Province of Canada, Legislative Council, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, (26 February 1864)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Scrapbook Debates, 8th Parl, 2nd Sess, 1864 at 33-34.
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FRIDAY, Feb. 26, 1864
Death of Hon. Sir Louis Hypolite Lafontaine
Luc Letellier de Saint Just [Grandville, elected 1860, Minister of Agriculture] [illegible] and said it was his painful duty to announce to the House the sudden death of Hon. Sir Louis Hypolite Lafontaine, and, out of respect to the memory of that most excellent and able public man, to ask an adjournment of the proceedings. The lamented deceased was suddenly seized with apoplexy yesterday, while attending to his duties in the Court of Appeals at Montreal, from which he was immediately carried to his own house, where he died this morning at 4 o’clock. Sir Hypolite La Fontaine was entitled to and would receive from his compatriots in Lower Canada, if not from the whole Canadian people, that deep and fervent gratitude which was due to a great patriot and upright judge. Early in life he had devoted his shining talents to the service of his country. It had developed upon him to defend the language, the nationality, and the institutions of Lower Canada, and he had brought to the task that strength of purpose and that peculiar ability which the circumstances demanded. He was one of those, too, who, by his energetic resistance to the encroachments of power, did much to secure for the country that form of government now known as Responsible Government, under which it was our happiness to live. He had initiated that the advisers of the Crown should be consulted upon all the appointments to place and emolument. This resistance had produced its proper fruit. In the prosecution of this work of reform he was in alliance with the Hon. Robert Baldwin, whose name would also be remembered by posterity with gratitude. The public life of Sir Hypolite had been will filled. After he had done his work as a legislator and statesman, he was designated to the most responsible and important office which a citizen can fill—that of Chief Justice; and it might truly be, said that no one had ever discharged the duties of that onerous office with greater learning, ability, or uprightness. The loss the country had sustained in the removal of this great and good man could not be overestimated, and being fully satisfied that the House would agree with him in the propriety of showing a tribute of respect to his memory he would make no apology in proposing a motion of adjournment. Nor had he any hesitation in inviting the hon. And gallant knight opposite
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Hon. Sir E.P. Taché, who had known Sir H. La Fontaine so well, to second the motion. He would, therefore, move that the House do now adjourn.
Étienne Pascal Taché [Canada East, appointed 1848] said it was with emotions of grief he rose to second the motion of the hon. member. The course the Government had pursued in this matter was not only marked by good taste, but was a very proper tribute of homage to the memory of a great citizen. Mr. Lafontaine had, indeed, rendered great services to the country, and as an enlightened and patriotic statesman and a most learned judge had earned the respect and confidence of the people. As a statesman he had exerted a powerful influence for good in troublous times, and it was chiefly by his instrumentality that the inhabitants of Lower Canada were reconciled to the Union of the Provinces. It required some much esteemed and popular man to interpose at that time for the purpose of throwing oil upon the troubled waters, and Mr. Lafontaine did it so well that the difficult machinery was finally brought into good working order. It was in association with the Hon. Mr. Baldwin, of whom Upper Canada was so justly proud, that the form of Government under which we enjoyed so many blessings was fully settled. After this he was called to a high judicial office, and no better selection could possibly have been made. It was only doing our duty to the memory of a great citizen to suspend for a day our business, and he had no doubt that his life and labors would fill one of the brightest pages in the history of the country. With much emotion (perceptible in the interrupted utterances of the honorable gentleman) he begged leave to second the motion.
When the motion was put by the Speaker the whole House, as if by a common impulse, rose, and, after a pause, adjourned.