COLLET, CHARLES-ANGE, Roman Catholic priest and canon; b. 1 Oct. 1721 at Fort Saint-Joseph (Niles, Mich.), son of Claude Collet, a soldier in the colonial regular troops, and Marguerite Fauché; d. some time after July 1801.
In 1726 or 1727 Claude Collet came to live in Montreal (Que.), and his son, Charles-Ange, attended one of the very few classical schools established in the town at that time. In 1743 Charles-Ange went to continue his studies at the Séminaire de Québec, where he was the recipient of an allowance accorded to poor pupils. The following year Collet presumably began studying theology, and on 8 December he received the tonsure and minor orders. The bishop of Quebec, Henri-Marie Dubreil* de Pontbriand, ordained him to the priesthood on 23 Sept. 1747, and some months later Collet became priest in charge of the parish of Saint-Pierre at Sorel; he remained there at least until September 1750.
However, by 1748 at the latest, Collet, for unknown reasons, had expressed the desire to return to work at the seminary in Quebec. Bishop Pontbriand and the Séminaire des Missions Étrangères in Paris considered his request, and on 12 Aug. 1751 he was admitted as a member of the community of the Séminaire de Québec. In Collet’s case the seminary disregarded one of its rules and gave him the privilege of retaining the honoraria for the masses he offered, in order to help his poor relatives. From the time he joined the seminary until he left for France, Collet acted as curate in the parish of Notre-Dame, at the same time serving the church of Notre-Dame-des-Victoires. On a couple of occasions, one of them in 1757, he preached at the clergy retreat. On 2 June 1758 the bishop of Quebec honoured him with a canonry conferring the dignity of penitentiary, as a replacement for Canon Joseph-Thierry Hazeur* who had died the year before. Since he was thereby provided with the small fixed personal income enjoyed by the canons of the chapter of the cathedral of Quebec, Collet gave up his membership in the community of the seminary.
At the beginning of the siege of Quebec by the British in 1759, Collet and his colleague Gilles-Louis Cugnet were put in charge of a temporary hospital. Later Collet went to join Canon Pierre-Joseph Resche* at the Ursuline convent to find shelter in the long hours of bombardment. Collet, Resche, and Cugnet were present at Louis-Joseph de Montcalm*’s funeral, which was held in the Ursuline chapel on 14 September. In the autumn Collet received the approval of the vicar general, Jean-Olivier Briand*, to depart for France in search of a better climate for his health. He left Canada on one of the British vessels assigned to repatriating the French garrison. Briand later called this departure a “desertion.” Wanting to act as chaplain during the crossing, Collet even borrowed a vestment from the chapter and a chalice to say mass at sea.
Charles-Ange Collet never returned to Canada. He retired to Thiais, south of Paris, where he apparently was put in charge of a small parish. The letters he sent to Canada nevertheless give evidence of his regret at having left the country, especially when the French revolution broke out. At that time, like many other non-juring priests, he had to flee to England and no trace of him has been found after July 1801. He was at that time the last surviving member of the chapter of Quebec, which had, indeed, ceased to exist after the conquest.
ASQ, Fonds Viger-Verreau, Sér.O, 019; Lettres, M: 117; P: 120–21; R: 16; S: 6, 6bis, 90, 107; mss, 12: f.18; Polygraphie, VII: 21, 27: XVIII: 11–15; Séminaire, 7, no. 72a; 11, no. 25. [Catherine Burke, dite de Saint-Thomas], Les ursulines de Québec, depuis leur établissement jusqu’à nos jours (4v., Québec 1863–66), 2: 323. A.-E. Gosselin, L’Église du Canada après la Conquête, 1:153; “Le chanoine Charles-Ange Collet,” BRH, 30 (1924): 389–96.