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Jean-Baptiste Thibault

Photograph: Father Jean-Baptiste Thibault


Father Jean-Baptiste Thibault.

(December 14, 1810 - April 4, 1879)

Father Jean-Baptiste Thibault was a Catholic secular priest and a missionary. He arrived in St. Boniface in June 1833 and was ordained as a priest on September 8 of the same year. In 1842, he travelled to the Canadian west as a missionary, a journey that lasted six months and took him as far as the Rocky Mountains. Two years later, he founded the Lac Ste. Anne mission in Alberta.

In 1869, Father Thibault was asked by Hector-Louis Langevin to accompany Charles-René-Léonidas d'Irumberry de Salaberry to the Red River colony. The Canadian authorities believed that Thibault would be able to use his strong powers of persuasion in negotiations with Louis Riel. The Métis community, led by Riel, had just prevented William McDougall, lieutenant-governor of the Northwest Territories, from gaining access to the Red River colony. In St. Boniface Father Thibault met with the Métis representatives. They refused to negotiate, arguing that Thibault did not have the authority to negotiate on behalf of the Government of Canada. According to Donald A. Smith, the representative later sent by the Hudson's Bay Company, Father Thibault was not effective in these negotiations. It seems that his discussions with the Métis representatives resulted in reinforcing this group's ties rather than promoting the position of the Canadian government. He played no other role in subsequent events.

Father Thibault remained in St. Boniface for another two years to take care of the St. Francis Xavier parish. He accepted the position of vicar general in the diocese. In 1872, he finally returned to Quebec where he was responsible for the parish of Sainte-Louise, and later the parish of Saint-Denis-de-la-Bouteillerie.


Dorge, Louis. -- "Jean-Baptiste Thibault". -- Dictionnaire biographique du Canada. -- Vol. X. -- [Québec] : Presses de l'Université Laval, 1982. -- P. 740-741