We would like to believe that Benjamin Sulte was the inspiration for a museum at the Séminaire de Trois-Rivières. Indeed, in 1877, he submitted an open letter to the editor/owner of the Constitutionnel, Mr. I. L. Clair, addressed to its readers, roughly expressing that the city of Trois-Rivières deserved a museum on its territory because of all its history.

This long-awaited museum began to take shape as early as July 1882. The authorities from the Séminaire Saint-Joseph in Trois-Rivières devoted a page to it in their annual school prospectus. The donations from the public were outlined there. As a place of knowledge and education, first founded as the Collège des Trois-Rivières in May 1860, then becoming the diocesan seminary in 1874, this was the ideal place to set up a museum and preserve culture, art, and heritage objects.

As for Benjamin Sulte (1841-1923), although he was of humble origins, he had a surprising life and career. A Trois-Rivières native and the son of a sailor who died during a shipwreck, Benjamin left school at the age of 10. He performed various odd jobs to support his mother and sister. He then distinguished himself as a soldier. His interests also extended to history and literature. From an early age, he was curious and eager to learn. Fortunate circumstances allowed him to contribute to and publish in several newspapers. He tirelessly conducted research, wrote, and published a large number of historical works as well as poems while performing his duties in Ottawa. He was first an official translator in the House of Commons, then at the Ministry of the Militia and Defence (1870), where he became chief clerk in 1889. Retired since 1903, Benjamin Sulte continued his Mélanges historiques until his death on August 6, 1923, in Ottawa.

As for Louis-Philippe Hébert (1850-1917), one of the masters of sculpture in Quebec who sometimes signed his works “Philippe Hébert,” he created this plaster shortly before his death. This piece would have been printed in only four copies. Hébert also produced the statue depicting Laviolette that was unveiled in 1884 and demolished in 1919, of which many say that the face was inspired by the features of Benjamin Sulte.

Musée Pierre-Boucher Collection
1979 86 S

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