MARANDA, JEAN-BAPTISTE, Roman Catholic priest and vicar general; b. 10 Feb. 1803 in Saint-Laurent, Île d’Orléans, Lower Canada, son of Charles Maranda and Marie-Angèle Beaudoin; d. 10 March 1850 in Arichat, N.S.
Jean-Baptiste Maranda studied from 1814 to 1822 at the Petit Séminaire de Québec and from 1823 to 1827 was a student and teacher at the Grand Séminaire. Following ordination on 10 Dec. 1826, he asked the archbishop of Quebec, Bernard-Claude Panet*, to give him a posting near the sea for the sake of his health. Panet agreed, and on 21 Sept. 1827 assigned him to Arichat, on Cape Breton Island. He arrived on 12 October and began to assist the Reverend Jean-Baptiste Potvin, another native of Lower Canada, in ministering to the area’s mixed population of Acadians, Micmacs, English, Irish, and Scots. Not caring to travel because of his fragile constitution, Maranda served mainly in and around Arichat while Potvin attended to the more distant missions. Maranda found the people poor but friendly, and noted that most of the conversation revolved around the fishing industry. During his first winter he studied English and, he reported, ate a lot of fish; perhaps because his health had deteriorated he also expressed a desire to return to Quebec. This wish was granted, and he left in July 1828.
Appointed assistant at Saint-Gervais, near his place of birth, he remained there until late December, when Panet allowed him to take sick leave at Saint-Jean, Île d’Orléans. From April to September 1829 he was administrator at Saint-Jean and was then appointed pastor at another parish on the island, Saint-François. For four years beginning in September 1831 he was parish priest at Château-Richer, east of Quebec, with responsibility as well in 1831–32 for L’Ange-Gardien. Although plagued by poor health throughout his career, by September 1835 Maranda was well enough to accept another appointment to Arichat, this time as pastor.
Maranda arrived at Arichat on 24 September. Glad to be back, he was soon involved in building a new church, Notre-Dame, and in serving his flock of 2,300. He was now fluent in English and his correspondence reveals that he was satisfied with his work among both French- and English-speaking parishioners. Moreover, his relationship with Bishop William Fraser*, vicar apostolic of Nova Scotia, was very good. He spoke of having peace, despite privations, in Arichat – perhaps a reference to the rebellions of 1837–38 in Lower Canada.
The first mass in his new church was offered in October 1837. Unfortunately, 13 months later a fire destroyed the presbytery and the parish registers. Although a new presbytery was completed around June 1840, Maranda, perhaps discouraged by that loss, or by a return of ill health, or by troubles with his Irish Catholic parishioners, asked to be replaced. The archbishop of Quebec, Joseph Signay, complied on 21 August by assigning Louis-Alexis Bourret, not yet three years ordained, to succeed him. When Maranda and another Nova Scotia missionary, the Reverend John Quinan, met Bourret in Arichat at the end of the month, they agreed that he was not healthy enough to do the job. Bourret consented to become Maranda’s assistant if Signay would allow Maranda to remain. Maranda went to Quebec to try to persuade Signay to accept this plan, but was unsuccessful. He was assigned instead to La Malbaie, Lower Canada. Signay, however, in response to additional pleas by Maranda, Bourret, and Fraser, wrote to Bourret on 23 Oct. 1840 ordering him to Quebec and stating that Maranda would stay in Arichat. Shortly after Maranda resumed his work there in November, he received from Signay an unsought exeat cutting him off from his native diocese. Fraser responded by promptly and gladly incorporating him into his own vicariate apostolic
When Fraser was made bishop of Arichat on 20 July 1845, the church there became a cathedral and Maranda, as pastor, became its first rector. At the same time, if Maranda’s obituary is to be believed, Fraser appointed him vicar general. Despite his chronic poor health, Maranda continued his excellent work in the Arichat area, particularly among the Acadians and Micmacs. Fraser valued his services, for Maranda was one of a number of French-speaking missionaries who, along with their Gaelic-speaking colleagues, made the Roman Catholic church a powerful institution in eastern Nova Scotia. He was buried at Arichat in March 1850, and was succeeded by Étienne Chartier*.
AAQ, 312 CN, VI–VII (copies at Arch. of the Diocese of Antigonish, N.S.). Arch. of the Diocese of Antigonish, Files of the diocesan historian. Allaire, Dictionnaire. Caron, “Inv. de la corr. de Mgr Panet,” ANQ Rapport, 1933–34: esp. 322. Tanguay, Répertoire (1893). A A. Johnston, A history of the Catholic Church in eastern Nova Scotia (2v., Antigonish, 1960–71).