Étudiant-chercheur étoile April 2015

Alexandre Turgeon

PhD student in History
Université Laval

Award-winning publication: Et si Paul Sauvé n'avait jamais prononcé le « Désormais... »?

Published in: Revue d'histoire de l'Amérique française, vol. 67, no 1 (été 2013), p. 33-56


"My article revisits the emergence of what has become a myth in contemporary Québec: Paul Sauvé's désormais (henceforth)—a word that has gone down in provincial history. Appointed premier upon the death of Maurice Duplessis in the fall of 1959, Paul Sauvé is said to have incessantly repeated the word in an effort to draw a definitive line between the darkness of his predecessor's era and the Quiet Revolution. My article challenges this idea. After searching through newspapers and parliamentary debate transcripts, I concluded that Paul Sauvé never uttered the word. In fact, my research reveals the role of Le Devoir journalist André Laurendeau in creating the myth as Paul Sauvé advocated for continuity. The word désormais was later taken on by historiography since it facilitated the narration of the advent of sudden, welcome modernity. By mediating the narrative, the concept explained the transition from the grande noirceur to the Révolution tranquille."

Alexandre Turgeon debunks one of the most persistent myths in contemporary Québec. His article will not only reach historians, sociologists and other experts in Québec history, but will also be of interest to those involved in politics and historical societies. When marking the 50th anniversary of the Quiet Revolution, the government of Québec honoured Paul Sauvé as one of the great artisans of the social change. The importance of his désomais in Quebec's history was reaffirmed on this occasion. This research sheds new light on its inner workings and their mechanisms, and blind spots.