IMBAULT, MAURICE (baptized Jean-Jacques), Recollet, missionary, superior; b. 1686 in Paris, France; d. in New France sometime after 1759.
Little information is available about Father Maurice Imbault’s life before his arrival in New France. All that the Recollets’ archives says is that he made his profession in that order in the province of Saint-Denys under the name of Maurice on 14 April 1714, at the age of 27 years and 8 months, and that he came from Paris. When he was ordained is not known, and the date of his arrival in Canada is uncertain. He seems to have crossed on board the Chameau in 1719. If he did, he arrived at Quebec with Mathieu-Benoît Collet* and during the crossing must have been present at the death of François Charon* de La Barre, the founder of the Brothers Hospitallers of the Cross and of St Joseph.
Father Maurice began his service in November 1719 in the parishes of Saint-Roch-des-Aulnets in the seigneury of Les Aulnets, Notre-Dame-de-Liesse (Rivière-Ouelle) in the seigneury of La Bouteillerie, and Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière in the seigneury of La Pocatière. On 23 March 1721, “towards evening,” Father Maurice received in his presbytery at Sainte-Anne the inquirers Mathieu-Benoit Collet and Nicolas-Gaspard Boucault, bearing a commission from Governor Philippe de Rigaud* de Vaudreuil and Intendant Michel Bégon, “His Majesty’s intention being that the parish districts of this colony shall be established according to the same formalities as those which are observed in France.” Starting the next day Collet, attorney general to the Conseil Supérieur, and his clerk of court Boucault received 32 of the 69 heads of families in the three parishes served by the Recollet. After describing the size of their respective parishes the delegates from Saint-Roch and Notre-Dame-de-Liesse called for the disappearance of the parish of Sainte-Anne, despite the protests of its representatives, and asked that half of Sainte-Anne be joined to the parish of Saint-Roch and the other half to Notre-Dame-de-Liesse. In addition they requested the appointment of two parish priests, “in view of the fact that the great size of the three parishes, which the said Reverend Father Maurice serves, very often prevents them from being able to attend divine service and from being succoured in case of sickness.” A report of this meeting was drawn up, and when it had been read the inquirers, Father Maurice, and 12 delegates signed it, the other 20 “having declared that they do not know how to write or sign their names.” This inquiry had only limited results in New France; despite a decree of 3 March 1722 stipulating that half of the parishioners of Saint-Anne were to be united with the parish of Notre-Dame-de-Liesse and the other half with Saint-Roch, Father Maurice kept on serving the three parishes until 1731.
In addition to his ministry the Recollet also carried out the duties of notary and arbiter delegated by the intendant, as did many other missionaries whose territory was far away from Quebec. On 14 May 1724 Imbault drew up a bill of sale, one of the parties to it being the notary Étienne Jeanneau. The latter could not apply to anyone other than Father Maurice: Jeanneau was in fact the only notary in the region. The intendants Bégon and Dupuy* entrusted Father Imbault with the settlement of several disputes among the habitants of the three parishes he served.
After 1731 and until 1756 Father Maurice lived in Quebec. The documents reveal little about his activities during this period. It is known that for three years he was superior of the Recollet convent. Subsequently he was in turn or simultaneously confessor to the Ursulines and confessor and chaplain to the nuns of the Hôpital Général. By the end of 1757 Father Imbault was in Trois-Rivières, and there he drops from sight after 8 Feb. 1759. His death certificate cannot be found.
Archives des Franciscains (Montréal), Dossier Maurice Imbault. “Procès-verbaux du procureur général Collet” (Caron), APQ Rapport, 1921–22, 346–49. “Témoignages de liberté au mariage,” APQ Rapport, 1951–53, 35. A. Roy, Inv. greffes not., XIV, 30. P.-G. Roy, Inv. ord. int., I, 256, 282, 292, 294; II, 4. Caron, “Inventaire de documents,” APQ Rapport, 1941–42, 229. Jouve, Les Franciscains et le Canada: aux Trois-Rivières, 166, 202, 212. Mgr de Saint-Vallier et l’Hôpital Général, 713. Trudel, L’Église canadienne, I, 89–90, 341. Les Ursulines de Québec (1863–66), II, 147.