Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Jacques Monet (1930-2024) RIP, historian of 19th Century Canada


Jacques Monet, historian and Jesuit priest, died recently at the age of ninety-four. He was a longtime history professor at several Canadian universities and the author of The Last Cannon Shot and other works in mid-19th century Canadian history. Monet was an admirer of the pre-Confederation politics of French-English co-operation -- to the point that in the tempestuous 1970s he was known to some of his more nationalist compatriots as "Union Jacques."

He was head of the University of Ottawa history department when I was a graduate student there and always charming and gregarious. I recall him describing once how he lived at the Jesuit Fathers House in Ottawa, which was listed in the phone book (this was a long time ago) under J for Jesuit Fathers. They received a letter one day from a genealogical marketing company addressed to "Dear Mr. Fathers Jesuit."  It gushed for a page and a half about the great things the children of the Jesuit family had achieved since their forefathers came to North America long ago, and offered to provide, for just X dollars, a handsome hardwood crest bearing the family coat of arms.  

Monet could not resist, and in due course he and his brethren at the Jesuit Fathers House received the promised crest in the mail:  a shield-shaped piece of wood with a red background and a large J in the centre.

Somewhere Jacques Monet's many descendants are still smiling.    

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