Quebec Studies

Book Reviews

Quebec Studies (2011), 52, (1), 153–168.

Abstract

153 Book Reviews Edited by Patrice Proulx History, Culture, and Politics GUTTMAN, FRANK MYRON. The Devil from Saint-Hyacinthe: Senator Télesphore-Damien Bouchard, A Tragic Hero. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2009. Pp. 402. ISBN: 978-0-595-40302-8. Frank Myron Guttman, a retired pédiatrie surgeon who recently received his M.A. in Québec history at McGill University, offers a vivid portrait of Télesphore-Damien Bouchard in The Devil from Saint-Hyacinthe: Senator Télesphore-Damien Bouchard, A Tragic Hero. As Guttman's text is the firstever published biography of Bouchard (other than a University of Sherbrooke master's thesis on Bouchard's life from 1935 to 1944 by Robert Saint-Germain and Jacques Bibeau), it is imperative to heed the warning that Guttman received from Professor E.H. Carr on how the historian's own background colors his or her perspective on the subject. Guttman thus pro­ vides insight into his background so that readers may fully appreciate his study of Bouchard's life and work during what has now become known as the "Great Darkness," the period in Québec politics from 1912-1944 that preceded the Quiet Revolution. Guttman explains: "My own interest in the life of Télesphore-Damien Bouchard is neither impersonal nor random. As a Jewish Quebecer, I was attracted to his sympathy for the underdog, and his battle against the xenophobia of the right-wing nationalists of his time. His story serves to illustrate that enlightened people lived in Quebec, indi­ viduals who were receptive to the ideas and some of the customs of the First Nations, and later others, who welcomed immigrants escaping perse­ cution in Europe." In eleven chapters and a conclusion accompanied by poignant photo­ graphs and a comprehensive bibliography, Guttman demonstrates how — despite Bouchard's staunch anticlerical stance — the largely devoted French-Catholic citizens of his native Saint-Hyacinthe elected him to public office for over thirty-nine years. Known as being a representative of his people while at the same time being against socialism, Bouchard fought tirelessly for mandatory free education, bilingual education, and later for the establishment of the provincial Department of Education. He also fought for electric power to be municipalized and then nationalized and for municipal taxation of manufacturers and clerical institutions in his city. He was also an advocate for freedom of expression, effective labor laws, and women's suffrage. Guttman argues that the voters of Saint-Hyacinthe sup­ ported Bouchard because as a whole the French Canadians were never narrow-minded: "During his political life Bouchard was called a 'renegade of God,' a Freemason, and an atheist. In spite of these accusations, the Catholic French-Canadian people of Saint-Hyacinthe elected Bouchard a I derman in 1905, at the age of 23; member of the Legislative Assembly in

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Proulx, Patrice