Remembering Jacques Lacoursière

Renowned Quebec historian was a member of Canada’s History’s board of directors and co-editor of “Québec a 400 ans,” the first-ever bilingual edition of The Beaver.

Posted June 1, 2021

Canada’s History Society is very saddened to hear of the passing of Quebec historian Jacques Lacoursière at the age of eighty-nine. A respected author of more than a dozen non-fiction history books and published papers, he also had a successful career as a radio and television broadcaster. He was especially famed for his ability to popularize history and make it accessible to all citizens.

Born on May 4, 1932, in Shawinigan, Quebec, Lacoursière grew up in a large family. In his youth, he expressed an interest in joining the priesthood. In the 1950s, he attended university and was at first drawn to the study of literature. However, one of his professors, Denis Vaugeois, sparked in him an interest in history. In 1957, Lacoursière married Monique Dubois in Trois-Rivières, Quebec.

After a period in Quebec’s civil service in the 1960s, Lacoursière began a new career as a writer, editor, and publisher. He worked at the historical review Nos Racines and also launched, with Vaugeois as a partner, Le Boréal Express. He also wrote the five-volume Histoire Populaire du Québec.

The 1970s saw Lacoursière embrace broadcasting as a medium to share history with a wide audience. He was a key researcher on a Radio-Canada series about Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis, and also acted as the host of the television series Épopée en Amérique.

Lacoursière joined the board of Canada’s History in 2007. In 2008, he co-edited “Quebec at 400/ Québec a 400 ans,” the first-ever bilingual issue of The Beaver. The special edition, produced for the quatercentenary of the founding of Quebec, was a tremendous success both in that province and across the country.

“Jacques Lacoursière was a tremendous storyteller,” said Mark Collin Reid, editor-in-chief of Canada’s History and the co-editor of “Quebec at 400.”

“He had a special talent for making Quebec’s history interesting, engaging and relevant to all Quebecers and Canadians.”

The recipient of numerous awards and honours, Lacoursière was inducted into France’s Légion d’honneur, was a member of the Order of Canada, and was also named a Knight of the National Order of Quebec. In 1996, he was the first francophone to win the Pierre Berton Award, presented by Canada’s History.

Click on the cover to read the French version of the February-March 2008 issue that Lacoursière co-edited.

Click on the cover to read the English version of the February-March 2008 issue that Lacoursière co-edited.

Click on the cover to read Christopher Moore’s interview with Jacques in the December 1996-January 1997 issue of The Beaver.

More from Jacques Lacoursière

Canada's Greatest Explorers

We asked five historians to come up with who they thought was Canada’s greatest explorer. Some of their picks were expected, some were not.

This article is also available in French.

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