Routhier, Adolphe Basil 1839-1920 (Jean Piquefort)

views updated

ROUTHIER, Adolphe Basil 1839-1920 (Jean Piquefort)

PERSONAL: Born May 8, 1839, in Saint-Placide, Lower Canada; died June 27, 1920, in Saint Irenee-les Bains, Quebec, Canada; son of Charles (a farmer) and Angelique (Lafleur) Routhier; married Marie Clorinde Mondelet, 1862; children: one son. Education: Laval University, B.A., 1858; B.C.L, 1850; Litt.D., 1880; LL.D., 1883.

CAREER: Called to the Bar of Lower Canada, 1861; Queen's Council, 1873; appointed puisne (younger) judge for Superior Court of Lower Canada, 1873; chief justice, 1904-06; author and composer.

MEMBER: Royal Society of Canada (founding member and president, 1914-15).

AWARDS, HONORS: Named knight bachelor, 1911.


La Sentinelle du Vatican (play), produced at Collège de Ste-Anne-de-la-Pocatière, 1869.

Causeries du Dimanche (title means "Talks of Sun day"), Beauchemin & Valois (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1871.

(Under pseudonym Jean Piquefort) Portraits et pastels littéraires, Brousseau (Quebec, Canada), 1873, reprinted in Polemique sur les causeries du Dimanche: Louis Honore Frechette, Adolphe-Basile Routhier, Louis-Antoine Dessaulles, Pot de Fer (St. Jacques, Quebec, Canada), 1994.

Les Echos (poetry), Delisle (Quebec, Canada), 1873.

Jugement de son honnenr [!] le juge Routhier, Brousseau (Quebec, Canada), 1876.

En canot: petit voyage au Lac Saint-Jean (title means "In Boat: Small Voyage to the Lake St. Jean"), Frechette (Quebec, Canada), 1881.

Les grands dames, C. O. Beauchemin (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1889.

Conférences et discours, two volumes, Beauchemin (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1889.

A travers l'Espagne: lettres de voyage, Côte (Quebec, Canada), 1889.

De Québec à Victoria (title means "From Quebec with Victoria"), L. J. Demers & Frere (Quebec, Canada), 1893.

La Reine Victoria et son jubilé (title means "The Victoria Queen and Her Jubilee"), Darveau (Quebec, Canada), 1898.

Québec et Lévis à l'aurore du xxe siecle, La compagnie de publication S. de Champlain (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1900, English translation published as Quebec: A Quaint Mediaeval French City in America, Montreal Printing (Montreal, Canada), 1904.

Le Centurion, Action Sociale (Quebec, Canada), 1909, English translation by Lucille Borden published as The Centurion: A Romance of the Time of the Messiah, B. Herder (St. Louis, MO), 1910.

De l'homme à Dieu, Garneau (Quebec, Canada), 1912.

Paulina, Franciscaine (Quebec, Canada), 1918.

Montcalm et Lévis, Franciscaine (Quebec, Canada), 1918.

Des causes de nullite des contrats, Charrier & Dugal (Quebec, Canada), 1942.

Contributor to periodicals.

SIDELIGHTS: "O Canada," the Canadian national anthem, was sung for the first time in 1880, with lyrics by a prominent judge of that era, Adolphe Basile Routhier. The son of a farmer and his wife, Routhier grew up in Quebec under religious influence and harboring the twin passions of law and literature. Defying his mother's wish that he enter the priesthood, Routhier finished his classical studies and earned his law degree, then went into practice in Lower Canada. A staunch political conservative, Routhier took part in a heated 1869 electoral campaign against Liberal Party candidate Charles-Alphonse-Pantaleon Pelletier. He ran unsuccessfully in the federal election, an event marked by excitement at the polls as some fifty constables were called in to maintain order. A rematch with Pelletier in 1872 met with the same outcome. Routhier's poor showing at the polls did not enhance his standing in the judiciary, however; he was appointed to Quebec's superior court, eventually becoming chief justice. Routhier also served as lieutenant-governor of the province.

Routhier's career on the bench was complemented by his work as a writer of essays, fiction, and poetry. His novels Le Centurion and Pauline were bestsellers of their time; the author was also in demand as an orator.

The poem "O Canada" originally appeared in French as part of the 1873 collection Les Echos. The work was warmly enough received in its original language to warrant an English translation—including such lines as "thy brow is wreathed with a glorious garland of flowers/As in thy arm ready to wield the sword"—formed the basis of the lyrics that became the national anthem of Canada. According to the O Canada Web site, the original French lyrics have remained unchanged.



Auclair, Elie-J., Sir Adolphe Routhier: son oeuvre d'homee de lettres, Arbour & Dupont, 1921.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 99: Canadian Writers before 1890, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1990, pp. 288-291.

Morgan, Henry, The Canadian Men and Women of the Time, Briggs, 1912, p. 97.


O Canada, (January 18, 2002), "O Canada! The Man behind the French Lyrics."*