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Honoré Mercier

honore mercier, honore mercier school
Honoré Mercier October 15, 1840 – October 30, 1894 was a lawyer, journalist and politician in Quebec, Canada He was the ninth Premier of Quebec from January 27, 1887 to December 21, 1891, as leader of the Parti National or Quebec Liberal Party PLQ He rose to power by mobilizing the Francophone opposition to the execution of Louis Riel, denouncing it as a betrayal by John A Macdonald's Conservative government


  • 1 Early background
  • 2 Member of Parliament
  • 3 Provincial politics
  • 4 Party leader
  • 5 Premier of Quebec
  • 6 Political downfall
  • 7 Legacy
  • 8 Elections as party leader
  • 9 Family
  • 10 See also
  • 11 References
  • 12 Further reading
    • 121 Primary sources
  • 13 External links

Early background

Mercier was born in Saint-Athanase, Lower Canada, studied at the Jesuit College Sainte-Marie in Montreal, and was called to the Bar of Quebec in April 1865 As the age of 22, Mercier became the editor of Le Courrier de St-Hyacinthe newspaper He opposed the Confederation project as early as 1864, believing that it would be detrimental to French Canadians

Member of Parliament

In 1871, he was instrumental in creating the short-lived Parti National Mercier successfully ran as a Liberal candidate in the 1872 election He became Member of the House of Commons for the district of Rouville He did not run for re-election in the 1874 election In the 1878 election, Mercier was candidate in the district of St Hyacinthe He was defeated by the Louis Tellier, his Conservative opponent

Provincial politics

In 1879, Mercier was appointed Solicitor General of Quebec in the Cabinet of Premier Henri-Gustave Joly de Lotbinière and served in that position for less than a year He won a by-election and became Member of the Legislative Assembly for the district of Saint-Hyacinthe He was re-elected in the 1881 and 1886 elections and won another by-election in 1887

He left an impact on a later leader, Henri Bourassa

Party leader

He became the leader of the PLQ in 1883 A practising lawyer, from 1885 to 1887 he was President of the Bar of Montreal He strongly opposed the execution of Louis Riel in 1885; this event helped him win popular support, and the Quebec Conservative Party lost support because its federal counterparts had ordered Riel's execution

Seizing the opportunity to build a coalition with dissident Conservatives, Mercier revived the "Parti National" name for the 1886 Quebec provincial election, and won a majority of seats However, the coalition consisted of mostly Liberals and only a few Conservatives, so the "Liberal" name was soon reinstituted The Conservatives, reduced to a minority in the Legislative Assembly, clung to power for a few more months, but Mercier became Premier of Quebec in 1887

Premier of Quebec

Paul Chevré's Honoré Mercier sculpture in front of Parliament Building Quebec

Seeing provincial autonomy as the political expression of Quebec nationalism, he collaborated with Ontario Premier Oliver Mowat to roll back federal centralism Mercier initiated the idea of interprovincial conferences in 1887 He was the first Quebec premier to defend the principle of provincial autonomy within the confederation, campaigning to abolish the federal government's claimed right to veto provincial legislation

With his strong nationalist stance, Mercier was very much a precursor of later nationalist premiers in future decades who confronted the federal government and tried to win more power for Quebec He promoted contacts with francophones in other parts of North America outside of Quebec including Western Canada and New England Those francophones had not yet been assimilated into the English-Canadian or American culture to the extent they would be in the future Mercier promoted reform, economic development, Catholicism, and the French language He won popularity but also made enemies He was returned to the legislature as the Member for the district of Bonaventure and his party won the 1890 election with an increased majority

Political downfall

On December 16, 1891, he was dismissed by Lieutenant Governor Auguste-Réal Angers after a report concluded that his government had diverted public funds He lost the 1892 election, and gave up the party leadership to Félix-Gabriel Marchand He was brought to trial later that year and found not guilty when a second report concluded differently on the matter However, his health had greatly deteriorated and his political career was over He died in 1894 at the age of 54, and was interred in the Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery in Montreal, Quebec


The following landmarks were named to honour Honoré Mercier:

  • The Mercier Bridge that links the western part of the Island of Montreal with the South Shore;
  • The town of Mercier, Quebec;
  • Avenue Mercier, located in downtown Shawinigan, Quebec, Canada;
  • The provincial electoral district of Mercier
  • The Mercier neighbourhood in Montreal
  • An elementary school named Honoré-Mercier in Montreal
  • A high school named Honoré-Mercier in Montreal
  • A hospital in Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec is named Hôpital Honoré-Mercier
  • Honoré Mercier Boulevard, located in the Quebec city centre

Elections as party leader

He won a majority of seats in the 1886 election and became premier in 1887 after the minority government fell, won the 1890 election and was dismissed from office in 1891 and lost the 1892 election


His son Honoré Mercier, Jr was a multi-term member of the Legislative Assembly of Quebec and a Cabinet Minister; his grandson Honoré Mercier III served one term in the Legislative Assembly

Mercier was Lomer Gouin's father-in-law and is a great-great-grandfather of NDP leader Thomas Mulcair

See also

  • Politics of Quebec
  • History of Quebec
  • Quebec general elections


  1. ^ a b c  Browning, Thomas Blair 1901 "Mercier, Honoré" In Lee, Sidney Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement​ London: Smith, Elder & Co 
  2. ^ Paul-André Linteau; et al 1983 Quebec: A History 1867-1929 pp 261–62 
  3. ^ Honore Mercier Facts, information, pictures | Encyclopediacom articles about Honore Mercier

Further reading

  • Pierre Dufour and Jean Hamelin, “MERCIER, HONORÉ,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol 12, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed November 15, 2015, online
  • Wade, Mason The French Canadians 1760-1967 2 vol 2nd ed 1975, Vol 2 pp 417–33 online

Primary sources

  • Mercier, Honoré "Answer of the Hon Honoré Mercier to the Pamphlet of the Equal Rights Association Against the Majority of the Inhabitants of the Province of Quebec 1890 online

External links

  • Works by or about Honoré Mercier at Internet Archive
  • "Honoré Mercier" Dictionary of Canadian Biography online ed University of Toronto Press 1979–2016 
  • Honoré Mercier – Parliament of Canada biography
  • "Biography" Dictionnaire des parlementaires du Québec de 1792 à nos jours in French National Assembly of Quebec 
  • Extensive dossier on Mercier at L'Encyclopédie de l'Agora in French
  • 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia
Political offices
Preceded by
Alexandre Chauveau Liberal
Solicitor General
Succeeded by
William Warren Lynch Conservative
Preceded by
Louis-Olivier Taillon Conservative
Attorney General
Succeeded by
Arthur Turcotte Conservative
Preceded by
Henri-Gustave Joly de Lotbinière Liberal
Leader of the Official Opposition
Succeeded by
Louis-Olivier Taillon Conservative

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