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Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine

Sir Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine

2nd Premier of Canada East
In office
September 26, 1842 – November 27, 1843
Preceded by Samuel Harrison
Succeeded by Sir Dominick Daly

6th Premier of Canada East
In office
March 11, 1848 – October 28, 1851
Preceded by Denis-Benjamin Papineau (deputy)
Dominick Daly (as premier)
Succeeded by Augustin-Norbert Morin

Born October 10, 1807(1807-10-10)
Boucherville, Lower Canada
Died February 26, 1864 (aged 56)
House where Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine lived in his childhood, Boucherville

Sir Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine (or La Fontaine), 1st Baronet (October 4, 1807 – February 26, 1864 Montreal) was the first Canadian to become Prime Minister of the United Province of Canada and the first head of a responsible government in Canada. He was born in Boucherville, Lower Canada in 1807. A jurist and statesman, Lafontaine was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada in 1830. He was a supporter of Papineau and member of the Parti canadien (later the Parti patriote). After the severe consequences of the Rebellions of 1837 against the British authorities, he advocated political reforms within the new Union regime of 1841.

Under this Union of the two Canadas he worked with Robert Baldwin in the formation of a party of Upper and Lower Canadian liberal reformers. He and Baldwin formed a government in 1842 but resigned in 1843. In 1848 he was asked by Queen Victoria to form the first administration under the new policy of responsible government. The Lafontaine-Baldwin government, formed on March 11, battled for the restoration of the official status of the French language, which was abolished with the Union Act, and the principles of responsible government and the double-majority in the voting of bills.

While Baldwin was reforming Canada West (Upper Canada), Lafontaine passed bills to abolish the tenure seigneuriale (seigneurial system) and grant amnesty to the leaders of the rebellions in Lower Canada who had been exiled. The ring passed, but it was not accepted by the loyalists of Canada East who protested violently and burned down the Parliament in Montreal.

Lafontaine retired to private life in 1851 but was appointed chief justice of Canada East in 1853. In 1854 he was created a baronet by Queen Victoria and a knight commander in the pontifical Order of St. Sylvester by Pope Pius IX in 1855. He had first married on July 9, 1831 to Adèle Berthelot (1813-1859) and then secondly to the widowed Julie-Élisabeth-Geneviève Morrison (1822-1905) on January 30, 1861. While his first marriage had been childless his second produced two sons; Louis-Hippolyte (born July 11, 1862) and a second son, born July 15, 1864 who died the following year. The elder son succeeded to the baronetcy but died in 1867.





  • Les deux girouettes, ou l’hypocrisie démasquée, Montréal, 1834 (online)
  • Notes sur l'inamovibilité des curés dans le Bas-Canada, Montréal, 1837
  • Analyse de l'ordonnance du Conseil spécial sur les bureaux d’hypothèques [...], Montréal, 1842
  • De l'esclavage en Canada, Montréal, 1859[1] (online)
  • De la famille des Lauson. Vice-rois et lieutenants généraux des rois de France en Amérique, 1859 (online)


  • The Address to the Electors of Terrebonne, 1840 (online)

Posthumous honours

Statue of Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

In the Montreal region, both the Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine Bridge-Tunnel and the Parc Lafontaine urban park are named in his honour. A statue of Lafontaine and Baldwin was erected on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

See also


  1. ^ With Jacques Viger


In English

  • Monet, Jacques. "La Fontaine, Louis-Hippolyte", in Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, University of Toronto and Université Laval, 2000
  • Abbott Nish, M. E. Double majority: Concept, Practice and Negotiations, 1840–1848, Master Thesis, McGill University, Montréal, 1966
  • Leacock, S. B. (1907). Baldwin, Lafontaine, Hincks. Responsible Government, Toronto, 371 p.

In French

  • Aubin, Georges (2002-05). Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine. Correspondence générale
    • Tome 1: Les ficelles du pouvoir: correspondance entre Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine et Robert Baldwin, 1840-1854
    • Tome 2: Au nom de la loi: lettres de Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine à divers correspondants, 1829-1847
    • Tome 3: Mon cher Amable: lettres de Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine à divers correspondants, 1848-1864
  • Aubin, Georges (1999). Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine. Journal de voyage en Europe, 1837-1838, Sillery: Septentrion, 153 p. ISBN 2-89448-142-X
  • Bertrand, Réal (1993). Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine, Montréal: Lidec, 60 p. ISBN 2-7608-7046-4
  • Auclair, Elie-Joseph (1933). Figures canadiennes, Montréal, vol. 2, pp. 9-19 (online)
  • DeCelles, Alfred Duclos (1907). LaFontaine et son temps, Montréal: Librairie Beauchemin, 208 p.(online)
  • Laurent-Olivier David (1872). Sir Ls.-H. Lafontaine, Montréal: Typographie Geo. E. Desbarats, 45 p.
Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Richard Ogden
Joint Premiers of the Province of Canada - Canada East
Succeeded by
with Sir Dominick Daly
Preceded by
Denis-Benjamin Papineau
Premiers of Canada East
Succeeded by
Augustin-Norbert Morin
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
New creation
Succeeded by


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