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Pierre de Lauzon

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A noted missionary of New France in the eighteenth century, born at Poitiers, 26 September, 1687; died at Quebec, 5 September, 1742. Though sometimes mentioned as Jean, in his official acts he invariably signed Pierre. He joined the Jesuits at Limoges, 24 November, 1703, and after ordination was sent to Canada in 1716. From 1716 to 1718 he was Father Daniel Richer's assistant at Lorette, where he studied the Huron-Iroquois language. He did missionary duty at Sault St. Louis (Caughnawaga) from 1718 to 1731, with the exception of the scholastic year 1721-22, when he replaced Father François Le Brun as instructor in the royal school of hydrography in the college at Quebec, as the exhausting labours of the mission had undermined his health. His Iroquois Indians clamoured for his return, and on 12 May, 1722, they formally petitioned Governor Vaudreuil and the Intendant Bégon to that effect. These in turn, persuaded that it was he alone who, on the occasion of a change in the village site, had prevented two-thirds of the Indians from moving away and settling within easy reach of the English, urged the superior to send him back, and in 1722 he returned to Sault St. Louis. It was none too soon, for the spirit of revolt was spreading among the Caughnawaga Iroquois, in consequence of a menace of again quartering upon them a French garrison, an ever prolific cause of debauchery and disorder. He made his solemn profession of the four vows at Sault St. Louis on 2 February, 1721.

In 1723 he was named superior of the Caughnawaga mission, and the ability he displayed in governing during the nine succeeding years determined the general, Francis Retz, to place him in 1732 over the whole Canada mission. This, according to established custom in Canada entailed the duties of rector of the college at Quebec. During his term of office, which lasted seven years, he crossed over to France (1733) in quest of recruits. Among those whom he brought back with him was the saintly Father Jean-Pierre Aulneau, massacred in 1736 at the Lake of the Woods. Mgr Dosquet of Quebec, returned at the same time, bringing with him three Sulpicians. The party embarked 29 May and reached Quebec 16 August, after a distressing voyage of eighty days. Terrific winds and pestilential disease marked the long journey. De Lauzon, besides ministering to the sick, as did the other priests on board, was appointed boatswain's mate, for the ecclesiastics did not shirk their share of the work. In September, 1739, he resumed his missionary labours with the Caughnawaga Iroquois, but owing to failing strength he was recalled to Quebec in 1741, where, after a short illness of two and a half days, he died in the following year.

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