REBOUL, LOUIS-ÉTIENNE-DELILLE, priest, Oblate of Mary Immaculate, and missionary; b. 4 Dec. 1827 at Saint-Pons (department of Ardèche), France, son of Louis-Antoine Reboul and Augustine-Marie Guillon; d. 2 March 1877 at Mattawa (Nipissing District), Ont.
Louis-Étienne-Delille Reboul, son of one of the most well-to-do and reputable families at Saint-Pons, studied at the Petit Séminaire of Bourg-Saint-Andéol and at the seminary of Viviers (1847–50), then entered the noviciate of the Oblates at Notre-Dame-de-l’Osier in the department of Isère, where he made his profession on 8 Dec. 1851. He finished his studies at Marseilles, and on 27 June 1852 was ordained priest by Bishop Charles-Joseph-Eugène de Mazenod.
Reboul worked for some months at Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde at Marseilles, then left for Canada. He was sent to Bytown (Ottawa), was assistant to Bishop Joseph-Bruno Guigues in the surrounding missions, and devoted himself to ministering to a parish at South Gloucester (Russell County) from 1853 to 1855 and at Rivière-du-Désert (Maniwaki, Gatineau County) in 1855 and 1856. During the summers of 1854 and 1855 he worked in the Indian missions of Témiscamingue, Abitibi, and James Bay.
In the winter of 1854 Reboul undertook his first mission to the lumbercamps. He went as far as the Creuse (Deep River, Ont.) and Noire (Black River) rivers, visited the various camps of young lumber-cutters, and offered them the help of religion. He went through some 60 lumbercamps, occupied by more than 1,500 persons. In the summer, the missionary would meet these men again in the Ottawa region. Reboul became head of the mission to the Ottawa lumbercamps in 1858, and continued its work for several months each winter until his death, which occurred during one of his trips.
The rest of the year he lived at Ottawa, where he devoted himself to ministering to a parish and to the spiritual and temporal care of travellers, to whom he became a legendary apostle. He denounced unscrupulous innkeepers, and worked to break up brawls among the members of his flock and preserve peace between Catholics and Protestants. He also served the little chapel of Notre-Dame-des-Voyageurs, which had been set up at Hull for the men of the lumbercamps.
Hull grew in size after 1860; a great number of the loggers lived there with their families. The Oblates made the village a mission, and Reboul was entrusted with ministering to all the Catholics there. In 1868 he undertook the construction of a spacious church, a presbytery, and some schools. He completed all these projects without going into debt, through his ability to obtain gifts by subscription and with the help of Bishop Guigues and money from the parishioners.
In 1871 the Oblates agreed to look after the parish, and sent Reboul to reside there. He was the heart of the locality, and its father; he took an interest in everything and shrank from no task; he became president of the school commission, promoted the building of a bridge, and had an active part in obtaining a charter for the town in 1875. From 1866 to his death, Reboul also exercised his ministry at the monastery of the Good Shepherd Nuns at Ottawa.
An upright, frank, and honest man, Reboul won the affection and respect of all. Lac Reboul (Winawiah), in the region of Grand Lac de Victoria (Témiscamingue County), a school, a street, and a park in Hull recall his name.
Archives générales O.M.I. (Rome), Dossier Louis-Étienne Reboul; Dossier Florent Vandenberghe (copies in AHO (Ottawa)). Archives provinciales O.M.I. (Ottawa), Dossier Ottawa; Dossier 1re maison; Dossier Hull; Dossier Université d’Ottawa (copies in AHO (Ottawa)). Journal de l’Ardèche (Privas), 11 avril, 12 avril 1877. Notices nécrologiques des O.M.I, III, 353–81. Carrière, Histoire des O.M.I, V, VII; Le père Louis-Étienne Reboul, oblat de Marie-Immaculée; organisateur de la vie religieuse à Hull et apôtre des chantiers (Ottawa, 1959). J. K. Foran, “In the path of the pioneer priest,” The Owl (Ottawa), VII (1893), 126–28.