In the Name of Democracy
This house was the setting for a milestone in the history of politics in Canada. In 1834 it was here that owner Elzéar Bédard, the first mayor of Québec, coauthored the 92 Resolutions with Louis-Joseph Papineau. The document was a scathing indictment of British colonial government in Lower Canada. Both men were members of the Assembly for the Parti patriote. The Resolutions would have serious consequences.
Toward responsible government
When he acquired this house in 1800, Pierre-Stanislas Bédard was a member of the Assembly of Lower Canada. Built some 20 years earlier, the residence had only one storey. Bédard added a second in or around 1815.
Pierre-Stanislas Bédard was a leading figure in Canadian politics of the day. The head of the Parti canadien, he represented the French-speaking majority and founded the newspaper Le Canadien as a mouthpiece for the party. Bédard used its pages to work out his theory of responsible government, which questioned the power of the governor of Lower Canada, appointed by London, to choose unelected officials for his executive council. Bédard proposed that the council be composed exclusively of elected members accountable to their constituents. In a word, he wanted democracy in Canada.
For freedom of the press
Bédard incurred the wrath of Governor Craig for his views, who ordered his arrest and shut the newspaper down in 1810. Jailed for treason, Bédard was released a year later without a trial. As compensation, in 1812 the governor made him a judge for Trois-Rivières district. Bédard handed over the reins of the Parti canadien to Louis-Joseph Papineau.
Like father like son
In 1830 Pierre-Stanislas Bédard bequeathed the house to his son Elzéar, who immediately had a third storey added.
The son followed in his father’s footsteps. He was elected to the Assembly in 1832 as a member for the Parti patriote—the Parti canadien’s successor—led by Papineau. After Québec’s first municipal charter was adopted in 1833, he was elected to the municipal council and named Mayor of Québec by his colleagues.
The 92 Resolutions
In February 1834 four elected members of the Parti patriote—Papineau, Morin, Bourdages, and Bédard—gathered here to draft the first version of the 92 Resolutions. The document consisted of a set of demands that would advance the cause of the French Canadian majority, grievances against the British government of Lower Canada, and petitions for improved democracy. It was approved by the Assembly after heated debate and was then forwarded to the British Parliament in London, which had full authority over the Canadian colony.
When in 1837 the British Parliament categorically rejected the 92 Resolutions, the members of the Parti patriote and many French Canadians were angered, sparking the Rebellions that would throw Lower Canada into turmoil in 1837 and 1838.
Responsible government was finally adopted in 1848.
Classified cultural property
This house was classified as cultural property by the Québec government in 1965, primarily because of the owners’ political significance. Its elegant interior and Neoclassical exterior typical of this part of town enhance its heritage value.