Aubin Edmond Arsenault

Aubin Edmond Arsenault

Served during the following dates: 1908-11-18; 1912-12-03; 1915-09-16; 1917-07-25;v 1919-07-24

ARSENAULT, LL.D., M.A., HONOURABLE AUBIN EDMOND. teacher, lawyer, and judge; b. 28 July 1870 in Abrams Village, son of Joseph Octave Arsenault* and Gertrude Gaudet; m. firstly Anita, native of Ireland, marriage annulled; m. second 5 November 1907 Bertha Rose Gallant and they had 11 children, Iphigenie, Cyril, Catherine, Regis, Valerie, Marie, Laure-Jeanne, Patricia, Felice, Paula, and Lois; Roman Catholic; d. 27 April 1968 in Charlottetown.
Arsenault, a Conservative, was first elected to the Legislative Assembly in the general election of 1908 for 3,d Prince. He was re-elected in the general elections of 1912, 1915, and 1919. In January 1912 he was appointed to Executive Council as a Minister without Portfolio. Upon the resignation of Premier John A. Mathieson* in 1917, Arsenault became Premier and Attorney-General. In the 1919 general election, the Conservatives were defeated, yet Arsenault remained Leader of the Opposition until his appointment to the Prince Edward Island Supreme Court in 1921. In 1906 Arsenault was elected to the Summerside town council, and, while councillor, helped launch a campaign for the advocacy of sewage and
water systems.
In September 1919, Premier Arsenault pas ed an Order-in-Council which enabled motor vehicles to use Island roads on all days ot the week, subject only to the restrictions of the Motor Vehicle Act. Earlier in his political career, in 1909, Arsenault was one of only three Members to vote against a bill to prohibit automobiles from running on 'he streets and public highways.
Prohibition had begun in the province more than 20 years previous to Arsenault becoming premier. Though privately opposed to Prohibition, rather than advocate his own view regarding the consumption of alcohol, Arsenault amended Prohibition legislation to provide for a plebiscite to ascertain the will of Islanders in regard to the continuance of the Prohibition Act. He was defeated before the plebiscite could be held. The Conservative loss in the 1919 general election came about partly due, according to the Canadian Annual Review, to Arsenault's supposed favouritism toward fellow' Roman Catholics and the negative feelings this generated in Protestants. In his memoirs, Arsenault indicated that the defeat was more likely due to his advocacy of a uniform education tax. According to Edward MacDonald’s It You're Stronghearted, there was general discontent in the Island populace at the time, in part due to high inflation, and the Arsenault Administration became a victim of this popular dissatisfaction.
Arsenault’s father, initially a Liberal and later a Conservative, was a Member of the House of Assembly from 1867 to 1895 for 3rd Prince, served on Executive Council, and was the first Island Acadian to be appointed to the Senate. One of Arsenault’s brothers, Joseph Felix*, represented 3,d Prince from 1897 to 1904, when he was defeated by Joseph F. H. Arsenault*.
Arsenault received his education in Abrams Village. In 1885 he entered St. Dunstan’s College and obtained a second class teaching license, going on to teach for two years at a country school and one year at St. Joseph’s College. Subsequently Arsenault returned to St. Dunstan’s College for one year, following which he articled at the law firm of McLeod, Morson and McQuarrie — Neil McLeod* and Walter Morson were also politicians — for four years, and was admitted to the Bar as an attorney. The next year he went to London, England, to article with the Honourable Charles Russell. When these studies were completed, Arsenault returned to Charlottetown and started a law firm there in association with H. R MacKenzie. After some months he moved to Summerside and continued in private practice tor one year. He then entered into a partnership with Neil McQuarrie. He served as a director of the Canadian Bar Association. On 1 May 1921, Arsenault was named the successor to Justice Fitzgerald, Associate Judge of the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island, and he served on the bench for 25 years.
Outside of his legal and political careers, Arsenault had numerous interests. He was the first director of the Prince Edward Island Travel Bureau, a director of the Good Roads Association, a director and executive member of the Canadian Geographical Society, president of the Canadian Association of Tourist and Publicity Bureau, and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts in England. In the early 1920s, he accepted the position of president of the Prince Edward Island Tourist Association. On 16 February 1929, Arsenault prepared and presented a brief to Sir Henry Thorton of Canadian National Railway. He was part of a delegation sent by the Island Tourist Bureau and the Charlottetown Board of Trade. The brief urged Canadian National Railway to build a first-class hotel in Charlottetown. The company voted to assign Si million to the project.
Additionally, Arsenault was president of the Acadian National Society of the Maritime Provinces, and one of the founders of the Societe Saint- Thomas-d Aquin. He was awarded a Doctor of Laws degree from Laval University and St. Dunstan’s University, and a Master of Arts degree from St. Joseph's University.
Arsenault was a trustee of the Lady Wood Fund, a trust fund to be used for the benefit of aboriginal peoples, for over 20 years, beginning in 1931. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and achieved the rank of 4,h degree Knight. Aubin Arsenault died 27 April 1968. On 15 March 2001, the provincial government named Charlottetown’s refurbished Nurses Residence, home of the Public Education Branch of the Department of Education, the Aubin Arsenault Building.

References: Acadiens pp. 84-85; Arsenault. Aubin; CPG 1910 p. 43b; DCB XII 1891-1900 p. 39; MacDonald Stronghearted pp. 112, 138-39; PPMP p. 13; WWC 1943-1944 pp. 16. 916; Guardian 29 April |9b8. 28 July 1973, 15 March 2001; Journal-Pioneer 23 and 27 September 2000; Patriot 30 June 1941; PARO: RG 6.1 Series 19. Bar Admittances 31. Guide to abbreviations

Photograph courtesy of PEI Public Archives and Records Office, Reference Number Acc2301/137