Do you know Brother André and Curé Labelle?  These two members of the Church each had an impact on Quebec in two different areas.

Brother André, on the city

Brother  André, born Alfred Bessette in 1845, grew up with sickness and poverty. Like so many other Quebeckers, he had to move to New England to work in the textile factories.

When he returned to Montreal, he joined the Brothers of Saint Croix and in 1904, Brother André founded a small chapel dedicated to Saint Joseph. Catholics from all over North America came to pray at this chapel because there were rumours that Brother André could perform miracles. This chapel eventually grew to become Saint Joseph’s Oratory.

Curé Antoine Labelle, on the country

If you live in the Laurentians, you have at one time or another heard the name Antoine Labelle. Curé Labelle, who was born in 1833 and died in 189, embodied Quebec’s colonization movement at the end of the 19th century. For Labelle, the solution to the exodus of French Canadians to the United States was to colonize areas to the north of the city. He tried to attract settlers to the area of Saint Jerome, a parish with a population of several thousand who worked mainly in the forestry industry.

An able politician, he was named Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Colonization in 1888. He was quick to petition for a railroad to help connect the area and help with transportation in this region. Because of his strong ties to politics, the train line known as the  “Petit Train du Nord” was established in Saint Jerome in 1876. It ran all the way to Labelle, which in1893 was named after this man who became known as the  “Roi du Nord”

Because of their accomplishments, these two men are examples of the influence of members of the Church on Quebec society in 1905.

Author:   Service national du Récit de l’univers social

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