LE SUEUR, PIERRE, priest, Sulpician, founder of the town of L’Assomption (Que.); b. 28 Feb. 1684 at Saint-Éloi (?), diocese of Amiens, France; d. 12 May 1752 in Montreal.
After philosophical and theological studies at the Sulpician Grand Seminary in Le Puy, France, Pierre Le Sueur was ordained a priest on 15 March 1710 and in July sailed for Canada. He arrived in Montreal on 8 October. He spent his whole life in the parochial ministry. He was first curate for three years in Notre-Dame de Montréal parish, then for two years he was parish priest of Saint-Joachim-de-la-Pointe-Claire on Montreal Island. In 1715 he became the first parish priest in residence at Saint-Sulpice, at the time the only parish in the seigneury of that name.
In these years colonization of this territory was still in its early stages. This seigneury had been granted in 1640 to Pierre Chevrier, Baron de Fancamp, and Jérôme Le Royer de La Dauversière; in 1663 it was given to the Sulpician seminary in Paris along with the seigneury of Montreal Island. Lack of monetary and human resources and wars had delayed its development, to such a degree that at the time of Pierre Le Sueur’s arrival land grants scarcely extended beyond the côte Saint-Sulpice on the shore of the St Lawrence.
As the sole representative of the Sulpicians, seigneurs of the region, Le Sueur thought he should explore the seigneury completely, following the waterways. Upon seeing a certain portage situated on the Rivière L’Assomption upstream from Repentigny, he had the idea of establishing a centre for colonization there. He sketched out the first plan for it, which included king’s road, seigneurial domain, land grants, church, and presbytery. He even began to clear the land that he had reserved for the future chapel. The clearing took place in January 1717, and the settlers began to arrive the following spring. Thomas Goulet and his sons were the first to receive land grants, after a verbal agreement with the seigneurs’ representative. In 1723 there were about 20 families, and according to Le Sueur that was enough to justify the building of a chapel. The following year the centre for colonization was raised to a parish, and Pierre Le Sueur became its first pastor. So, on this Sulpician’s initiative, the present town of L’Assomption – for a long time called Saint-Pierre-du-Portage – was born. Le Sueur remained as parish priest for 18 years, becoming identified with his parishioners and participating in their labours and privations. He distinguished himself by his humility, his austerity, and the simplicity of his life.
In 1742, worn out with fatigue, he had to retire to the seminary of Montreal. Moved by the wretched state in which the Nuns Hospitallers of the Hôtel-Dieu of Montreal were living, and wishing to help them reconstruct the hospital and particularly the chapel [see Anne-Françoise Leduc, dite Saint-Joseph], Pierre Le Sueur made them a gift of 2,000 livers from his savings. He died at the seminary of Montreal on 12 May 1752.