Louis-Honoré Fréchette

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Louis-Honoré Fréchette
Fréchette, 1900
Fréchette, 1900
Born(1839-11-16)November 16, 1839
Lévis, Lower Canada
DiedMay 31, 1908(1908-05-31) (aged 68)
Occupationpoet, playwright, short story writer
Notable awardsPrix Montyon, CMG

Louis-Honoré Fréchette, CMG (November 16, 1839 – May 31, 1908), was a Canadian poet, politician, playwright, and short story writer. For his prose, he would be the first Quebecois to receive the Prix Montyon from the Académie française, as well as the first Canadian to receive any honor of this kind from a European nation.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Lévis, Lower Canada, from 1854 to 1860 Fréchette did his classical studies at the Séminaire de Québec, the Collège de Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière and at the Séminaire de Nicolet. Fréchette first showed his rebelliousness when he studied at college.[2] He later studied law at Université Laval.


In 1864, he opened a lawyer's office in Lévis where he founded two newspapers: Le drapeau de Lévis and La Tribune de Levis. He exiled himself in Chicago where he wrote La voix d'un exilé. A number of plays which he wrote during that period were lost in the Great Chicago Fire.

Fréchette returned to Quebec in 1871, where he was a Liberal candidate for Lévis in the provincial elections that year; he was not elected.[3] However, in 1874 he was elected Member of Parliament in Ottawa. He served in the House of Commons of Canada from 1874 to 1878 as the Liberal Party of Canada member from Lévis.He was not re-elected in 1878. After that, he moved to Montreal where he began writing full-time, having inherited the wealth of his aunt when she died.

He was the first Quebecer to receive the Montyon Prize of the Académie française for his collection of poems Les Fleurs boréales, les oiseaux de neige (1879).

In 1881, he was given an honorary LLD by Queen's College, Kingston.[4] In that same year Fréchette would meet Mark Twain in Montreal, whose writing he had much admired; indeed the two would remain friends, exchanging works and favorite books.[5] In the following year Twain would toast Fréchette at an American welcoming banquet in Holyoke, joking about his regard for the translation of works that in his fictitious "translation his [Fréchette's] pathetic poems have naturally become humorous, his humorous poems have become sad. Anybody who knows even the rudiments of arithmetic will know that Monsieur Fréchette's poems are now worth exactly twice as much as they were before."[6][7] In 1897 Fréchette was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George. After his death in 1908, he was entombed at the Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery in Montreal.[8]

Canada Post issued a postage stamp in his honour on July 7, 1989.

In 1991, Louis Honoré Fréchette Public School, a French immersion, opened in Thornhill, Ontario.

Electoral record[edit]

1872 Canadian federal election: Lévis
Party Candidate Votes
Liberal–Conservative Joseph-Goderic Blanchet 1,564
Independent Louis-Honoré Fréchette 1,475
1874 Canadian federal election: Lévis
Party Candidate Votes
Liberal Louis-Honoré Fréchette 1,670
Independent J. Chabot 1,572
1878 Canadian federal election: Lévis
Party Candidate Votes
Liberal–Conservative Joseph-Goderic Blanchet 2,144
Liberal Louis-Honoré Fréchette 2,026

Notable works[edit]


  • La voix d'un exilé (1866)
  • La découverte du Mississippi (1873)
  • Pêle-mêle (1877)
  • La Légende d'un peuple (1877)
  • Poésies choisies (1879)
  • Les Fleurs boréales, les oiseaux de neige (1879)
  • Quebec (1887)[9]

Short stories[edit]

  • L'Iroquoise du lac Saint-Pierre (1861)
  • Originaux et détraqués (1892), based on real life characters
  • Les contes de Jos Violon
  • Christmas in French Canada (1899)


  • Le retour de l'exilé (1880)
  • Papineau (1880)
  • La retour de l'exilé (1880)
  • Félix Poutré (1892)


There is a Louis-Honoré Fréchette fonds at Library and Archives Canada.[10] Archival reference number is R8032. There is also a Louis-Honoré Fréchette fonds at Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.[11]


  1. ^ "Fréchette, Louis". Dictionary of Canadian Biography. University of Toronto; Université Laval. Archived from the original on 20 July 2017.
  2. ^ Jacques Blais. "FRÉCHETTE, LOUIS".
  3. ^ George W. Brown; Ramsay Cook; Jean Hamelin (1966). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 359. ISBN 978-0-8020-3998-9.
  4. ^ "Adelphus Todd". The Week: A Canadian Journal of Politics, Literature, Science and Arts. 1 (9): 137. 31 January 1884. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
  5. ^ Charles Bruce Sissons; Richard De Brisay, eds. (1975). "Louis Fréchette". The Canadian Forum. Vol. LV. Survival Foundation. p. 8. Our national poet, Louis Frechette, a friend of Mark Twain's exchanged books, and commented on each other's work, as if it was of the same quality
  6. ^ Mark Twain (1976). Paul Fatout (ed.). Mark Twain Speaking. University of Iowa Press. pp. 166–168. ISBN 9781587297199.
  7. ^ Jenn, Ronald (January 2014). "Samuel Langhorne Clemens traducteur; Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1895-1896) et les travestissements de la langue" [Samuel Langhorne Clemens translator; Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1895-1896) and the disguises of language]. Revue Française d'Études Américaines (in French) (138): 40–56. doi:10.3917/rfea.138.0040.
  8. ^ Répertoire des personnages inhumés au cimetière ayant marqué l'histoire de notre société (in French). Montreal: Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery.
  9. ^ “Louis Fréchette Poems.” Louis Fréchette Poems > My Poetic Side, mypoeticside.com/poets/louis-frechette-poems.
  10. ^ "Finding aid to Louis-Honoré Fréchette fonds, Library and Archives Canada" (PDF).
  11. ^ "Louis-Honoré Fréchette fonds, BAnQ".


  • W. H. New, ed. Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002: 395–97.

External links[edit]

Professional and academic associations
Preceded by President of the Royal Society of Canada
Succeeded by