A brilliant student, he earned the Lieutenant Governor’s Award and the faculty of medicine’s Prix Morrin. He subsequently broadened his knowledge in Paris for two years, notably at the Institut Pasteur, where he studied bacteriology, histology, and laboratory techniques.

With this training, Vallée lived up to the expectations of the authorities at the Université Laval, who were counting on him to take charge of the pathological-anatomy laboratory that they wanted to establish. They asked him to purchase, while still in Europe, certain instruments and apparatus needed to set up the facilities. For practical reasons, however, the laboratory was not installed on the university premises as had been planned, but in the new Aiguillon pavilion of the Hôtel-Dieu in Quebec City. As the rector of the Université Laval, Olivier-Elzéar Mathieu, explained in a letter of 17 Jan. 1907, “It is neither easy nor convenient to have transported over a distance the spittle, blood, [and] parts of tumours [that the physicians must get examined].” Vallée became director of the laboratory when it opened in 1907 and would remain there until his death.

In 1908 Vallée was also appointed director of the municipal laboratory of Quebec City. He left this post in 1912 to organize and run the pathological-anatomy and bacteriology laboratories that the university, with help from the provincial government, instituted the following autumn in the faculty of medicine (a more practical venue for teaching). In 1913 Vallée assumed responsibility for the medical school’s museum as well; he was given the task of turning it into a more suitable location for instruction.

In 1928, when the department of pathological anatomy in the faculty of medicine was transformed into an institute in order to better respond to the needs for specimen analysis of the hospitals and physicians in the Quebec City area, Vallée and Dr Louis Berger were entrusted with its management. Used for teaching and research, the Institut d’Anatomie Pathologique also allowed destitute clients free access to the analysis department. In 1930 Vallée collaborated in creating the Centre Anticancéreux of the Université Laval, which was integrated into the institute, and he was appointed co-director with Dr Berger and Dr Charles Vézina. He thus played a key role in developing laboratory medicine in the Quebec City region in the first third of the 20th century.

In the matter of teaching, Vallée was listed in the university register as an associate professor lecturing in pathological anatomy and practical physiological chemistry from the autumn of 1908. At the same time he became secretary of the faculty of medicine (a position he would hold until his death), and he was made full professor in 1909. He taught practical bacteriology from 1913–14 and from 1915 he was in charge of the history of medicine course. Thereafter history, especially medical history, played a large part in his life. In fact, it was above all as a historian of medicine that his name would live on into the 21st century.

Several factors seem to have had a role in drawing him to the arts, and in particular to history. Vallée came from a background where culture was valued. His father had been the first to give the history of medicine course at the Université Laval, between 1894 and 1902. His maternal grandfather had been not only minister of public instruction and premier, but also the author of history texts, such as the one published in Quebec City in 1876, L’instruction publique au Canada: précis historique et statistique, and an important book released in Montreal in 1853, Charles Guérin .... His wife was herself the granddaughter of Philippe-Joseph Aubert* de Gaspé, author of Les anciens Canadiens (Québec, 1863; a translation, The Canadians of old, was published in the same place in 1864) and Mémoires (Ottawa, 1866). Between 1907 and 1914 Vallée had as a colleague Michael Joseph Ahern*, who co-authored with his son George the first major research study on the history of the medical profession in the province, which came out at Quebec City in 1923: Notes pour servir à l’histoire de la médecine dans le Bas-Canada depuis la fondation de Québec jusqu’au commencement du XIXe siècle, translated as Useful notes on the history of medicine in Lower Canada from the founding of Quebec to the beginning of the 19th century (Toronto, 1983).

In Quebec City in 1927 Vallée put out a biography of Michel Sarrazin* that would still be consulted at the beginning of the 21st century. Others before him, including Ahern, had already taken an interest in this physician. However, Vallée was the first to put together a complete biography of the man, place him in context, and evaluate his contribution to the medical and scientific life of his time. The book, Un biologiste canadien: Michel Sarrazin, 1659–1735, sa vie, ses travaux et son temps, was a success and earned the author several honours. In 1928 the Académie Impériale de Médecine of France awarded him the Prix Le Piez for the history of medicine. In 1929 Vallée was elected to the Royal Society of Canada (literary and historical section) and the Université Laval gave him an honorary d.litt. But Vallée did not receive the Quebec government’s Prix David, as would later be claimed, particularly in some death notices.

