The subject will be treated under three headings: I. Period of French domination, from the discovery of Canada to the Treaty of Paris, in 1763; II. Period of British rule, from 1763 to the present day; III. Present conditions.
To France belongs the honour of having planted Catholicism in Canada. To-day there seems little doubt that Basque, Breton and Norman sailors had raised the cross on the shores of this country before the landing of the Venetian, Cabot (1497), and the Florentine, Verrazzano (1522), and above all before Jacques Cartier, of Saint-Malo, who is regarded as the discoverer of the country, had reached Canada and made a brief sojourn on its shores. This celebrated explorer, spurred on by the favour of Francis I , made three voyages to Canada. On the first he discovered Gaspé Peninsula, and had Mass celebrated there (7 July, 1534); on the second he sailed up the St. Lawrence, which he named (10 August, 1535), reached Stadacona (Quebec), and even proceeded as far as Hochelaga, on the site of which now stand the flourishing city of Montreal. His last voyage (1541-42) is unimportant. If Cartier did not succeed in founding a colony in the territory which he added to his country's possessions, it is due to him to state that the thought of spreading the Catholic Faith in new lands, far from being foreign to his undertaking, was its principal incentive.
The second half of the sixteenth century witnessed some attempts at settlements in Acadia which resulted in the foundation of Sainte-Croix and Port Royal (Annapolis in Nova Scotia ). The appearance in this country of the first missionaries, secular priests and Jesuits, is worthy of note, though internal divisions and the hostility of England prevented their success. We must come down to Champlain and the opening of the seventeenth century to find traces of a regular colony. Samuel de Champlain, after several voyages to Canada, settled there in 1608, and that same year laid the foundations of Quebec. Being a fervent Catholic he wished to spread the blessings of the Faith among the pagan savages of the country. With this object in view, he sought aid from the Franciscan Recollects, who arrived in 1615, and inaugurated in the interior of Canada the missions so famous in the seventeenth century, in which the Jesuits (1625) as well as the Sulpicians (1657) were soon to have so glorious a share. The Canadian Indians, to whose conversion the Catholic missionaries devoted themselves, were divided into two quite distinct stocks: The Algonquins and the Huron-Iroquois. The former were found under various names north of the St. Lawrence and in the basin of Ottawa, from the mouth of the great river to the prairies of the North-West; the latter were settled south of Lake Ontario and in the Niagara peninsula. Their total population does not seem to have exceeded 100,000 (See ALGONQUINS ).
On the arrival of the Recollects (1615), Father d'Olbeau began his labours among the Montagnais of the River Saguenay, and Father Le Caron, ascending the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa, carried the Faith into the heart of the Huron country, while two of their companions remained at Quebec to look after the colonists and the neighbouring Indians. For ten years they made repeated journeys, opened schools for the young Indians, summoned recruits from France, among them Friar Viel, who was hurled into the Ottawa by an apostate Indian and drowned, and Friar Sagard, the first to publish a history of Canada. Feeling themselves unable to carry on unaided a work of such importance, the Recollecgts sought the assistance of the Jesuits, whereupon Fathers Brébeuf, Charles Lallemant, and several others went to Canada (1625). But the united efforts of the missionaries were thwarted in a measure by the Merchant Company to which the King of France had conceded the colony. As the spirit of gain prevented the Company from helping the missionaries, and co-operating with them for the welfare of the country, it was suppressed by Louis XIII and Richelieu (1627), and replaced by the "Company of New France ", also known as the "Company of the Hundred Associates", which pledged itself "to bring the peoples inhabiting Canada to a knowledge of God and to instruct them in the Catholic, Apostolic, Roman Religion". These promises bore no fruit. In less than two years (1629) Quebec fell into the hands of David Kertk (Kirk) a native of Dieppe, who was battling for English interests. Acadia, with the exception of Fort Saint-Louis, had surrendered the preceding year. All the missionaries returned to France.
