MICHAUD, JOSEPH (baptized François-Xavier-Joseph), Roman Catholic priest; b. 1841 in Saint-Basile, N.B., son of Firmin Michaud and his second wife, Marie-Madeleine Roy, dit Lauzier; d. 15 Oct. 1903 in Buctouche, N.B.
Joseph Michaud’s parents moved from Kamouraska, Lower Canada, to Saint-Basile around 1835. When Firmin relocated in Rivière-à-la-Truite, near Edmundston, Joseph, the youngest of 24 children, went to live with a sister in St Bruno (Van Buren, Maine), so that he could attend school. There Abbé Antoine Gosselin encouraged him and the future priests Louis-Joseph and Antoine Ouellet to study at the Collège de Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière in Lower Canada, where he remained for eight years.
Michaud was ordained in Saint John, N.B., on 16 June 1867 by Bishop John Sweeny and was made assistant priest at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception there. Later he also became priest of the predominantly Irish parish of St Peter’s, Portland (Saint John), where he enlarged the school run by the Brothers of the Christian Schools. In both places he energetically promoted temperance and benevolent societies. He became priest of the cathedral in 1871. Two years later he was imprisoned for refusing to pay taxes supporting the secular public schools established by the Common Schools Act of 1871 [see George Edwin King]. After a public outcry, he was released in seven hours. He was rearrested for the same offence in 1874.
From 1876 Michaud served in Buctouche. His dynamic parish activities included the construction of a convent school, begun in 1877 and opened by French-speaking Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception in 1880. He built two parish schools, and because of neglect, a hurricane in 1879, and other storms was obliged to rebuild the church four times and the tithe-barn and presbytery twice. He bought land to run a model farm for the convent, hoping to decrease, by example, local dependence on bought flour. He also established butter and cheese factories and flour-mills, sawmills, and carding-mills. Again he founded organizations, including a temperance society, an agricultural society, devotional groups, and benevolent institutions such as the Société des Artisans Canadiens-Français and the Catholic Mutual Benefit Association. From 1879 he joined the Reverend J. D. Murray, a Presbyterian, in a successful battle to obtain government subsidies for a railway from Buctouche to Moncton. With the help of the school inspector Valentin-Auguste Landry* he also obtained provincial grants for the convent school.
Michaud had early begun to identify with the Acadians. He had written to Le Moniteur acadien’s first issue in 1867, sharing the mission of its owner-editor, Israël-J.-D. Landry, to advance Roman Catholicism and to encourage education and agriculture among the Acadians, and had continued to support the paper. He also donated money to the College of St Joseph [see Camille Lefebvre*] and in 1880 attended the convention of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste at Quebec, where he promoted the idea of an Acadian convention at Memramcook in 1881 [see François-Xavier Cormier]. By historical articles and speeches he fostered Acadian pride and resentment of English persecution. In 1881 he went to Ireland and Rome with Bishop Sweeny, recording his experiences in letters to Le Moniteur. He told Acadians to copy Daniel O’Connell: “Let us take all we can from the English government and keep asking to get still more.”
He returned to mounting opposition. Parish debts and the expenses of caring for his brothers’ orphaned children were rising, and parishioners had come to resent his demands for money and his French Canadian origins. The sisters and the bishop thought that he used the profits from the convent farm for himself. Shediac Acadians, such as Pascal Poirier*, were angered by his support for a railway that bypassed their town, and he had alienated others by favouring George Valentine McInerney, an Irishman, over Dr Édouard-H. Léger in the federal by-election of 1890 in Kent County. Although his achievements as priest were recognized by his appointment as vicar general in 1900, he was embittered by what he saw as Acadian ingratitude. He died in 1903 after two years’ illness.
Centre d’Études Acadiennes, Univ. de Moncton, N.-B., Fonds [F.-]E. Rameau de Saint-Père, 2.1-28–29; Fonds Joseph Michaud, esp. 24.4-3 (“Mémoires”); Fonds Placide Gaudet, 1.64-16, 25–26. L’Évangéline, 1887–1903. Le Moniteur acadien, 1867–1903. V. A. Landry, “Voix d’Acadie: l’enseignement dans nos convents,” La Rev. franco-américaine (Montréal), 7 (1911): 120–33 [the manuscript is in Landry’s papers at the Centre d’Études Acadiennes, 7.2-10]. Marguerite Michaud, “Le père F.-X.-J. Michaud, grand curé, bâtisseur et organisateur,” CCHA Rapport, 20 (1952–53): 46–55; also issued as an offprint (Buctouche, N.B., 1954). N.B., House of Assembly, Journal, 1879–85. D. M. M. Stanley, Au service de deux peuples: Pierre-Amand Landry (Moncton, 1977; repr. Fredericton, 1987), 148.