Brunet, Michel

Michel Brunet, historian (b at Montréal 24 Jul 1917; d there 4 Sept 1985). A graduate of the UNIVERSITÉ DE MONTRÉAL and Clark University in Worcester, Mass, where he earned a PhD in history in 1949, Professor Brunet began his university career at the age of thirty-two at the Historical Institute, that became the Université de Montréal's history department. Since he took office, he was entrusted with the chaire d'histoire des États-Unis (Chair in American History) of which he was the sole holder for more than a decade. He did not delay in becoming resolutely involved in the defence and promotion of l'École d'interprétation historique néonationaliste at the Université de Montréal, a school distinguished by teaching the history of "two Canadas" - English and French - (see Maurice SÉGUIN). Even the title of his first book - Canadians et Canadiens: Études sur l'histoire et la pensée des deux Canadas (1954) - well illustrates this interpretive approach. Brunet, originally called on as a replacement for Guy Frégault, greatly contributed to the development and influence of the history department for the eight years of his directorship (1959-1967).

A committed academic strongly convinced that the knowledge of history is the best way to understand contemporary issues, Brunet assigned historians the role of scouts in society: "If I study history, it is not to bury myself in the past but to better seize the present and anticipate the future". Michel Brunet showed great intellectual preoccupation for the future of the Québécois society, then preparing to experience the quiet revolution.

Michel Brunet's remarkable intellectual contribution as a historian earned him numerous prizes and honours. For the jewel of his historical production, entitled Les Canadiens après la Conquête, 1759-1775 (1969), he received the Governor General's literary award (1970), and le prix France-Québec. In 1983, he was named professor emeritus at the Université de Montréal, and received the prestigious prix Léon-Gérin as a crowning achievement for his scientific work.