The first Parliament of the Province of Canada was called into session
in June 1841. It was not altogether clear that the laws would be translated.
The Union Act provided that: ... from and after the said Re-union of the
said Two Provinces
all Writs and public Instruments whatsoever relating
to the said Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly ... shall be in
the English Language only .... While no rules actually prohibited translation,
the Act did stipulate that ... no such Copy shall be kept among the Records
of the Legislative Council or Legislative Assembly, or be deemed in any
Case to have the Force of an original Record. The process of translating
the laws thus got off to an inauspicious start, but the practice would
develop over time and become better organized. This article looks at the
establishment of a translation process that has become a model for countries
having more than one official language.
The Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland promulgated a law on July 23,
1840 that served to unite the provinces of Upper Canada and Lower Canada
and to give a constitution to this new political entity, the Province of
Canada. This statute was known as the
Union Act. The Union Act made English
the only language of legislation and Parliament. When Parliament convened
in June 1841, both of its housesthe Legislative Council and the Legislative
Assemblyappointed French and English translators. This was necessary because
French was the only language understood by a large portion of the Canadian
population. Several years later, when the Parliament of Canada adopted
a resolution asking the British Parliament to amend this provision of the
Act and to permit the use of French, the argument was in fact made that
all government documents were translated into French from the very first
Session and the use of French was allowed during debates and before the
Translating the Laws
The Bill proposed by Étienne Parent, member for Saguenay, relating to translation
of laws received Royal Assent on September 18, 1841. Henceforth the Laws
of Canada would not be in English only! The preamble of the Act to provide
for the translation into the French Language of the Laws of this Province
... defines the capabilities and skills a translator must possess. Such
an individual must be a ... competent person, versed in legal knowledge
and having received a classical French education, and possessing a sufficient
knowledge of the English language... The Act was adopted without great
debate in either the Assembly or the Legislative Council.
The following December a contract was given for the translation of the
laws for 1841 to Joseph Édouard Turcotte, lawyer and member for Saint-Maurice
in the Legislative Assembly. Born in Gentilly in October 1808 Turcotte
pursued his classical education in the Nicolet seminary. He had initially
planned to enter the priesthood, but was seriously injured during a visit
to a sawmill during his summer vacation in 1831 and suffered the loss of
his right arm. Under Church Canon 984, an individual who has lost an arm
can no longer be ordained as a priest. Turcotte then turned to the law
and began articling in Quebec City. He was called to the Bar in 1836. Turcotte
also tried politics and defended patriots following the 1837-38 rebellion.
In 1839, he left Quebec City and settled in Trois-Rivières, stood as a
candidate and was elected in Saint-Maurice during the first elections to
the Assembly. Since Members of Parliament were not allowed to accept remunerative
employment while serving in the Assembly, Turcotte was obliged to resign
his office. He did so, but ran again in July 1842 and was re-elected. Using
his left hand, Turcotte translated the statutes of the Province of Canada
for 1841, 1842 and 1843.
Organization of translation in the Assembly
In 1842, the first statutes were translated only after they had been enacted,
but from that date, draft legislation was translated as well. However,
not every bill was translated at first. A special committee created in
December 1844 to review the translation situation in the Assembly provided
certain clarifications on the matter. Assembly Clerk William B. Lindsay
was called before the committee on December 12 and was asked whether the
bills introduced in the House were so generally presented in French by
the Members as to obviate the necessity of translating them. Mr. Lindsay
answered no and said that for the 1843 session the translators were sent
for beforehand, so as to translate the measures of government. Lindsay
was then asked whether all draft legislation was translated before being
tabled for second reading. He replied that it has not been done hitherto,
but it was always liable to be so if asked for.
The translation of draft legislation quickly became more systematic, as
can be seen in the aftermath of the fire that destroyed the Parliament
Buildings in Montreal on April 25, 1849. Three days after the disaster
a report to the Legislative Council noted that of the 22 Bills before the
Council twenty were in English and French.
