GEOFFROY, LOUIS, priest, Sulpician, missionary, vicar and parish priest at Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal, N.S.), grand vicar of the bishop of Quebec, founder of schools, churches, and a convent; b. 1660 or 1661 in Paris; d. 1 May 1707 in Quebec at the Hôtel-Dieu.
Geoffroy began his studies for the priesthood at the Séminaire des Trente-Trois. In 1683 he proceeded to the Paris seminary to study theology, and left two years later with minor orders. He then spent three months at the Séminaire des Missions Étrangères in preparation for missionary work in the Orient. While at this seminary he met Bishop Laval, Bishop Saint-Vallier [La Croix], and Abbé Dudouyt*, all of whom urged him to work in New France. Early in 1685 he was ordained by Laval and made preparations to leave for the colony, first pledging himself to the service of the Sulpician order.
Geoffroy was one of six Sulpicians to sail from La Rochelle with Saint-Vallier in June 1685. He took up residence in Acadia the following year, serving at Port-Royal as vicar until 1690, and as parish priest from 1690 to 1692. He not only laid the foundations of primary education in the seaboard colony but also built several schools at his own expense. Unfortunately, much of his work was destroyed in 1690 when attacks by William Phips* and English pirates in turn devastated the Port-Royal district. Frustrated at every turn by illegal trading, petty rivalries among the officers, and the destruction suffered at the hands of the enemy, Geoffroy asked to be moved to the stable centre of the colony. On 1 Jan. 1692, he was appointed parish priest of La Prairie de la Magdeleine and was officially installed the following September.
Geoffroy was in France from 1695 to 1697, settling family matters, regaining his health, and studying moral theology. He returned to La Prairie de la Magdeleine in 1697, with the additional responsibility of serving the Champlain and Batiscan missions. In 1703 he became parish priest of Contrecœur, and served at Sorel in 1703–4. He had also been appointed vicar general of the rural parishes in the diocese and in this position supervised the construction of presbyteries and churches. He became known as the grand architect of the diocese, for he built stone churches in Champlain, Sorel, and Contrecoeur, and spent his own money on the construction of a convent in Champlain for the sisters of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame. For a while he considered returning to France, but the shortage of clergy in the colony encouraged him to remain. He died in Quebec in 1707.
Geoffroy’s life in North America began with hardship and frustration in Acadia but was followed by a period of accomplishment in Canada. Because his projects were often greater than Saint-Vallier’s financial resources, Geoffroy contributed more than 8,000 livres of his own funds to carry out the work of developing the diocese.
ASSM, Correspondance générale, 2e partie, lettres de M. Leschassier, 13, 216, 273; lettres de M. Tronson, IV, 461; VI, 183, 226. Caron, “Inventaire de documents,” APQ Rapport, 1939–40, 264, 275, 305, 321; 1940–41, 401, 407. Allaire, Dictionnaire, I, 236f. Caron, “Prêtres séculiers et religieux,” 262f. Henri Gauthier, Sulpitiana (Montréal, 1926), 210f. LeJeune, Dictionnaire, I, 695. F.-J. Audet, Contrecœur: famille, seigneurie, paroisse, village (Montréal, 1940), 83, 86, 87. Casgrain, Les Sulpiciens en Acadie. Morisset, L’architecture en Nouvelle-France, 132. Pierre Rousseau, Saint-Sulpice et les missions catholiques (Montréal, 1930), 126–31.