Canada belonged to England until 1632, when the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye restored it to France. Thereupon Cardinal Richelieu gave to the Jesuits the privilege of resuming their missions, and several of them set sail for Canada. Champlain, the governor, and Lauson, president of the 'Company of the Hundred Associates" ( Les Cent Associés ) lent them all possible aid. Father Lejeune organized religious services in Quebec, founded a mission at Three Rivers, and opened the College of Quebec (1635). In the meanwhile other Jesuits had established a mission at Miscou, an island at the entrance of the Baie des Chaleurs, whence they evangelized Gaspé, Acadia, and Cape Breton. For more than thirty years (1633-64) the chief results of their sacrifices were the baptism of children in danger of death and the conversion of some adults. In 1664 the Recollects once more took charge of Acadia and of Gaspé. In the meantime Champlain had died (25 Dec., 1635) in the arms of Father Lallemant, rejoicing at the spread of the Faith. The ardour of the missionaries did not cool. Father Lejeune followed the wandering tribe of the Montagnais and returned with a definite plan of evangelization. It was profitable and even necessary, he argued, to establish missions among fixed and settled tribes like the Hurons, but this was ueseless among nomadic tribes. These wandering Indians must be induced to group themselves in villages near the French settlements, where they could be protected from hostile invasion and be taught to lead an industrious and settled life. Two settlements were made on this plan: one at Three Rivers and one near Quebec. In 1640, a new mission was opened at Tadousac, and it soon became a centre of Catholic evangelization.
About this time nursing sisters and the first Ursulines arrived in Quebec from France. The former took charge of the Hôtel-Dieu, which had been endowed by the Duchesse d'Aiguillon, a niece of Richelieu ; the latter, under the celebrated Marie de l'Incarnation, devoted themselves to the education of girls. Their protectress, Madame de la Peltrie, followed them. These heroic women vied with one another in their zeal for the conversion of the savages. Meanwhile, the "Company of Associates" paid no more regard to its obligations than had its predecessors. It attracted few colonists, did nothing towards the civilization of the Indians, and showed no interest in the spread of the Faith. On the other hand the Iroquois were daily becoming more menacing. In 1641 Governor de Montmagny had to conduct a campaign against them. At the juncture the "Company of Montreal " was formed, which proposed, without laying any burden on the king, the clergy, or the people "to promote the glory of God and the establishment of religion in New France ". This inspiration of two men of God, Jean-Jacques Olier and Jérôme de la Dauversière, encouraged by Pope Urban VIII , found in Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve a faithful instrument of its purpose. The new association purchased from M. de Lauson of the old company the island of Montreal (1640). Less than two years later Maisonneuve, at the head of a little band of chosen Christians, among them Jeanne Mance, future foundress of the Hôtel-Dieu, landed on the island and laid the foundations of Ville-Marie, or Montreal (18 May, 1642). We shall not recall the energy, vigilance, and resourcefulness required of Maisonneuve to strengthen and develop the infant colony, nor recount the heroic struggles made for thirty years by the colonists against the Iroquois. In 1653 there arrived at Montreal Marguerite Bourgeoys, foundress of the Congregation of Notre Dame, which has been so great an educational factor in Canada and the United States. Four years later M. Olier, then on his death-bed, sent the first four Sulpicians, with M. de Queylus at their head, to Montreal, whither he himself had ardently desired to go.
Meanwhile the Jesuits were actively prosecuting their labours among the Indians. For them the era of martyrdoms had arrived. The years 1648-49 saw the destruction of the flourishing mission of the Hurons, at which eighteen Jesuits had toiled for nearly ten years. In the course of their apostolic journeys they traversed the region lying between Georgian bay and Lake Simcoe, scarcely every meeting in their residence of Sainte-Marie, save for their annual retreat. They had won many Christians to the Faith before the incursion of the Iroquois, a massacre of extermination to which Fathers Daniel, Brébeuf, G. Lallemant, Garnier, and Chabanel fell victims. Fathers Brébeuf and Lallemant succumbed before the atrocious tortures practised upon them, mingled with buffoon gibes at their religion. They were burned at a slow fire, lacerated, and mutilated with a devilish ingenuity which aimed to prolong life and drag out their sufferings. Their firmness in supporting all these horrors in order to strengthen the faith of the Hurons doomed to death like themselves has earned for them from the people the title of martyrs. The Hurons who escaped from the fury of the Iroquois took refuge, some in Manitoulin Island, others in Ile Saint-Joseph (Christian Island) in Georgian Bay. In the spring of 1650 this remannt came down to the Ile d'Orléans, near Quebec. Three years prior to the massacre of the Hurons, the Iroquois had murdered Father Isaac Jogues (18 Oct., 1646), who had attempted a third missionary journey to one of their tribes, the Agniers. It should be said that Father Bressani had escaped from these barbarians only with the greatest difficulty, and that Father Buteux perished in one of their ambushes (1652). These and other acts of violence had made the Iroquois a terror to the French colony. Montreal owed its safety solely to the heroic courage of Maisonneuve and Lambert Closse, and to the heroism of young Dollard.
