Gustave Dutaud The Lawyer

Gustave Dutaud, a member of the Bruneau family, was my grandmother, Beatrice Bruneau Raguin’s first cousin. I hope they knew each other as both lived in Montreal and from what I have found out, Gustave was worth knowing!

He was well-liked and well-respected as per messages in newspapers after his death. “There is a sense of loss when good men die, something goes from the richness of the world, something we can ill spare. Such is the feeling aroused by the death of Gustave Dutaud.” according to Marguerite Cleary.

“ If he was not conventionally religious he was a fine example of a French Canadian Christian, whom to know was a rare privilege.” said George Hosford.

His mother Virginie Bruneau, was 38 when she married Francois Dutaud and they only had one child. Gustave attended the Feller Institute, in Grande Ligne, Quebec south of Montreal, the school founded by Henriette Feller for French Protestants. She along with Louis Roussy came to Canada from Switzerland as missionaries, to convert the French Catholics. Gustave’s grandparents, Barnabé Bruneau and Sophie Marie Prudhomme heard their gospel and converted in the 1850s along with their children.

Gustave later entered McGill University where he obtained a BA in 1903 and a Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) in 1909. He worked as a reporter for the Montreal Gazette while completing his law degree. He was a KC (Kings Consul), an official interpreter for the Court of Kings Bench and practised from his own law firm.

“He had a lion’s heart for anyone who suffered under injustice.” Much of his legal practice concerned a number of social welfare organizations including the Society for the Preservation of Women and Children. He was interested in the troubles of the poor and used his legal training to help them out of difficulties. Gustave won a case for a woman hit by a car on Sherbrooke Street and McGill College, where the driver blamed the pedestrian for the accident.

He lead a busy life. He was a member of the Montreal Reform Club, the goal of which, according to its 1904 constitution, was “the promotion of the political welfare of the Liberal party of Canada.” Also a member of the Knights of Pythias organization which believed, “It is important to promote cooperation and friendship between people of goodwill. One way to happiness is through service, friendship, charity, benevolence and belief in a supreme being.”

In 1923 Gustave took his first trip to Europe. He accompanied the Montreal Publicity Association to a London convention as their honorary legal adviser. Aside from his time in England he also toured France and Scotland. “He returned to Canada more than ever convinced of the desirability of this country as a place in which to live.” He was amazed at the poor living conditions of the French peasant farmers. He described the French Chateaux as, “picturesque but uncomfortable, much nicer in pictures than as places to live.” The French wanted to replace war-damaged stone buildings with the same and not live in stick-built houses common in Canada.

Europe was still suffering after World War I. The group visited the battlefields of France. Gustave found “Verdun a sinister expanse of horrors surrounding a miserable medieval town, which had been destroyed by shell fire. There were still many ghastly reminiscences of the war. A trench where many of the French troops had been buried alive and where the soldiers still stood buried, with the tips of their riffles and bayonets protruding from the ground.”

“The finest things he saw in Europe were the masterpieces at the Louvre while the beauty of Scotland entranced him, as quite the most lovely country visited, more so even than his ancestral France.”

His compassion for people included his parents. They moved to Montreal to live with him after his father became ill. His mother stayed with him after his father’s death, until she died in 1926. Unfortunately, Gustave never married or had children, so when he died in 1949, another line of the Bruneau family ended.

Notes:

Montreal Star, 11 July 1949 page 10. Newspapers.com accessed April 22, 2022. George Hosford. George Hosford roomed with Gustave and later was warmly received at his home and office.

Montreal Star July 7. 1949 Letters to the Editor page 10. Newspapers.com accessed April 22, 2022. Marguerite Cleary. She recalled Gustave Dutaud as a man with a mind that was noble, not conventionally religious, a lover of Anatole France, he expected little from humanity and sided by nature with the underdog, a gentleman.

Gustave Dutaud Obituary: Gazette, Montreal Quebec, Canada. June 25, 1949. Page 15. Accessed from Newspapers.com April 19, 2022.

Old World Living Conditions Poor: The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) · 12 Mar 1925, Thursday, Page 6. Accessed from Newspapers.com April 19, 2022. Gustave’s trip to Europe.

McGill Year Books: https://yearbooks.mcgill.ca/browse.php?&campus=downtown&startyear=1901&endyear=1910 Accessed November 21, 2022. Gustave Dutaud McGill BA 1903. He was also in the Drama club while obtaining his BA, and one of only seven students in third year law. Gustave advertised in the 1916 year book as Barrister and solicitor.

Quebec Heritage News: 

The Montreal Reform Club, at 82 Sherbrooke St West, used the building as its city headquarters for half a century. Established on June 17, 1898, the Reform Club was the social wing of the Liberal Party of Canada, and its provincial wing in Quebec. By 1947, the club counted a remarkable 850 members, 670 French-speaking and 180 English-speaking. 

The irony, of course, is that since April of 1973 the building has belonged to the nationalist and pro-independence Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal. On May 17, 1976, the SSJB renamed the property La Maison Ludger Duvernay, in honour of the founder of the Society. The Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal has never complained of the presence of frightening federalist ghosts within its walls!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatole_France accessed November 27, 2022.

Anatole France: French poet, journalist, and novelist with several best-sellers. Ironic and skeptical, he was considered in his day the ideal French man of letters. He was a member of the Académie Française, and won the 1921 Nobel Prize in Literature, in recognition of his brilliant literary achievements, characterized by a nobility of style, profound human sympathy, grace, and a true Gallic temperament.”

2 thoughts on “Gustave Dutaud The Lawyer”

  1. Thank you for sharing! Very interesting story! Sad that he never got married, his children would have continue his beautiful work! 👍

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the story. It is fun to find out about the lives of relatives I never knew I had. I too live in Montreal but I had never heard of Gustave before I began researching his mother.

      Like

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