Raoul Blanchard

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Raoul Blanchard (4 September 1877 – 24 March 1965) was a French geographer. Teaching at the university of Grenoble from 1906 he mainly devoted his researches to Alps and Québec geography.


Son of an inspector of the Department of Water of the Town Hall of Orleans, he attended Holy Cross School and the high school Pothier, where he studied under the geographer Louis Gallouedec. Admitted to the Ecole Normale Superieure in 1897, he is seduced by geography taught by Paul Vidal de la Blache. He spends his aggregation in 1900 and became a professor at the school of Douai. He is preparing a thesis on regional geography of Flanders, which he defended in 1906 under the title Flanders. geographic study of the Flemish plain in France, Belgium, Holland.

He was appointed a few months after the Faculty of Arts of the University of Grenoble. In 1907, he founded a research center of the French Alps, then very little known, the Alpine Geography Institute, it endows in 1913 of a review, the Compendium of the work of the Alpine Geography Institute, which became in 1920 the Alpine geography Review. The journal to which Blanchard collaborated for fifty years and the institute still exist today. Appointed professor in 1913, he is the "boss" of geography at the University of Grenoble. His natural authority goes with great freedom of shape and expression sonorous voice, style thick, colorful, often tinged with humour1.

Raoul Blanchard was appointed professor of geography at Harvard University in Massachusetts. This post he held from 1922 to 1936, giving it the opportunity to spend a few months a year in America. Then in 1929 he is interested in Canada. Given its Francophone roots and working facilities available to them, Blanchard enjoy working on this vast area of virgin dominion of any geographical study. Until 1960, he spent fifteen times in Quebec. Thus he begins to produce documents on Quebec with a strictly geographical method. During five autumns of 1929 and 1933 Blanchard travels Quebec, including the Gaspé twice, on foot and by car. Twice he also goes on the north shore of the St. Lawrence and Natashquan. A man accustomed to Europe, he was very interested in the novelty of the subject that was then Quebec. In 1930, he published "Gaspé Peninsula" in the Alpine Geography magazine. It was in this journal, the first in a long series of articles about Canada and especially Quebec.

Thereafter, Raoul Blanchard lectures in Montreal. In 1947, he agreed to found an institute of Geography of the University of Montreal, who became in 1962 the Department of Geography. This institute offers courses were taking place in Gaspé, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, according to the method used in his 1929 study he was appointed the first director of the institute until the disease the strength to make way for one of his students, Pierre Dagenais. At its founding in 1939, he was appointed honorary president of the Geographical Society of Montreal and in 1952, president of the Association of Geographers. In 1964, a year before his death, the last book published by Raoul Blanchard at Paris door on Quebec. In 1958 he was elected to the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques.

The great Quebec economic historian Albert Faucher, welcomed the Blanchard of Quebec work by saying, in a text published in 19622:

   "It is never given to economic historian, and yet, in his investigations, he never neglected the temporal dimension of space phenomena he studied. His works abound in historical overviews. The historian can criticize, it will never cease to consult or cited. Maybe someone will say it to him that Talleyrand said of Jeremy Bentham was nice loot, it remains rich. "

Raoul Blanchard is considered the father of modern geography in Québec. Thanks to him and his love for the French part of Canada [not neutral], Quebec has many books on geography. To thank him for this contribution, the Quebec Geographical Names Committee gave its name to a mountain of 1158 meters, the highest peak in the Laurentians, and the Department of Geography at the University of Montreal has honored giving its name to its largest classroom.


Raoul Blanchard wrote about 290 works covering a wide range of subjects; among them the Flandre, French Alps, the Middle East, North America and specially Québec.

  • La Flandre. Étude de géographie de la plaine flamande, en France, Belgique et Hollande, Armand Colin, Paris, 1906
  • « L’Habitation en Queyras », La Géographie, 1909
  • « Sur quelques géants américains », Journal de la Société des Américanistes de Paris, Paris, 1909.
  • Grenoble, étude de géographie urbaine, Armand Colin, Paris, 1911
  • Rapport général de l'exposition internationale de la houille blanche, Grands établissements de l'imprimerie générale, Grenoble, 1925
  • Les Alpes françaises, Armand Colin, Paris, 1925
  • « Asie occidentale », Géographie universelle, Paris, 1929
  • « La presqu'île de Gaspé », Revue de Géographie Alpine, Grenoble, 1930
  • « Les Problèmes du Canada français », Académie des sciences morales et politiques, Paris, 1932
  • « L'Amérique du Nord : États-Unis, Canada et Alaska », Fayard, Paris, 1933
  • « Géographie de l'industrie », 1934
  • L'Est du Canada français, Province de Québec, 2 vol., Montréal, 1935
  • A geography of Europe, together with Raymond E. Christ, Henry Holt, New York, 1935
  • Grenoble, étude de géographie urbaine, 3e edition, Librairie Didier & Richard, Grenoble, 1935.
  • « Géographie de Québec », Bulletin de la Société de Statistique, Grenoble, 1935.
  • Les Alpes occidentales, 1937 ; 1958
  • Géographie générale, 1938
  • Le Centre du Canada français, 1947
  • Montréal : esquisse de géographie urbaine, 1947.
  • Le Québec par l'image, 1949
  • La Mauricie, 1950
  • Les Alpes et leur destin, Fayard, Paris, 1953
  • L'Ouest du Canada français, 5 vol., Montréal, 1953-1954.
  • Réflexions sur les hautes vallées alpestres, Grenoble, 1958
  • Le Canada français, 1960-1964
  • Le Canada français, 3e edition, Presses universitaires de France, Paris, 1970