MARTINET, dit Bonami, LOUIS, friar, Recollet, and schoolteacher; b. 5 Dec. 1764 in Montreal, son of Henri Martinet, a soldier, and Marie-Joseph Descaris; d. 9 Aug. 1848 at Quebec.
Louis Martinet, dit Bonami, lived in the Recollet convent in Montreal for several years before he took the habit of the community on 6 June 1785. It is not known where he did his noviciate, but he made his vows at the friary in Quebec on 14 June 1786, and on 26 December he received the sacrament of confirmation from the coadjutor, Bishop Jean-François Hubert*.
The future of the Recollet community had been clouded after the conquest. In October 1763 Governor James Murray* received instructions concerning the colony’s religious orders. He was to do everything he could to prevent the Recollets and Jesuits from recruiting new members. In the period 1784–94 the Recollets admitted at least ten members, taking advantage of the degree of toleration shown by the governors, but they conferred the priesthood on none. Although they were not expelled from their house, it was used also as a prison and a repository for the official archives of the government; as well, they shared their church with Protestants, probably from 1762.
The event that brought the end of the community in Lower Canada must have been witnessed by Brother Louis. On 6 Sept. 1796 fire destroyed the Recollets’ church and convent. Philippe-Joseph Aubert* de Gaspé relates that for some days the poor Recollets were to be seen wandering about near the ruins. On 14 September Bishop Hubert secularized the Quebec Recollets who had made their profession after 1784. They would no longer live in community but as far as possible had to respect the vows they had pronounced at their profession. A short time later the superior, Father Félix Berey Des Essarts, and the 15 brothers dispersed [see Louis Demers*; Pierre-Jacques Bossu*, dit Lyonnais].
Louis Martinet, dit Bonami, who continued to be called Brother Louis, took up residence in the faubourg Saint-Roch at Quebec and became a schoolteacher. In the autumn of 1806 Bishop Joseph-Octave Plessis* made him bursar of the Séminaire de Nicolet. Its superior, Jean Raimbault, was not pleased with his services. Brother Louis is supposed to have been inattentive and somewhat apathetic in performing his duties. He returned to Quebec in 1807 to resume his teaching post. François-Xavier Garneau*, Stanislas Drapeau*, and Antoine Plamondon* were among his pupils. For many years after his retirement around 1830 he made consecrated wafers for a number of parishes in the Quebec region.
Brother Louis owned large pieces of property in the faubourg Saint-Roch, including some granted him by the nuns of the Hôpital Général. He was a syndic at the time the first church of Saint-Roch was built and in 1826 he signed a petition for the founding of the parish of that name.
Around 1846 Louis de Gonzague Baillairgé* discovered in the attic of Brother Louis’s dwelling a banner he claimed was the Carillon flag. Brother Louis had recovered it at the time of the fire in the Recollets’ church, where it supposedly had been deposited by Father Berey Des Essarts on his return from the French victory at Carillon (near Ticonderoga, N.Y.) in 1758 [see Louis-Joseph de Montcalm*]. The flag, now held at the Petit Séminaire de Quebec, was venerated as a relic in the latter half of the 19th century, being taken out only on special occasions. Octave Crémazie* made it the subject of one of his most famous poems. In 1915 Ernest Gagnon*, writing under the pseudonym Pierre Sailly, revealed that it was a religious banner and not a flag. Its presence at the battle of Carillon remains unsubstantiated.
Brother Louis, who had continued to wear the garb of the Recollets, became an almost legendary figure at Quebec as a representative of the era of New France. Abbé Charles Trudelle remembered vividly this man with the tanned complexion and quick, dark eyes who, leaning on his cane, went regularly to the seminary. Brother Louis was stricken with paralysis in the autumn of 1845. The last surviving Recollet at Quebec, he died on 9 Aug. 1848 and was buried in the church of Saint-Roch. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that the Friars Minor, by then called Franciscans, would be back in the city.
ANQ-M, CE1-51, 5 déc. 1764. ANQ-Q, CE1-22, 12 août 1848; CN1-212, 15 sept. 1827; 2 mai 1829; 3 avril, 15 juin 1832; CN1-213, 20 juill. 1843; 20 janv. 1844; 15, 23 mai, 8 août 1846; 14, 21–22 août, 1er sept. 1848; CN1-230, 3 mai 1805, 6 nov. 1806, 21 août 1813, 15 mai 1815. Arch. des franciscains (Montréal), Dossier Louis Martinet, dit Bonami. ASQ, Polygraphie, XXXI: 1–2. P.[-J.] Aubert de Gaspé, Mémoires (Ottawa, 1866; réimpr. Montréal, 1971). Mandements, lettres pastorales et circulaires des évêques de Québec, Henri Têtu et C. O. Gagnon, édit. (18v. parus, Québec, 1887– ), 2: 499–500. Le Journal de Québec, 10 août 1848. Caron, “Inv. de la corr. de Mgr Panet,” ANQ Rapport, 1934–35: 358; “Inv. de la corr. de Mgr Plessis,” 1927–28: 246; 1932–33: 77. Jacques Archambault et Eugénie Lévesque, Le drapeau québécois (Québec, 1974). Douville, Hist. du collège-séminaire de Nicolet, 1: 30, 34, 38–39; 2: 3*. J.-C. Gamache, Histoire de Saint-Roch de Québec et de ses institutions, 1829–1929 (Québec, 1929), 39–40, 263. O.-M. Jouve, Les frères mineurs à Québec, 1615–1905 (Québec, 1905). J. M. LeMoine, L’album du touriste . . . (2e éd., Québec, 1872), 40–41. J. B. Meilleur, Mémorial de l’éducation du Bas-Canada (2e éd., Québec, 1876). Morisset, Peintres et tableaux, 2: 75–76, 117. Marcel Trudel, L’Église canadienne sous le Regime militaire, 1759–1764 (2v., Québec, 1956–57), 2. Charles Trudelle, Le frère Louis (Lévis, Qué., 1898). L’Abeille (Québec), 24 févr. 1881. “Le frère Louis,” BRH, 7 (1901): 206. Lormière, “Le frère Louis,” BRH, 7: 267. Nicolet, “Le frère Louis,” BRH, 4 (1898): 125. Pierre Sailly [Ernest Gagnon], “Le prétendu drapeau de Carillon,” Rev. canadienne, 69 (juillet–décembre 1915): 304–9.