Louis Desrochers was born in Montreal in 1928. In 1939, years after his father died when Louis was only 18 months old, the family experienced financial difficulties and Desrochers and his mother moved in with a generous uncle in Jasper, Alberta. Wanting to pursue his education in French, Desrochers enrolled at the Collège des Jésuites and then the Collège Saint-Jean, both in Edmonton.
He returned to the East to complete his undergraduate degree at the University of Ottawa, and while there he developed an interest in government. Two years later he graduated, majoring in Aristotelian Philosophy, and it was here that he met his future wife, Marcelle Boutin, with whom he had five children.
In 1949 Desrochers entered the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta which, three years and one law degree later, led him to an articling position with the McCuaig law firm. In 1952 he escorted Jean De La Bruyere and Sandy Mactaggart around Edmonton on their visit to the city. The three became friends, and later, business partners, when De La Bruyere and Mactaggart returned to draft the legal documentation for Maclab construction.
Desrochers’ name has been well-known in Edmonton as Maclab’s lawyer and legal advisor since the company’s inception (where he continues to attend board meetings), as well as becoming a partner at his law firm, now McCuaig and Desrochers. He is equally well-known as an active member of the community, particularly in regards to French language. He was a director of Edmonton’s French-language radio station before it became part of the CBC, and he acted as treasurer, vice president, and then president of the Association canadienne-française de l’Alberta. He chaired the board of trustees of the Grey Nuns Hospital Foundation, and served as the vice-chair of the governing board of Misericordia Hospital.
Desrochers was instrumental in the affiliation of the Collège Saint-Jean with the University of Alberta. In 1963 he was appointed to the Board of Governors of the University, where he used his influence to strengthen ties between the University and the Collège. He was elected chancellor in 1970, and when he left that position in 1974 the Collège was well on its way to becoming integrated with the University of Alberta as the Faculté Saint-Jean.
Louis Desrochers lives in Edmonton, and continues to be a prominent and inspirational French-Canadian.
Louis Desrochers speaks of his Francophone heritage