The year 1659 marks the beginning of the ecclesiastical hierarchy in Canada. Up to that time the missionaries regarded themselves first as directly dependent on the Holy See , and afterwards for some time as under the authority of the Archbishop of Rouen. Rightly or wrongly, the latter looked upon Canada as subject to his jurisdiction in matters spiritual, and acted accordingly. Neither the French Government nor the sovereign pontiff opposed this as an illegitimate pretension. When M. de Queylus was sent to Montreal by M. Olier, he received from the Archbishop of Rouen (1657) the title of vicar-general, nor did anyhone in Canada think of questioning his authority. The arrival (1659) of François de Montmorency-Laval, appointed by Alexander VII titular Bishop of Petræa and Vicar Apostolic of New France, caused a conflict of jurisdiction between the new and the old authority, resulting in the suspension of M. de Queylus for disobedience and obstinacy, and in his consequent return to France. When he came back five years later Bishop Laval received him with open arms, and conferred upon him the title of vicar-general (cf. Aug. Gosselin, "Vénérable François de Laval-Montmorency", Quebec, 1901, 286-87). The new bishop encountered many difficulties. They arose in the first place from the sale of intoxicating liquors, a traffic which the governors, d'Argenson, d'Avaugour, and Mésy abetted, or at least did not prohibit, and which was a perpetual source of conflict between the civil and the ecclesiastical authorities. The Church braved the disfavour of those in power rather than surrender the interests of souls and of Christian morality. Bishop Laval had other dissensions with M. de Mésy on occasions when the episcopal rights of the former clashed with the despotic administration of the governor. The governor had recourse to violent measures. He forced Maisonneuve to return to France, where he died at Paris, poor and unknown (1677).
Mésy, who ws reconciled with Bishop Laval before his death, was succeeded by Courcelles. He had come to Canada in the company of Tracy, who bore the title of Viceroy, and the Intendant, Talon. They came to a satisfactory understanding with the bishop, carried on two campaigns against the Iroquois (1665-66), whom they reduced to an inaction of twenty years, and promoted in many ways the colon's interest, above all by attracting to it new settlers. In 1668 Bishop Laval had begun a preparatory seminary ( petit séminaire ). Ten years later he opened a seminary ( grand séminaire ) for the training of his clergy. The increase in population necessitate a more numerous clergy as well as a better arrangement of parishes. In 1672 outside of Quebec the parishes numbered twenty-five, each with a resident priest. To provide for the support of the clergy the bishop imposed a tax on the faithful, which by an act of 1663 was fixed at a thirteenth part of the crops; later this was reduced to one twenty-sixth, the king agreeing to make up the rest. The parish priests then formed with the seminary of Quebec a sort of corporation, the respective rights and duties of whose members were legally established. The progress of the missions had not ceased between 1660 and 1680. The Jesuit, Father Allouez, penetrate to Lake Superior, and there founded two missions (1665). Fathers Dablon and Marquette planted the cross at Sault Sainte Marie. Other Jesuits allying themselves with the discoverers Saint-Lusson and Cavelier de la Salle, took possession of the western shores of Lake Huron; two years afterwards Father d'Albanel pierced the wilderness as far as Hudson Bay. The Jesuits also restored the Iroquois missions south of Lake Ontario, and founded, south of Montreal, the permanent mission of "La Praierie de la Madeleine". This was the home of Catherine Tegakwitha, the "Lily of Canada ", who died at the age of twenty-three in the odour of sanctity. The Third Council of Baltimore asked to have the cause of her beatification introduced. The Christian community, transferred to Sault Saint Louis (Caughnawaga), is still flourishing, and numbers more than 2000 souls. After many changes it was once more placed under the care of the Jesuits (1902). We may note here that it was from Canada that L. Jolliet and the famous Father Marquette set forth for the discovery of the Mississippi (1673). The missions of the Sulpicians, who were already engaged in evangelizing the savages, will be treated in the articles SULPICIANS and MONTREAL. The Recollects (Franciscans) had returned to Canada in 1670, and from their establishment at Quebec, had founded four missions: Three Rivers, Ile Percée, River St. John, and Fort Frontenac on Lake Ontario. In 1682 M. Dollier de Casson invited them to Montreal. Later Bishop Saint-Valier entrusted to them the Cape Breton mission and that of Plaisance in Newfoundland.
