Biography of Hon. Telesphore Fournter

Telesphore Fournter, who took his seat on the Supreme Bench of the Dominion in October, 1875, is a son of Guillaume Fournier and Maria A. nee Morin, and was born at St. Francois, Riviere Du Sud, Montmagny, Province of Quebec, August 5, 1823. He was educated at Nicolet College, graduating in 1842; studied law at Quebec with the Lieutenant Governor Caron; was called to the Bar of Lower Canada in 1846, and created a Queen’s Counsel in 1863.

As a lawyer, Mr. Fournier was admitted by his colleagues to have won his place at once in the foremost rank, and in 1867 he was elected by them Batonnier or President of the Bar of the District of Quebec. It is said that the late Sir L. H. Lafontaine, Chief Justice of the Province of Quebec, looked upon him as the most eminent lawyer in the Province, and always selected him as his counsel when he had any business before the Courts. At one time he was President of the General Council of the Province of Quebec.

From 1856 to 1858 Mr. Fournier was an associate editor of Le National of Quebec, a paper devoted to the interests of Liberalism. Previous to being elected, in 1870, a member of the House of Commons, representing Bellechasse, he was defeated several times, once by five votes, at another time by seven. However, about that time his popularity increased very much, and in 1871 he was elected to represent Montmagny in. the Quebec Assembly by nearly 300 majority, and he became the acknowledged leader of the Liberal party in the District of Quebec. He remained a member of the local Assembly until 1873, when dual representations were abolished. At the time of the Pacific Railway Scandal, when the Macdonald-Langevin, Ministry resigned, Mr. Fournier was sworn in as a member of the Privy Council, and appointed Minister of Inland Revenue. That office he held from November 7, 1873, to July 8, 1874, when he succeeded Hon. Antoine A. (now Chief Justice) Dorion, as Minister of Justice, which position he held until transferred to the Post Office Department on the 19th of May, 1875. Five months afterwards, October 8, he was appointed a Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court.

Among the important measures which Judge Fournier introduced and carried through Parliament, as Minister of Justice, was the Supreme and Exchequer Courts Act, and the Insolvency Act. While Minister of Inland Revenue, the Contreverted Elections Act of 1874, a measure which he had fought for when in opposition, was carried through by him.

Since his appointment to a seat on the Bench of the Supreme Court, the learned Judge has delivered some very able judgments, which are to be found in the Supreme Court of Canada Reports.

In 1857, Miss M. Hermine H. Demers, daughter of Wilbrod Demers, became the wife of Judge Fournier, and they have nine children.



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