This Week in History
A French-Canadian Romantic
This story was initially published in 2007
On May 31, 1908, Louis Fréchette died in Montréal at the age of 68. Born on November 16, 1839, in Pointe-Lévis, Quebec, Fréchette pursued careers as a journalist, lawyer and politician, but his ultimate desire was to be recognized for his talents as a poet and playwright.
Fréchette returned to Quebec in 1871, at which time he entered politics for the federal Liberal Party. He was elected as the Member of Parliament for Lévis in 1874, but sat for only four years. During his term in office, he published a second collection of poems, Pêle‑mêle : fantaisies et souvenirs poétiques, copies of which he sent to a number of prominent French figures. He then submitted two collections to the Académie française. In 1880, he received the Montyon prize, awarded for the first time to a non‑French author. His critics charged that he was awarded the prize for his republican ideas, rather than his talent.
For his long literary and public career, marked by controversy but also great honours, Louis Fréchette was designated a National Historic Person in 1937. He remains one of the greatest French-Canadian poets of the 19th century.May is Asian Heritage Month. To view other stories associated with Asian Canadian history, please visit: The Promise, Taking a Stand, The Komagata Maru Incident, Commemorating Chinese Railroad Workers, Fishy Business, Toward a Better Future and A Harmony of Cultures in the This Week in History Archives.
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