POULET, GEORGES-FRANÇOIS, known as M. Dupont, priest, Benedictine from Saint-Maur, Jansenist, hermit at Trois-Pistoles; known in Canada from 1714 to 1718.
During a journey to Holland, this Benedictine monk had struck up a friendship with the famous Father Pasquier Quesnel and had embraced the Jansenist doctrine. But on 8 Sept. 1713 the bull Unigenitus condemned 101 propositions by Father Quesnel and constrained Catholics to reject his theories. Believing himself persecuted and wishing to take cover “from the earnest searches that were being conducted for his person,” Dom Poulet sailed for New France in 1714.
At Quebec, where he passed himself off as a layman, he took the name of M. Dupont. He was thought to be a rich man who was making inquiries of all kinds and who wanted to found a monastery. “One noticed a certain lack of ease about him, which made one suspect him of being a defrocked monk; he denied this as best he could [. . .],” wrote Mother Juchereau de Saint-Ignace. But he found himself too much in the public eye, and decided to return to seclusion. Leclair, the parish priest of Cap-Saint-Ignace, offered him hospitality, and had a cabin built for him “a quarter of a league away in the wood, beside a river.” Dom Poulet remained there only a few months, for it was very uncomfortable; he even had to go and finish the winter at the presbytery. He returned to the woods in the spring, but his cabin burned down and he did not succeed in rebuilding it immediately. It was then that in order to be “much quieter” he went farther away from Quebec, and took refuge with the seigneur Nicolas Rioux of Trois-Pistoles, who welcomed him eagerly and gave him a piece of land along the Trois-Pistoles River. Dupont again built himself a hut and lived there for two years, “alone and unknown, happy and undisturbed.”
In 1717 Dom Poulet returned to Quebec, where he had serious difficulties with Bishop Saint-Vallier [La Croix], who vainly sought to make him sign the anti-jansenist formulary. In face of the monk’s obstinacy, the bishop decided to expel him from New France, and asked for the collaboration of Rigaud de Vaudreuil. The latter, who had received a letter from Dom Poulet’s superior recommending Poulet to him “as one of his religious who was more weak-minded than of evil intent,” refused to give assistance to Bishop Saint-Vallier, who was to lodge a complaint about this in France and to obtain a decree from the council of Marine.
Meanwhile the Benedictine was stricken by purpura and hospitalized at the Hôtel-Dieu. The bishop warned Thomas Thiboult, parish priest of Quebec, to refuse him absolution if he persisted in his views; he also had him exhorted by Archdeacon La Colombière. But Dom Poulet refused to retract anything, and only his recovery prevented a greater scandal. He could not however remain any longer in New France, for Bishop Saint-Vallier had issued a severe ordinance against him; he therefore decided in 1718 to return to France of his own accord.
In Europe he complained bitterly of the way he had been treated in New France, and the Gazette de Hollande publicized his difficulties. Dom Poulet himself drafted a “Récit simple de ce qu’un religieux bénédictin a souffert au Canada au sujet de la bulle Unigenitus,” in which he made an indictment against the bishop and the Jesuits and showed himself to be more and more obdurate. Nothing is known of him after this adventure. But the misfortunes of this Benedictine monk clearly reveal how New France was protected against Jansenism, and indicate how little cause there is for surprise that this doctrine was not able to take root there.
“Le bénédictin dom Georges-François Poulet dans la Nouvelle-France,” APQ Rapport, 1922–23, 274–89. Caron, “Inventaire de documents,” APQ Rapport, 1941–42. Juchereau, Annales (Jamet), 404–8. Mandements des évêques de Québec (Têtu et Gagnon), I, 496–98. Mathias D’Amours, Les Trois-Pistoles (2v., Trois-Pistoles, 1946). H.-R. Casgrain, “L’hermite des Trois-Pistoles,” BRH, V (1899), 260–65.