He was born Augustin Cuvillier in Quebec City in 1779 and was hired by a Montreal auctioneer, eventually taking over the business when his employer retired. After he formed a partnership with two other men, the business went bankrupt. By this time, Cuvillier had adopted the anglicized first name Austin. By 1807, he was back in the auction business.
During the War of 1812, he served with the militia. In 1814, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada representing Huntingdon County, as a member of the Parti canadien. He played an important role in the founding of the Bank of Montreal and was one of its first directors. He also helped found the Montreal Fire Insurance Company and became president in 1820. In 1821, he was part of a commission negotiating the sharing of customs duties between Lower and Upper Canada. He opposed the union of the two Canadas. In 1828, he helped present petitions against Governor Dalhousie's policies in London. In 1829, he began to distance himself from the Parti patriote. He opposed the Ninety-Two Resolutions that were presented in 1834. By 1836, he was one of the most important auctioneers in Montreal and served as president on the city's Committee of Trade, later the Montreal Board of Trade. He commanded a battalion in the militia during the Lower Canada Rebellion.
In 1841, he was elected to the 1st Parliament of the Province of Canada representing Huntingdon and was elected speaker. In 1844, he defended Governor Charles Theophilus Metcalfe against the Reformers when the governor wished to retain exclusive control over patronage. This led to the end of his political career and Cuvillier returned to his auction business.
He died of typhus at Montreal in 1849.
- "Biography". Dictionnaire des parlementaires du Québec de 1792 à nos jours (in French). National Assembly of Quebec.
- "Austin Cuvillier". Dictionary of Canadian Biography (online ed.). University of Toronto Press. 1979–2005.