During this development of the missions, Bishop Laval had prevailed upon Clement X to make Quebec an episcopal see (1674); he had confirmed the affiliation of his seminary with that of the Missions Etrangères in Paris, had erected a chapter of canons, organized his diocese, and maintained a struggle against Governor Frontenac for the rights of the Church and the prohibition of the sale of liquors to the savages. In 1684 he placed his resignation in the hands of Louis XIV. On his return to Quebec in 1688, he lived twenty years in retirement and died (1708) in odour of sanctity. In 1878 his body was removed from the cathedral to the chapel of the seminary where he wished to lie, and a process for his canonization was begun and submitted for the approbation of Leo XIII. Bishop Laval was succeeded by Bishop Saint-Vallier, to whom Quebec owes the foundation of its General Hospital, a work of no little labour and expense. He freed the seminary from the parochial functions imposed upon it by his predecessor, so that it might be thenceforth devoted solely to the education of the clergy. Meanwhile the English admiral Phipps, had attacked Quebec (1690) with thirty-two ships. While Frontenac made preparations for its defence the bishop in a pastoral letter exhorted the Canadians to do their duty valiantly. After fruitless attacks the enemy withdrew, whereupon the bishop, in fulfilment of a vow, dedicated to Our Lady of Victory the church in the lower town. It is still standing. The era of the great missions had come to an end, yet de la Mothe-Cadillac with a hundred Canadians and a missionary founded, in 1701, the city of Detroit. The Seminary of Quebec sent apostles to the Tamarois, between the Illinois and the Ohio rivers. The Recollects took over the missions of the Ile Royale, or Cape Breton. The Jesuits on their part evangelized the Miamis, the Sioux, the Outaouais (Ottawas), and the Illinois.
In the meantime England continued to cast envious eyes on the Catholic colony of Canada, which France, with her lack of foresight, was neglecting more and more. After the close of the seventeenth century there was scarcely any emigration from the mother country to New France, and Canada was forced to rely on her own resources for her preservation and growth. Her population, which in 1713 was 18,000, had increased to 42,000 by 1739, the year of the last census taken under French administration. This was a small number at best to stand out against the colonists of New England, who numbered 262,000 in 1706. Acadia was especially weak, having only 2000 inhabitants, and against her the efforts of England and her American colonies were first directed. Port royal was taken in 1710, and three years later, by the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), France ceded to England Acadia, Newfoundland, and the Hudson Bay territory. As early as 1604 Catholic missionaries had gone to Acadia and converted to the Faith its native Indians, the Micmac and the Abnaki. The English conquest did not interrupt their missionar5y activity, but it often rendered their labours more difficult. Fortified by them, the Acadians increased in number, despite English persecution, and about 1750 their number had risen to 15,000. The company of Saint-Sulpice and the Seminary of Quebec supplied them with their principal missionaries. The incredible vexations to which the unhappy Acadians were subjected by unworthy English governors will not be recounted here. History has branded their memory with infamy, especially that of Lawrence, who with calculating violence embarked (1755) the Acadians on English vessels and scattered them throughout the American colonies. This act of barbarism, which has caused his name to be execrated by all men, furnished Longfellow with the inspiration for his touching poem, "Evangeline". Canada in the meantime enjoyed comparative peace. There was a presentiment, however, that England would soon make a final effort to conquer the country. Instead of sending colonists and troops the French Government persisted in constructing at great expense fortifications at Louisburg and at Quebec.
