DUPUY, JEAN-BAPTISTE, Catholic priest, editor, and educator; b. 15 Sept. 1804 at Contrecœur (Verchères County), L.C., son of Joseph Dupuy, militia captain, and Françoise Richard; d. 13 Oct. 1879 at Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu, Que.
While continuing his studies at the college of Montreal, Jean-Baptiste Dupuy taught there from 1829 to 1832. He was ordained priest on 2 Sept. 1832, and was first a curate in different parishes for about four years. On 28 Oct. 1836 he was appointed first parish priest of Saint-Aimé (Richelieu County), and held this post until 1841. Then he was made responsible for the parish of Saint-Jean-Baptiste (Rouville County) until 1843. In that year Bishop Ignace Bourget* entrusted him with the editorship of the periodical Mélanges religieux, which was then the organ of the bishopric of Montreal. He carried out this duty for two years and then again became a parish priest.
During the many years he devoted to ministering to a parish, Dupuy liked to bring together the poorest and most intelligent of the children, in order to teach them and prepare them for classical studies. He had stayed for a short time at the college of Chambly in September 1836; in 1846 he was appointed director of the college of L’Assomption. Founded by Dr Jean-Baptiste Meilleur, Dr Louis-Joseph Cazeneuve, and the parish priest Francois Labelle, this college had opened its doors in 1833. In 1846 it offered two programmes: a preparatory course which emphasized practical subjects, and the classical course proper. Two years after Dupuy’s arrival the only teaching staff left were priests and seminarists. The lay teachers assigned to the French and English classes had been let go, for it was considered that only ecclesiastics could be good educators, with the qualities and the special grace necessary for training youth. In addition, the laymen had to be paid much more than the churchmen; the latter received board and lodging at the college, and their salaries were paltry.
In 1850 the college and its director were the victims of a somewhat curious occurrence. A group of pupils formed a kind of secret society, adopting a code language, dressing in a weird fashion, and playing at being revolutionaries. They were called the “Flambards.” They started a clandestine paper, part playful, part scientific, and uniformly mocking and disrespectful towards the authority of the institution. Dupuy had to take the blame for this affair, whose echoes penetrated to the ears of Bishop Bourget of Montreal.
At the college of L’Assomption, Dupuy preserved and established a number of customs relating to piety, studies, hygiene, and festivals. In his Histoire du collège, Anastase Forget sums up Dupuy’s work, saying that he understood young people, re-established authority, and made himself well liked. The pupils he trained remembered him with extraordinary affection.
Another incident is a good example of Jean-Baptiste Dupuy’s zeal for education. In 1849 the parish of L’Assomption, with the authorization of the superintendent, Meilleur, decided to open a bilingual school and to stress the teaching of English; the commissioners went further, and asked for two schools to be opened, one English and the other French. Dupuy then offered to set up a French model school free of charge. The aim of the programme was “to teach, within three years, gradually and as the children [acquired] ability, French grammar, arithmetic, double entry bookkeeping, Canadian history, Biblical history, geography, the art of letter-writing, a little zoology and ornithology, particularly the part that [might] be helpful for domestic economy and agriculture, a small manual of agriculture, the understanding of [A. Gérin-Lajoie*’s] political catechism, and even, if it [were] possible, as an experiment, a small manual of the humanities and rhetoric.”
Dupuy became a parish priest again in 1852, and was appointed to the parish of Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu in 1858. Always held in high esteem by the bishops of the diocese of Saint-Hyacinthe, he accompanied them on their pastoral visits in 1856, 1859, and 1861. In 1866 he was appointed a member of the diocesan council, and in 1873 went with Bishop Charles La Rocque as a theologian to the Quebec council.
In an obituary article, La Minerve testified eloquently in Jean-Baptiste Dupuy’s favour: it stressed his extraordinarily honest judgement, his enlightened mind, his warm heart, his detachment from earthly possessions, his spirit of charity, and his love and generosity towards the poor, whom he assisted to the extent of being continually in want. Study was always one of the passions of his life, and this enabled him to be a preacher as serious as he was interesting, and a theologian whose counsel and opinions were always received with profit.
Mélanges religieux (Montréal), 1843–1845. Allaire, Dictionnaire. Alexis de Barbezieux, Histoire de la province ecclésiastique d’Ottawa et la colonisation dans la vallée de l’Ottawa . . . (2v., Ottawa, 1897), I, 187–89. Anastase Forget, Histoire du collège de L’Assomption (Montréal, ), 95–98, 151–56, 251–52. J.-B. Meilleur, Mémorial de l’éducation du Bas-Canada (2e éd., Québec, 1876), 156, 171.