Journalist, humourist, cartoonist, he was referred to in his time as “The Prince of Canadian Humourists”.
Born in 1842 in Trois-Rivières he was educated to be a lawyer and was admitted to the bar in 1865 but a few years later entered journalism. During the 1860’s he lived in Quebec City for five years, then Ottawa and finally in Montréal in 1870.
He produced his first humour publication, Le Canard in 1877 which he sold the following year. Like Bengough who created Grip in Toronto in 1873, he was both editor and cartoonist. He followed this with Le Vrai Canard which appeared in 1879. It was followed by Le Grognard in 1881 then Le Violon in 1886. In 1893 he began again using the title from his first magazine Le Canard.
He worked at other vocations including translator, professor of French, reviewer, and photographer.
He socialized with other members of the city’s intellectual, political and artistic elites. In a parody of the five o’clock tea celebrated by some English-speaking Montréaler’s, Berthelot would invite his friends to a “ten o’clock gin” on Sunday mornings to talk about new articles and cartoons for his publications.
His satirical pieces sometimes got him in trouble. His attacks on Senator F.X. Anseline Trudel whom he christened “Le Grand Vicair” so infuriated the Senator’s two sons that they cornered him in Fortifications Lane and severely beat him. In 1887, Oscar Goyette, a former political candidate successfully sued him on the basis of an article questioning the manliness of Goyette who was a bachelor. He was given the choice of paying $427.52 or three months in jail. Berthelot organized a public lecture to raise the money. It proved so successful that it launched him on a new career.
He died in Montréal in 1895, leaving $10 in his will for his friends to have drinks at the Hotel Lumpkin in memory of him.
The Hecklers. Writ. & Ed.., Peter Desbarates & Terry Mosher. McClelland and Stewart Ltd., 1979: 229.