After making rich donations to the religious establishments of Quebec (estimated at 600,000 livres, about $120,000), Bishop Saint-Vallier died in 1727. His successor was Bishop Duplessis-Mornay, whom infirmities prevented from coming to Canada. Bishop Dosquet, his coadjutor and administrator from 1729, succeeded him in 1733, and laboured earnestly for education and for the increase of religious communities. The education of girls was in the hands of the Ursulines, who had one boarding -school at Quebec and another at Three Rivers , and of the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame, of Montreal, who had fourteen houses. Primary instruction for boys was conducted by male teachers. Prematurely exhausted by the rigour of the climate, Bishop Dosquet resigned his office and left Canada. His successor, Bishop Lauberivière, died on his arrival at Quebec, a victim of his devotion to the sick soldiers on the voyage from France. With Bishop Pontbriand (1741-1760) we reach the end of the French rule. He restored the cathedral of Quebec then falling into decay, went to the assistance of the Ursulines of Three Rivers and the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec on the occasion of disastrous fires, administered his diocese wisely, and was a model for his clergy in wisdom and virtue.
At Montreal the Sulpicians still pursued their beneficent work. To their superior, M. de Belmont (1701-32) must be ascribed the construction of the Fort of the Mountain and of the old seminary which is still in existence, and the opening of the Lachine canal. M. Normant du Faradon, his successor (1732-59), saved the General Hospital from ruin, and entrusted it to the "Grey Nuns ", whose founder he may be called, together with the Venerable Mère d'Youville. The Abbé François Piquet, honoured by the city of Ogdensburg as its founder (1749), was also a Sulpician. The well-known events which hastened the fall of the colony are a part of general history. After the capture of Quebec by Wolfe (1759), Bishop Pontbriand took refuge with the Sulpicians at Montreal, where he died before that city fell into the hands of the English. On 10 February, 1763, the Treaty of Paris was signed, ceding Canada to England, closing for the Church in Canada the period of establishment and settlement, and opening the period of conflict and development.
At the time of the Treaty of Paris (see QUEBEC) the Catholic population of Canada, all of french descent, scarcely numbered 70,000. Abandoned by their civil rulers and representatives, who had returned to France, they owed to their clergy the preservation of their Faith and in great measure the recovery of their political and civil rights. While the clauses of the Treaty of Paris were still under discussion a memorial had been laid before the French ambassador in London concerning the religious affairs of Canada. This demanded, among other things, security for the See and Chapter of Quebec. The intentions of the British Government were quite different. It proposed to substitute the Anglican hierarchy for the Catholic, and English Protestantism for Catholicism, and it flattered itself that it could easily overcome the scruples of a handful of French colonists. With this end in view it spared priests and laity no vexation. The government policy was especially active against the young, who were to be educated in schools of a marked Anglican tone. The Canadians, who had good cause for anxiety, sent a deputation to King George III, to demand the maintenance of their ecclesiastical organization and to complain of violations of the Treaty of Paris, which assured them religious liberty.
In the meantime the Chapter of Quebec proceeded to elect M. de Montgolfier, superior of the Sulpicians of Montreal, bishop. The English authorities refused consent to his consecration. Oliver Briand, vicar general to Bishop Pontbriand, was then consecrated with only the tacit consent of the Government, which always refused him the title of Bishop, which it reserved for the head of the Anglican hierarchy ; instead of bishop they used the term Superintendent (Surintendant) of Catholic Worship. The communities of men, Recollects, Jesuits, and Sulpicians, were forbidden to take novices in Canada, or to receive members from abroad. They were marked out for extinction, and the State declared itself heir to their property. The English confiscated the goods of the Recollects and Jesuits in 1774, and granted the religious modest pensions. The Sulpicians fared better. In 1793, of the thirty Sulpicians living in 1759 there remained only two septuagenarians, whose last moments were being eagerly looked for, when the British Government relaxed its rigour in favour of the victims of the French Revolution , and opened Canada as a place of refuge for persecuted French priests.
