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MOYEN, JEAN, Roman Catholic priest, Sulpician, professor, botanist, and author; b. 11 Aug. 1828 in the commune of Valiergues, in the canton and administrative district of Ussel, France, son of Denis Moyen, a farmer, and Marguerite Bachelerie; d. 8 Jan. 1899 at the Séminaire d’Alix, in Lyons, France.

Jean Moyen entered the Grand Séminaire de Tulle in 1848 and was ordained to the priesthood on 5 June 1852. He was curate at Allassac, science teacher in the Petit Séminaire de Servières from 1853 to 1855, and then assistant priest at the cathedral of Saint-Martin in Tulle until 1857. After spending a period doing his solitude (noviciate) with the Sulpicians at Issy-les-Moulineaux, near Paris, he was sent to Montreal in 1858.

A member of the Society of Saint-Sulpice, Moyen was at first made professor of homiletics at the Grand Séminaire de Montréal. In 1859 he succeeded Abbé Louis-Léon Billion as science teacher for students in the two-year Philosophy program at the Petit Séminaire de Montréal (also called the Collège de Montréal), where, at that time, the teaching of science and philosophy had been separated and assigned to different teachers. In addition to mathematics, physics, chemistry, and zoology, Moyen taught botany from 1863 and geology from 1865. To supplement his lectures, he reorganized the physics room and the natural history museum; he also put together a herbarium.

Moyen frequently contributed to L’Écho du Cabinet de lecture paroissial, which the Sulpicians published in Montreal. His short articles on scientific discoveries of the day and his notes for lay readers appeared in it regularly from 1864 to 1872. On 29 Jan. 1867, as part of a series of public lectures organized by the Cabinet de Lecture Paroissial [see Ignace Bourget*], he presented a paper on meteors.

In 1871 Moyen published his Cours élémentaire de botanique et Flore du Canada, a manual for amateur botanists and medical students, and for use as a textbook in classical colleges. The book is in three parts: a brief outline of the general principles of botany and taxonomy; a description of the flora of eastern Canada, including “all the plants that grow wild in this country,” accompanied by analytical keys to families, genera, and sometimes even species; and an appendix with tables showing the main cultivated plants. The work also indicates which species the author himself had collected in the Montreal region.

Moyen’s book was unfavourably reviewed by Abbé Léon Provancher, the editor of Le Naturaliste canadien (Quebec), who criticized him for the brevity of his descriptions of genera and species and for the paucity of his critical notes. The work was reissued in 1885, with additions, by Abbé Alexis-Jules Orban. This edition came to be adopted by a number of colleges and seminaries, although both the Petit Séminaire de Québec and the Université Laval still preferred the Éléments de botanique et de physiologie végétale . . . (Quebec, 1870) by Abbé Louis-Ovide Brunet*. Brother Marie-Victorin [Conrad Kirouac*] mentioned in the introduction to his well-known Flore laurentienne (1935) that Moyen’s textbook was still being used in several institutions of secondary and higher education in Quebec.

Jean Moyen seldom made public appearances and was rather retiring even in the life of the Collège de Montréal. He seems to have been completely absorbed in his teaching and his work in natural history. One of his students observed that “he is so immersed in these sciences that he is always absent-minded.” Moyen returned to France in 1874 and continued his career as a teacher of philosophy and science; he also maintained his interest in natural history, and in 1889 his work on mushrooms, developed through his research and in the many lectures he had given to students of the Séminaire d’Alix, was published at Paris.

Raymond Duchesne

Abbé Jean Moyen is the author of many popular articles and notes on scientific topics in L’Écho du Cabinet de lecture paroissial (Montréal), including “Lecture sur les météores cosmiques: [aérolithes, bolides ou globes de feu, étoiles filantes],” 9 (1867): 132–40, 198–203, 336–44. His Cours élémentaire de botanique et Flore du Canada: à l’usage des maisons d’éducation was published in Montréal in 1871; a second edition, prepared by A.-J. Orban, appeared there in 1885. He also wrote Les champignons: traité élémentaire et pratique de mycologie, suivi de la description des espèces utiles, dangereuses et remarquables (Paris, 1889), which has an introduction by Jules de Seynes, president of the Société Botanique de France. In 1974 the Petit Séminaire de Montréal still had a herbarium of 500 specimens collected by Moyen.

AD, Corrèze (Tulle), État civil, Valiergues, 12 août 1828. Arch. du séminaire de Chicoutimi (Chicoutimi, Qué.), Fonds Léon Provancher, lettre de J.-B. Meilleur à Léon Provancher, 16 mars 1869; lettre de Prosper Dufresne à Léon Provancher, 16 oct. 1876. ASQ, Univ., sér.U, U-73, 70. Léon Provancher, “[Compte rendu], Cours élémentaire de botanique . . . ,” Le Naturaliste canadien (Québec), 3 (1871): 379; 4 (1872): 229–32. “Bibliographie des ouvrages sur la flore canadienne,” BRH, 6 (1900): 330. Louis Bertrand, Bibliothèque sulpicienne ou histoire littéraire de la Compagnie de Saint-Sulpice (3v., Paris, 1900). Bernard Boivin, Survey of Canadian herbaria (Quebec, 1980). Marcel Lajeunesse, Les Sulpiciens et la vie culturelle à Montréal au XIXe siècle (Montréal, 1982). [J.-L.-]O. Maurault, Le collège de Montréal (Dansereau; 1967); Nos messieurs (Montréal, [1936]). Antonio Dansereau, “L’abbé Jean Moyen, p.s.s.,” Le Naturaliste canadien (Québec), 59 (1932): 194–96. “Les disparus,” BRH, 36 (1930): 369. Yvan Lamonde, “L’enseignement de la philosophie au collège de Montréal, 1790–1876,” Culture (Québec), 31 (1970): 213–24. Damase Potvin, “Nombreux les naturalistes, étrangers et indigènes, qui ont laissé des œuvres remarquables dans notre province . . . ,” L’Information médicale et paramédicale (Montréal), 3 févr. 1959: 11–14.

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Cite This Article

Raymond Duchesne, “MOYEN, JEAN,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 12, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed December 18, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/moyen_jean_12E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/moyen_jean_12E.html
Author of Article: Raymond Duchesne
Title of Article: MOYEN, JEAN
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 12
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1990
Year of revision: 1990
Access Date: December 18, 2014