DU JAUNAY, PIERRE (Pierre-Luc), priest, Jesuit, and missionary; said to have been b. 11 Aug. 1704 (or 10 Aug. 1705) at Vannes, France; d. 16 July 1780 at Quebec.
Pierre Du Jaunay entered the Jesuit order in Paris on 2 Sept. 1723 and studied theology at La Flèche from 1731 to 1734. Following his ordination he sailed for Canada in 1734, and the next year he accompanied Jean-Baptiste de Saint-Pé* to Michilimackinac (Mackinaw City, Mich.) where he first met the Ottawa Indians, to whom he would minister for nearly 30 years.
The risk involved in missionary work among the western tribes was made tragically clear to Du Jaunay when his friend Jean-Pierre Aulneau* was killed at Lake of the Woods in 1736. Undaunted, he made several requests to be sent to the Mandans and other tribes of the far west. These wishes were not honoured by his superior. Instead his career centred at the trading town of Michilimackinac, and with this settlement as a base he served several other small communities in the Upper Lakes region. His first documented baptism took place on 21 June 1738 at Saint-Joseph (Niles, Mich.), but he was apparently at this mission only briefly before returning to Michilimackinac. He visited it again for short times in 1742, 1745, and 1752. He also journeyed to Sault Ste Marie (Mich.), where he said mass in 1741. Extensive travel was not necessary for him because the voyageurs and traders of the Upper Lakes made frequent trips to Michilimackinac. The parish register there records the presence of people from Saint-Joseph, La Baye (Green Bay, Wis.), Sault Ste Marie, and Chagouamigon (near Ashland, Wis.). Though he attended to the French, his primary love was for the Indians, and he was deeply distressed by the reprehensible conduct of nominally Christian whites, which was a stumbling block to potential Indian converts.
The focus of Du Jaunay’s ministry was the log church of Sainte-Anne, situated within the palisaded town. Behind the church a door in the palisade opened into a court enclosing a bake oven and an ice-house. Close by the rectory was a blacksmith shop where Pascal Soulard and Jean-Baptiste Amiot* worked under contract to the priest. In 1739 Du Jaunay supplied corn and ironwork for Pierre-Joseph Céloron* de Blainville’s expedition against the Chickasaws.
When the Ottawas who lived close to Michilimackinac decided to relocate their village in 1741, Du Jaunay helped persuade them to move only as far as L’Arbre Croche (Cross Village, Mich.). From then on he divided his efforts between the parish ministry at Sainte-Anne’s and the mission of Saint-Ignace at L’Arbre Croche, where he had a farm. In the 1740s he compiled a 396-page manuscript dictionary of the Ottawa language.
In 1743 a new church was constructed at Michilimackinac to accommodate the growing community. During his ministry in the parish from 1742 until 1765 Du Jaunay conducted 25 weddings and 120 baptisms. Thus he directly touched the lives of most families who lived in the Upper Lakes region. Working with him at various times were fellow priests Claude-Godefroy Coquart*, Jean-Baptiste de Lamorinie*, and Marin-Louis (Marie-Louis) Le Franc; several Indian slaves and an occasional lay worker also assisted.
In 1754, after nearly 20 years in the interior, Du Jaunay visited Montreal. He apparently missed the tragic smallpox epidemic in the Michilimackinac region in 1757 [see Nissowaquet]. On his return shortly after he found an impoverished and desolate community.
In 1760, following the British capture of Canada, Du Jaunay spoke out for a peaceful acceptance of the new régime. His influence assisted the smooth transition when British troops finally arrived at Michilimackinac in 1761. Although Du Jaunay had persuaded the French and the Ottawas to accept the British, he had little success with the nearby Ojibwas. On 2 June 1763, encouraged by Pontiac*’s attack on Detroit the local Ojibwas led by Minweweh* and Madjeckewiss* surprised and overpowered the British garrison. Appalled by the slaughter, Du Jaunay risked his life in sheltering some of the soldiers and traders in his house. A short time later the Ottawas from L’Arbre Croche arrived and took the survivors under their protection. In a letter to Henry Gladwin, George Etherington, the commandant, remarked that the priest was “a very good man, and had a great deal to say with the savages hereabout, who will believe everything he tells them.” Du Jaunay himself carried the letter to Detroit, arriving there on 18 June. Two days later Gladwin sent him back with verbal instructions and a wampum belt for the Ottawas. The pious priest, who “never told a lie in his life,” had refused to carry a letter that he could not reveal if stopped by hostile Indians. Before leaving Detroit he held a council with Pontiac in an unsuccessful effort to free the English prisoners.
Affairs at the straits of Mackinac remained chaotic until the post was regarrisoned. Du Jaunay tried to restore order and wrote to Sir William Johnson to give assurances of the goodwill of the French and Ottawas. On 22 Sept. 1764, when British troops returned, the priest was at the water side to welcome them. He was the first to sign the oath of allegiance, and he demonstrated his good faith by supplying food for them and delivering up a captive soldier whom his servant had ransomed from the Indians.
Du Jaunay’s long career at Michilimackinac was nearly over. In 1765 he was recalled and the mission closed. After celebrating his last baptism at the straits on 3 July 1765, he packed up the sacred vessels of the mission and took them to Detroit. At Quebec he was appointed spiritual director of the Ursulines there on 2 Aug. 1767. He maintained his interest in western affairs, however. In 1769 he briefly became embroiled in the events stirred up by the court martial of Robert Rogers. When Joseph-Louis Ainsse* of Michilimackinac, a prosecution witness, was himself charged with theft, Du Jaunay travelled to Montreal to testify to Ainsse’s good character.
Despite the turmoil of the American revolution the old priest continued his work at Quebec until his death in 1780. At Michilimackinac and at L’Arbre Croche his memory lingered. As late as 1824 the Ottawas were still pointing out the spot “where Du Jaunay used to walk up and down, saying his office.”
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Cite This Article
David A. Armour, “DU JAUNAY, PIERRE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed June 7, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/du_jaunay_pierre_4E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||David A. Armour|
|Title of Article:||DU JAUNAY, PIERRE|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||1979|
|Year of revision:||1979|
|Access Date:||June 7, 2023|