Arthur Buies

Arthur Buies, baptized Joseph-Marie-Arthur, journalist, chronicler, essayist (b at Montréal 24 Jan 1840; d at Québec City 29 Jan 1901). A lucid witness to and passionate participant in the late 19th-century ideological battles, Buies left behind a body of exceptional works which are not well known.

Buies, Arthur

Arthur Buies, baptized Joseph-Marie-Arthur, journalist, chronicler, essayist (b at Montréal 24 Jan 1840; d at Québec City 29 Jan 1901). A lucid witness to and passionate participant in the late 19th-century ideological battles, Buies left behind a body of exceptional works which are not well known.

Buies was educated in Québec and Paris. In 1860 he enrolled in Garibaldi's army and rashly sang its praises upon returning to Montréal in 1862. Buies was the most radical member of the Institut Canadien's second generation. He never involved himself in active politics, but participated in all the Parti Rouge's intellectual crusades. He handled words with ease and vigour.

His Lettres sur le Canada (1864, 1867) raised crucial social issues and denounced obscurantism, prejudice, laziness and fanaticism. After another stay in Paris, Buies founded in 1868 La Lanterne canadienne, an anticlerical, nationalist and democratic paper which was condemned by Québec's bishops. Gradually he moved beyond polemical writing to a more relaxed, refined and subtle prose style - his 3 collections of Chroniques are excellent 19th-century literary works. Humour came to temper his irony and his ideas turned into impressions. After meeting with Antoine Labelle in 1879, Buies became an explorer and geographer and described the regions of Québec then being opened up to settlement.

Lettres sur le Canada was reprinted in 1968, 1978. Two volumes of Chroniques were edited by Francis Parmentier (1986 and 1991). Parmentier also collected and published Arthur Buies' Correspondance (1993).