DEPÉRET, ÉLIE, Sulpician, missionary, parish priest; b. 28 July 1691 in Limoges, France, son of Jean Depéret, a merchant, and Valère Limousin; d. 17 April 1757 at Sainte-Anne-du-Bout-de-l’Île (Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Que.).
Élie Depéret joined the Society of Saint-Sulpice on 27 May 1712. When he arrived in Montreal on 22 Aug. 1714 he was not yet a priest, and Bishop Saint-Vallier [La Croix*] ordained him on 21 Sept. 1715. Only with difficulty can this Sulpician be followed in the exercise of his ministry, among either the French or the Indians, because of his many and various moves. François Vachon* de Belmont, his superior, first sent him to assist René-Charles de Breslay*, parish priest of the new parish of Sainte-Anne-du-Bout-de-l’Île. De Breslay also directed the Indian mission at Île aux Tourtres which he had founded in 1704 for the Nipissings from Baie d’Urfé and for passing Algonkins. This mission was shut down in 1721, shortly after de Breslay’s departure, and the Indians of Île aux Tourtres were joined with the Iroquois of the mission at Lac-des-Deux-Montagnes (Oka, Que.); Depéret became the parish priest at Sainte-Anne-du-Bout-de-file.
In 1727 he left this parish to serve in the mission at Oka among the Nipissings and Algonkins, his former neophytes of Île aux Tourtres, whose languages he knew fluently. He took advantage of this ministry to learn Iroquois and succeeded in acquiring it as easily as he had the other languages. His numerous manuscripts are evidence: a dictionary and sermons in Iroquois, a grammar, a catechism, some canticles, and instructions in Algonkin.
Depéret left this mission in 1734 to devote himself to the parochial ministry. His knowledge of Indian languages – according to tradition he was master of all of them – enabled him, however, to return on two occasions among the Indians. In 1746 he went as chaplain with the Indians who took part in the expedition led by François-Pierre de Rigaud* de Vaudreuil against the English colonies. In addition, from 1753 to 1754, during the voyage to France of François Picquet*, founder of the mission to the Iroquois at La Présentation (Ogdensburg, N.Y.), Depéret ran this mission.
During his lifetime Depéret was parish priest of different parishes in the Montreal region: Longue-Pointe (1735–36, 1743–44), Île-Dupas (1737–39), Sainte-Anne-du-Bout-de-l’Île (1721–27, 1734–35, 1740–42, 1747–53, 1755–57). It was at Sainte-Anne-du-Bout-de-l’Île that he died on 17 April 1757.
ASSM, Section de la seigneurie du Lac-des-Deux-Montagnes; Section des biographies; Section des manuscrits indiens: Depéret, œuvres en langue algonquine, 2v. Bibliothèque municipale de Limoges (France), État civil, Limoges, 28 juill. 1691. Allaire, Dictionnaire. Gauthier, Sulpitiana; Le diocèse de Montréal à la fin du XIXe siècle (Montréal, 1900). André Chagny, Un défenseur de la « Nouvelle France » . . . (Montreal, 1913), 78, 197. Olivier Maurault, Marges d’histoire (3v., Montréal, 1929–30), III. J.-A. Cuoq, “Anotc kekon,” RSCT, 1st ser., XI (1893), sect.i, 171–72. Olivier Maurault, “Quand Saint-Sulpice allait en guerre,” Cahiers des Dix, V (1940), 11–30.