TOURNOIS, JEAN-BAPTISTE, priest, Jesuit, missionary; b. 1 Jan. 1710 at Orchies, Flanders (now dept. of Nord, France); d. at his birthplace sometime after 1761.
Jean-Baptiste Tournois entered the Society of Jesus in Tournai (Belgium) on 27 Sept. 1727. He arrived in Quebec in June or July 1741 and almost immediately joined Father Luc-François Nau at the Sault-Saint-Louis (Caughnawaga) mission, where the Desauniers sisters, Marie-Madeleine, Marie-Anne, and Marguerite, had been running a store since 1726. They were suspected of smuggling with the English in Albany, New York, under cover of honest trade with the Indians. The minister of Marine, Maurepas, ordered that their store be closed in 1742; two years later he repeated his order to the colonial authorities.
In 1744 Tournois, who since his arrival had been closing his eyes to this trade, was named superior of the mission, replacing Nau who was returning to France. The new superior did not change his attitude, considering it preferable that the Indians should not have to go to Montreal to buy what they needed, since they easily found brandy there. In 1745 Maurepas ordered the expulsion of the Desauniers from Sault-Saint-Louis and made it clear that the king wished to see these tradeswomen retire to Montreal or Quebec. Two years later the Desauniers were still in business at Sault-Saint-Louis, and Governor La Galissonière [Barrin] tolerated their presence in the mission during his term of office. Upon the arrival of the new governor, La Jonquière [Taffanel], in the autumn of 1749, an inquiry confirmed to his satisfaction the veracity of the accusations against the Desauniers.
Tournois became concerned about this situation and obtained an audience with the governor for his Indians, in the course of which they asserted their right to trade with the English colonies. La Jonquière had no choice but to rebuke the Indians, and they declared that Tournois had told them what to say and that the Desauniers ran the smuggling with the Jesuits. During a visit to the mission Governor La Jonquière ascertained that there was a large quantity of English goods there, and Tournois explained that these goods were much less expensive and of much better quality than French goods. La Jonquière recognized the validity of this argument, but in May 1750 he had Tournois come to Quebec, and a year later forced him to return to France, with the Desauniers sisters, on board the Chariot Royal.
The court upheld La Jonquière but reproached him for having publicized the affair too much and above all for not finding a means of persuading the missionary to end the illicit trade at Sault-Saint-Louis. In addition he was blamed for having withdrawn the missionary without consulting Bishop Pontbriand [Dubreil] and Father Gabriel Marcol, the Jesuits’ superior.
Tournois stayed for two years in Cambrai. In 1753 he went to Valenciennes, and in 1761 he left that city during the events which preceded the suppression of the Society of Jesus in France. He took refuge at Orchies, where he died at an unknown date. Other than the Sault-Saint-Louis incident, Tournois left behind him the memory of a strong-willed man, capable of understanding but also of firmness towards the Indians. His successors were not satisfactory, and in 1754 Governor Duquesne* requested without success that Tournois, the person who had “best directed the Sault-Saint-Louis mission,” be sent back to Canada.
AN, Col., B, 75, f.57v; 78, f.20; 81, ff.32, 41v; 85, f.3; 93, ff.19–20; 94, f.32; 95, f.31; C11A, 95, ff.163–82. JR (Thwaites), LXIX, 56–58, 76, 236, 296, 304; LXXI, 174–75. “Les malignités du sieur de Courville,” BRH, L (1944), 72. E. J. Devine, Historic Caughnawaga (Montreal, 1922), 239–40, 248–51. Lanctot, History of Canada, III. J.-G. Forbes, “Saint-François-Xavier de Caughnawaga,” BRH, V (1899), 137.