Home » Tech » Here lived René Pomerleau, in 1274-1278, Boul. René-Lévesque O | HISTORY AND HERITAGE

Here lived René Pomerleau, in 1274-1278, Boul. René-Lévesque O | HISTORY AND HERITAGE

There are 135 plaques on various buildings in Quebec Here lived. They remind us of the people who lived there and marked the history of the city in one way or another. In 1274-1278, boulevard René-Lévesque Ouest, lived scientific popularizer and international mycologist René Pomerleau (1904-1993).

In Quebec, mushroom picking is growing in popularity. Moreover, the summer of 2023 is particularly rainy, favoring the proliferation of wild mushrooms. The crop of amateur mycologists is particularly fertile this year. But this popularity requires renewed caution, because many mushrooms are far from edible.

To pay tribute to this growing passion, we return today to the life of René Pomerleau, founder of the Cercle des Mycologues Amateurs de Québec and author of The mushroom flora of Quebec.

René Pomerleau, in front of his microscope.
Photo credit: National Library and Archives of Quebec, Catholic Action Fund

Education and early career

René Pomerleau was born on April 27, 1904, in Saint-Ferdinand-d’Halifax, in the Centre-du-Québec region. His father introduced him to the identification of plants.

His academic career is full. He first studied at the École supérieure d’agriculture, in La Pocatière, an establishment then affiliated with Université Laval. He completed a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science in 1924. René Pomerleau pursued a master’s degree in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, at Macdonald College of McGill University. The young man graduated in 1927.

After that, René Pomerleau left to study in France from 1927 to 1930. The young man found himself for the preceding at the Sorbonne in Paris. Then he headed to Nancy, where he studied at the school of water and forest. There he specialized in plant pathology, one of his favorite fields.

Back in Quebec in 1930, the Department of Lands and Forestry in Berthierville hired René Pomerleau. The researcher established a forest biology laboratory there. He first worked for a few years at the Department of Agriculture in Canada.

In 1937, he earned a doctorate in science from the University of Montreal, under the guidance of Brother Marie-Victorin. René Pomerleau studied there Pneumonia ulmeanow known as Stegophora Ulmea. This is a disease caused by a fungus that attacks the leaves of the elm tree.

His doctoral thesis earned him the Athanase-David Prize.

Head of laboratory and teaching

Phytopathology (or plant pathology) is a specialty that studies plant diseases.

René Pomerleau was a pioneer in this scientific field, then relatively little studied. It is particularly involved in a first inventory of diseases that affect trees.

The scientist was also interested in techniques to prevent the development of diseases.

In 1938, after obtaining his doctorate, René Pomerleau became head of the laboratory of forest pathology at the Ministry of Lands and Forestry. He now lives in Quebec and held this position until 1952.

From 1952 to 1970, he was in charge of research for the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

René Pomerleau helped found Agriculture Canada’s Forest Biology Laboratory and the Laurentian Forestry Centre.

Teaching and research

René Pomerleau also taught at several facilities during his career.

From 1935 to 1952, he taught at the École des gardes forêt du Québec, in Duchesnay. René Pomerleau was also an associate professor in the Faculty of Forest Engineering at Université Laval, between 1942 and 1965. He also taught in the Faculty of Biology.

From 1945 to 1950, he also acted as visiting professor of Mycology at the Montreal Botanical Garden.

René Pomerleau has more than 170 publications to his name, making him a prolific researcher. It is also behind 15 traders, including the Practical guide to the main mushrooms in Quebec (1951) and the The mushroom flora of Quebec (1980).

In 1944, he was said to be the first to identify Dutch elm disease. In particular, it was identified that it is not useful to spray the tree with DDT, to prevent the spread of the disease.

This pathology is one of the most controlled in urban forests. A program to combat this disease has even been set up by the city of Quebec.

Democratize mushrooms

In addition to being an accomplished researcher, René Pomerleau also contributed to making mycology better known. While the mushrooms were still considered probably poisonous, René Pomerleau instead showed how it was possible to eat them safely.

In interviews are given Sun in 1983, he even considers that the Quebec region represents “the biggest reservoir of mushrooms in the world”. René Pomerleau thought it was easy to find them everywhere.

“I remember one day an amateur mycologist came to see me with a Rodman psaliote that he had found out under a layer of asphalt that workers were tearing up at the Porte Saint-Louis. nonetheless, this is a mushroom with excellent meat because it is classified in the category of four forks by professional mycologists,” he explained to journalist Pierre Champagne.

His two works mentioned above have served as reference books for many amateur mycologists.

René Pomerleau was himself the founder of the mycology circle. In September 1951, it was also founded Circle of amateur mycologists in Quebec, a still active organization. Its members also meet in Maizerets area every Monday evening, from August 21 to October 2, 2023.

The researcher led some mushroom discovery trips. In Quebec, he would identify thousands of different mushroom species.

René Pomerleau (left), researcher and mycologist, and amateur mycologist Didier Piron (right).
Photo credit: National Library and Archives of Quebec, Le Soleil – Raynald Lavoie


René Pomerleau received many awards and tributes during his prolific career. He was notably the first French Canadian to join the Royal Society of Canada, in 1948.

He was also president of the Association francophone pour le savoir (ACFAS) in 1951-1952. The researcher was also a founding member of the Canadian Society of Phytopathology and President of the Geographical Society of Quebec.

In addition to the Athanase-David prize in 1937, he won the Prix du Québec (1953), the Botanical Society of France medal (1954), the ACFAS medal (1955), the North American Mycological Society prize (1971) and the Marie-Victorin prize (1981). He was also made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1970 and of the Order of Quebec in 1988.

René Pomerleau died on October 11, 1993 at the Saint-Sacrement hospital, at the age of 89.

Today, René-Pomerleau’s herbarium, which includes more than 25,000 mushroom specimens, remembers his pioneering role. It is located at the Laurentian Forest Center of the Canadian Forest Service, in Quebec.

In 2016, a bequest allowed ACFAS to create the René-Pomerleau Fund, which supports the next generation in research.

Rue René-Pomerleau, in the Aéroport district, in western Quebec, is also named in his honor. He also crossed the street of Conrad-Kirouac, who was better known as Frére Marie-Victorin and who mentored him.

A section of the Quebec City website collect the plate list here lived.


ACFAS, ” A large donation to ACFAS and the creation of the René-Pomerleau Fund », March 14, 2016, press release.

Quebec National Library and Archives, The René-Pomerleau Valley

Champagne, Pierre, the sun, The Quebec region is the biggest reservoir of mushrooms in the world ”, September 28, 1983, p. C-3.

Toponymy Commission of Quebec, Rue René-Pomerleau

Dalpé, Yolande and J. Ginns, “ René Pomerleau, 1904-1993 », mycology, theft. 86, No. 4, July-August 1994, p. 588-591.

Fortin, André, René Pomerleau, laureate », presentation text during the presentation of the Prix du Québec, October 19, 1981.

Government of Canada, Laurentian Forestry Centre, Herbarium René-Pomerleau

The sun, “Quebec lost a great researcher”, October 14, 1993, p. A-10.

Him too:

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Here lived Jean-Charles Falardeau, at 880, avenue de Bougainville