On December 17, 1844, the Assembly decided to obtain the services of a
government French translator. One of this persons tasks would be to
translate the laws. The position was given to Thomas Amyot, a lawyer and
former Clerk in Chancery in the Assembly of Lower Canada. Oddly enough,
Amyot was appointed Deputy Provincial Registrar the following year, which
might suggest that the duties involved in translating the laws or the work
in the office of the Deputy Provincial Registrar were light. According
to a statement of the Provincial Secretary dated June 14, 1850 Mr. Amyot
was appointed Deputy Provincial Registrar but never came to this province,
i.e. Toronto, to fulfill these duties. In any event, Mr. Amyot held a position
in the Department of the Provincial Secretary and also acted as Government
translator, and for his work as a translator received an annual salary
The manner in which translation was organized in the Assembly in the early
1850s left much to be desired. This situation was confirmed by one observer
at that time, Antoine Gérin-Lajoie. Gérin-Lajoie was present at the Legislative
Assembly in Quebec City in 1852, working as a journalist for La Minerve.
On November 2, he was appointed to the position of supernumerary translator.
Gérin-Lajoie quickly realized how poorly the service was organized. Everyone
works in any way he chooses, he noted with disdain in his diary.
There was no shortage of work in the office of the French translators,
who were required to spend 12 to 15 hours each day translating draft legislation,
among other texts, and proofreading the French of translated texts, all
documents submitted in French and particularly bills tabled for third reading.
This effort required the chief translator to read the draft legislation
while the Law Clerk followed in the original text.
On November 8, 1852, the Standing Committee on Contingencies which oversaw
the translation process, conducted an investigation following the October
1851 departure of Chief Translator Henri Voyer. The investigation report
cast light on two aspects of the translation process. The first was the
translation method, especially for bills tabled for third reading, and
the second was the chief translators role in the process. The report noted
that texts were translated by two-person teams. The Chief Translator took
the French text and read it to the Law Clerk, who followed in the original
text. This technique was aimed at detecting and eliminating any errors
in understanding or phrasing. While the Chief Translator did not translate
all draft legislation, he did review the translation of bills prior to
their third reading, because he was ultimately responsible for the work.
Gérin-Lajoie went beyond merely expressing disdain for the lack of organization.
On October 24, 1854, he recommended that the Speaker of the Assembly, Louis
Victor Sicotte, restructure the French translators office and divide the
work into three major categories: laws, parliamentary documents and Votes
and Proceedings. The laws would be translated by Chief Translator Guillaume
Lévesque, assisted by another translator, who in this case happened to
be Gérin-Lajoie. It took almost three years for the plan to be implemented.
In March 1857, the Standing Committee on Contingencies announced a reorganization
of the French translators office. M. Gérin-Lajoie and the Chief Translator
D.P. Myrand were responsible for the translation of the laws. The office
of government French translator disappeared.
This reform resulted in the chief French translator and his English counterpart
serving as assistants to the Law Clerk, The logic of the reorganization
the two translators working side by side with the Law Clerk demonstrated
the heavy workload involved two translators are required and the importance
of the translation of the laws the Chief translators are assigned to
From Union to Confederation
The period from 1855 to 1860 proved difficult for the translation of the
laws. Guillaume Lévesque, who succeeded Henri Voyer in November 1851, died
suddenly on January 6, 1856. He was replaced by Dominique Prosper Myrand,
who had been a translator since 1845. Like Lévesque, Myrand was a lawyer.
In the spring of 1859, Myrand fell ill and could no longer work. Eugène
Philippe Dorion replaced him, initially on an interim basis. Having been
hired as a translator by the Assembly in 1855, Dorion had probably begun
translating legislative texts by 1857. When Myrand died in December 1860,
Acting Chief Translator Dorion, who despite a mere five years of experience
in the field was the most experienced member of the team, took over.
Confederation did not result in any material changes in the organization
of translation work. In 1868, the Standing Committee on Contingencies examined
the organization of the House with a view of ascertaining whether, under
the new constitutional regime, it would not be possible to employ a smaller
number of officers and servants in the House. The Law Department would
not be affected. G.W. Wicksteed, Chief of the Law division, was still assisted
by Badgley and Dorion, the two Chief Translators, who were at the same
time responsible for the management of their respective sections.
