CHASSEUR, Pierre (1783-1842)

Pierre Chasseur
was born in Quebec City on October 10th 1783.

We know very little about Chasseur’s early years and education, but many contemporary sources indicate that he received little in the way of formal instruction.

In the years after 1810, Chasseur was a gilder, sculptor and sold prints. He did not attain renown in any of these fields.

Chasseur is mainly known for having established the first natural history museum in Quebec City. He gathered a collection of hundreds of natural specimens and a few exotic curiosities in his house on rue Sainte-Hélène (now rue McMahon). On August 30th 1826, he opened his museum to the public. He received financial assistance from the government in 1828 and 1830, but these grants were not renewed. Chasseur sold his collection to the government in 1836. This collection was transferred to the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec in 1841, and the Society displayed it in its rooms located inside Quebec City’s parliament building. The collections were lost in the fire that destroyed the parliament in 1854.

During the rebellions of 1837-1838, Chasseur joined the Patriotes. He hosted many political meetings in his home. He was arrested on several occasions, convicted for treason by the Crown, and incarcerated for months at the Quebec City common gaol.

He died in Quebec City on May 21st 1842. He was buried in Saint Louis Cemetery in Quebec City.

He married Marie-Thérèse Gagnon, dressmaker, in 1839.

– Patrick Donovan, June 2015


  • DUBÉ, Philippe and Andrée LAPOINTE. “Le musée en tant que territoire symbolique de la nation.” Les espaces de l’identité, under the direction of Laurier Turgeon, Jocelyn Létourneau and Khadiyatoulah Fall. Sainte-Foy: PUL, 1997.
  • DUCHESNE, Raymond. “Chasseur, Pierre.” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7. Université Laval/University of Toronto, 2003– . Consulted on January 28 2015.
  • DUCHESNE, Raymond. “Magasin de curiosités ou musée scientifique? Le musée d’histoire naturelle de Pierre Chasseur à Québec (1824-1854).” HSTC Bulletin: Journal of the History of Canadian Science, Technology and Medecine / HSTC Bulletin : revue d’histoire des sciences, des techniques et de la médecine au Canada. Vol. 7, number 2, (24) 1983. p. 59-79.