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Vigod, Bernard L.

Kingston, McGill-Queen's University Press, c1986. 312pp, cloth, $35.00, ISBN 0-7735-0588-1. CIP

Grade 12 and up
Reviewed by John Harkness

Volume 14 Number 4
1986 July

Louis-Alexandre Taschereau served the Liberal Party of Quebec in the provincial legislature from 1900-1936. as a cabinet minister from 1907-1920, and as premier from 1920-36. His immediate successor, Maurice Duplessis, is perhaps much known by Canadians, but Professor Bigod now provides us with the first balanced assessment of Taschereau's long career. Louis-Alexandre was born in the same year as the Dominion of Canada, 1867, into the family that Sir Wilfrid Laurier identified as having "the outstanding name belonging to the French race in Canada. . ., the glorious name of Taschereau." The family had come to Canada in 1720 and supplied successive generations of"patriots and men of action," including five judges, an archbishop, a cardinal, and now a premier.

Louis-Alexandre, very conscious of his ancestry, followed the law as his early career. He soon became a devotee of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and hence developed a commitment to the ideal of tolerance and compromise in Canadian political life. He was not a flamboyant or charismatic political leader.

Bigod had some difficulty in putting together his book, as less than adequate primary sources exist for this period of Quebec history. However, he has survived "the frustration occasioned by such fragmentary sources and other difficulties" to give us a very detailed biography of this shadowy figure of Canadian twentieth-century history and has done much to belie the usual dismissal of Taschereau as but "a Duplessis without manners; corrupt, self-serving, allied to the forces of reaction in matters economic, cultural and spiritual."

In this useful reference book, the author includes four pages of photographs at the front, an intensive collection of notes and bibliography of some fifty pages, and an index.

John Harkness, Emery CI., North York, Ont.
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