ROUILLARD, AMBROISE (baptized Louis-Joseph), Recollet, missionary; b. 28 March 1693 at Quebec, son of Jean Rouillard and Jeanne Levasseur; d. in an accident in 1768.
Louis-Joseph Rouillard entered the Recollet order in 1718 and was ordained a priest in the chapel of the Hôpital Général of Quebec on 18 Dec. 1723. Subsequently his ministry took him over a great part of the south shore of the St Lawrence. First he served the parish of Rimouski until 1735, when he was appointed missionary at Restigouche on the Baie des Chaleurs. After 1741 we find him in different parishes between Sorel and Sainte-Croix; in 1745 he again took up his abode at Rimouski and served the region until 1759; he was then appointed military chaplain at Restigouche and styled himself “chaplain of the Machaud.” He remained at Restigouche until 1761, when he returned for good to Rimouski. In January 1767 he assisted the hermit of Saint-Barnabé, Toussaint Cartier, on his deathbed.
Legend has it that Father Ambroise regularly stayed at the home of the seigneur of Trois-Pistoles, Nicolas Rioux, during his trips in the region. The last time he went there the Recollet consented to have his portrait painted by an itinerant artist, at the request of the seigneur and other parishioners. When the portrait was completed, Father Ambroise is supposed to have made a single remark: “I look like a drowned man.” On the eve of his departure for Rimouski Rouillard asked Rioux to lend him a tin goblet, because he had lost his own. The seigneur chose a silver goblet and offered it to the Recollet, who would not take such a precious gift. The master of the house insisted, and finally Father Ambroise accepted it, saying to the seigneur that if he were to die during one of his trips the goblet would be returned to the donor. Next morning the mistress of the house found the famous goblet in the place from which her husband had taken it the day before. Father Ambroise had been drowned while returning to Rimouski. These events took place, the legend tells us, in the year 1768.
Father Ambroise Rouillard’s career resembles that of all the Recollets in New France except that it ended in a tragic death, and the legend of the silver goblet.
Archives des Franciscains (Montréal), Dossier Ambroise Rouillard. Caron, “Inventaire de documents,” APQ Rapport, 1941–42, 223. Jouve, Les Franciscains et Le Canada: aux Trois-Rivières, 220. Trudel, L’Église canadienne. J.-C. Taché, “Le gobelet d’argent du père Ambroise,” BRH, IV (1898), 52–54.