Léo-Paul Desrosiers

Léo-Paul Desrosiers, writer, civil servant (b at Berthier-en-Haut, Qué 11 Apr 1896; d at Montréal 20 Apr 1967). Desrosiers, who lifted the genre of historical novel to a new level, is the least appreciated and most retiring writer of his generation.

Desrosiers, Léo-Paul

Léo-Paul Desrosiers, writer, civil servant (b at Berthier-en-Haut, Qué 11 Apr 1896; d at Montréal 20 Apr 1967). Desrosiers, who lifted the genre of historical novel to a new level, is the least appreciated and most retiring writer of his generation. He came from a peasant family whose ancestors were among the first colonists of the St Lawrence Valley. After classical studies at the Séminaire de Joliette, he was influenced by the nationalism of Henri BOURASSA and Lionel GROULX. He was successively parliamentary correspondent in Ottawa for Le DEVOIR, editor of Hansard and chief librarian of the Montréal Municipal Library; he was a member of the Société des dix, the Royal Society of Canada and the Académie canadienne-française.

Desrosiers's interest in history inspired biographies as well as his best novels. His greatest contribution to literature was without doubt Les Engagés du Grand Portage (1938), set in the fur-trade years of the early 19th century. Desrosiers's L'Ampoule d'or (1951) deserves rereading for the sobriety and poetry of its narration.