Including the chief, five staff worked at the time in the English translators
office. The number of French translators was reduced by one, so seven persons
were employed by the French translators office. However, the latter was
also served by four or five part-time translators during the session.
In 1868 the government adopted An Act respecting the internal Economy of
the House of Commons, and for other purposes, which created a body known
as the Board of Internal Economy responsible for the administration of
the House. Henceforth the translation services came under this body which
was composed of the Speaker and four Ministers of the Crown.
An April 1880 report by a Joint Committee appointed to consider whether
it would not be attended with economy and advantage
if the Law Department
of each House and that of Translation were amalgamated outlined the working
methods of the Law Division. In preparing its report, the committee spoke
with Law Clerk G.W. Wicksteed, and the Chief English and French Translators
for the Senate and the House.
The report provided that bills could be drafted in whole or in part in
departments or in the law clerks office. But one thing was certain: all
legislation would be revised by the law clerks. The Law Clerks English
assistant, Dr. Wilson, who succeeded F.H. Badgley in April 1871, would
look after private bills and the final collation of public bills with the
At the time, bills received at the office of the Law Clerk were first carefully
read and re-read. A copy was then produced, marginal notes were inserted,
and the copy was given to the French translator - bills were translated
by the permanent translators in the French translators office who translated
the bill in consultation, whenever necessary, with the Law Clerk. While
the bill was being considered, care must be taken to ensure that all changes
were included in the text and the version for third reading was checked
by the Chief Translator and by the Law Clerk or his assistant. This process
involved the translator reading the French text while the clerk or his
assistant followed in the English version. Since the French text of the
statute would be signed by the Governor General and have the same authority
as the English, it was vital that both versions be fully consistent with
It is almost certain that the chief translator did not translate all bills.
There were too many. He did, however, the work of comparing the English
text for its third reading, the preparation of marginal notes in French
and the index to the Statutes. Did the actual translation of laws take
much of his time? In this regard, Joseph Tassé, MP for Ottawa and himself
a former translator in the House, stated on July 16, 1885 that
translators office the first assistant is practically the chief translator;
the chief translator who is, at the same time, assistant law clerk, being,
consequently, obliged to devote the most of his time to the legal branch;
so that the assistant is practically the chief translator.
Bills originating in the Senate were translated by Senate translators,
together with any changes to bills received from the House.
Translating the statutes was a thankless task, with the results coming
under fire from all quarters and more often than not judged very harshly.
For example, E.P. Dorion, of whom we have spoken so glowingly with reference
to his professional qualities, received no mercy from his judges. Jean-Charles
Bonenfant, a lawyer and the librarian of the Quebec Legislative Assembly
in the 1940s, maintained that the British North America Act was the work
of a Canadian translator, because it had the tone of Canadian legislative
texts of the time. In his capacity as Chief Translator at that time, Dorion
was certainly the person whose work it was. Bonenfant said that the Act
was written using a horrendous argot and served as a compendium of all
kinds of improper expressions and every error and lapse in syntax that
had appeared in many of our statutes over the preceding 75 years. His verdict:
the translator was not up to the task.
Translating the statutes was particularly sensitive because any mistake
could have ramifications in court. For example, Joseph Royal, MP for Provencher
from 1879 to 1888 and a translator at the time of the Union, stated during
a debate in the House on February 17, 1881 that: ... there are two translators
offices here in connection with the House of Commons, one for debates,
the other for the statutes. While he gave good marks to the manner in
which the debates had been translated, he was not so generous toward the
translators of the laws, saying
in that office there are to be found
some very able men; nevertheless I think there is in that office room for
improvement. I am told, and that on good authority, that some Statutes
have been translated in so defective a fashion, that last year, one of
the Judges of the Superior Court sitting in Montreal, refused to consider
the French translation as the official text
A comparison of the two texts
bore out the judges claims and it was necessary to pass amending legislation.
