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Biography & Autobiography Political

Roland-Michel Barrin de La Galissoniere 1693-1756

by (author) Lionel Groulx

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Dec 1970
Political, General, Pre-Confederation (to 1867)
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    Publish Date
    Dec 1970
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La Galissionière was the most remarkable of the governors of New France in the eighteenth century, although he spent only a short time there (1747 to 1749). He stood out above all through his intellectual qualities: his mind was brilliant, wide-ranging, and nourished by a creative imagination which was fertile in new ideas and rapid solutions.


Roland-Michel Barrin de la Galissonière was born at Rochefort, France, in November 1693 to a family which included in its ranks members of the parlement, intendants, wealthy merchants, and powerful officials. At 17 he joined the navy, and after a successful career was sent to Canada at the age of 54 as "commander-in-chief of the colony," at a time when it was in great peril. Louisbourg and Acadia had been lost to the English; the Gulf of St. Lawrence was infested with English privateers; Quebec was under constant threat of invasion from the south, and its vital alliance with the Indians was proving to be shaky. The western fur trading were ineffective because of the wartime interruption of commerce. La Galissonière grasped the many problems quickly and clearly, and set out to restructure the colony, to join its badly fitting parts together in an organized whole. The attitude of his superiors at home was a major difficulty. Neither Vaudreuil nor Beauharnois, his predecessors, had been able to jolt the minister and the king out of their apathy concerning the colony; La Galissonière made the alarm they had sounded timidly ring out in the offices of Versailles. He attempted desperately the impossible recovery they had not known how to carry out in time.


This biographical essays paints a vivid and forceful picture of New France on the eve of the Seven Years' War.

About the author

Canon Lionel Groulx (1878-1967) was a Canadian Roman Catholic priest, historian and Quebec nationalist.

Lionel Groulx's profile page