Philippe-Joseph Aubert de Gaspé was the fifth and final seigneur of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. Born in Québec City in 1786, he was both a lawyer and writer. As was the custom at the time, the young Philippe was sent to boarding school at an early age to study with other young boys, including Louis-Joseph Papineau.

Philippe-Joseph was a naturally generous and enthusiastic individual who had everything he needed to succeed: he was the son of a good family, was wealthy and well-educated, and had strong connections in the political, legal, military and social spheres. He was involved in just about everything: in cultural, sporting and even financial activities. He was even vice-president of Québec’s first literary society in 1809. Despite all this, he often had serious financial problems and lived a long time in his manor, far away from others.

Toward the end of his life he enjoyed great success with his novel entitled Les Anciens Canadiens, published in 1863. The story of this historical novel is set in the time of New France. It tells about life in the French colony through the story of two boys who become soldiers. Through them, we learn how people lived on a seigneury and elsewhere in New France. The book also talks about Québec City and customs like planting the maypole. It even includes old legends.

This novel is like a history book. It even tells the story of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. One might say that Mr. Aubert de Gaspé wanted to tell us stories about the good old days. He was a prominent figure of his era and one of the first Canadian authors.

Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social

Quickly check your knowledge: