GAUFIN, VALÉRIEN (baptized Jean-Philippe), Recollet, provincial commissioner; b. 16 Feb. 1699 in Douai, France, the son of Jean-Philippe Gaufin and Marie-Joseph Moreau; d. 5 April 1759 in Paris, France.
Valérien Gaufin entered the Recollet order of the province of Saint-Denys in 1722 and was ordained a priest about 1725. In 1727 this worthy Recollet arrived in Quebec and lost no time in becoming involved in the political and social life of New France. Not long after the death of Bishop Saint-Vallier [La Croix*] Gaufin took sides in the famous quarrel over the direction of the diocese while the episcopal seat was vacant, which set Canon Étienne Boullard* and the chapter against Intendant Dupuy*, Eustache Chartier de Lotbinière, and the Conseil Supérieur. He preached several sermons in which he attacked the council, comparing the members of this tribunal to the tyrants and persecutors of the early Christians. On 2 Feb. 1728 he preached a final sermon, and the next day he was summoned before the council, to which he went in the company of his superior, Father Étienne Piscot, and the provincial commissioner, Father Justinien Durand. The council demanded that the Recollet not preach other than God’s word and that within three months he retract his last sermon. Instead of a retraction the Recollet presented on 16 February a text justifying his position in the conflict and approving Boullard’s election by the Quebec chapter.
Like many other members of the clergy and society in New France, Gaufin had openly adopted a position in this conflict, which had rapidly turned into a tragi-comedy; it was Louis XV who settled the question by recalling one of the protagonists [see Dupuy] and lecturing the others.
Father Valérien remained in New France until 1742; he then went to France on the Canada as chaplain. He returned the following year as provincial commissioner. His active participation in the social life of the colony earned Gaufin several mentions in the correspondence of Mme Bégon [Rocbert] with her son-in-law, Honoré Michel de Villebois de La Rouvillière. We learn that he was the spiritual director of young Marie-Catherine-Élisabeth Michel, Mme Bégon’s granddaughter, and that in 1749 he was interdicted from his clerical functions for having absolved ladies who had attended a ball in Montreal. Again according to Mme Bégon, in this same year the provincial commissioner received a reply to a letter he had sent to Jean-Michel Houdin, who had been unfrocked in 1744 and was living in New England. Gaufin had tried to persuade the ex-Recollet to return to the bosom of the Roman Church. In his reply Houdin cast accusations against all and sundry and called Gaufin a “scoundrel”; “he pities him greatly for having to live with a gang of libertines who are capable of every sort of crime.”
Father Valérien exercised his ministry in the Trois-Rivières area in 1750 and left Canada in 1752. He died in Paris on 5 April 1759, at which time he was definitor and novice master.
This somewhat quarrelsome and open-minded friar offers a faithful portrait of the Recollet who lived in New France in the 18th century: even while exercising his ministry all over the colony and fulfilling various functions in his order, he took an active part in Canadian social life.
Archives des Franciscains (Montréal), Dossier Valérien Gaufin. AN, Col., C11A, 72, f.293. “Correspondance de Mme Bégon” (Bonnault), APQ Rapport, 1934–35, 22, 49, 56, 65, 176, 177. “Mémoire de M. Dupuy, intendant de la Nouvelle-France, sur les troubles arrivés à Québec en 1727 et 1728, après la mort de Mgr de Saint-Vallier, évêque de Québec,” APQ Rapport, 1920–21, 78–105. Caron, “Inventaire de documents,” APQ Rapport, 1941–42, 287, 288. P.-G. Roy, Inv. jug. et délib., 1717–1760, I, 343–44; II, 146. Dubé, Claude-Thomas Dupuy, 236–37. Henri Têtu, “Le chapitre de la cathédrale de Québec et ses délégués en France,” BRH, XVI (1910), 356.