A multi-talented man, Gérard Delage embraced several careers with great panache: lawyer, radio and television host, commentator, public speaker and humorist, journalist, writer, actor and educator, to name but a few. While his versatility attested to his impressive abilities and skills, his personality and qualities were equally remarkable. He was a very likeable and generous man, with a zest for life, a keen sense of humour and a truly creative and visionary mind.
Gérard Delage was born in Nominingue on September 27, 1912, the son of Achille Delage, prothonotary, and Blanche Christin. Following primary school in Nominingue, he began his classical education at the Séminaire de Sainte-Thérèse in 1924, and completed it at the Séminaire de Saint-Hyacinthe in 1932. He enrolled in the Faculty of Law at the Université de Montréal and was called to the Barreau du Québec in 1935. He then travelled to Paris to complete his studies in psychology and literature, and from there went on to spend a year in London studying economics at the University of London and attending London's City Literary Institute.
On December 13, 1937, he married Yvette Jutras and together they had six children: Pierre, Jocelyne, Niquette, Lison, Yves and Michel.
During his studies, he distinguished himself in oral debates and developed a passion for theatre. A refined thinker and man of letters, he was a gifted speaker and employed this talent as a means to teach and raise the awareness of his audiences and to promote causes that were dear to his heart. An unrivalled communicator, he commonly used humour to reach audiences at his well-attended lectures on topics such as the richness of the French language, gastronomy and Québec's cultural and tourism industries.
From the early age of five, Gérard Delage displayed a playful instinct with a mischievous, jokester edge. In his village, he is remembered as a prankster and former classmates fondly recall that he was a very kind and unpretentious child.
A lawyer by profession, he practised at the Bar from 1936 to 1944, and was legal counsel to the Société des auteurs dramatiques
, the Association des Hôteliers de la province de Québec
and the Conseil de l’Hôtellerie et de la restauration
The lean years following the Depression and leading up to World War II found Gérard Delage before a microphone, reading the news. Thus began his career in radio?a fledgling medium at the time?as an actor, producer, writer, announcer and show host. A pioneer of the airwaves, in 1932, he developed various radio program formats, such as radio plays and news, comedy, variety and game shows.
In 1936, during his stay in London, he worked with the BBC once a week, reciting poems of French-Canadian inspiration and other works on a program broadcast in North America.
The advent of television also captured Gérard Delage's imagination. He enthusiastically turned to this new medium and made a significant contribution as producer, writer and show host.
His writings are considerable and he was consistently in demand as a journalist or writer. He produced countless speeches, tributes and presentations for the lecture circuit and wrote innumerable newspaper articles and columns for the press, to which he was a regular contributor.
Undeniably, Québec tourist industry today owes its excellent reputation to the involvement of Gérard Delage. Widely known as the “Prince of Gastronomy,” his contribution to the world of fine cuisine, hotels and restaurants is considerable. He played a key role in the hotel industry in Québec and Canada, both through his own wide-ranging activities and by furthering the development of the culinary arts by lending support artisans in the field.
A truly dedicated man, Gérard Delage filled an ever increasing number of roles, accumulating so extensive a variety of positions and titles that it is difficult to list them all here. Throughout his lifetime, Gérard Delage continued to garner honours and distinctions in recognition of his tremendous contribution to the growth of cultural and artistic life in Québec and Canada.