Thirty years later, G.H. Bergeron, MP for Beauharnois, took issue with
the translators of the laws, whose work, he said, had for many years left
much to be desired because they used English words in laws in which French
words would have served equally well. What do you suppose a Frenchman
from France would think on reading in the index to our Statutes of 1907,
the following: Loi concernant la cie. de Brockville, Westport and Northwestern
Railway Company. If all the translations were made in this way, the idea
might prevail that the names of those companies could not be translated
just as we do not translate a mans name. Previous to five years ago,
we found them (i.e. companys names) printed in good French. Sir Wilfrid
took the floor to say that names that could be translated should be and
those that could not be should be left in their original language, citing
as an example Crédit mobilier. Moving on to the British North America
Act, he said that it had been translated in 1868for better or worse, he
did not sayand he had been asked whether the text could be improved in
the course of revising the statutes. He objected to this idea, arguing
that the Act had acquired historic significance and that it would be preferable
not to alter the text.
The Board of Internal Economy authorized a reorganization of the House
services in 1885. The Department of the Law Clerk and the French and English
translators offices were merged into a single department known as the
Law and Translation Division. Dr. Wilson remained assistant to the Law
Clerk but lost responsibility for translation. The two English translators
and the seven permanent French translators were put into the same administrative
As to laws, the Division was responsible for the preparation and revision
of public as well as private bills. The workload of a translator of the
laws was substantial. This situation was amply demonstrated in the annual
statutes compilation, but failed to take into account all the draft legislation
that had also been translated, since only those bills that are passed appear
in that compilation. Many such bills were not passed but had nonetheless
been tabled in both languages for second reading. Although the organization
chart of the Law and Translation Division provides little detail in this
regard, it is virtually certain that the Chief Translator alone was not
responsible for handling all this work.
The House overhauled its structures in 1904 and eliminated the former Law
and Translation Division to create two departments, one a Law Division,
which resembled the Law Clerks team and what remained of the English translators
office, and a Translation Division, which included all of the French translators.
At the same time, the House created two positions of secretaries to the
two divisions, each occupied by translators.
Achille Fréchette, who succeeded T.G. Coursolles in July, 1903, would serve
as Chief Translator and Translator of the Laws for seven years. He had
studied law at Université Laval in the 1860s, but had moved to the United
States and worked as a journalist in Chicago. After returning to Canada
around 1872, he worked for a while at the Courrier dOutaouais, and then
at the House of Commons as a Committee Clerk. He had been employed by the
Translation Section since 1875. Fréchette, who was the recipient of an
ISO, would remain for more than 35 years in that Section. However, he is
even better known in the field of translation for his report on translation
in Belgium and in Switzerland, which appeared in 1910.
Saga of the Revised Statutes of 1906
In 1902, the Government of Canada undertook the task of consolidating the
statutes of Canada. A commission was created for this purpose and Horace
St-Louis, a lawyer, was appointed as its secretary. Once the consolidation
effort in English had been completed in 1906, the government enacted a
statute (SC 1906-1907, c. 43) to bring the statutes into force, even though
the French version was not yet ready. Section 10 of this Act also provided
that the French version of the Revised Statutes would be produced as quickly
as possible and then brought into force.
This same Horace St-Louis, who served as Secretary of the Revision Commission,
was appointed Translator of the Revised Statutes on October 25. In December,
he was given an assistant, recommended by Minister L.P. Brodeur, Antonio
Perreault, who would later become the President of the Quebec Bar Association.
The translation work was almost complete at that point, with only the long
and fastidious process of cross-comparison and final revision remaining.
The work got off to a rocky start. On October 26, Deputy Minister of Railways
and Canals, M.J. Butler, contacted his counterpart in Justice, E.L. Newcombe,
to advise him of a serious omission in Chapter 110 of the Revised Statutes,
1886 concerning the sale of passenger tickets. Train conductors were keeping
train tickets and handed them out to friends. One of them had been caught
in the act. Under the law, he was subject to a fine, imprisonment or both.