While Catholic interests on the banks of the St. Lawrence were thus menaced by the new English masters there was brewing an event, big with consequences, that counselled more moderation. The British American colonies were threatening revolt. England realized that she must conciliate the Canadians at any cost, and by the Quebec Act of 1774 she granted them many liberties hitherto withheld or suppressed. (See QUEBEC). This was due chiefly to Governor Guy Carleton (1769-96), who was wise, judicious, and tolerant, very sympathetic toward Catholicism, and loved by Bishop Briand and his flock. The Americans were unable to induce the French Canadians to take part in the American Revolution, and Montgomery's invasion (1775) was checked at Quebec. Led by Bishop Briand , the champions of loyalty were the Catholic priests, whom Great Britain had hitherto regarded with suspicion. Bishop Briand resigned in 1784. By this time Catholics numbered 130,000. The Maritime Provinces -- New Brunswick, Nova Scotia , and even the Ile Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island) -- were being peopled by Scotch and Irish Catholics (see BURKE, EDMUND). Bishop d'Esglis succeeded Bishop Briand, who, to forestall a vacancy hastened to secure a successor in the person of François Hubert (1788). The diocese now contained 160 priests, among them the Abbé s Desjardins, Sigogne, Calonne, and Picquart, who gathered again the scattered remnants of the Acadians, a race supposed to be practically extinct. There is an interesting memorial of Bishop Hubert to the Holy See (1794), in which he notes the fidelity of the Catholics to their religion, and dwells upon the necessity of creating new sees. The opposition of the British Government continued inexorable, so that it was necessary to wait for more propitious circumstances. This opposition was all the more unjustifiable, becoming evident, as it did, shortly after the constitutional Act of 1791. This was the famous act which granted Canada a constitutional government, and divided the country into two provinces, Upper and Lower Canada, each having a governor, an assembly, and a legislative council. Concerning the french Catholic inhabitants of Lower Canada the Act read: "All possible care must be taken to ensure them the enjoyment of the civil and religious rights guaranteed them by the terms of the capitulation of the province, or since accorded them by the liberal and enlightened spirit of the British Government" (Christie, op.cit.infra, 16; Pagnuelo, 69).
During the episcopate of Bishop Denaut (1797-1806) and Bishop Octave Plessis (1806-1825) the antagonism of Anglican Protestantism manifested itself in two very different forms. Under the name of "Royal Institution" Dr. Mountain, the Anglican Bishop of Quebec, devised a corporation which was to monopolize instruction in all its stages by concentrating all educational authority in the hands of the governor. In this way the entire educational system was to be withdrawn from the Catholic clergy and fall under Protestant control; the natural result would be the easy seduction of childhood and youth. The vigilance of the clergy and of Bishop Denaut balked these astute machinations (Pagnuelo, "Etudes historiques et légales sur la liberté religieuse en Canada ", Montreal, 1872). The difficulties which beset Bishop Plessis were a different kind. He had to deal with a powerful and fanatical oligarchy determined to reduce the Church to a condition of servitude to the civil power, to make it, as in England, a docile instrument of the Government, in a word, to insensibly render Canada Protestant by administrative pressure. The chief spirit of this coalition was a certain Witzius Ryland, secretary to the governors of Canada from 1790 to 1812. His policy was the confiscation of all ecclesiastical property and the exclusion of Catholicism from its dominant position. It was to be treated as a dissenting sect, tolerated by the condescension of the authorities. Chief Justice Monk, Attorney-General Sewell, and the Anglican Bishop Mountain shared the same ideas, and they had no difficulty in converting to their opinions the governor, James Craig, whose administration has been called a "reign of terror". Bishop Plessis was given to understand that he must recognize the royal authority in religious matters, renounce his jurisdiction in parochial maters, and subordinate his administration to state supremacy. The bishop was quite able to hold his own against his opponents. Firm yet gentle, he knew how to maintain his independence, abdicate no right, and renounce no just claim, yet he never wounded English feeling. In the end he was