Open main menu

Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/434

This page needs to be proofread.




Cnnnda. At tho rwiuest i>f Mgr Boiirgpt, Bishop of Montreal, four Oblates of Mary Iniinaculate reached the St. Lawrence from France (1811) and imme- diately beg-an preaching missions, not only to the whites, but also to the Indians of Lower Canada. Several missionaries of the new ortler. Fathers Louis D^ldage. Flavien Durocher, and Jean-N. Laverlochere, soon distinguished themselves. Hearing of their success. Bisiiop Provencher begged for the co-opera- tion of their brethren in religion. On 2,5 Aug., 184,5, Father Pierre Aubert and Brother Antonin-.Mexandre Tachi? arrived at St. Boniface, and, while the older missionary was sent to Wabassimong, Brother Taoh6 left after his ordination (22 Oct., 184,'>) for the distant post of He :\ la Crosse. Tliere he had for a superior Father Ixniis Lafleche, who had established that mis- sion in the course of the preceding year. Both priests did a vast amount of good to the native population. In 1S4() two other Oblates, Father Henri Faraud and a companion, reached the Canadian West. In the north Father Tache gradually extended his field of action. He visited (1847), first of all missionaries, the shores of Lake Athabasca, where Father Faraud was to inaugurate the Nativity Mission on S.September, 1849. On 24 June of the following year Father Tach6 was appointed coadjutor to Bishop Proven- cher, and temporarily left the He i, la Crosse mission in the hand of newcomers, Fathers Maisonneuve and Tissot, whose inexperience was somewhat resented by the Indians. Hence Bishop Tache had to return to them after his consecration (2.3 Nov., 18.51), and for several years the young prelate continued among them the labours which pertain more to the province of a simple priest than to that of a bishop. Father Henri Grollier. a young Oblate who was to become the Apostle of the Arctic Circle, came to swell the ranks of the missionaries (June, 1852), while Father Albert Lacombe started on his long career as an itinerant missionary over the Saskatchewan plains. Father Grollier soon went to Lake .\thabasca, where he was for some time Father Faraud's companion. Then he founded the mission of Fond du Lac, on the same body of water (1853), while Father Ren6 established that of Lac la Biche. The principal event of 1854 was the arrival in the Canadian Northwest of Father Vital J. Grandin, a young Oblate who was to do yeoman service in the cause of the missions there. The new recruit was sent to Lake Athabasca, to relieve Father Faraud, who established (1856) St. Joseph's Mission on Great Slave Lake. Illustrative of the result of the Oblates' exertions in the north, we may say that, by the end of 1856, there remained of the seven hundred and thirty-five natives who formed the population of He a la Crosse, only one hundred and forty-eight heathens.

In the far East other Oblates were emulating those of the Canadian Northwest; in addition to those already mentioned there were Fathers Andr6 Garin and Charles Amaud, then Fathers Louis Babel and Jean-Pierre Gu6guen. These missionaries repeatedly visited in succession Tadoussac, Les Escoumains, Maskuaro, Mingan, Portneuf, and Les Ilets. As a rule their efforts were crowned with success. Not only did they teach their neophytes the rudiments of the Christian doctrine, but they even imparted to them some knowledge of the secular sciences, and enhanced the attractiveness of the Catholic worship by solemn processions and other pious devices. As early as 30 Sept., 1850, one of them. Father Amaud, at this writing (1910) still actively engaged in the eastern field, wrote of the natives of Les Ilets: "They are the best instructed on the coast; they all know how to read and write. It is inspiring to see them in the church, the men on one side and the women on the other, prayer-book in hand, vying with each other, as it were, m modesty and fervour. .Another spectacle scarcely less striking is thai of the little children in prayer after

the evening service, when every mother teaches the members of her family how to pray to the (Jreat Spirit" (Rapport sur les Missions de Qu(bec, March, 1851, p. 36). \ regular house of the (Jblates was e.s- tabli.shcd (1851) at Hivicre au Desert, now Maniwaki, and later on (lS(i2) others were erected at Bethsia- mits and Ville-.Marie (Pontiac), whence, as well as from the residences on the St. Lawrence, not only the roving bands of the interior, Montagnais, Algonquins, and Nascapis, but even such as resorted to the trading- posts of Abbittibbi, Albany, and Moose Factory, on Hudson Bay, were visited by the "Black- Robes". In spiteof their precarious circumstances, thoseaborig- ines often enough repaid by a faithful discharge of tliier religious duties the devotedness of their spiritual guides. The same may be said of the Indians of the inhospitable steppes of the Far North, where the Tach^s, Farauds, Grandins, GroUiers, and a host of others were gladly undergoing the pangs of hunger, and setting at defiance the rigours of Arctic winters and the fatigues of endless marches on snowshoes, for the sake of the souls entrusted to their care. Their courage and devotion to duty were so great, and their successes so striking, that they often elicited flattering encomiums from Protestant traders and explorers. On 30 Noveml^er, 1859, Father Grandin was con.secrated Bishop of Satala and coadjutor to Bishop Tach^; yet he remained in the north, spending most of his time in incessant travelling. His presence there was all the more necessary as the preceding year had witnessed the arrival in the Mackenzie district of the first Protestant clergyman, the forerunner of numerous Anglican missionaries in the north. Father Grollier was immediately dispatched to Fort Simpson, the headquarters of the enemy, where, in spite of the in- ducements offered by the local Protestant trader, he had the consolation of seeing the great majority of the natives side with the representative of Catholi- cism. He then founded (1858) the missionary post of Our Lady of Good Hope, likewise on the Mackenzie and just within the Arctic Circle. Then he even went down as far as the first Eskimo village (Sept., 1860), while Father Gascon, a new recruit, was pro- tecting the savages of the Liard River against the wiles of the preacher. Simultaneously the difficult station of Lake Caribou, just southwest of the Barren Grounds, was established under Father V^greville.

The year 1862 saw the beginning of what was to become a most important establishment under the title of the Divine Providence, on the Mackenzie, where Fathers Gascon and Petitot made the very first clearings. That same year a Protestant minister, Mr. Kirkby, despairing of success east of the Rocky Mountains, crossed that range into the Yukon. Hearing of this, an intrepid missionary. Father S^guin, immediately followed ; but the conflict was unequal ; the preacher, besides the powerful influence of the traders, had resources of which the priest could not dispose. Above all, he had the advantage of priority, and, despite two other visits of the Catholic missionaries, that of Father Petitot (1870) and that of Bishop Clut with Father Lecorre (1872), the Loucheux of the Far Northwest were, to a great extent, lost to the Church. Things were brighter on the Saskatch- ewan and in the adjoining region, where new posts, denoting constant progress, were being established on all sides. Even martyred Darveau's old mission of Duck Bay had been in a sense revived, though trans- ferred to the northern extremity of Lake Manitoba under the name of St^Laurent. A still more im-

Sortant event was the erection of the Athabasca and lackenzie districts into a separate vicariate Apos- tolic, with Father Faraud (consecrated 30 Nov., 18()4) as first titular. The new prelate was (1866) given a coadjutor in the person of Bishop Isidore t'lut. With this perfected organization the northern mis- sions, served by such sterling missionaries as Fathers