LE BAILLIF, GEORGES, Recollet, priest, missionary in Canada; fl. 1620–21.
Having been appointed to the Canadian missions, Le Baillif, member of a noble French family, left Honfleur around 8 May 1620 with Samuel de Champlain, and reached Quebec in mid-July.
Father Le Baillif was the friend and counsellor of Champlain, who had been asked by Henri II, Duc de Montmorency and viceroy of New France, and by the Sieurs Villemenon and Dolu, “to undertake nothing without the participation of this worthy Father.” They assured Champlain “that they would always approve of what he would do in association with Father Le Baillif,” who, continued Chrestien Le Clercq, “was a man of great uprightness, sound doctrine and prudence.” Father Le Baillif had many opportunities to display his talents.
On 17 July 1621 Champlain sent him to Tadoussac, with full authority to settle on his behalf the differences between François Gravé Du Pont and Guillaume de Caën. A provisional agreement was reached, and the dispute was referred back to France.
At the assembly of notables, held at Quebec on 18 August of that year, Father Le Baillif was selected to go and place before the king the complaints of the colony. The esteem already shown to him by Louis XIII made him the natural choice for this responsible appointment. He left Quebec on 7 Sept. 1621.
He was received on two occasions by the king, and submitted to him the needs of New France: the protection of the colony in case of attack by a foreign power; the building of a fort on Cap aux Diamants; the banning of an arms supply to the Indians by the Huguenot business men of La Rochelle; the cessation of the quarrels dividing the two companies of merchants; the maintenance and expansion of the Roman Catholic religion; the forbidding of any observance of the Protestant cult in the colony; the founding of a seminary at Quebec for 50 Indian children; the establishment of a stronger system of justice against wrong-doers; an increase in Champlain’s salary and authority.
The Recollet was successful in respect of the main issues: the conflict between the rival companies came to an end; Protestant worship was forbidden in the colony; the building of a seminary was decided upon and letters patent were promulgated accordingly. Thus, by his influence, Le Baillif made an important contribution to the restoration of peace in the colony.
At the Duc de Montmorency’s request, Father Le Baillif remained in France, as chief representative of the Recollets stationed in Canada. It was in this capacity that he appointed Brother Sagard, who was their first historian, to the Canadian missions; obtained gifts of land for the Trois-Rivières and Tadoussac missions; pleaded in favour of sending Jesuits to New France; and in 1625 presented to Louis XIII the dictionary of the Huron, Algonkin, and Montagnais languages compiled by the Recollet Joseph Le Caron.
By his calm, prudent, and effective action, Father Le Baillif was an agent of peace and progress for the colony in its early days.
BN, Imprimés, LK12, 774 [Georges Le Baillif], Plainte de la Nouvelle France dicte Canada, à la France, sa Germaine. Pour servir de Factum en vue d’une cause pendante au Conseil (fin 1621 ou début 1622). Champlain, Œuvres (Laverdière), 995f., 1001f., 1008–12, 1018. Le Clercq, First establishment of the faith (Shea), I, 152, 162–66, et passim. Sagard, Histoire du Canada (Tross), I, passim.
Ferland, Cours d’histoire du Canada, I, 192. Jouve, Les Franciscains et le Canada (1615–1629). Hugolin Lemay, “L’œuvre manuscrite ou imprimée des Récollets de la mission du Canada (Province de Saint-Denis), 1615–1629,” RSCT, 3d ser., XXX (1936), sect.i, 115–26. Trudel, Histoire de la Nouvelle-France, II.