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Intellectuals with open minds A unique training: the classical college
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  Jérôme Demers (1774-1853)

Système de Copernic (
Système de Copernic
("The Copernican System")
Musée de la civilisation, Archives du Séminaire de Québec, M-219, p.85


Élémens [sic] de physique Élémens [sic] de physique ("Elements of Physics")
Musée de la civilisation, Archives du Séminaire de Québec, M-219, p.1


 

Jérôme Demers was born on August 1, 1774. Ordained to the priesthood on August 24, 1798, he devoted 53 years of his life to teaching. In the fall of 1800 he was appointed professor of philosophy at the Petit Séminaire de Québec and stayed at the post until 1842. At the time the course included logic, physics, metaphysics and ethics. Demers changed the teaching method: instead of dictating to the class he began handing out prepared course notes.

In 1802, 1808 and 1818 he wrote and published his own course notes, which were subsequently used by the seminaries of Nicolet, Saint-Hyacinthe and Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière. He was versatile and self-taught, consulted the most recent works on physics, built his own physics apparatus and kept abreast of the latest discoveries. In 1806 he opened a natural history museum with Félix Gatien, which later became the physics laboratory. In 1835 he published his last collection of philosophy lectures entitled Institutiones philosophicae ad usum studiosae juventutis. It was the first philosophy textbook to be published in French Canada.

Abbé Jérôme Demers held the positions of director and procurator of the Seminary, as well as director of the Petit Séminaire. He taught architecture from 1828 on, and published all his course notes. As an architect himself, he developed a friendship with Thomas Baillargé. He offered enthusiastic advice on the plans for many buildings, as well as designing the church in his village of Saint-Nicolas, Saint-Boniface Cathedral in Manitoba and the Séminaire de Nicolet.

Jérôme Demers (1774-1853)
John Holmes (1799-1852)
Louis-Jacques Casault (1808-1862)
Joseph-Clovis Kemner-Laflamme (1849-1910)
CAPSULE: Egyptian mummies
CAPSULE: Oxford University