Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
August 2004

Biographies of Prominent Quebec and Canadian

Historical Figures


Édouard Hamon




Damien-Claude Bélanger,

Department of History,

McGill University

Clergyman and playwright, was born at Vitré, in Brittany, France. He was educated at Angers and at Saint-Acheul, France. In 1861 he entered the Society of Jesus and taught history and grammar at the Collège de Vaugirard and at l'École libre de Metz from 1865 to 1868. He immigrated to North America in 1868 and lectured briefly at Fordham College, New York's Jesuit University, before coming to teach at Montreal's Collège Sainte-Marie, where he would remain until 1879. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest at Woodstock, Maryland, in 1872 and took his final Jesuit vow in 1878. Though nominally attached to the Montreal parish of l'Immaculée-Conception, Hamon would dedicate the next several years to preaching retreats throughout Canada and the United States. He was instrumental in the creation of the popular Ligue du Sacré-Coeur and served as the superior of the Jesuit Order's Quebec City residence from 1897 to 1900. He returned to itinerant preaching at the turn of the century and died while preaching a retreat at Leeds, Quebec, in 1904. Like most of Quebec's clergymen, Father Hamon was deeply concerned by the emigration of French Canadians to New England . A popular preacher, he had spent a great deal of time in New England's petits Canadas and was familiar with the emigrant's plight. In 1882 he published Exil et patrie, a play that condemned emigration and promoted the colonization of the Ottawa Valley. However, he is best remembered for his seminal Les Canadiens-Français de la Nouvelle-Angleterre (1891), an essay that denounced emigration, but that nevertheless portrayed the emigrant as an instrument of God's will. Indeed, his providential interpretation of emigration played a significant role in changing the highly negative attitude that Quebec's elite had held of the emigrant. Like Edmond de Nevers, Father Hamon believed that the United States would eventually break up, and that several new republics would emerge from its ashes. This disintegration, coupled with the rapid expansion of Franco-America, lead him to prophesize that "qu'avant longtemps, les deux fractions du peuple Canadien (sic), celle qui habite la terre des ancêtres et celle qui a déjà franchi la frontière américaine, se rejoindront et pourront alors se donner la main pour ne plus former qu'un seul peuple."




© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College