|1886 Biography of H. C. St.Pierre|
Mes racines / My roots
Henri Césaire Saint-Pierre
Ce document a été transcrit par Jacques Beaulieu, arrière-petit-fils de son sujet. / This document was transcribed by Jacques Beaulieu, Henri Césaire Saint-Pierre's great-grand-son.
Saint-Pierre, Henri C.,Advocate, Montreal, was born in the parish of Rigaud, county of Vaudreuil, province of Quebec, on the 13th of September, 1844, but was brought up at Isle-Bizard, in Jacques-Cartier county. He is the last but one of a family of nine, composed of seven girls and two boys. His father, Joseph Saint-Pierre, a farmer of Isle-Bizard, died when his son Henri was only two years old. His mother, Domithilde Denis, is still living. His first ancestor on his father's side in Canada was Pierre Breillé-Saint-Pierre, who was usually called Pierre Saint-Pierre. He had emigrated from Normandy, and on his arrival in Canada settled at Isle-Bizard. In 1741 he was married to Françoise Thibault, by whom he had a large family. He was killed at the battle of Carillon in 1758. His eldest son, bearing the same name, was married to Marie Josephte Tayon, and from that marriage was born, on the 23rd of August 1772, Guillaume, the father of Joseph, and the grandfather of the gentleman who is the subject of this sketch. Domithilde Denis, the mother of Mr. Saint-Pierre, belonged to a family of farmers from La Pointe Claire, which traces its origin in Canada as far back as the days of the first French settlements, the first colonist of that name, Jacques Denis, having settled at Lachine in 1689. After the death of his father, Mr. Saint-Pierre was adopted by a near relative, C. Raymond, a merchant at Isle-Bizard, who took charge of his education. At twelve years of age he entered the Montreal College, where he went through a brilliant classical course of study. He was the college mate of the unfortunate patriot, Louis Riel. From his childhood Mr. Saint-Pierre had always exhibited a strong liking for the military life; but as he grew older, this liking ripened into an uncontrollable passion; so much so, that on leaving college one of the first things he did was to solicit from his mother and his adopted father the permission to enlist in the United States army. At this time the war between the North and South was raging at its highest pitch. It is almost needless to say that his request was unhesitatingly and peremptorily refused. With no small degree of disappointment and reluctance, he at last chose the study of the law, and was sent to Kingston in Ontario, in order that he might improve his knowledge of the English language. At Kingston he was articled to James Agnew, one of the leading lawyers of that city. He soon got tired of the law, however, and on the very day when he was to undergo his preliminary examination at Osgoode Hall, in Toronto, yielding to his passion for military life, he crossed over to Niagara Falls, and thence took the first train to New York. On his arrival there he enlisted in the 76th New York Volunteers, which was then forming part of the first corps in the Potomac army. To his honour be it said, it was only after considerable hesitation that General Johnson, the chief recruiting officer, consented to enlist the runaway school-boy. Mr. Saint-Pierre of course entered the service as a private, but in less than two months he rose to the rank of sergeant. During General Meade's retreat towards Centreville, in the fall of 1863, he was wounded at the crossing of the Rapahannock, and had only recently resumed duty when, in the fight at Mine Run, near Fredericksburg, he was again wounded. He was picked up by a detachment of General Stewart's rebel cavalry on the field of battle, and was brought to Gordonsville during the night, and on the following day sent to Richmond as a prisoner of war. In his regiment he had been reported as dead, and some time afterwards his name was published in the list of those who had been killed in that fight. The result of this information was that funeral services were held both in the Montreal College and in his native parish, and prayer asked for the salvation of his soul. To give a detailed and circumstantial account of the suffering which Mr. Saint-Pierre had to endure, and all the adventures he had to go through in his numerous attempts to escape from starvation and death in the southern stockades, would require a narrative which could hardly be comprised within the compass of