Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Turgeon, Pierre Flavien

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TURGEON, PIERRE FLAVIEN (1787–1867), Roman catholic archbishop of Quebec, was born at Quebec on 12 Nov. 1787, was ordained priest in 1810, was appointed to the chair of theology in the Quebec seminary in 1814, and was made director in 1821. From 1808 he was secretary to Mgr. Plessis, accompanied that prelate to England and Rome in 1819–20, and had much to do in settling the status of the Roman catholic church in Canada and in obtaining recognition for the episcopate. The French ambassador at Rome fruitlessly opposed the issue of a bull (28 Feb. 1834) appointing him bishop of Sidyme in partibus and coadjutor to Mgr. Signay, the then Roman catholic bishop of Quebec ‘cum futura successione,’ on the ground, it is said, of his pro-English leanings, which had been shown in the war of 1812. They were seen later in the rebellion of 1837 and in his support of the union of 1841. He became administrator in November 1849, and succeeded as archbishop in October 1850, receiving the pallium on 11 June following. He continued to discharge the duties of his office till 1855, when he was stricken with paralysis, and resigned the administration to his coadjutor and successor, Mgr. Baillargeon. He died on 25 Aug. 1867.

Turgeon was the second titular archbishop of Quebec, but was the first to organise the province. Under him met the first (1851) and second (1854) councils of Quebec, both of which were attended by all Roman catholic bishops of British North America. He founded Laval University, the royal charter of which is dated 8 Dec. 1852, and, canonical sanction having in the meantime been obtained, he opened it on 1 Sept. 1854 with a full complement of faculties and a number of affiliated colleges. La Maison du Bon Pasteur was also instituted by him, and he is credited with a principal share in the ecclesiastical ordinances passed by the special council of 1839 as preliminary to the union of 1841: i.e. ordinances (1) recognising the Montreal episcopate, (2) confirming the ecclesiastical title to Montreal Island Saint Sulpice, and Lake of the Two Mountains, (3) repealing the Mortmain Act (1830) and providing that religious bodies may hold immovable property in the name of trustees as civil corporations.

[L'Abbé Tanguay's Répertoire Général du Clergé Canadien, p. 9; Bibaud's Le Panthéon Canadien, p. 288; Turcotte's Canada sous l'Union, i. 92–6, ii. 148, 278–82; Garneau's Hist. du Can. iii. 226; Lareau's Hist. du Droit Canadien, ii. 443–6, 454–7.]

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