QUINTAL, AUGUSTIN (baptized Joseph), priest, Recollet, and superior; b. 18 Dec. 1683 at Boucherville (Que.), son of François Quintal and Marie Gaultier; probably d. 17 Nov. 1776.
Joseph Quintal, who was a descendant of one of the families that founded Boucherville, was ordained priest on 8 Oct. 1713 at Quebec. He had made his profession in the Recollet order, under the name of Augustin, on 20 Nov. 1707, but the absence of a bishop explains the delay in his receiving holy orders. (Bishop Laval* had died on 6 May 1708, and Bishop Saint-Vallier [La Croix*], his successor, was detained and did not reach New France until 1713.) In December 1713 Quintal was serving as a priest at Trois-Rivières. Between 1713 and 1716 he was given the additional task of ministering to three parishes then being created, Saint-Antoine-de-Padoue, Rivière-du-Loup (Louiseville), Sainte-Anne, Yamachiche, and Saint-Joseph, Maskinongé. He was entrusted from 1720 to 1723 with the office of superior of the Franciscan monastery in Montreal. Between 1724 and 1727 he again worked at Yamachiche, Rivière-du-Loup, and Maskinongé. In the years 1729–35, 1744–53, and 1755–58 he was parish priest at Trois-Rivières, while serving again as superior of the Franciscan monastery; for the interval from 1735 to 1743 he worked at setting up a parish in the mission at the Saint-Maurice ironworks. He lived in Trois-Rivières from 1759 to 1763, continuing to serve in the community.
Augustin Quintal’s name is frequently mentioned in works on the history of the early art of Quebec, and certain historians and art historians have conferred upon him somewhat too readily the title of architect and wood-carver, attributing to him many 18th-century works created in the Trois-Rivières region and comparing him to another Recollet, Juconde Drué*.
Study of his movements, as well as examination of his presumed works, supports the conclusion that Augustin Quintal’s reputation has been much exaggerated. Works executed when he served in the Trois-Rivières region show that Father Quintal should be credited with giving orders to wood-carvers of great talent, especially for the decoration of the church of Trois-Rivières. However his role must have been limited to making it possible for already welltrained wood-carvers to practise their art in favourable conditions. Under his authority the tabernacle of the parish church was completed in 1730; the pulpit and churchwardens’ pew, which were begun in 1734, were also finished during his tenure. It was probably Noël Levasseur* who was responsible for the creation of the tabernacle, which from the stylistic point of view fits perfectly into the evolution of works that came out of his Quebec workshop. By contrast, this work has no kinship with the pieces by Gilles Bolvin* which flank it on each side of the church: the style of Bolvin, a wood-carver of French origin, is much heavier and more ornate and derives from different influences.
Augustin Quintal’s activity as the so-called architect of the church at Yamachiche is even more easily explained. In this case he can be called “parish priest and builder,” a term still in use. From the time of his arrival in the parish he supervised the collection of the necessary funds and organized the corvées. He also drafted plans for the church, sometimes summary ones, the master mason being responsible for all the technical aspects of construction. Quintal had apparently never spent any time in Europe; so his plans remained unvaryingly of one type.
All things considered, Augustin Quintal has enjoyed an inflated reputation as an artist, since his ministry in the developing parishes took up most of his time. He did, however, leave the mark of his good taste in sacred art upon the parishes where he served by ordering from skilful craftsmen the works his parishes needed. Augustin Quintal probably passed away on 17 Nov. 1776.
ANQ-M, État civil, Catholiques, Sainte-Famille (Boucherville), 18 déc. 1683. ANQ-Q, Greffe de Romain Becquet, 16 oct. 1678. Archives de l’évêché de Trois-Rivières, Registres de la paroisse de l’Immaculée-Conception, Reddition des comptes de 1732. Archives des franciscains (Montréal), Dossier Augustin Quintal. ASN, AP-G, L.-É. Bois, Garde-notes, 1, p.218; 5, pp.368–69; 6, pp.26, 405–6, 431; 7, pp.296–97; 10, pp.243, 311; 16, p.275. ASQ, mss, 425, f.361; Polygraphie, XVIII, 20. Allaire, Dictionnaire, IV, 278. Ivanhoë Caron, “Inventaire de documents concernant l’Église du Canada sous le Régime français,” ANQ Rapport, 1940–41, 436–38. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, VI, 486; Répertoire, 91. Napoléon Caron et al., Histoire de la paroisse d’Yamachiche (précis historique) . . . (Trois-Rivières, 1892), 29–40. G.-R. Gareau, Premières concessions d’habitations, 1673, Boucherville (Montréal, 1973), 38–41. Gowans, Church architecture in New France. Jouve, Les franciscains et le Canada: aux Trois-Rivières. Raymonde [Landry] Gauthier, Les tabernacles anciens du Québec des XVIIe, XVIIIe et XIXe siècles (Québec, 1974); Trois-Rivières disparue ou presque (Montréal, 1978). Gérard Morisset, L’architecture en Nouvelle-France (Québec, 1949); Coup d’œil sur les arts, 11, 15, 27–28, 30–31, 52. Luc Noppen, Notre-Dame de Québec, son architecture et son rayonnement (1647–1922) (Ottawa, 1974). M. Trudel, L’Église canadienne, I, 99–100, 120, 350; II, 184, 186, 202; 204–5. Les ursulines des Trois-Rivières depuis leur établissement jusqu’à nos jours (4v., Trois-Rivières, 1888–1911), I, IV. Gérard Morisset, “Deux artistes récollets au XVIIIe siècle,” Le Droit (Ottawa), 12 mars 1935, 2.