Blanchard, J. -Henri

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Blanchard, J. -Henri

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Joseph-Henri Blanchard was born in Oyster Bed Bridge, Prince Edward Island, 16 June 1881, son of the Hon. Jérémie S. Blanchard and Dométhilde Gallant. In 1882, the Blanchard family moved from Rustico to Duvar, P.E.I., where Henri began his education in the elementary school there, later attending grammar schools in Tignish and Charlottetown. In June 1897 he entered Prince of Wales College and Provincial School, where he prepared himself for a career in teaching, obtaining his Third Class license in June of the following year, and his Second Class license in August of 1903. After a time teaching in West Prince schools (Harper's. Léoville, Miscouche, St.-Nicolas, and St.-Chrysostome), he became a student and teacher in St. Dunstan's University, qualifying there in 1911 for an extra-mural B.A. degree from l'Université Laval in Québec. In later years he attended summer schools at, and received certificates from, the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph (certificate in biology, 1915); Mount Allison University; and the Université de Paris A la Sorbonne (certificate of studies in French language and history and in fine arts, 1928). From 1910 until 1948, Dr. Blanchard taught French, mathematics, and science at Prince of Wales College, where he was also Vice-Principal from 1937 until his retirement in 1948, and Acting Principal during 1941/42. He also directed French courses in the Mount Allison University Summer School for six years.

Dr. Blanchard married Ursule Gallant of Duvar in August 1912. They had eight children: Bernadette (Mme J.-Edmond Arsenault), Béatrice (Mme. Jean-Marie Beauregard), Louise (Mrs J. Harry Conway; widowed, Mrs. T. Earle Hickey), J.- Alfred (killed in action with Canadian forces in Castel del Sangro, Italy, November 1943), Jérémie-Elmer, Marie-Aubina (died in infancy, 1926), Francis Cyril, and Jean-Wilmer.

Dr. Blanchard's life outside of his professional academic duties was almost entirely given over to the advancement of Acadian culture and self-awareness, through both the founding of and participation in voluntary associations directed toward those ends and the cultivation of historical studies. He was a founder (1919) and officer of the Société St.-Thomas d'Aquin, devoted to the advancement of Acadian and francophone education and culture. He was for more than twenty years secretary of the Association des Instituteurs et des Institutrices Acadiens de I'lle du Prince-Edouard, and later its president. He was a founding officer (1915) of the St.-Jean Branch (No.134, Charlottetown) of the Acadian national society, La Société l'Assomption. For many years beginning in 1930, he directed the concours de français sponsored by the Société St.-Thomas d'Aquin, which were intended as a means of stimulating interest in French language and culture among the Acadian school children of Prince Edward Island. His efforts in this regard connected him with the Comité Permanent de la Survivance Française en Amérique, later the Conseil de la Vie Française en Amérique, of which he was a member from 1938 to 1965. He was an assiduous solicitor of financial support for Acadian educational initiatives, both at the elementary/secondary level and at the post-secondary level, from such agencies as the Société St.-Jean Baptiste. In general, he was recognized and called upon by francophone cultural organizations in Canada as the spokesman and authority on the history and status of Acadian culture on the Island.

Within the context of his general devotion to Acadian culture, Dr. Blanchard was an indefatigable student of Acadian history and genealogy, following trails broken earlier by Gilbert Buote (his teacher in Tignish), Placide Gaudet, and Fr. Jean Chiasson. Beginning in 1921 with the publication of a small work entitled Les Acadiens de l'Ile St.-Jean, a printed version of an address he gave at the Congrés des Instituteurs Acadiens in 1920 at Miscouche, his publications include Histoire des Acadiens de l'Ile du Prince-Edouard (1927); Rustico, une paroisse acadienne(1937); Les Acadiens de l'Ile du Prince-Edouard (1956); and The Acadians of Prince Edward Island (1964). His historical focus was always upon individuals and organizations which advanced the cause of the Acadian "renaissance" in general, whose first-fruits was the Memramcook convention of 1881, the year of his birth; and in particular in relation to the Acadians of the Island. Among these organizations was of course the Roman Catholic Church and its Acadian parishes in the Diocese of Charlottetown, whose histories figure largely in his publications. (Dr. Blanchard was also a member of Council 824, Knights of Columbus, of which he was Grand Knight for one term.) In the course of his historical researches, he made himself expert in the sources and substance of Acadian genealogy and family history -- he was an accomplished défricheteux-de-parenté.

