CHANDONNET (Chandonnais), THOMAS-AIMÉ, priest, educator, and writer; b. 26 Dec. 1834 at Saint-Pierre-les-Becquets (Les Becquets), Lower Canada, fifteenth child of Joseph Chandonnais, a farmer, and Angèle Bibeau; d. 5 June 1881 in Montreal, Que.
In 1848 Thomas-Aimé Chandonnet entered the Séminaire de Québec where he took his first baccalaureate examination in 1853. He then taught there while studying theology and was ordained priest on 23 Feb. 1861. His courses in philosophy from 1859 to 1865 became progressively firmer in structure but developed little in content; his pupils no doubt derived a philosophical and moral justification of the supremacy of heaven over earth, faith over reason, the spiritual over the temporal, the church over the state, and the “eternal kingdom” over the “earthly kingdom.” Chandonnet also made use of these themes in a speech on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day (24 June) in 1865.
As a graduate of the Séminaire de Québec, Chandonnet took part in the Gaumist controversy [see Charles-François Baillargeon*] over the use of pagan or Christian authors for teaching purposes; he was chiefly opposed to the intransigence displayed by those defending censorship on the basis of Christian principles. While in Rome from August 1865 to September 1867 to study for the doctorates he received in theology, canon law, and philosophy, Abbé Chandonnet continued to collaborate with Bishop Baillargeon, the agent and procurator of the Canadian bishops in Rome, in attempts to settle the Gaumist controversy.
Appointed principal of the École Normale Laval in Quebec City in 1867, the learned abbé delivered a number of lectures there between 10 Dec. 1867 and 30 March 1868 in which he again tackled the “Thomist” question of the connections between faith and reason. In a second series he defended the supremacy of the church and the thesis of the “free state in the free church,” and took a stand against Charles Forbes, Comte de Montalembert. By 1868 he was preoccupied with founding a Catholic journal and also took up again the Gaumist quarrel through his opposition to George Saint-Aimé [Alexis Pelletier*], professor at the Collège de Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière and a leading Gaumist. But in 1871, shortly after the death of Bishop Baillargeon, Chandonnet left his position at Quebec to serve as a priest in New England. There he concerned himself with the French Canadian emigrants who had made their homes at Worcester and New Bedford, Mass. He returned to Canada in 1874 and spent the next two years at the Séminaire de Sainte-Thérèse. In Montreal from 1877, he founded that year and directed until 1881 La Revue de Montréal, a scholarly publication with a religious tone which promoted moderate ultramontane studies while at the same time supporting the diocese of Quebec in a new ecclesiastical wrangle over the establishment of a branch of the Université Laval in Montreal [see Joseph Desautels].
After a sojourn in Ottawa, Thomas-Aimé Chandonnet died on 5 June 1881 in Montreal, at the age of 46. For reasons which are not indicated in archival records he was buried in the Côte-des-Neiges Cemetery “in unconsecrated ground and without religious rites.”
[Thomas-Aimé Chandonnet was the author of a number of works including Discours prononcés à Notre-Dame de Québec au triduum de la Société St-Vincent-de-Paul les 21, 22 et 23 décembre 1863 (Québec, 1864); La Saint-Jean-Baptiste à Québec en 1865 (Québec, 1865); Notre-Dame-des-Canadiens et les Canadiens aux États-Unis (Montréal, 1872); L’Abbé Joseph Aubry (Montréal, 1875); L’Université Laval à Montréal (Montréal, 1878). He also contributed articles to the Rev. de Montréal in the years 1877 to 1881, in some instances under the pseudonym of T.-A. de Saint-Claude. The journal is held by the library of the Dominican monastery of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, in Montreal. y.l.]
AP, Notre-Dame de Montréal, Reg. des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures, 6 juin 1881. ASQ, Fonds Viger-Verreau, Cartons 23, nos.344, 348; 24, no.181; 26, no.360; Sér. O, 0136-0138; mss, 34, I, 30 août, 5 oct. 1853, 23 févr. 1861; mss-m, 183; 220; 222; 230; 586; 775; 1112; Univ., Carton 84, no.88. Alexis Pelletier wrote an article and two books under pseudonyms: L. S. J., “Nouveaux documents sur la question de l’enseignement des classiques chrétiens et païens au Canada, lettre à M. Bonnetti,” Annales de philosophie chrétienne (Paris), 5e sér., 19 (1869): 7–32; George Saint-Aimé, Résponses aux dernières attaques dirigées par M. l’abbé Chandonnet contre les partisans de la méthode chrétienne . . . (Québec, 1868); and La question des classiques en présence des rectifications et des critiques de M. l’abbé Chandonnet par un “Chrétien” (Québec, 1865). L’Abeille (Québec), 10 juin 1860. Le Courrier de Saint-Hyacinthe, 6 août 1868. Le Courrier du Canada, 16, 18, 19, 23, 25, 28, 30 nov., 2, 5, 7, 14, 16, 19 déc. 1864; 22 févr. 1869. L’Écho du cabinet de lecture paroissial (Montréal), 1er, 15 août, 1er sept. 1865. L’Événement (Québec), déc. 1867–avril 1868, 28 juill., 1er, 4 août 1868. L’Opinion publique, 16 juin 1881. Le Journal de Québec, 6, 13 juin, 4 juill. 1865. L.-A. Fortier, L’université Laval affiliée au Collège royal des chirurgiens de Londres (Ang.) contre l’école de Médecine et de Chirurgie de Montréal affiliée à l’université du collège Victoria (Cobourg, Ontario), affiliée au Collège royal des chirurgiens de Londres et l’abbé T. A. Chandonnet (Montréal, 1879). M.-A. Lavigne, L’abbé T.-A. Chandonnet, docteur en philosophie, théologie et droit canon (Montréal, 1950). Thomas Charland, “Un gaumiste canadien; l’abbé Alexis Pelletier,” RHAF, 1 (1947–48): 195–236. É.-Z. Massicotte, “Quelques librairies montréalaises d’autrefois,” BRH, 50 (1944): 171. Pierre Trudel, “La protection des Anglo-Québécois et la presse conservatrice,” Rev. de l’univ. d’Ottawa, 44 (1974): 137–57.