Sir Étienne-Paschal Taché (September 5, 1795 - July 30, 1865)

Étienne-Paschal Taché had two careers, representing two very distinct periods of his life. From 1812 to 1841, he was a physician, and from 1841 to 1865, a politician. Because he died before 1867, his name is often forgotten when speaking of Confederation. All the same, he participated in every important political event under the Union.

Étienne-Paschal Taché did not participate in the armed rebellions of 1837 and 1838. He attended conferences and organized meetings. He was called a patriot who became a man of compromise when the Act of Union was adopted in 1841.

Taché entered active political life with the first elections under the Union. In 1841, he was elected the member for the riding of L'Islet. From 1841 to 1846, he remained in the background of the major political debates and spoke little in the House of Assembly. But when Taché gave a speech in 1846 on the need to establish a militia in Lower Canada, his colleagues took notice. Only two months after his speech, the Draper-Papineau government named him deputy adjutant-general of the militia, responsible for reorganizing the Lower Canadian armed forces. In 1848, Taché was appointed to the Executive Council and named chief commissioner of public works in the La Fontaine-Baldwin government. From 1848 to 1857, he participated in every government. If Taché was considered a patriot in 1837 and 1838, in the late 1850s, he joined forces with Augustin-Norbert Morin and Sir Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine to fight against the radicalism of the "parti rouge."

In 1855-1856, Taché formed a government with Allan Napier MacNab. Under this government, he was prime minister of Lower Canada. When MacNab was forced to resign, Taché chose John A. Macdonald to form a new government until 1857. This coalition was the first sign of an alliance between Liberals in Lower Canada and Conservatives in Upper Canada.

Taché tired of political life and left active involvement in the elections of 1857. He took advantage of this hiatus to found the newspaper Le Courrier du Canada with Hector-Louis Langevin. It was in this paper that Taché presented his vision of confederation, a topic growing in popularity in the intellectual and political circles of both Canadian provinces. At Governor Monck's invitation, Taché returned to politics and, again with John A. Macdonald, formed a government that lasted only a month. This failure was absolute proof that United Canada's political system was not working.

In 1864, Étienne-Paschal Taché helped create the Great Coalition. He remained a member of government, and although he agreed with the principles of the federal project, he was aware of the negative effect it might have on Lower Canada. He chaired the Québec Conference and was responsible for promoting the 72 Resolutions to the Legislative Council, while John A. Macdonald presented them to Parliament.


  • Désilet, Andrée. "Taché, sir Étienne-Paschal." Dictionnaire biographique du Canada. Vol. IX. [Québec] : Presses de l'Université Laval, 1983. P. 855-860.

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