The advancement of Acadian culture within the provincial and the Canadian political systems inevitably involved political action in support of Acadian rights, in particular of language and education rights, and the Blanchard fonds contains materials documenting Dr. Blanchard's interests and activities in relation to them. At a general and symbolic level of those interests was his participation in a series of unsuccessful efforts to persuade governments of Canada, in view of the numerical importance of the Acadian minority in the Island, to appoint an Acadian to fill one of the successive vacancies in the province's senatorial delegation; Dr. Blanchard kept a separate file among his correspondence devoted to this subject, and he himself was one of the specific candidates recommended (in 1957) by leaders of the Acadian and francophone communities for such an appointment.

Dr. Blanchard's lifelong and multifarious efforts on behalf of Acadians and Acadian culture were publicly recognized in a variety of ways. In addition to the three honorary doctorates mentioned above, he was awarded an honorary master of arts degree by St. Dunstan's University and was twice honoured by cultural entities in France: with the Médaille et Prix de la Lanque Française de l'Académie Francaise (1938); and with the diplôme d'honneur de I'Alliance Française (1947). In 1947, he was appointed Prince Edward island representative on the Federal District Commission, where he served until 1958. He was honoured by the Association Acadienne d'Education du Nouveau-Brunswick in 1948 and by the Conseil de la Vie Française en Amérique, which awarded him its Prix Champlain in September 1967. Dr. Blanchard died in Charlottetown 14 January 1968 at the age of 86.

Blanchard, J. Henri. Professeur, historien, et conférencier. Rustico (Île-du-Prince-Édouard), 16 juin 1881 - Halifax (N.-É.), 14 janvier 1968. Fils de Jérémie Blanchard et de Domithilde Gallant; marié à Ursule Gallant en 1912; aïeuls paternels : Sylvestre Blanchard et Virginie Doucet; aïeuls maternels : Ignace Gallant et Domithilde Buote.

École de Duvar, études primaires, 1887-1993; école de Tignish, études secondaires, 1893-1894, 1895-1896; école Queen Square, Charlottetown, 1897; Collège Prince de Galles, Charlottetown, brevet d'instituteur, 1897-1898; Université Saint-Dunstan, Baccalauréat ès arts (de l'Université Laval), 1907-1911; Collège d'Agriculture de Guelph, certificat, 1915; la Sorbonne, Paris, certificat en langues et histoire, 1928; Université Mount Allison, études de perfectionnement professionel.

Écoles du comté de Prince, enseignant et principal, 1898-1907; Université Saint-Dunstan, professeur, 1908-1912; Collège Prince de Galles, professeur, 1910-1948. Université de Toronto, certificat du collège d'agriculture, 1915

Association des Instituteurs et Institutrices acadiens de l'Î.-P.-É., membre 1899-- , directeur, 1903, secrétaire-trésorier, 1906-1919; Société Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin, un des fondateurs, 1919, secrétaire-trésorier, 19 ans, président 8 ans; Conseil de la Vie française, membre, 1937-1965; Commission du District fédéral, représentant de l'Î.-P.-É., 1948-1958; caisses populaires de Charlottetown, président pendant 13 ans; Société nationale des Acadiens, président; Société nationale de l'Assomption, membre; Conseil de la Vie française, membre; Société mutuelle d'assurance-vie; Chevaliers de Colomb du conseil 824, grand chevalier. Organisa des concours de français à partir de 1930. Responsible de formuler un programme d'étude français pour les écoles acadiennes de l'Île, 1912. Solliciteur de bourses d'études pour les Acadiens de l'Île, aux maisons d'enseignement de langue française du Québec et des Provinces maritimes, jusqu'à la fin des années 1960.

Récipiendaire d'un Doctorat ès lettres honorifique de l'Université Laval, Québec, et d'un Doctorat d'honneur en droit de l'Université de Moncton. Il a aussi reçu des distinctions du gouvernement français, de l'Académie française, 1938 et du gouverneur de la Louisiane.

Publications: Histoire des Acadiens de l'Île-du-Prince-Édouard, 1927; Rustico, une paroisse acadienne de l'Île-du-Prince-Édouard, 1937; Acadiens de l'Île-du-Prince-Édouard, 1956; The Acadians of Prince Edward Island, 1720-1964, 1964. Sources: dossiers thématiques du Centre de recherches acadiennes au Musée acadien de l'Î.-P.-É.; Fonds J. Henri Blanchard.


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6 September 2000. Entered into AtoM, 19 November 2014.





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