What If Paul Sauvé Had Never Said “Désormais…” (Henceforth)?

Alexandre Turgeon, Université de Montréal

“Désormais…” (Henceforth): there may be no words as famous in Québec collective memory and history. During the autumn of 1959, Québec Premier Paul Sauvé repeatedly used this word as he succeeded to Maurice Duplessis. With this word, which he uses any chance he could get, Sauvé draws a line between two ages and two worlds: between the Great Darkness and the Quiet Revolution, between the Old and the New québécois Regime. There is no doubt of Sauvé’s routine use of the word “Désormais…”, as many contemporaries and historians have confirmed for the last fifty years. Nonetheless, let us ask the following question: What if Paul Sauvé had never said “Désormais…”? This is indeed the conclusion to emerge from exhaustive research in the archives and newspapers of the time. In fact, it is André Laurendeau, from the newspaper Le Devoir, who is the first to make Paul Sauvé say this infamous word. To draw from Carlo Ginzburg’s concepts, Paul Sauvé’s “Désormais…” is actually a false, which means that the fictitious looks like the true. It appears as if, in relation to this famous word “Désormais…” memory as much as history has erred. How can we explain these kinds of memory games, and that this misconception of a Premier’s role in Québec political history erroneously developed into a historical fact without being contested? Furthermore, what lessons can we draw from this kind of inaccuracy today? Those important questions will be the focus of this paper.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 20. The Politics of Knowledge and Historical Memory