The Departments counsel, who presented the case to the judge, sought both
penalties. However, while the two penalties clearly appeared in the English
text, this was not the case in the French version. The judge imposed only
the fine. Counsel condemned the omission, but had no choice but to abide
by the decision. Mr. Butler stated that this oversight had allowed the
conductor to get off easily. There was nothing that could be done now,
however, no such mistakes, of course, would occur in the Statuts révisés
soon to be released! Newcombe wrote to the translators on November 20 to
advise them of the situation and to encourage them to increase their vigilance
and ensure that no mistake of this type should mar the Statuts révisés
de 1906. An eloquent warning!
While St-Louis was working on the Statuts révisés, Achille Fréchette began
receiving draft legislation for the session. A minor difficulty presented
itself. Since the Revised Statutes did not yet exist in French, what source
would serve for the titles and the appropriate terms used in translating
the draft legislation? Fréchette wrote to the Department of Justice on
January 27, 1907, providing a list of the full titles, the abbreviated
titles and the texts of the sections that he would need. Newcombe asked
St-Louis to take care of that expeditiously.
On the following April 2, St-Louis is working on the Index to the Statuts.
On May 27, Newcombe wrote to the Secretary of State to advise him that
he received word from St-Louis to the effect that the work would be completed
by July 1st, provided the printers worked diligently, and asked him to
make sure that nothing would hinder printing.
With the time passing, things became more pressing. In August 1907, Newcombe,
the translators and the Kings Printer exchanged correspondence over the
completion of the work. The Kings Printer said that the typesetting was
completed and that the translator had the pages in hand for revision. However,
he also complained about the presence of mistakes in the pages sent to
typesetting, although they were said to be O.K. to print. The Deputy advised
On October 21, the Kings Printer announced that three or four copies of
the Statuts révisés would soon be ready. St-Louis and Perreault signed
the work completion notice on October 24. On November 7, a telegram was
sent to the Clerk of Parliament, S.E. St-O. Chapleau, in New York, calling
him back early so that he could sign the order bringing the statutes into
force. Chapleau returned from New York on November 14 and did as he was
requested; the French-language version of the Revised Statutes, 1906 was
finally submitted to the office of the Clerk of Parliament and officially
came into force.
One of the most obvious changes in the French version of the Revised Statutes
1906 was the use of the word Loi for Acte. Both words remained in use
for some time. This situation, which was noted by Robert Borden, who later
became Sir Robert, on February 14, 1908. He remarked that he found both
Loi and Acte in the index, but failed to see any systematic use of
either. Borden said it would be appropriate to use just one term: Loi
or Acte. The word Acte finally became obsolete.
Despite the great care that St-Louis and Perreault had devoted to their
work, a large number of mistakes similar to those of which they had been
previously advised crept in. Amending legislation was passed in 1912 to
rectify four statutes. The Minister of Justice, who tabled the bill, recalled
that the French revised statutes contained many errors that had to be corrected
whenever they were discovered. There were, however, many statutes to read.
The MPs did not on that occasion heap blame on the translators, perhaps
realizing that to err was not only human but virtually inevitable in a
task of that magnitude.
End of an Era
Achille Fréchette left for Europe in the fall of 1909. On an acting basis,
Émery Perrin replaced Achille Fréchette as Division Head. In 1910, Louis
Laframboise, who had been a translator for more than 35 years and until
that time Secretary of the Division, became Chief Translator and Translator
of the Laws. Laframboise was a lawyer as well as a journalist and had previously
served as secretary to the Minister of Justice and for the Department of
Inland Revenue in 1876. He had been a translator since October 1876. He
continued the work of his predecessors, but beginning in 1914, received
support from a team assigned to the Houses Division, which included the
translators of the laws. At first, he was assisted by only two translators,
Sylva Clapin and Louis Noailles. When Noailles left for France to serve
in the French army (and was later killed in action in 1915), he was replaced
by Oscar Paradis.
Louis Laframboise retired in 1916 at the age of 68 and was replaced by
Dyonis Desaulniers, who had until then been the Blue Book Chief. Dyonis
Desaulniers, a McGill graduate, a lawyer who had been a translator since
1881, would put in more than 40 years of service by the time he retired
and would be the last person to hold the title of Chief Translator and
Translator of the Laws. Upon his departure, the position was abolished
and the two departments (Law and Blue Book) were separated.