a whole volume; but one may form some idea of it, however, when the names of the following prisons wherein he was successively detained are mentioned: Bell Island and Parmenton building at Richmond, Andersonville in Georgia, and Charleston's race ground and Forence in South Carolina. After thirteen months of indescribable sufferings, he at last found himself free at Charleston on the day when the city was evacuated by the Southern troops in the spring of 1865. After the war was over, Mr. Saint-Pierre returned to his native country, where he was greeted as one who had risen from the dead. In March 1866, he resumed his legal studies, and was first articled to the late Sir George Etienne Cartier, but a year afterwards he became a student in the office of the Hon. J. J. C. Abbott, where he remained up to the time of his admission to the bar on the 12th of July, 1870. In 1871 Mr. Saint-Pierre entered in partnership with the Hon. Gédéon Ouimet, then attorney-general, and some time afterwards prime minister for the province of Quebec; and on that gentleman's appointment as superintendent of education, after his having resigned his office as prime minister, Mr. Saint-Pierre found himself at the head of his law office and the sole possessor of his large clientèle. Mr. Saint-Pierre soon reached the foremost rank in his profession, and to-day the firm of Saint-Pierre, Globensky & Poirier, is one of the leading firm in the district of Montreal. But it is more particularly as a criminalist that Mr. Saint-Pierre has distinguished himself. Few lawyers have been so successful in the practice of that branch of the law; and whether it be in the often arduous task of bringing conviction to the minds of juries, or that no less difficult one of unravelling a knotty point of law, he has few equals and no superior in his native province. He has frequently acted as Crown attorney and as substitute of the attorney-general for the province of Quebec, both in Montreal and in the adjoining districts. In politics Mr. Saint-Pierre is a Liberal. He was selected to run as the Liberal candidate in Jacques-Cartier, in 1878, for the local house, but was defeated by the former member, L. N. Lecavalier, who succeeded in securing his re-election by a small majority. Since that date Mr. Saint-Pierre has taken very little part in active politics. At the general elections for the federal house in 1887 he was selected as the Candidat National, first in the county of Laprairie, in opposition to Mr. Tassé, the Conservative nominee, and afterwards in the county of Jacques-Cartier, in opposition to Mr. Girouard, but declined in both instances. Mr. Saint-Pierre was married in 1874 to Adeline Albina Lesieur, merchant, of Terrebonne. She is a niece of the late Hon. Thos. Jean-Jacques Loranger, of the Hon. L. O. Loranger, a judge of the Superior Court, and of J. M. Loranger, Q.C. Mrs Saint-Pierre is a handsome and accomplished lady and an excellent musician. She is often seen at charity concerts, contributing, by her distinguished talent as a pianist, to the enjoyment of the evening; whilst her husband, Mr. Saint-Pierre, who is the possessor of a splendid bass voice, and a cultured singer, varies the entertainment by his singing. Mr. and Mrs Saint-Pierre were both born and brought up Roman catholics, and they have a family of five children, the eldest who, Master Henri, is only nine years old. In 1856 Mrs Saint-Pierre, the elder, was married to John Wilson, a wealthy farmer of Isle-Bizard. He was a widower and the father of several boys. Two of those boys were married to two of Mrs Saint-Pierre's daughters. The youngest of these gentlemen was recently elected deputy-reeve of the county of Prestcott, in Ontario. Mrs Saint-Pierre has survived her second husband, who died in 1858. She has now reached the ripe old age of seventy-nine. She is yet strong and hearty, and lately was invited to the christening of an infant (a girl) who was the grand-daughter of her own grand-daughter. She was thereby given an opportunity seldom offered, even to the very aged grand-mothers, that of seeing her fourth generation.
A Cyclopedia of Canadian biography : being chiefly men of the time : a collection of persons distinguished in professional and political life; leaders in the commerce and industry of Canada, and successful pioneers.
Rose, George Maclean (1829-1898)
Rose's national biographical series ; I, II
(Toronto: 1886), volume II, pages 69-71.