Marcelle Gauvreau : an exceptional woman Report by Roland Larivière

Marcelle was born in Rimouski on February 28, 1907. The family moved to Montreal when she was only two years old. At the age of ten, she contracted poliomyelitis and at seventeen, she contracted tuberculosis. Throughout her life, her health was fragile. Her left leg was atrophied, so she hobbled about as best she could. At that age, she spent a lot of time in Rivière-Beaudette in a country house. As a teenager, she discovered her passion for botany. 


She is the first librarian of the Montreal Botanical Institute. Professor Jacques Rousseau asks her to participate in the publication of "La Flore laurentienne de Marie-Victorin". She revises the texts and writes the index. 


She has a special relationship with Conrad Kirouac. With his help, she founded "L'École de l'Éveil" whose objective was to introduce children from four to seven years old to the phenomena of nature. She gave courses throughout the province and opened branches in Ville d'Anjou, Duvernay, etc. L'Éveil contributes to the democratization of scientific knowledge, but disappears after the death of its founder. 


She produced an exhaustive bibliography of the writings of Brother Marie-Victorin. This document was to be published in the annals of the Association canadienne-française pour l'avancement des sciences (Acfas) to mark the botanist's accession to the presidency of the organization. 


The work Marcelle Gauvreau did for Brother Marie-Victorin slowed down her own research activities considerably. 

With the help of various members of the Quebec scientific community and an imminent foreign researcher, William Randolph Taylor, she finally obtained her master's degree in June 1939. Indeed, after six years of research, at the age of 32, her efforts were crowned. 


Since there were very few works on Quebec seaweeds at the time, students and professors at the Faculty of Science of the Université de Montréal insisted that his thesis be published. Thus, in 1956, the Botanical Garden published it under the title "Les algues marines du Québec". Marcelle Gauvreau is the author of a book and four brochures. 


Marcelle and Conrad maintained a regular correspondence about human sexuality. Historian Yves Gingras published all the Marie-Victorin letters in 2018 and those of Marcelle Gauvreau a year later. All this correspondence, however, respects the prohibitions and rules of propriety of the time. 

References : Wikipedia