VALLIER, FRANÇOIS-ELZÉAR, priest, canon, and theologal of the chapter of Quebec, promoter of the officiality, procurator and superior of the seminary of Quebec, ecclesiastical councillor on the Conseil Supérieur of New France; b. 1707 in the diocese of Apt, France; d. 16 Jan. 1747 in Quebec.
François-Elzéar Vallier landed at Quebec along with Bishop Dosquet*, coadjutor to Louis-François Duplessis de Mornay, bishop of Quebec, and Louis Bertrand* de Latour, dean of the chapter, on 2 Sept. 1729. It was the coadjutor who had urged the directors of the Séminaire des Missions Étrangères in Paris to send him to Canada. When the procurator, Henri-Jean Tremblay, announced to his fellow religious of the seminary of Quebec that Vallier was coming, he mentioned specifically that the bishop was counting on using him “for the instruction of the young ecclesiastics as well as the youths who are being educated for that state.” M. Vallier, wrote the procurator, “is a very virtuous ecclesiastic, both pious and fitted for studies, of the most gentle disposition, and thus I believe that you will do well to make him a director.” Dosquet also had the highest opinion of his protégé. “He has a superior mind,” he wrote in 1731, “extraordinary talent for learning, and above all for making himself liked by everyone.”
Abbé Vallier, who was only a deacon, received the priesthood on 23 Sept. 1730. But his superiors had not waited for his ordination to entrust to him the teaching of the pupils and seminarists. They could not have made a better choice, since the young priest, reported Dosquet, had “done his philosophy at 12 years of age,” and had “taught since his boyhood.” According to the bishop his lectures on theology were received “with general applause.” Someone so brilliant and endowed with such an agreeable character could not fail to advance more rapidly than usual. In 1732 he was elected a director of the seminary, and the following year he became procurator. The directors in Paris were delighted to see that Vallier had won the confidence and affection of his associates, and on 14 May 1734 they appointed him superior of the seminary of Quebec.
At that time the seminary was going through a critical period. It was bending under the burden of large debts and found itself exposed to the rivalries which were setting Canadian clerics against French. The superior succeeded in surmounting all obstacles, and the happy effects of his administration soon made themselves felt. In 1736 the directors in Paris congratulated their colleagues in Quebec on the “great peacefulness” and “very good understanding” which reigned among them. The financial situation also improved. In 1742 the most pressing debts were paid off, and four years later it was noted in Paris that at the present rate, the seminary of Quebec would in a short time be able to send money to France.
Dosquet and his successor, Bishop Pontbriand [Dubreil], who arrived in New France in 1741, did not fail to put Vallier’s talents to use. Dosquet had him appointed by the king theologal of the chapter on 18 Feb. 1732; he named him superior of the Hôpital Général, a post he held from 1734 to 1740, and chose him as his procurator in 1734 and 1737. Pontbriand appointed him promoter of the officiality on 3 Nov. 1741 and obtained for him the office of ecclesiastical councillor on the Conseil Supérieur of New France in 1743.
In 1739 a serious illness had forced Vallier to seek treatment in his native land. When his fellow ecclesiastics in Quebec expressed to him their fear of never seeing him again, the superior replied that he had absolutely no intention of remaining in France. He saw a single obstacle to his return. This, he wrote, “could come from my superiors, but far from taking measures different from those which your benevolence leads you to desire for me, they are most firmly resolved to send me back as soon as possible.” He returned to Canada as promised, in 1741, on the same ship as Pontbriand.
Vallier was to die too early, a victim of his zeal. At the beginning of 1747 many English prisoners, stricken with contagious diseases, were at the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec. The superior, who knew their language slightly, and some priests from the seminary generously went to their aid. But Vallier had overestimated his strength. On 16 January he died at the Hôtel-Dieu of the fevers which he had caught while giving medical care without regard to himself. His loss was deeply felt at the seminary and in the whole colony, as one can read in the eulogy which his fellow ecclesiastics in the chapter devoted to him in their record of deliberations: “He was endowed with all the virtues and had all the qualities and talents that one can desire in a perfect servant of Jesus Christ. He was gentle and kindly, with a quick and penetrating mind, great judgement, and unparalleled prudence which always caused him to be calm and of equable temperament. Above all, he combined deep humility with great and widespread learning, true mortification and disregard for himself with complete detachment, unlimited charity towards all the afflicted with an untiring zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of souls which was always guided by the spirit of obedience.”
AAQ, 12 A, Registres d’insinuations A; 12 A Registres d’insinuations B; B, Chapitre de la cathédrale de Québec. AN, Col., D2C, 222/2, p.287 (PAC transcript). ASQ, Brouillard, 1732–1749; Évêques, 179; Lettres, M, 67–112; S, 105; mss, 12; Polygraphie, IV, 74. Provost, Le séminaire de Québec: documents et biographies. P.-G. Roy, Inv. jug. et délib., 1717–1760, IV. Gosselin, L’Église du Canada jusqu’à la conquête, III. Mgr de Saint-Vallier et l’Hôpital Général, 710, 712. Henri Têtu, “Le chapitre de la cathédrale de Québec et ses délégués en France,” BRH, XIV (1908), 106.