Philippe-Joseph Aubert de Gaspé (Philippe Philippe-Joseph Aubert de Gaspé)

Philippe-Joseph Aubert de Gaspé

Author, Lawyer, Seigneur. Philippe-Joseph Aubert de Gaspé is most remembered as the author of the iconic novel “Les Anciens Canadiens” (“The Canadians of Old”). He was the son of seigneur Pierre-Ignace Aubert de Gaspé, and came from a distinguished family that had been ennobled by Louis XIV in 1693. He received his classical education at the Seminary of Quebec and then studied law. Aubert de Gaspé was called to the bar in 1811, and later that year married the daughter of a British infantry captain. He fathered thirteen children. The French Canadian served as a captain in the local militia. He practiced law until 1816, when he received a commission as sheriff for Quebec. However, he incurred a large debt which he was unable to repay, and was relieved of his office as sheriff in 1822. His father died the following year. Aubert de Gaspé was forced to move his large family to the home of his mother, and lived in seclusion for years. He was imprisoned for debt between 1838 and 1841. His eldest son and namesake, Philippe-Ignace-François Aubert de Gaspé, published in 1837 “L’Influence d’un Livre” (“The Influence of a Book”), generally considered to be the first French Canadian novel. However, his son died in 1841, when he was still in prison. Despite the years of seclusion on the family seigneury, followed by the three years of imprisonment, Aubert de Gaspé was welcomed back into Quebec society. The death of his mother in 1842, following by one week the death of her sister, meant a double inheritance for Aubert de Gaspé. His children made advantageous matches. He began to relate his memories, in the form of a novel. The book also included figures who had become legendary, such “La Corriveau,” Marie-Josephte Corriveau. “Les Anciens Canadiens” was written over a period of years and published in 1863. It was an immediate success. Not only was there a second edition and English translation in 1864; it was adapted for the stage in 1865. His book “Mémoires” was published in 1866. The third book “Divers” was published posthumously. Philippe-Joseph Aubert de Gaspé died in Quebec, and was interred on February 1, 1871 under his seigneurial bench at the church of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. A plaque there proclaims his resting place, while another indicates his familial lineage. He was the last seigneur of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. The church was classified as an historic monument in 1963. In 1986, Canada issued a stamp commemorating the 200th anniversary of the author’s birth. The Aubert de Gaspé manor was rebuilt in 2008 and now houses a museum, the Musée de la Mémoire Vivante (Museum of Living Memory).  (bio by: Anne Philbrick)  Family links:  Spouse:  Suzanne Allison Aubert de Gaspé (1794 – 1847)


  • October, 30, 1786
  • Canada


  • January, 01, 1871
  • Canada


  • Saint-Jean-Port-Joli
  • Quebec
  • Canada

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