Patrician Liberal examines the life and career of a neglected figure in Canadian history, Sir Henri-Gustave Joly de Lotbinière. This book provides a detailed account of Joly’s political career as Quebec premier, Cabinet minister in the Laurier government, and lieutenant-governor of British Columbia, as well as his public role as a French-speaking Protestant promoter of national unity, a leading spokesperson for the Canadian forest conservation movement, a Quebec seigneur, and father to a large and devoted family.
Joly’s life serves as a prism through which author J.I. Little elucidates important themes in Quebec and Canadian society, economy, politics, and culture during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. As Little reveals, Joly’s story is particularly fascinating for how closely the conflicting forces in his life – religious, cultural, and social – mirrored those of a Canadian society straining to forge a cohesive and distinctive national identity.