Taché, Etienne Pascal (DNB00)

TACHÉ, Sir ETIENNE PASCAL (1795–1865), premier of Canada, born at St. Thomas on 5 Sept, 1795, was third son of Charles Taché. His grandfather, Jean Taché, came to Canada from France in 1739 and settled in Quebec. Alexandre Antonin Taché [q. v.] was his nephew. Etienne was educated at a Roman catholic seminary. On the outbreak of the war with the United States in 1812 he became an ensign in the 5th battalion of incorporated militia (afterwards formed into the Canadian chasseurs, of which he became lieutenant). After the war he took to the study of medicine, was admitted to practice in 1819, and became a successful practitioner.

In 1841 Taché entered the Canadian assembly as member for L’Islet. In 1846 he resigned his seat on appointment as deputy adjutant-general of the Canadian militia; but in 1848 he was again elected, and on 11 March joined the Baldwin-Lafontaine ministry as commissioner of public works; on 27 Nov. 1849 he became receiver-general and held that office till 23 May 1856. Having been appointed a life member of the legislative council in 1856, he was elected speaker on 19 April, and soon afterwards became premier, having (Sir) John Alexander Macdonald [q. v.] as attorney-general to lead the lower house. His administration was chiefly marked by his efforts for economy. In June 1857, when the post of commissioner of crown lands became vacant, he did the work himself for some months. At the close of the year he sought to retire from public life, and in 1858 paid a visit to England, where he was received by the queen at Windsor and knighted. In July 1860 he was appointed a colonel in the army and aide-de-camp to the queen, and on the visit of the Prince of Wales to Canada in 1861 was specially attached to his staff.

On 30 March 1864, at a moment when party feeling ran very high, Taché was induced, in spite of failing health, to become premier again, with his friend Macdonald as attorney-general. In October 1864 he presided over the intercolonial conference held at Ottawa to discuss the question of federation. He died at Montmagny (formerly St. Thomas) on 30 July 1865, amid public mourning. The council adjourned as a mark of respect.

Taché has been described as a finished gentleman, ‘the Sir Roger de Coverley of Canada.’ He was of impulsive temperament, and had much warmth of manner, but he had good sense and energy. His speech was sympathetic and eloquent. He was a staunch Roman catholic, and a knight of the order of St. Gregory the Great.

He wrote ‘Quelques Réflexions sur l’Organisation de Volontaires,’ Quebec, 1863.

[Quebec Daily Mercury, 2 Nov. 1864, 31 July 1865, and 23 Aug. 1865 (report of speech in the legislative council); Morgan’s Sketches of Celebrated Canadians and Bibliotheca Canadensis; Pope’s Memoirs of Sir J. A. Macdonald.]

C. A. H.