Georges Boucher de Boucherville

Pierre-Georges-Prévost Boucher de Boucherville, soldier and Governor Prévost's aide-de-camp, writer and inventor (b at Québec City 21 October 1814, d at St-Laurent [Île d'Orléans] 6 September 1894), first child of Pierre Boucher de Boucherville, seigneur.


Boucher de Boucherville, Georges

Pierre-Georges-Prévost Boucher de Boucherville, soldier and Governor Prévost's aide-de-camp, writer and inventor (b at Québec City 21 October 1814, d at St-Laurent [Île d'Orléans] 6 September 1894), first child of Pierre Boucher de Boucherville, seigneur.

After his education at the Petit Séminaire of Montréal, he studied law and literature. In 1835, he published La Tour de Trafalgar, a fantasy published in several editions, and then Louise Chawinikisique, an Indian legend that won first prize in a literary competition organized by its publisher, l'Ami du peuple, de l'ordre et des lois.

Admitted to the bar in January 1837, Georges Boucher de Boucherville first exercised his profession in Aylmer Township but soon returned to Montréal, where he joined the ranks of the Fils de la liberté as corresponding secretary. Passions were inflamed in the fall of 1837, and the Fils de la liberté confronted Doric Club members on the Montréal streets on 6 November. Ten days later, Georges Boucher de Boucherville was arrested along with his leader, André Ouimet. Accused of high treason, he was held without trial and then released on bail on 8 July 1838.

In the fall of 1838, fearing that he would be arrested again, he fled to the United States - all the way to Louisiana, where he spent several years. According to an unpublished letter from Amédée Papineau to his father in 1841, Boucherville is doing well in the countryside, of very good cheer and well-paid, and has slaves, horses, carriages, guns and dogs; and, besides his professional duties, he still finds time to amuse himself. And he ... says that he never wants to return to Canada" [translation].

The writer

Nonetheless, in 1843, Georges Boucher de Boucherville did return to Lower Canada. In 1845, he chaired the Société des amis, an organization similar to the Canadian Institute, in which speakers gave talks on history and the sciences. Toward the end of the 1840s, he practised law in Aylmer Township, then briefly in Sherbrooke and finally in St-Hyacinthe (after his father died). Legal issues still concerned him, as witnessed by a series of articles appearing in La Minerve in 1845, but he was also interested in literature and socio-economic issues.

First in 1849 and then again in 1851, La Minerve's Album littéraire et musical published his serial, Une de perdue, deux de trouvées, which takes place in Louisiana. Boucher de Boucherville then reworked his text, which the Revue canadienne published in 1864-1865 with a follow-up work on the events of 1837 in Lower Canada. The work was published as a book in 1874.

His first essays on political economy appeared in La Minerve from October 1848 to February 1849 as Les Sophismes de M. Bastiat". He commented at length about a work by the French economist Frédéric Bastiat and disputed the opinions of that partisan of free trade and individualism. He then took on real estate credit. His Projet d'étude pour la formation d'une banque agricole nationale pour le Bas-Canada was published in St-Hyacinthe in 1862. He went to Europe to study the issue of forming a national agricultural bank for Lower Canada, and wrote a study on real estate credit that a Legislative Assembly of Quebec special committee published in 1863.

The inventor

In 1867, Georges Boucher de Boucherville was briefly secretary to the first lieutenant-governor, Narcisse-Fortunat Belleau, and then, starting on 1 November, Clerk of the Legislative Council of Québec, a position he held until his retirement in April 1889.

Like several other parliamentary employees, the clerk had some free time. The Legislative Council, over which his brother Charles-Eugène presided, had only 24 members, sat for 40 half-days per year and exercised its legislative initiative power frugally, leaving Georges Boucher de Boucherville time to take on other projects.

In 1877, he wrote a guide to whist, a very popular card game, in which he gave the rules and principles of that game, and he later published another serial story, Nicolas Perrot ou les Coureurs de bois sous la domination française, but, in the meantime, his interests changed.

In 1878, Boucher de Boucherville received a patent for his method of sending, receiving and recording telegraph dispatches. In fact, the code he designed was used not only to improve telegraph communications but also to establish a universal language. The invention of new languages was very popular at the time, and the one that Georges Boucher de Boucherville created is the most sophisticated example produced by a Canadian.

Each syllable and word in this language corresponds to a number and is therefore subject to mathematical operations. The foundation of numeric language is numbers themselves, and all operations that can be done with numbers may also be done with the words of the language" [translation], he wrote in his Dictionnaire du langage des nombres, a work of more than 1,000 pages published in 1889, two years after Zamenhof's on Esperanto. Boucher de Boucherville's dictionary indexes all the terms of the language he invented and gives equivalent terms in French and English.

Boucher de Boucherville died on 6 September 1894 at St-Laurent (Île d'Orléans) and was buried four days later in the family burial vault in Boucherville. He left behind a grieving widow, Louise Gregory, whom he had married twice on the same day, 15 February 1847, at three o'clock in the afternoon at the First Congregational Church of Montréal and then before a parish priest of Notre-Dame-de-Montréal with the consent of Dr. Silas Gregory, father of the underage bride.