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CONSTANTIN, JUSTINIEN (baptized Louis-Alexandre), Recollet, missionary; b. 13 Nov. 1716 at Quebec, son of Denis Constantin, a bourgeois, and Louise Bacon; d. 28 March 1760 at Saint-Joseph de la Nouvelle-Beauce (Saint-Joseph de Beauce, Que.).

Louis-Alexandre Constantin studied at the Jesuit college and on 4 Aug. 1734 he was admitted into the noviciate of the Recollets of Quebec under the name of Brother Justinien. He completed his training in 1739 but before he could be ordained had to wait two years for the arrival of a bishop in Quebec. Bishop Pontbriand [Dubreil] conferred the minor orders and the diaconate upon him on 20 and 22 Sept. 1741 and the priesthood the following day.

The first 12 years of his ministry were spent at the convent in Quebec; on occasion he ministered to the parishes of Charlesbourg and Saint-Joseph (Lévis). Towards the end of 1751 or at the beginning of 1752 he went to the convent in Montreal. In 1753 he returned to Quebec and succeeded Father Bonaventure Cartier as missionary to the parishes of Saint-Joseph (Saint-Joseph-de-Beauce) and Sainte-Marie de la Nouvelle-Beauce. His ministry in this region lasted about six years. In 1753 he built a presbytery at Sainte-Marie; this saved him from having to live in the homes of parishioners, where missionaries serving parishes without a presbytery usually lodged. In addition he drew up a few contracts for marriages and land grants, there being no notary in this region.

But Father Justinien’s most remarkable work was his active participation in the steps taken to obtain a suitable road between the Nouvelle-Beauce region and the St Lawrence River. This route, “following the trail which [had already been] opened by the settlers,” was laid out in 1758 by Ignace-François-Pierre Martin* de Lino, the last chief road commissioner (grand voyer) of New France. It enabled the habitants of this region to escape from their isolation and to get to Quebec more easily. The road, “twenty-four feet wide, with a ditch three feet in width on each side,” was about 30 miles long and began at the seigneury of Saint-Étienne, ending at the parish of Saint-Henri in the seigneury of Lauson. The inhabitants of Beauce wished to perpetuate the memory of the Recollet by naming this road the Route Justinienne. Today it is a section of the Route du Président-Kennedy.

Justinien Constantin, the last missionary to be stationed at Nouvelle-Beauce under the old régime, died at Saint-Joseph of “a violent illness that lasted two months” on 28 March 1760; he was buried in the parish church on 2 April.

Michel Paquin

Archives des Franciscains (Montréal), Dossier Justinien Constantin. P-G. Roy, Inv. coll. pièces jud. et not., I, 227, 228, 230; Inv. procès-verbaux des grands voyers, I, 174; IV, 221. Honorius Provost, Sainte-Marie de la Nouvelle-Beauce; histoire religieuse (Québec, 1967), 16–20; Sainte-Marie de la Nouvelle-Beauce; histoire civile (Québec, 1970), 362–64. Ivanhoë Caron, “Historique de la voirie dans la province de Québec,” BRH, XXXIX (1933), 214.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Michel Paquin, “CONSTANTIN, JUSTINIEN,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed April 20, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/constantin_justinien_3E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/constantin_justinien_3E.html
Author of Article: Michel Paquin
Title of Article: CONSTANTIN, JUSTINIEN
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1974
Year of revision: 1974
Access Date: April 20, 2014