This text is from the
Montreal History and Gazetteer,
by Borthwick (1892)
H. C. ST. PIERRE, Q.C.
The subject of this sketch was born at St. Madeleine de Rigaud, 13th September, 1842.
His father, Joseph St. Pierre, «cultivateur», having died when he was not much more
than two years of age, C. Raymond, merchant of Isle Bizard, took charge of the child
and reared him as his own son. At the age of twelve years he entered the
College of Montreal, where he passed through his studies with success. In 1862,
he left the College, and the young student, as his temperament shows even at this
present day, full of energy and vim, wished to enter the Army of the Northen States.
The War of Secession was in all its fury, but the wish of his friends and protectors
was against it.
By the death of his protector he had to launch out on life’s journey by himself.
Thus we find him at this time in Kingston, Ontario, studying Law in the office of
the well-known James Agnew, Esq. As soon as he passed his examinations he returned
to the States and enlisted in the 76th New York Volunteers, which formed part of the
Army of the Potomac, and was sent to the front. In two months he became a Sergeant.
At the retreat of General Mead he received a wound, and again receiving a wound at
Mine Run, near Fredericksburg, which stretched him on the battlefield, he was taken
prisoner of war by the enemy’s cavalry and transported to Gordonsville, not far
from Richmond, the Capital. So it came to pass that his name was recorded on the
battle roll as slain on the field of honor. A funeral service was even celebrated
for him in the Montreal College and in St. Madeleine, his native place. It would be
long to enumerate all the sufferings which he endured during thirtheen months in the
different military prisons where he was confined, but by the evacuation of Charleston
by the Army of the South in 1865, he at last attained his liberty. Pen cannot describe
the joy, the pleasure, the delight when he once more appeared in his native land by
his parents, by his friends and by the community at large, who had so long thought
him dead and buried on an American battle field. In 1866, having been admitted to
the study of his profession, he was successively in the offices of Messrs. Cartier,
Pominville & Betournay, F. X. A. Trudel and J. J. C. Abbott, and in July, 1870, he
was admitted to the Bar of the Province of Quebec. In 1871, he was associated with
the Hon. Gédéon Ouimet, now Superintendent of Education. Mr. St. Pierre has never
identified himself much with political or civic affairs, the duties of his extensive
and ever increasing practice, especially that of the Criminal Courts, has taken up
all his time and attention.
In 1874, he married Mlle. Adeline Albina Lesieur, daughter of Adolphe Lesieur,
merchant, of Terrebonne, and niece of the late Judge T. J. J. Loranger, and of
the present worthy representative of the name, Hon. L. O. Loranger, Judge of the
Superior Court, Montreal. Madame St. Pierre is well known for her numerous acts
of charity and her great reputation as a pianist, and like her husband, who is
one of the most talented singers in Montreal, always ready to give her time and
talents to aid any charitable undertaking. The Author speaks of them both when
the presentation of a purse of money was made to the late Madame DeLorimier, of
L’Assomption, the widow of the renowed Chevalier DeLorimier, who was the twelfth
and last of the Patriots of 1837-8, who were hanged at the Montreal Goal in 1839.
The world thinks not the less of her because of her actions that day to the widow
of the patriot.
The first case which Mr. St. Pierre pleaded was in the Court of the Queen’s Bench, i
n 1872. He defended three men accused of murder. It was a difficult case to handle,
nevertheless two were acquitted and the third was pronounced guilty of assault on
the person. He received an enthusiastic ovation at the conclusion of the trial.
Many others accused of murder have been acquitted by his indefatigable means.
One of the most notable trials was that of Ferrari, an Italian, who stabbed to
the heart another countryman. In this trial Mr. St. Pierre was ably seconded by
Mr. Donald McMaster, one of the brightest lights now of the Montreal Bar. The
accused was acquitted. Again, a brilliant manifestation was given to Mr. St. Pierre
after the proceedings were closed, and he was carried triumphantly to the Hotel
Richellieu. In the case of «Caza», a celebrated trial in
which Merrs. Geoffrion & Poirier were also engaged with Mr. St. Pierre,
the prisoner was acquitted. This was made for Mr. St. Pierre a veritable triumph.
Let me copy from a French publication what it says of this trial and result:
«À cette occasion une personne dont je cacherai le nom, pour éviter de blesser
sa modestie, fit publier, dans La Patrie, les vers suivants:
Il faut bien l’avouer: au Ciel et sur la terre
Nous avons deux puissants St. Pierre:
L’un siège avec éclat au port brillant des cieux:
L’autre, aux portes de fer des prisons de ces lieux.
Voilà bien la ressemblance;
Mais quant à ce qu’aux leurs ils peuvent garantir,
Quelle est donc la différence?
Eh!... l’un les fait entrer, l’autre les fait sortir!»
In the celebrated case of the Detectives, Fahey, Naegle and Bureau, his pleading
for Bureau was one of fine oratory rarely heard within the walls of the Court House.
There is also the case of Benson, tried for the murder of his wife, whom he had shot
with a revolver, under the eyes of the deceased woman’s own child, aged twelve years.
He was acquitted on the 16th March, 1889. The result thus obtained inspired the
following lines from a friend of his:
De ce nouveau succès qu’il ajoute à tant d’autres
Je viens féliciter l’ami Santum Petrum,
Grâce à lieu Sir Benson passe au rang des Apôtres.
«Non licet omnibus adire Corinthum.»
Next comes the case of McGrath for the murder of Holden. McGrath had cut Holden’s
throat with a razor. Mr. St. Pierre was assisted by Mr. McCormick. McGrath was
found guilty of manslaughter, which was the plea offered all along by the defense.
Mr. St. Pierre was appointed Queen’s Counsel, January, 1889, and no man of the
Bar of Montreal has achieved such a reputation as the subject of this sketch
in the Criminal Courts. He stands side by side with Hon. J. A. Chapleau, who
twenty years ago was the great criminal lawyer of the city. He is in the
prime of life, and may he be long spared to be an ornament to the profession.