DES LANDES, JOSEPH, Jesuit, professor of hydrography; b. 10 Nov. 1691 in India; d. 25 Jan. 1742 in Paris, France.
Nothing is known of Joseph Des Landes’s early life until he entered the noviciate of the Jesuits of the province of France in Paris on 10 Sept. 1710. He studied theology in Paris in the period 1722–26, and in 1727 he landed at Quebec. His special aptitude for mathematics enabled him to take responsibility for the teaching of mathematics and hydrography at the Jesuit college in Quebec until 1732. The courses included arithmetic, geometry, physics, as well as the use of the rule and dividers. Practical exercises had an important place in the teaching: pupils learned the use of essential astronomical instruments, map-reading, and map-making so that they would be able “to survey newly discovered regions.” The aim of this instruction was above all to prepare pilots and surveyors, but the latter could also obtain their certificate of proficiency by apprenticeship to a recognized surveyor, without having to follow the courses. The apprentice pilots received theoretical courses during the winter; when fine weather returned they embarked under the orders of the second in command of the port for practical training in the pilot’s profession. After 1717, the hydrography teacher issued certificates to his pupils attesting to their qualifications and authorizing them to call themselves pilots.
From about 1661 instruction had been given in New France by the king’s hydrographer [see Boutet* de Saint-Martin; Franquelin*; Louis Jolliet*; Deshayes*]; in 1708, however, the teaching of hydrography was entrusted definitively to the Jesuits, who assumed it until the end of the French régime [see Silvy*; Guignas; Lauzon; Mesaiger; Bonnecamps*].
From 1732 to 1735 Des Landes probably “looked after the boarders” at the college and again taught hydrography during the academic year 1735–36. Nothing is known of his activities from then till the beginning of 1741, when his provincial, Father Jean Lavaud, chose him to succeed Father Joseph-François Lafitau as procurator in Paris of the Jesuit missions in Canada. He sailed for France in the autumn of 1741 and on 25 Jan. 1742, “about one or two months after his arrival in Paris,” he died of “an inflammation of the lungs,” despite “all the care possible” that he received from Claude-Michel Sarrazin [see Michel Sarrazin*]. Des Landes was succeeded as procurator by Charlevoix, who wrongly believed that this post “would only be a slight and necessary distraction” for him from his literary work.
AN, Col., B, 73, f.69. ASJCF, Fonds Rochemonteix, 4018, f.184. [Melançon], Liste des missionnaires jésuites. P.-G. Roy, Inv. jug. et délib., 1717–1760, II, 26. L.-P. Audet, Histoire de l’enseignement au Québec, 1608–1971 (2v., Montréal, 1971). Amédée Gosselin, L’instruction au Canada. Léon Pouliot, Charlevoix (1682–1761) (Classiques canadiens, 15, Montréal, Paris, 1959), 9. Rochemonteix, Les Jésuites et la N.-F. au XVIIe siècle, I, 213–15. L.-P. Audet, “Hydrographes du roi et cours d’hydrographie au collège de Québec, 1671–1759,” Cahiers des Dix, XXXV (1970), 13–37. J.-E. Roy, “La cartographie et l’arpentage sous le régime français,” BRH, I (1895), 49–56. Henri Têtu, “Le chapitre de la cathédrale de Québec et ses délégués en France,” BRH, XVI (1910), 231, 295, 329.