In July 1923, Oscar Paradis became head of the Law Division. Paradis, who
was a lawyer, had begun his translation career in 1904 and was a member
of the House Division since 1915. His team generally consisted of three
translators, in addition to Paradis. This department would employ such
individuals as Uldéric Tremblay, a former reporter with Le Devoir who studied
law at Université de Montréal; Paul Gédéon Ouimet, who had begun but had
failed to complete his study of law in Montreal; Gédéon de la Durantaye,
a former translator for Debates for over 20 years; René de la Durantaye,
lawyer, war veteran and son of Gédéon, whose career in laws extended over
more than 30 years. The latter Durantaye is particularly well known for
a range of lexicographic works he produced over the years, some of which
were used by Hector Carbonneau, Chief of the Blue Book Translation Division,
when he prepared his celebrated Vocabulaire général.
At the end of 1923 the government undertook to consolidate its Statutes.
So far, the secretary to the Commission had always been a translator, however,
this time, the Secretary, Napol Laliberté, was not one. The translation
work involved was made by a few translators, including P.G. Ouimet of the
Law Translation Division and Ralph Albert Benoît, a former translator in
the Blue Book Division and in the Senate, L.P. Geoffrion, Charles E. Duckett,
and Uldéric Tremblay. The French version of the Revised Statutes, 1927,
will come into force on January 31, 1928.
Bill 4 respecting the Bureau for Translations was tabled in the House of
Commons on January 29, 1934. The Bill was referred to a special committee
in March, which called as witnesses certain Translation Department Chiefs,
including Oscar Paradis. The committee members questioned witnesses on
the operations of their respective departments, who provided some idea
of how things worked at the time in those departments.
Paradis said that the Law Translation Division generally translated public
and private bills, which began to arrive in the unit some three months
before Parliament was called into session and continued to arrive throughout
the session for translation into Frenchand, although the unit was equipped
to work into English, very rarely the other way, indicating that virtually
everything was written at that time in English. That had not been the case
at the time of the Union.
Within the organization, short texts were assigned to a single person.
When they were long, they were completed by two translators working as
a team. The Division Chief carefully revised all long and short texts in
conjunction with one team member. Three revisions followed: the first,
before the bill was introduced, the second, after it was enacted, and the
third, after it was published in the statutes. Division translators were
also required to translate the explanatory comments pertaining to sections
of the bills. This work was not published, because these comments were
removed once the bill had been passed.
Once the session was concluded, the Division dealt with the preparation
of the Statutes in French (the Law Division of the House was responsible
for the English volume). This work took from six to eight weeks. The Chief
then reviewed all of the statutes that had been enacted and signed the
notice of distribution of the French text. It was also necessary to produce
the index of the statutes and prepare the Prefix of the Statutes, which
was the laws and orders of the Parliament of Great Britain pertaining to
Canada and the Canadian orders in council appearing in the Statutes. This
Prefix would be much less voluminous after 1931.
During study of this Bill in the Senate it was proposed that the law translators
would not be considered as
chiefly engaged as translators or in the
work of translating
as they are in fact writers, and not translators.
This interpretation, curious at first sight, would be borne by the fact
that Acts, once translated, are originals. So, the translators would in
fact be writers. The Bill would not be amended along those lines and the
law translators would be considered translators and among the first to
be transferred to the new Bureau for Translations. However, the law translators
in the Senate will not and it would not be until May, 1955 that the Bureau
for Translations would gain responsibility for the translation of all Acts.
Since 1841 the translation of the laws has been done in a very meticulous
manner by individuals trained in law and following strict procedures including
reading and rereading bills at every stage of the legislative process.
These procedures bear testimony to the importance of the function.
The translations of the laws stand out in terms of both the product and
those who produced them. In terms of the product, we must bear in mind
that once a legal text has been translated, it is no longer considered
a translation, but an original. If this original embodies any errors, they
must be amended through the same process. This is unique to the translation
of the laws. With respect to those who translate legislation, it should
be noted that the translation of laws was the first type of translation
for which the credentials and qualifications required by practitioners
were stipulatedin legislation, of course! These stipulations were observed
throughout the entire period in question. There is no other equivalent
in the field of translation.
