LOYARD, JEAN-BAPTISTE, priest, Jesuit, missionary for more than 20 years to the Malecites of the Saint John River (N.B.); b. 18 Oct. 1678 at Pau; d. in the night of 24–25 June 1731 at Médoctec (Meductic, N.B.).
Jean-Baptiste Loyard entered the noviciate of Bordeaux on 31 Aug. 1695 and arrived in Canada on 14 June 1704. Around 1709 he succeeded Father Aubery* as missionary to the Malecites of the Saint John River. For a long time he had to assemble the faithful in a chapel made of bark, since the government did not have the necessary resources to build a church. In 1715 he applied to Intendant Bégon*, insisting that the provision of a fine church for the loyal subjects of Médoctec was of vital concern to the welfare of the state. Twelve hundred livres would be enough, he wrote, together with the voluntary gifts made by the Abenakis, to complete the sum needed. His request was met. In 1718 he was entrusted by Rigaud de Vaudreuil with authority to grant lands on the Saint John River to any Acadians who wished to settle there. Few moved, however.
In his “Mémoire sur l’état présent des Abnaquis,” which dates from the years 1720–22, Loyard insisted on the necessity for France to retain the attachment of this Indian nation. The report begins with these words: “Of all the Indians of New France it is the Abnaquis who have rendered and are in a position to render the most services.” Speaking particularly of their three villages in Acadia, he wrote: “These three villages, each using its own route via a river, are only a few days’ journey from Quebec. This is what makes their situation so important in relation to Canada.” He observed that the English, who by virtue of the treaty of Utrecht owned the peninsula of Acadia (Nova Scotia), were not thinking of farming it, but were trying to take possession by force of the lands of the Abenakis which had not been made over to them. They probably wanted in this way to get closer to Canada. He suggested that the problem should be studied at the congress of Cambrai which was meeting in 1722. According to a dispatch sent by Vaudreuil to the court on 17 Oct. 1722, Father Loyard, on his return from France where he had been sent by the governor, was devoting his attention to deciding upon the bounds which it would be advisable to set to the activities of the English. Things nevertheless remained as they were, perhaps because, at the time when Loyard was writing, Charlevoix* was already on an official mission in Canada (1720–23); the main purpose of his voyage was precisely to study the thorny problem of the Acadian frontiers, a source of constantly recurring conflict between France and England. Paris thought it advisable not to make any decision before having Charlevoix’s report.
Loyard died at Médoctec among his Indians, during the night of 24–25 June 1731. In his obituary letter Father Jean-Baptiste Duparc* had already written of Father Loyard that “even in the depths of the woods he found means to build a fine church in stone, adorn it suitably, and furnish it abundantly with sacred vessels and quite rich frontals.”
In 1890 a stone was found, bearing a Latin inscription which testified that the Malecites to whom Father Loyard had preached the gospel had built the church at Médoctec in 1717. According to the documentary evidence at present available, this stone church was the first Catholic place of worship erected on the territory of New Brunswick.
AN, Col., B, 59, f.439; C11A, 42, f.8; 45, f.69; C11B, 12, f.36. ASJCF, 559. NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), IX, 911f. Rochemonteix, Les Jésuites et la N.-F. au XVIIe siècle, III, 436ff. W. O. Raymond, “The old Meductic fort,” N.B. Hist. Soc. Coll., I (1894–98), 221–72.