HUDON, HYACINTHE, Roman Catholic priest and vicar general; b. 28 Nov. 1792 in Rivière-Ouelle, Lower Canada, son of Jérémie Hudon and Marie Bergereau; d. 12 Aug. 1847 in Montreal.
Having been a brilliant student in classical and theological studies at the Petit Séminaire and then the Grand Séminaire de Québec, Hyacinthe Hudon was ordained priest by the bishop of Quebec, Joseph-Octave Plessis*, at Nicolet on 9 March 1817. Within a few days he was named assistant priest of Saint-Denis parish, at Saint-Denis on the Richelieu. He was assigned to the mission church in the parish of Saint-Thomas (at Montmagny) in August, and then became assistant priest at the cathedral of Notre-Dame at Quebec in October. On 19 Oct. 1818 he was appointed to the chapel in the faubourg Saint-Roch, where he was also to ensure that the Collège de Saint-Roch and the schools founded by Plessis operated smoothly.
In 1822 Hudon replaced Rémi Gaulin* at the Arichat mission in Nova Scotia. He returned to Lower Canada four years later, and Bishop Bernard-Claude Panet* put him in charge of the parish of Sainte-Madeleine at Rigaud and of the mission in the seigneury of Petite-Nation. On 16 Feb. 1832 he was made curé of Sainte-Famille at Boucherville. During his eight years there, he saw to the completion and decoration of the church, which had been built in 1801. In this connection, François-Maximilien Bibaud* observed that Hudon “dreamed of attracting Italian artists to Canada and improving [the] churches, from which he wanted to remove many bad pictures that were not true adornments.”
In 1835 Hudon strongly supported the creation of an episcopal see in Montreal. In October he sent the archbishop of Quebec, Joseph Signay, a petition to Pope Gregory XVI from the Montreal clergy in favour of a separate bishopric. When faced with Signay’s refusal to forward it to Rome before obtaining London’s assent, he undertook, with the help of the superior of the Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice in Montreal, Joseph-Vincent Quiblier*, to have the priests in the district sign a copy, which was dispatched to the authorities in Rome on 21 November. Rome replied favourably in 1836 and the district was made a diocese. Jean-Jacques Lartigue, the archbishop of Quebec’s auxiliary in Montreal, became its first bishop. He took possession of his see on 8 September of that year. In November he proposed the names of Hudon, Ignace Bourget*, and François-Xavier Demers to the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda for the office of coadjutor; Bourget was then appointed.
At the time of the 1837 rebellion in Lower Canada, Hudon was censured by the Patriotes, who would not forgive his appeals for moderation and who, wrongly, accused him of being the enemy of his own parishioners and of informing on them. They went so far as to sentence him to death. Hudon had, however, not been afraid to make common cause with his fellow priests in the Richelieu valley, who were disturbed by Lartigue’s pastoral letter of 24 Oct. 1837 condemning the actions of the Patriote leaders. They had earnestly begged the bishop to intervene with the British authorities on behalf of the Canadians. In November 1837 Hudon had even been entrusted by Lartigue with obtaining clerical support for a petition asking the British authorities to take the needs of the colony into consideration.
In September 1840 the new bishop of Montreal, Bourget, summoned Hudon to his side and on 21 Jan. 1841 named him a canon of the chapter of Notre-Dame church. On 29 April Hudon became vicar general, and from 3 May till 23 September he and his colleague Antoine Manseau* managed the diocese while the bishop was in Europe.
Hudon, who was concerned about the school question in Lower Canada, protested energetically to the governor, Lord Sydenham [Thomson], against the education bill presented in the Legislative Assembly in July 1841. In May 1842 he was named to the Montreal board of examiners for licensing teachers. Hudon was delegated by Bourget to go to Kingston, Upper Canada, in October 1843 to explain to the assembly the views and desires of the Catholic bishops concerning the Jesuit estates and the founding of a Catholic university at Quebec.
In December 1843 Bourget sent Hudon to Rome to facilitate the appointment of Jean-Charles Prince* as his coadjutor and to work for the creation of an ecclesiastical province, in accordance with the wish expressed by eight bishops in their petition to the pope in June. On 31 Oct. 1844 Hudon returned to Montreal with a papal brief establishing the first ecclesiastical province in Canada and with the metropolitan’s pall, which he formally handed over to Signay on 24 November.
In 1843 Hyacinthe Hudon was the first Canadian to become an honorary canon of Chartres in France. In April 1844 he was elected dean of the chapter of Montreal. He died, a victim of his devotion, on 12 Aug. 1847 while organizing help for Irish immigrants stricken with typhus. Canon Alexis-Frédéric Truteau* was chosen to succeed him as vicar general.
ACAM, 901.117. ANQ-M, CE1-51, 13 août 1847. ANQ-Q, CE3-1, 28 nov. 1792. Arch. de la Compagnie de Jésus, prov. du Canada français (Saint-Jérôme, Qué.), A–3–3. [Ignace Bourget], Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire du chapitre de la cathédrale de S. Jacques de Montréal (Montréal, 1882). Allaire, Dictionnaire. F.-M. Bibaud, Dict. hist.; Le panthéon canadien (A. et V. Bibaud; 1891). Caron, “Inv. de la corr. de Mgr Panet,” ANQ Rapport, 1933–34: 256, 293, 310, 336; 1935–36: 229; “Inv. de la corr. de Mgr Plessis,” 1932–33: 100, 121–22, 140, 190; “Inv. de la corr. de Mgr Signay,” 1936–37: 303, 317. Desrosiers, “Inv. de la corr. de Mgr Bourget,” ANQ Rapport, 1946–47: 147–48, 152, 164; 1948–49: 429, 444, 456, 472; “Inv. de la corr. de Mgr Lartigue,” 1941–42: 492; 1943–44: 306–7, 324–25. [L.-A. Huguet-Latour], Annuaire de Ville-Marie, origine, utilité et progrès des institutions catholiques de Montréal . . . (2v., Montréal, 1863–82). Chaussé, Jean-Jacques Lartigue. Lemieux, L’établissement de la première prov. eccl.