Vallée also made the history of medicine the topic of public lectures, some of which appeared in Causeries, a collection he published in Quebec City in 1929. The assembled texts contributed little to the advancement of knowledge, however, because their aim was primarily to inform the public about the major stages in the development of medicine in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Extremely fond of France, Vallée stayed there several times. He seems to have first gone there with his parents at the time of the Paris universal exposition in 1900. He returned to the country on various occasions as the representative of the Université Laval, the government of the province of Quebec, and other organizations. He went back for the last time shortly before he died to visit, among other places, the convents of the Augustines de la Miséricorde de Jésus (Augustinian Nuns), who had founded the Hôtel-Dieu in Quebec City [see Marie Guenet*]. In addition, he travelled to North Africa and recounted the highlights of his journey in Causeries.

Vallée belonged to a number of scientific and cultural organizations. Between 1922 and 1924 he was president of the Association des Médecins de Langue Française de l’Amérique du Nord [see Michel-Delphis Brochu] and a member of the organizing committee for the annual conferences in those years. At the time of his death he was a member of, among other bodies, the medical commission of the National Research Council of Canada and the committee responsible for organizing the tercentenary celebrations for the Hôtel-Dieu in Quebec City (24 Aug.–2 Sept. 1939); as well, he was president of the French section of the Royal Society of Canada, president of the Société du Parler Français au Canada, and president of the Société Médicale des Hôpitaux Universitaires de Québec. “Vallée was everywhere because everywhere people asked for him,” as the physician and professor A.‑Rosario Potvin noted in Laval médical.

Arthur Vallée died suddenly on 8 Jan. 1939. His passing made the headlines in the Quebec City newspapers and was followed by an imposing funeral. Vallée lived and died in the house where he was born at 22 Rue Sainte-Anne, on the corner of Rue du Trésor, the very house that had belonged to his father, and his grandfather Chauveau. Vallée was mourned by his wife and seven surviving children.

Jacques Bernier

BANQ-Q, CE301-S1, 6 nov. 1882; Index BMS, dist. judiciaire de Québec, cimetière Saint-Charles, 8 janv. 1939. FD, Saint-Patrice (Rivière-du-Loup, Québec), 19 oct. 1910. Univ. Laval, Div. des arch. (Québec), Dossier Arthur Vallée, François Gagné, “Arthur Vallée, Louis Berger et ceux qu’ils ont connus ou La naissance de l’anatomopathologie dans le milieu universitaire de Laval” (texte dactylographié, [Québec?], 1996); U541 (Faculté de médecine), 12 (fonds Association professionnelle canadienne et américaine), 17 févr. 1921; 31 (procès-verbaux), 16 sept. 1908. L’Action catholique (Québec), 9, 11 janv. 1939. L’Événement, 9, 11 janv. 1939. Le Soleil, 11 janv. 1939. Jacques Bernier, “La place de l’histoire de la médicine,” Health and Canadian Society ([Winnipeg]), 1 (1993): 19–49. C.‑M. Boissonnault, Histoire de la faculté de médecine de Laval (Québec, 1953). C.‑F. Delâge, Arthur Vallée, 1882–1939: extrait du rapport du bureau de direction de la Société royale du Canada pour l’année 1939 ([Ottawa, 1939]). Guy Grenier, 100 ans de médecine francophone: histoire de l’Association des médecins de langue française du Canada (Sainte-Foy [Québec], 2002). Albert Le Sage, “In memoriam: le professeur Arthur Vallée, 1882–1939,” L’Union médicale du Canada (Montréal), 68 (1939): 117–19. Arthur Maheux, “Le docteur Arthur Vallée,” Le Canada français (Québec), 2e sér., 26 (1938–39): 509–10. A.‑R. Potvin, “Le professeur Arthur Vallée, 1882–1939,” Laval médical (Québec), 4 (1939): 59–63. François Rousseau, La croix et le scalpel: histoire des Augustines de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec (1639–1989) (2v., Sillery [Québec], 1989–94), 2. Troisième centenaire de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, 1639–1939 ([Québec, 1947]). Univ. Laval, Annuaire, 1894–1939; Faculté de médecine, Annuaire, 1930/31: 12.

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Jacques Bernier, “VALLÉE, ARTHUR (baptized Pierre-Marie-Arthur),” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 16, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed May 25, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/vallee_arthur_16E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/vallee_arthur_16E.html
Author of Article:   Jacques Bernier
Title of Article:   VALLÉE, ARTHUR (baptized Pierre-Marie-Arthur)
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 16
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   2016
Year of revision:   2016
Access Date:   May 25, 2024