EMERY-CODERRE, JOSEPH, doctor; b. 23 Nov. 1813 at Saint-Denis, on the Richelieu, Lower Canada, son of Marc Coderre, a farmer, and Marie-Angélique Desgranges; m. in 1843 Héloïse-Euphémie Dasylva, and they had 11 children; d. 9 Sept. 1888 in Montreal, Que.
At the age of 14, Joseph Emery-Coderre began working as a clerk in the store of a Saint-Denis merchant before being employed by businessman Jean-Baptiste Trudeau in Montreal, on Rue Notre-Dame. He saved enough to buy a business in his birthplace but in 1836 returned to Montreal to enter into a partnership with Benjamin Ouimet, the brother of André*, who would become president of the Fils de la Liberté. His return to Montreal gave Emery-Coderre the opportunity to take up medical studies. His membership in the Fils de la Liberté and his sympathy for the cause of the Patriotes attracted the attention of the civil authorities, who judged it prudent to arrest him on 6 Nov. 1838. He was held in prison in Montreal for 38 days. It seems that, like a good medical student, he treated fellow prisoners suffering physical or psychological distress; Dr Daniel Arnoldi*, the prison doctor, is said to have appreciated his help.
Once released, Emery-Coderre wrote articles for the bi-weekly L’Aurore des Canadas (Montreal), owned by François Cinq-Mars, which first appeared on 15 Jan. 1839 and was dedicated to restoring social and political peace in Lower Canada. But Emery-Coderre did not abandon his medical studies and on 13 Aug. 1844, after two years of “training” under Dr Olivier-Théophile Bruneau, he obtained his licence to practise.
The Montreal School of Medicine and Surgery, which was incorporated in 1845, appointed him professor in 1847. He taught materia medica (the art of treatment through medication) and botany, and also agreed to serve as the school’s secretary, a post he was to hold for nearly 40 years. When the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Lower Canada was founded in 1847, Dr Emery-Coderre, together with his colleague Francis Badgley*, launched a protest movement which two years later resulted in valuable amendments to the existing medical law; the main object of the amendments was to establish the election of the college’s board of governors on a basis of representation proportional to the number of doctors in each region. In 1857 Emery-Coderre joined the medical staff of the Hôtel-Dieu. Working with colleagues from the school – doctors Pierre-Antoine-Conefroy Munro, Louis Boyer, Jean-Gaspard Bibaud, and Pierre Beaubien – and with the Religious Hospitallers of St Joseph at the Hôtel-Dieu, he had begun in 1849 to act as a link in order to secure the agreement of 1850 which elevated the hospital to the rank of a clinical teaching centre.
On 10 Sept. 1866 the Montreal School of Medicine and Surgery, having met with two refusals from the Université Laval at Quebec, became the faculty of medicine of Victoria College at Cobourg, Canada West [see Hector Peltier*]. Ten years later, when Laval was authorized to establish itself in Montreal and sought to affiliate with the Montreal School of Medicine and Surgery, the members of the school categorically refused, so emphatically that in June 1883 Archbishop Elzéar-Alexandre Taschereau* of Quebec excommunicated them. Two months later, however, under pressure from Rome, Archbishop Taschereau was forced to lift the excommunication. As secretary of the school, Emery-Coderre welcomed the news that the sanction was lifted. Nevertheless, until his death in 1888, he was unequivocally opposed to any rapprochement between the school in Montreal and the Université Laval.
Emery-Coderre was an active medical man. In 1853 he was president of the Institut Canadien of Montreal, an appointment which earned him the severe disapproval of Bishop Ignace Bourget who suspected the members of this new cultural association of nefarious designs. He was a contributor to the Traité élémentaire de matière médicale et guide pratique des sœurs de charité de l’asile de la Providence, published in 1869, and a founder of the Medical Association of Canada (1867), the Medical Society of Montreal (1871), and the Medical Union of Canada (1872). In 1885 Emery-Coderre bitterly opposed compulsory vaccination, and in December launched the journal L’Antivaccinateur canadien-français (Montreal). However, when the smallpox epidemic that was then raging in Montreal subsided, his vehemence moderated somewhat. The journal ceased publication after three issues.
Definitely given to disputation, Joseph Emery-Coderre played a prominent role after 1847 in the struggle to establish the rights of rural French-speaking doctors. In the conflict between the Ultramontanes and the Institut Canadien he took a reasonable stance, and in the conflict about the university he behaved with integrity and dignity.
Joseph Emery-Coderre contributed to Traité élémentaire de matière médicale et guide pratique des sœurs de charité de l’asile de la Providence (Montréal, 1869), and founded in December 1885 L’Antivaccinateur canadien-français (Montréal).
AC, Montréal, État civil, Catholiques, Notre-Dame de Montréal, 12 sept. 1888. ANQ-M, État civil, Catholiques, Saint-Denis, 24 nov. 1813. Fauteux, Patriotes. Abbott, Hist. of medicine, 65, 69, 72. J.-B.-A. Allaire, Histoire de la paroisse de Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu (Canada) (Saint-Hyacinthe, Qué., 1905). Heagerty, Four centuries of medical hist. in Canada, I–II. André Lavallée, Québec contre Montréal, la querelle universitaire, 1876–1891 (Montréal, 1974), 46, 48, 67, 144, 153. Rumilly, Hist. de la prov. de Québec, IV: 57–58; 89–90, 92; V: 85. Philippe Constant [J.-J. Lefebvre], “À propos du Dr Coderre,” Le Devoir (Montréal), 1er févr. 1938. Docteur Frank [ ], “Médecins d’autrefois: notes biographiques sur le Dr J.-Emery Coderre,” Le Docteur (Montréal), 1 (1922–23), no.8: 14–19. Paul Dumas, “Les médecins de l’Hôtel-Dieu et la littérature médicale canadienne,” Le Journal de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal (Montréal), 11 (1942): 479–87. “Memento nécrologique: le docteur J. E. Coderre,” L’Union médicale du Canada (Montréal), 17 (1888): 558–59. L.-D. Mignault, “Revue historique; histoire de l’école de Médecine et de Chirurgie de Montréal,” L’Union médicale du Canada, 55 (1926): 597–674.