CHABOILLEZ, AUGUSTIN, Roman Catholic priest and author; b. 1 Dec. 1773 in Montreal, the youngest of the six children of Louis-Joseph Chaboillez, a merchant-voyageur, and Angélique Baby-Chenneville; d. 28 Aug. 1834 in Longueuil, Lower Canada.
Augustin Chaboillez studied at the Collège Saint-Raphaël in Montreal from 1782 to 1788, and then taught in that institution until he was ordained on 4 Dec. 1796. The following year, on 8 September, Bishop Pierre Denaut* of Quebec chose him as his secretary and appointed him curate of the parish of Saint-Antoine at Longueuil. Chaboillez served in these capacities until 28 Oct. 1799, when he was replaced by Jean-Jacques Lartigue* and appointed parish priest of Sault-au-Récollet (Montreal North).
On 10 Feb. 1806 the new bishop of Quebec, Joseph-Octave Plessis, put Chaboillez in charge of the parish of Saint-Antoine. Although he was a conscientious administrator, Chaboillez had difficulties with parishioners on several occasions. In March 1810 one of them interrupted his sermon just as he was broaching the delicate question of apportioning the costs for rebuilding the parish church. Chaboillez was unimpressed and had the disturber put in jail. Twenty years later he did not hesitate to take a parishioner to court for refusing to pay the tithe.
On 4 July 1822 Chaboillez and three other priests – François-Joseph Deguise, Thomas Maguire*, and Antoine Bédard – formed an association to further the education and increase the numbers of the clergy. That summer he and parish priest François Pigeon* campaigned against the installation of Bishop Lartigue as auxiliary bishop in Montreal. Chaboillez considered Lartigue’s appointment prejudicial to the Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice and its superior, Jean-Henry-Auguste Roux, since the Sulpicians enjoyed full authority in spiritual affairs in the Montreal district. He further complained that Bishop Plessis had failed to respect the right of those most concerned in the matter to be consulted. On 18 Aug. 1823 Chaboillez published a pamphlet in Montreal entitled Questions sur le gouvernement ecclésiastique du district de Montreal; he had already taken the precaution of submitting it to lawyers Joseph Bédard, Benjamin Beaubien, and Michael O’Sullivan* to be sure it was consonant with civil and canon law.
The pamphlet, which was steeped in gallicanism, raised five questions in connection with the pastoral letter of 20 Feb. 1821 which had officially placed Bishop Lartigue in charge of the District of Montreal. Was Montreal legally and canonically an episcopal district? Was the bishop of Telmesse – Lartigue – the diocesan bishop of that district, or could he be? Was he entitled to claim the honours due the diocesan bishop? Would his powers continue after Bishop Plessis’s death? Were the priests in the District of Montreal obliged to consider him their immediate superior? The pamphlet answered the first four questions in the negative and hedged on the fifth.
The reaction to Chaboillez’s pamphlet was immediate: it provoked lively controversy among both priests and laity. Early in September the coadjutor, Bernard-Claude Panet, wrote to Plessis, “Mr. Chaboillez’s publication is getting unprecedented circulation and is going to do immense harm. An effort is being made to refute it, and a remedy is urgently needed because the harm is considerable.” Thus in October 1823, under the pseudonym P.-H. Bédard, Bishop Lartigue replied with his Lettre à Mr. Chaboillez, curé de Longueuil. At about the same time Observations sur un écrit intitulé “Questions sur le gouvernement ecclésiastique du district de Montreal”, which took Chaboillez to task for his gallicanism and liberalism, was brought out [see Louis-Marie Cadieux*]. For his part parish priest Charles-François Painchaud* wrote an “Examen sommaire de deux pamphlets publiées en 1823 sur le gouvernement ecclésiastique du district de Montreal,” which Plessis thought did not “take the aggressor sufficiently to task, nor perhaps deal tactfully enough with the refuter. “The controversy continued in the newspapers, and then in February 1824 things became even more acrimonious with the publication of the Réponse de messire Chaboillez, curé de Longueuil, à la lettre de P. H. Bédard, for Chaboillez reiterated his adherence to gallican principles and stressed the state’s right to intervene in religious matters. Moreover the governor, Lord Dalhousie [Ramsay*], had read both of his pamphlets “with pleasure and the greatest interest,” and had promptly sent them to Lord Bathurst, the colonial secretary. This controversy came to an end in April 1824, at the express request of Bishop Plessis, after a formula of adherence to the papal brief of 1 Feb. 1820 which had made Lartigue auxiliary bishop in the District of Montreal had been signed by 54 of the 93 parish priests in the district.