The laws were translated under contract for some years, and were then entrusted
to the care of an officer in the government, and then given to a small
specialized team. Changes in the organization that translated the laws
were similar to changes in the product itself, as the Law Translation Division
expanded its range of products to include agreements, contracts, treaties,
reports, judgments, etc. By the 1940s, the Division maintained a subsection
in the Privy Council to translate orders in council. The work would continue
to expand and the translation in the field, which had been limited at the
start to laws, would ultimately include all legal and judicial texts within
the federal government, and units were added to serve the Department of
Justice, the Solicitor General , the Privy Council and the Courts.
Organization of Translation of Laws of the Government of Canada
I Law Clerks
1828-1887 Gustavus William Wicksteed
1887 - 1889 William Wilson
1889 - 1908 Frederick Augustus McCord
1908 - 1913 Arthur Henry OBrien
1913 - 1922 Frederick Hernaman Gisborne1
1920 - 1936 Arthur G. Troop2
1920 - 1924 Joseph Kearney Foran2
1925 - 1970 Paul Maurice Ollivier3
1841 - 1844 Joseph Édouard Turcotte
b. Chief Translator
1844 - 1856 Thomas Amyot
c. Assistant laws clerk and Chief translator
(English and French)
1857 - 1860 Dominique Prosper Myrand
1857 - 1871 Francis Heaton Badgley
1871 - 1885 William Wilson4
1860 - 1872 Eugène Philippe Dorion
1872 - 1903 Toussaint Gédéon Coursolles
d. Chief Translator and Translator of the Laws
1903 - 1909 Achille Fréchette
1909 - 1910 Émery Perrin (acting)
1910 - 1917 Louis Laframboise
1917 - 1923 Dyonis Desaulniers
e. House Translation Division
1923 - 1937 Oscar Paradis
1. Parliamentary Counsel
2. Parliamentary Counsel until 1922, subsequently Assistant Law Clerk
3. Assistant Law Clerk
4. Office abolished in 1885
Died in office
1. The main works on the history of translation in Canada highlight this
topic: Au cur du trialogue canadien, by Jean Delisle, Histoire de la traduction
au Canada, a special issue of META (vol. 22, No. 1, March 1977), Special
50th Anniversary Issue, Terminology Update (vol. 17, Nos. 5-6, Jul.-Aug.
1984). A few biographies exist on translators from that era, but they rarely
make much mention of translation. Nonetheless, they include Renaissance
dun patriote canadien, by Léon Gérin, on Antoine Gérin-Lajoie, Joseph
Édouard Turcotte: ses débuts politiques (1808-1840), Masters degree thesis
by Louisette Pothier, on J.É. Turcotte, and Annie Howells and Achille Fréchette,
by David Doyle, on Achille Fréchette. Some of the individuals named in
the article Parent, Turcotte, Lindsay, Gérin-Lajoie, Lévesque Sicotte,
Wicksteed, Dorion, Tassé, Royal are dealt with in the Canadian Biographical
Dictionary. Much biographical information pertaining to some translators
of that era is contained in Les Avocats de la région de Québec, by P.G.
Roy. Statutory references are taken from the Statutes of Canada, which
have been published every year since 1841, and the Revised Statutes, which
have been published periodically since 1845. The Journals of the Legislative
Assembly of Canada, the Journals of the Legislative Council of Canada,
and the Journals of the House of Commons are sources of highly valuable
information, as are the debates of the Legislative Assembly of Canada and
the debates of the House of Commons, which were published in French and
English as of 1876. The September 1910 report by Achille Fréchette on the
Study in Belgium and Switzerland contains some information on the translation
of laws. The report of the Select committee responsible for reviewing Bill
4 is essential to illustrate how the laws translation division operated
just before the creation of the Bureau for Translations. Certain archival
documents, including a file on the Revised Statutes 1906, indicate the
context in which the Revised Statutes were translated. Finally, certain
newspapers from that period, including Le Temps, Le Droit and La Presse,
provide useful details to complement the other sources.