A pioneering reformer, he was a tireless advocate of the separation of Church and State, a cornerstone of Liberal ideology, and ran headlong into ferocious opposition from the Clergy. He also was a fierce promoter of industrial progress and healthy public finances.
Born in Epernay, France, on December 5, 1829, he was admitted to the Quebec Bar in 1855 and exercised his profession of attorney in Quebec City. He was passionate about natural sciences and the conservation, management and preservation of green spaces and forest resources.
Henri-Gustave Joly de Lotbinière was the first leader of the Quebec Liberal Party.
He was appointed Quebec Premier March 2, 1878 by Lieutenant-Governor Saint-Just de Letellier and followed that up with an election victory on May 1 of that year.
Appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1878, two years later he co-founded the newspaper l’Ēlecteur de Québec which later became the Quebec City daily Le Soleil. He was also appointed a Knight of the Order of St. Michael and Saint George (Sir) in 1895.
He died at Quebec City in 1908 at the age of 78.