CASSEGRAIN (Casgrain), OLIVIER-ARTHUR, lawyer and writer; baptized 6 Oct. 1835 at L’Islet, Lower Canada, son of Olivier-Eugène Casgrain, notary and seigneur of L’Islet, and Marie-Hortense Dionne; d. 9 Feb. 1868 at Quebec.
Olivier-Arthur Cassegrain was educated at the Collège de Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière, where he “distinguished himself by his good conduct, studiousness, and love of letters.” He then enrolled in the faculty of law of the Université Laval at Quebec. “More inclined to literature than law,” he published regularly in Le Courrier du Canada during his legal training. His first article, “Soirée d’universitaires,” was published 28 Dec. 1857 and made such a marked impression on Joseph-Charles Taché*, the newspaper’s editor, that the following year he had him report on the Canadian history lectures which Abbé Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Ferland was giving to enthusiastic audiences. Cassegrain’s reports were published up to 1862 and were reprinted from 1859 on in the Journal de l’Instruction publique.
Cassegrain was called to the bar in 1860 and for some time practised at Quebec, but he continued to write. That year he published in Le Courrier du Canada “L’héros de Sainte-Foye,” a poem that was highly commended by Édouard Sempé, a French poet staying briefly in Montreal. Cassegrain was part of a lively group that gathered at La Mansarde du Palais with Louis-Honoré Fréchette* and Alphonse Lusignan. During this period he wrote La grand-tronciade; ou itinéraire de Québec à la Rivière-du-Loup, a long poem of nearly 100 pages that was published in 1866 after it had been read to his friends at La Mansarde. Fréchette recalled the event in his poem “Reminiscor”; Léon-Pamphile Le May* judged the poem somewhat severely, and took the poet to task for having attempted too large a scale. In 1863 Cassegrain collaborated with Pascal-Amable Dionne, who was also a lawyer, in writing for the Revue canadienne a satirical poem, “La Tauride,” inspired by a lawsuit concerning two bulls found on the public highway.
On 8 Aug. 1865, at Quebec, Cassegrain married Félixine Hamel, and in July 1867 took a position in the office of the clerk of the province of Quebec. He died on 9 Feb. 1868 at age 32, after a long illness.
[O.-]A. Cassegrain, La grand-tronciade; ou itinéraire de Québec à la Rivière-du-Loup; poème badin (Ottawa, 1866). [O.-]A. Cassegrain et P.-A. Dionne, “La tauride,” Revue canadienne (Montréal), I (1864), 297–302. Le Courrier du Canada, 28 déc. 1857, 1858–1862, 10 févr. 1868. Edmond Lareau, Hist. de la littérature canadienne. L.-P. Le May, “Notice bibliographique sur La grand-tronciade de M. A. Cassegrain,” Revue canadienne (Montréal), III (1866), 441–42.