Upon Plessis’s death on 4 Dec. 1825, Lartigue feared that London would use the occasion to impose Chaboillez as coadjutor to the new archbishop, Bernard-Claude Panet. In fact, the parish priest of Longueuil was “too much in Rome’s black books for the pope ever to give him bulls.” Lartigue did not know that Dalhousie, upon seeing a portrait of Chaboillez at Quebec, had made a comment (recalled by La Minerve at the time of Chaboillez’s death): “If this man had been in the army and had conducted himself there as he has towards his ecclesiastical superiors, he would long since have been cashiered.” In January 1834 Chaboillez denied having taken part in the intrigues to prevent the issuing of bulls to Pierre-Flavien Turgeon* as the new coadjutor to Joseph Signay*, the archbishop of Quebec, and to have the parish priest of Saint-Laurent, Jean-Baptiste Saint-Germain*, replace him. It is true, however, that along with the priests of the Séminaire du Saint-Sulpice in Montreal, he had refused in December 1833 to sign the petition in favour of Turgeon which the clergy of the diocese of Quebec had sent to the pope.
Augustin Chaboillez died of cholera on 28 Aug. 1834. La Minerve laid stress upon “his talents and his generosity to the poor.” His funeral was held on 29 August, and he was buried in the church at Longueuil.
Augustin Chaboillez is the author of Questions sur le gouvernement ecclésiastique du district de Montréal (Montreal, 1823) and Réponse de messire Chaboillez, curé de Longueuil, à la lettre de P. H. Bédard; suivie de quelques remarques sur les observations imprimées aux Trois-Rivières (Montreal, 1824).
ACAM, 780.034; 901.016. ANQ-M, CE1-12, 29 août 1834; CE1-51, 1er déc. 1773. ASSM, 24, 27. P.-H. Bédard [J.-J. Lartigue], Lettre à Mr. Chaboillez, curé de Longueuil, relativement à ses “Questions sur le gouvernement ecclésiastique du district de Montréal” (Montréal, 1823). [L.-M. Cadieux et J.-O. Plessis], Observations sur un écrit intitulé “Questions sur le gouvernement ecclésiastique du district de Montréal” (Trois-Rivières, Qué., 1823). La Minerve, 1er sept. 1834. Allaire, Dictionnaire, 1: 106. F.-M. Bibaud, Le Panthéon canadien (A. et V. Bibaud; 1891), 51. Caron, “Inv. de la corr. de Mgr Denaut,” ANQ Rapport, 1931–32: 134, 136, 162; “Inv. de la corr. de Mgr Plessis,” 1927–28: 241; 1928–29: 166, 169, 173, 182; 1932–33: 188, 204, 214, 224. Chaussé, Jean-Jacques Lartigue. Alexandre Jodoin et J.-L. Vincent, Histoire de Longueuil et de la famille de Longueuil . . . (Montréal, 1889). Lambert, “Joseph-Octave Plessis.” Lemieux, L’établissement de la première prov. eccl., 161–66, 174–83, 201–3, 217–18. Robert Rumilly, Histoire de Longueuil (Longueuil, Qué., 1974). É.-Z. Massicotte, “Les Chaboillez,” BRH, 28 (1922): 184–88, 207–9, 241–42, 274–76, 311–13, 325–32, 355–59.