Antoine-Aimé Dorion

Ernest Lapointe John A. Macdonald Joint Premiers of the Province of Canada
Antoine-Aimé Dorion
The Honourable Sir Antoine-Aimé Dorion
December 1873; Topley Studio,
Library and Archives Canada
Born(1818-01-17)January 17, 1818
DiedMay 31, 1891(1891-05-31) (aged 73)
Resting placeNotre Dame des Neiges Cemetery
OccupationFrench Canadian Leader of le Parti Rouge (reformers) Opposed to Confederation.

Sir Antoine-Aimé Dorion, PC (January 17, 1818 – May 31, 1891) was a French Canadian politician and jurist. [1]

Early years

Dorion was born in Ste-Anne-de-la-Pérade into a family with liberal values that had been sympathetic to the Patriotes in 1837-1838. His father, merchant Pierre-Antoine Dorion, was a representative of the Patriote party in the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada from 1830 to 1838.

After studies at the Nicolet seminary from 1830 to 1837, in his twenty-second year went to Montreal to read law with Côme-Séraphin Cherrier, an eminent lawyer for whom he retained a lasting friendship. On the 6th of January 1842 he was admitted to the bar of the province, became the partner of M. Cherrier, and in the course of a few years attained the highest rank in his profession.[2]

Political rise

Dorion descended from a Liberal family which from early days had supported the Reform party in Canada. In addition to his father, his maternal grandfather represented the county of Saint Maurice in the Legislative Assembly from 1819 to 1830. At the time that Dorion commenced the study of law, Canada was entering a struggle between Lower Canada and Upper Canada for a balance of representation. Although a decisive political victory had been gained, and a responsible government formed, by Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine and Robert Baldwin in 1848, they did not press for an immediate overthrow of existing institutions, and in 1851, the administration was handed over to Francis Hincks and Augustin-Norbert Morin.[2]

The elections of 1854 had brought new reformist blood into the ranks of the Liberal party. Dorion was elected as member of the assembly for the province of Canada for the city of Montreal, and was chosen as leader. It seemed that the coalition government under Allan MacNab had clarified the situation, but by 1856 Upper Canada had increased, and it contributed a larger share to the revenue, and demanded proportionate representation. Dorion understood the true principle of federation as applicable to Canada, but he did not pursue this idea, and in fact his following was never sufficiently strong to enable him to give effect to the sound measures he was so capable of formulating.[2]


Dorion in 1865, collection of the Law Society of Upper Canada

In 1858 Dorion served as Co-Premier of the Province of Canada with Clear Grit leader George Brown (Canadian politician) but the government fell within three days.[3] From 1863 to 1864 Dorion again served as Co-Premier, this time with John Sandfield Macdonald as well as taking the position of Attorney-General, but refused to participate in the Great Coalition government formed in 1864 by Brown, John A. Macdonald and George-Étienne Cartier. Following the Quebec Conference of 1864 he denounced the proposed Canadian Confederation and led the opposition in Lower Canada to the project. He was also the leader of the Parti Rouge and thought the provinces would lose their power if Confederation was put into action. He disapproved that the colonies of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island were uniting under a central government. Dorion expressed his rejection of confederation through a manifesto in 1864, multiple articles from 1865 to 1867, and his attendance of opposition meetings in Lower Canada.[4]

House of Commons

Nevertheless, when Confederation became a reality, Dorion won a seat in the new House of Commons of Canada as Liberal Member of Parliament for Hochelaga. He was re-elected three times in succession for Napierville and served as Minister of Justice in the Liberal government of Alexander Mackenzie from 7 November 1873 and during the six months that he was in office passed the Electoral Law of 1874 and the Controverted Elections Act.[5] On 1 June 1874 he was named chief justice of the Court of Queen's Bench of Quebec.[6]

After his death in 1891, he was entombed at the Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery in Montreal.[7]


In 1878, Dorion was created a Knight Bachelor.[5]

The Township Municipality of Dorion in the Outaouais region of Quebec, Canada, was named in his honour (but renamed to Cayamant).


In 1848 Dorion married Iphigénie, the daughter of Dr. Jean Baptiste Trestler and Eulalie Delisle of Montreal.[2]

See also


  1. ^ "Canadian Encyclopedia". Historica Foundation, Toronto. 2011< Retrieved 31 Jan 2011> Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ a b c d Doughty 1911, p. 428.
  3. ^ Doughty 1911, pp. 428-429.
  4. ^ "Biography – DORION, Sir ANTOINE-AIMÉ – Volume XII (1891-1900) – Dictionary of Canadian Biography". Retrieved 2018-01-20.
  5. ^ a b Doughty 1911, p. 429.
  6. ^ Browning 1901.
  7. ^ Répertoire des personnages inhumés au cimetière ayant marqué l'histoire de notre société (in French). Montreal: Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery.