This Week in History
Saving a Past for the Future
For the week of Monday October 10, 2005
On October 13, 1856, Robert Christie – lawyer, militia officer, civil servant, journalist, politician and historian – died in Quebec City. Perhaps better known for his tumultuous parliamentary career, he is today recognized for his devotion to conserving early Canadian documents and for his fair-minded research into the history of Lower Canada.
Christie was elected to the assembly for Gaspé County in 1827. However, in 1829, the assembly expelled Christie because as chairman of the Québec Court of Quarter Sessions he had only recommended Governor Dalhousie supporters for appointment as magistrates. Thus began an electoral roller-coaster ride for Christie. In four subsequent by-elections held between 1829 and 1832, a defiant Christie was re-elected and then immediately expelled because of this political controversy.
Christie returned to politics in 1841 and, for the next 13 years, led legislative efforts to collect, conserve and publish the civil, military and public archives and records of this period. Considered the unofficial historian of Lower Canada by contemporary and later historians, all Canadians are in his debt for his actions to preserve and document the history of his time.
For his leadership role in the preservation of Quebec documentary heritage and his significant histories of the Quebec political administrations of 1791-1841, Robert Christie was designated a National Historic Person in 1938.
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