Lt. Col. Paquet

Lieutenant Colonel E.T. Paquet
57th (Canadien-Français) Battalion

I wish every young man in Montreal would follow the example of the Highland Cadets, and occasionally, at the close of their day’s work put on uniforms, as you boys do and come down to train for work as real soldiers of the King instead of idling away their time on the streets as I see so many doing.

 (Paquet speech to Cadets, Montreal Gazette, 20 May 1915, 5)

Born on 2 January 1883 in Quebec City, Etienne Theodore Paquet was a member of an old, influential Quebec family and the son of a prominent Conservative politician of the same name. The younger Paquet was an official in the federal postmaster general’s office, a barrister and Inspector of Cadets for the province of Quebec. He was also a member of 17th Regiment for fifteen years before the Great War.

In April 1915, he was appointed commander of the 57th Battalion. Paquet’s father, who had been the Quebec City postmaster since 1894, died on 23 May 1916 shortly after his son departed for overseas. After landing in England in April, the 57th was absorbed into the 69th Battalion. The men were subsequently drafted as reinforcements in the field.

Liberal MP, Rodolphe Lemieux, who was acquainted with the Paquet family, complimented the 57th C.O., as “a charming young fellow, very active, and very able, and he was most anxious to have his regiment go to the front.” Lemieux however protested: “He raised two regiments, and what happened? I had it from his own lips that as soon as they had reached the required strength they were drafted…”[1]

In April 1918, George Parent, Liberal MP for Quebec West, complained that the 57th volunteers were “dispersed among other regiments commanded by officers who could not speak the language of the men who had joined the colours.”[2]

Ex-minister of the Militia Sam Hughes replied that battalion disorganization was inevitable and Colonel Paquet was simply too ill to command in the field. Hughes explained:

I had a very high opinion of him, and I raised several lively rows because Col. Paquet was not sent to the front. I made inquiries and found, when I demanded explanations, that Col Paquet was not fitted, physically and otherwise, to be sent to the front. I will not go into details. That was the report of the French Canadian officers. Col. Paquet was a great personal friend of my own, and I was very anxious to see him go.

After returning to Canada in spring 1918, Paquet became a major with the Canadian Officers Training Corps in Laval.

He died on 14 September 1951.

[1] Canada. House. Debates, 12th Parli., 7th Sess., 9 Jul 1917, 3137.

[2] Canada. House. Debates, 13th Parli., 1st Sess., 5 Apr 1918, 415.


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