successful. It must be admitted indeed that xxyyyk.htm">Providence sent him unexpected support. The War of 1812 had just broken out between Great Britain and the United states. Bishop Plessis took the same stand as Bishop Briand thirty years before. He did all in his power to maintain the loyalty of Catholics and to promote the defence of Canada. When the American invasion had been repelled, the governor, Sir George Prévost, felt that a renewal of the early conflict would be a poor return on the part of the Government. He conceded to the Bishop and his successors the official recognition of the title of Catholic Bishop of Quebec (1813), and granted them a yearly stipend of $5000. For some years (1814-20) the Catholic Church enjoyed a certain degree of favour. During this time the Vicariate Apostolic of Nova Scotia was erected (1817), and the Bishop of Quebec given the title of Archbishop, with auxiliary bishops (1819). Upper Canada was placed under Bishop Alexander MacDonnell (q.v.) and Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick under Bishop McEachern (q.v.) Bishops were later placed over the North-West and the district of Montreal (1820).
The favour granted to the Catholic Church could not fail to arouse some dissatisfaction. A group of fanatics resolved to abrogate the Constitution of 1791, which had separated Upper from lower Canada, and to bring about the union of the two provinces, the one Catholic, the other Protestant, on the most unjust terms, with a view to destroying the influence of the Catholic and French population. The plot found a powerful agent in England in a certain Ellice, who succeeded in having a bill to this effect brought before the House of Commons (1822). It could have passed almost unnoticed had not one Parker, an enemy of Ellice, put the ministry on its guard. The news of this attempt caused great excitement in Lower Canada. Bishop Plessis and the clergy drew up protests, which were quickly endorsed with 60,000 signatures, and were taken to London by Papineau and Neilson, legislative councillors. Their mission was successful, and the bill was withdrawn.
Meanwhile the Canadian population continued to increase. In 1832 the French Canadians alone numbered 380,000. Primary schools multiplied everywhere, promoted by the Educational Society ( Société d'éducation ) of Quebec and by the law of the parish schools ( Ecoles de fabrique ). Colleges for secondary instruction were founded wherever needed, and several episcopal sees were erected: Kingston (1826), Charlottetown (1829), and Montreal (1836). In all these movements Bishop Panet (1825-32), successor to Bishop Plessis, took a leading part. He died the year of the cholera, which carried off 4000 in five weeks, and was succeeded by Bishop Signay, whose episcopate was marked by several calamities: a second scourge of the cholera (1834); civil war (1837-38); disastrous fires which reduced Quebec to a mass of ruins (1845); and the typhus fever brought by the Irish immigrants, driven from their country by the terrible famine and evictions of 1847.
This period is marked by the solution of a question which had been agitated since the conquest: the recognition by the British Crown of the property of the Sulpicians, which being of considerable value, aroused great cupidity. The bigoted counsellors who surrounded Sir James Craig at the beginning of the nineteenth century urged its confiscation. Sewell made reports and suggested plans; Ryland made vigorous use of his pen and was most active in promoting the cause; he went to London for the same purpose. The British Government did not reply. In his memoir of 1819 M. roux, superior of Saint-Sulpice at Montreal, answered every adverse claim, and Bishop Plessis pleaded the same cause with great force before Lord Bathurst (1821). The attacks were renewed in 1829, and the seminary was on the point of giving up its rights in exchange for an annual income. Rome, when appealed to, refused to ratify any such transaction, and the matter dragged on. Finally Queen victoria, by an ordinance of the Privy Council, declared the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice the lawful owner of its holdings, an act of justice which permitted the Sulpicians to continue their beneficent work. Montreal owed to them its prosperity, the settlement of the surrounding districts, its flourishing college and great church of Notre-Dame, the work of M. Roux (1825-30). It owed to them also its schools. A short time previous M. Quiblier, successor of M. Roux, had brought to Canada the Brothers of the Christian Schools. The Grand Séminaire, now so prosperous, was soon to open (1840).
