GARREAU (Garo, Garrau, Garaut), dit Saint-Onge, PIERRE, priest, canon of the chapter of Quebec, and vicar general; b. 20 Dec. 1722 in Montreal (Que.), son of Pierre Garreau, dit Saint-Onge, and Marie-Anne Maugue; d. 20 Sept. 1795 at Trois-Rivières (Que.).
Ordained by Bishop Pontbriand [Dubreil*] on 18 Dec. 1745, Pierre Garreau, dit Saint-Onge, served as a priest at Saint-Étienne-de-Beaumont (Beaumont) from 1745 to 1748. From 1748 to 1749 he was parish priest of Saint-Louis on he aux Coudres, and from 1749 to 1755 of Sainte-Anne-du-Petit-Cap (Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré). Having been appointed a canon of the chapter of Quebec on 6 Nov. 1755, he was elected secretary on 27 Sept. 1756 and lived in Quebec until 1760. From 1760 to 1764 he was parish priest of Saint-François-Xavier-de-Batiscan (Batiscan) and also served the mission church of Sainte-Geneviève-de-Batiscan. In 1764 Briand appointed him vicar general at Trois-Rivières to replace Joseph-François Perrault; he held this office until 1788, ministering at the same time to both La Visitation-de-la-Pointe-du-Lac and Sainte-Marie-Madeleine-du-Cap-de-la-Madeleine.
Garreau was a close friend of Briand, whose political views concerning the representatives of the new régime he shared, and he was entrusted with numerous responsibilities, such as restoring peace and agreement between certain parish priests and their flocks and smoothing out conflicts of jurisdiction between priests of neighbouring parishes. The latter task was a delicate one which required tact, persuasion, and also an authoritative manner. He seems to have had recourse in particular to authority, at least in the opinion of the population of Trois-Rivières, and their view was sometimes shared by the Recollets, who were responsible for ministering to this parish. On several occasions his superior thought it necessary to remind him to be more charitable. On 24 March 1777, when Bishop Briand wrote outlining the dissensions in his area, he asked him to examine his conduct and be careful not to give grounds for slander. A few months later Briand took him to task for his attitude towards parish priest Benjamin-Nicolas Mailloux* and the Recollets. As vicar general Garreau often had disputes with the civil authorities and the churchwardens, and particularly with the directors of the Saint-Maurice ironworks, Christophe Pélissier and Pierre Fabre, dit Laterrière, who lodged bitter complaints with the bishop about his intransigence.
The inhabitants of Trois-Rivières became more distrustful of him when they perceived that he was much more conciliatory with the British authorities than with those to whom he had to give spiritual direction. An event that stirred further resentments and susceptibilities was the occupation of Trois-Rivières by the Americans during 1775–76 [see François Guillot, dit Larose]. The great majority of the inhabitants of Trois-Rivières were sympathetic to the Bostonnais. The vicar general was openly hostile and, obeying the bishop of Quebec, he ordered public prayers, processions, benedictions, and novenas for the British cause. The parishioners obeyed, but not without grumbling, as one may well imagine. The situation would probably have been different if the vicar general had resorted to persuasion rather than to his authority. But such was his character.
Father Garreau finally sought peace and quiet in his position as chaplain to the Ursulines. Old and infirm, in 1788 he humbly sought Bishop Hubert’s permission to finish his days in their convent. He was poor, close to destitution even, as he wrote to the bishop on 29 Nov. 1788: “All I have to eat is what my garden produces . . . I find myself in the dire necessity of coming forth, not like the wolf out of the woods, but out of my present situation, to knock on some charitable doors.” He died in the Ursuline convent on 20 Sept. 1795.
AAQ, 20 A, I, 136, 138, 139, 141, 143, 144, 149, 175; 22 A, IV, 547; V, 7, 215; 10 B, 219v, 220, 221v, 245v, 253v, 254; 1 CB, IX, 84, 86, 87, 90, 92, 93; 81 CD, II, 22, 56; 33 CR, A, 3, 5, 6, 7, 17, 18, 20, 31, 39, 97, 98, 117, 123, 141, 142, 145. ASQ, Lettres, S, 48; T, 52; Polygraphie, VII, 6; Séminaire, 8, no.42. Caron, “Inv. de la corr. de Mgr Briand,” ANQ Rapport, 1929–30, 45–136. Hervé Biron, Grandeurs et misères de l’Église trifluvienne (1615–1947) (Trois-Rivières, 1947). A.-H. Gosselin, L’Église du Canada après la Conquête. Jouve, Les franciscains et le Canada: aux Trois-Rivières. Sulte, Mélanges historiques (Malchelosse), VI. Albert Tessier, Les Trois-Rivières: quatre siècles d’histoire, 1535–1935 (2e éd., s.l., 1935). M. Trudel, Le Régime militaire. Les ursulines des Trois-Rivières depuis leur établissement jusqu’à nos jours (4v., Trois-Rivières, 1888–1911), I. Raymond Douville, “La dette des États-Unis envers les ursulines de Trois-Rivières,” Cahiers des Dix, 22 (1957), 137–62; “La maison de Gannes,” Cahiers des Dix, 21 (1956), 105–35.