1888 Canadian-Themed Manuscript Letter by French Canadian Novelist and Historian, Joseph-Etienne-Eugene Marmette

1888 Canadian-Themed Manuscript Letter by French Canadian Novelist and Historian, Joseph-Etienne-Eugene Marmette

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On offer is a swell piece of French Canadiana, being a letter with distinctly Canadian content, written by Canadian novelist and historian, Joseph-Etienne-Eugene Marmette (1844-1895). At the time of this letter's writing, Marmett was working as the deputy director at the Archives of Canada. 

Addressed on Archives Branch Ottawa letterhead beside an Agriculture Canada seal, Marmette dates his letter June 27, 1888. In his letter, addressed to an anonymous "Monsieur", Marmette writes that he is replying to the gentleman's letter of May 25. The letter of May 25 had been inaccurately addressed and had only reached Marmette recently. The person to whom Marmette is responding seems to have been interested in Hertel's Deerfield expedition, and Marmette informs him of his colleague's pamphlet discussing this historical moment. Marmette explains that the pamphlet is dated 1886 and the articles within it appeared in "La Revue Canadienne". Marmettegoes on to thank the recipient for his catalogue, and inform him that he gave it to the Department of Canadian Archives. Marmette closes his letter by apologizing for his inability to attend an upcoming event, explaining that he has recently returned from a year in Europe and his work has piled up!

While small in size, this letter is an absolute Canadiana gem. 


Joseph-Etienne-Eugene Marmett is the son of Joseph Marmet, doctor, and Élisa Taché, daughter of Étienne-Paschal Taché. Marmette did his classical studies at the Petit Séminaire de Québec from 1857 to 1864. He then studied at Regiopolis College in Kingston, from 1864 to 1865, then he undertook law studies at Laval University in 1865. However, he did not complete this course. In 1867, Marmette was hired as a clerk in the Treasury Office of the province of Quebec. In 1882, he became a civil servant for the federal government in Ottawa. His work led him to make several trips to Europe, since he was first a special immigration agent in France and Switzerland, then deputy director of the Archives of Canada. While he held this last position, Marmette was notably responsible for transcribing archives relating to the history of Canada into French repositories. He was also responsible, in 1886, for the library of the Canadian pavilion at the Colonial Exhibition in London. Marmette is best known as a novelist and essayist. The historical novel is the literary genre that mainly marks his writings. The author published his first novel, Charles et Éva, in the form of a serial in La Revue canadienne in 1866 and 1867. He used this model for two other novels in L'Opinion publique. He participated in the founding of the Royal Society of Canada in 1882, where he occupied the fifteenth seat in Section I (French-language literature, history and archeology). In addition to Charles and Éva (1866-1867), Marmette published François de Bienville, scenes from Canadian life in the 17th century (1870), L'intendant Bigot (1871), Le Chevalier de Mornac (1873), Le tomahawk et l' sword (1877), Heroism and betrayal (1878), The Maccabees of New France, story of a Canadian family, 1641-1768 (1878) and Stories and memories (1891). (Source: Répertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec)

Three pages, 5 x 8 inches. Argiculture Canada red embossed seal - Archives Branch, Ottawa, 27 Juin 1888. Small stain on front page, otherwise near fine condition. Overall G. French language. 

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