In 1840 the union of Upper and Lower Canada, so long fought off by the latter as an act of gross injustice, was accomplished. The avowed aim of the Protestants of Ontario was to make Quebec subject to Ontario, the French element to the English, the Catholic to the Protestant. Contrary to all expectation, this act turned out favourable to the liberty and progress of Catholicism. Far from abrogating the provisions of the constitution of 1791 concerning the Catholic religion, it extended them, at the same time providing for their enforcement. For in 1840, after the guarantees of liberty given the Catholic Church by the British Government, the spiritual supremacy of the king in religious affairs could not be maintained as defined in the Royal Instructions of 1791. Let us add that Lord Elgin, a broad-minded governor, appeared on the scene, and recognized that it was time to put an end to a system of government based on partiality and the denial of justice.
To this governor Canada is indebted for her religious liberty, plainly granted in an act of 1851 issued by the King of Great Britain and published in the Canadian press, 1 June 1852. Here it is formally stated that the "free exercise and enjoyment of profession and religious worship, without distinction or preference, are permitted by the constitution and laws of this province of Canada to all the subjects of His Majesty in the said province."
The fifteen years that followed the Act of Union were therefore very productive for Canadian Catholicism. Archbishop Signay of Quebec, his successor, Archbishop Turgeon (1850), and in an especial manner Bishop Ignace Bourget , the successor Bishop Lartigue in the See of Montreal, gave a great impetus to the religious life of Canada. During their episcopates five religious communities of men and sixteen of women either arose on Canadian soil or came thither from France. The following may be mentioned: Oblate Fathers of Mary Immaculate, who were to repeat among the savages of the "Far West" the missionary successes of the Society of Jesus during the seventeenth century; The Jesuit Fathers (1842), whom Canada had been calling in vain for over fifty years; the Clerics of St. Viator, and the Fathers of the Holy Cross. In this period were founded at Montreal : the Sisters of xxyyyk.htm">Providence (1843), the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (1843), the sisters of Mercy (1848), the sisters of St. Anne (1850); at Quebec, the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (1850). The number of sees was increased by the foundation of Toronto (1841), Halifax (1842), raised to an archdiocese in 1852, St. John, New Brunswick (1842), Arichat, Nova Scotia (1844), transferred to Antigonish in 1886, Bytown or Ottawa (1847), St. John's, Newfoundland (1847). The First Council of Quebec, since 1844 a Metropolitan See, with Montreal, Kingston, and Toronto for suffragans, was held in 1851. The Sees of Three Rivers and St. Hyacinthe wee erected in 1851. This decade was also marked by: (1) the celebrated "missions" of Monsignor de Forbin-Janson, former Bishop of Nancy, and the institution of parochial retreats ; (2) the adoption of a school system that assured separate primary and normal schools for Catholics and Protestants (1841); (3) a genuine crusade for the promotion of temperance (1843) and the founding of societies for the suppression of alcoholism ; (4) the establishment of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and the Work of the Holy Childhood; (5) colonization societies to provide for the surplus of the Canadian population (1848).
The Catholic population now needed more primary schools ; the need was met chiefly by Meilleur, the superintendent of education. On assuming office he found a school attendance of only 3000, which, when he retired in 1855, thirteen years later, had increased to 127,000. New centres of secondary education has been opened: the college of Joliette (1846), Saint-Laurent (1847), Rigaud (1850), Sainte-Marie de Monnoir (1853), and Lévis (1853). The following year (1854) the inauguration of a Catholic university, the Laval University at Quebec, crowned all the generous efforts already made for the cause of education. This was also due to the Canadian clergy. The First council of Quebec had manifested the need and desire for such an institution; less than ten years later all the difficulties had been surmounted, and the Seminary of Quebec, which had undertaken this difficult task, could exhibit fresh proof of its devotion to Church and country. Laval University had already proved its worth and accomplished much good when it was canonically established by a Bull of Pius IX (1876).
While the Church was thus progressing in Eastern Canada
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