Religion played a vital role in the lives of all early Canadians. A bible could probably be found in all Protestant homes and a catechism in most Roman Catholic ones. Because of the size of bibles, it was much cheaper to import them than to print them locally. The smaller catechism, on the other hand, had a long printing history in Quebec. Canadian printing of other religious books took the form of hymn-books, sermons, lives of saints, reprints of foreign publications, and numerous translations into the various Native languages. Each religious movement had its newspaper which often had more subscribers than many of the popular dailies.
The catechism is the work which teaches Catholics what they should know and do in order to lead a Christian life. It must be precise, clear and accessible to all, especially to children. Throughout the history of French Canada, it is, with the almanac, the most common book to be found in the home. It is the equivalent of the Bible for Protestants. The first catechism printed in Canada is the Catéchisme du diocèse de Sens. Two editions were printed by Brown and Gilmore in Quebec in 1765 and 1766 (see the section entitled Book-Object). The second is the Catéchisme à l'usage du diocèse de Québec, written by Bishop Jean-Olivier Briand, and printed in Montreal by Fleury Mesplet in 1777. The first official catechism written by a Canadian-born priest, Bishop Joseph-Octave Plessis, was Le Petit Catéchisme du diocèse de Québec published in 1815. Many modifications were incorporated in these works during the next 150 years.
Although Bishop Briand's catechism was no longer approved by the religious authorities after 1815, father François-Xavier Pigeon (1778-1838), printer in Saint-Philippe, put out two editions, in 1825 and 1827. Copy from the collections of Victor Morin and G.-A. Daviault.
Mgr Jean-Olivier Briand, 1715-1794
Catéchisme à l'usage du diocèse de Québec.
Saint Philippe, Québec: Impr. ecclésiastique, 1825. 84 p.
The first official catechism written by a native Canadian.
Mgr Joseph-Octave Plessis, 1763-1825
Le Petit Catéchisme du diocèse de Québec. Nouv. éd. approuvée et autorisée.
Montréal: Imprimé par Rolland & Thompson, 1845. 71 p.
|English translation of this catechism "of compromise" which was used from 1888 to 1950. This copy was bound and distributed by the large French-language retail store Dupuis Frères which made sure to include an English-language ad inside the covers.|
||The Catechism of the Ecclesiastical Provinces of Quebec, Montreal and Ottawa... Translated from the French. New edition.
Quebec, 1945. xiv, 103 p.
The catechism of "modern times."
Catéchisme catholique. Édition canadienne.
Québec, 1953. 287 p.
|Prayer book in the Montagnais language. It is the first full-length book in a Native language printed in Canada, and one of the few used in Canada during the 18th century.|
|| Jean-Baptiste de La Brosse, 1724-1782
Nehiro-iriniui aiamihe massinahigan, Shatshegutsh, Mitinekapitsh, ...
Uabistiguiatsh [Quebec]: Massinahitsetuau, Broun gaie Girmor [Brown and Gilmore], 1767. 96 p.
|The author's copy with this note: "J. Jacob. Pulpit, St. John the Bapt. Church Walpole Island, May 5, 1895." Walpole Island reservation is situated at the mouth of the St. Clair River in Ontario.|
A Collection of Ojibway and English Hymns Re-arranged, Revised and Published by the Reverend John Jacobs, Missionary to the Indians of Walpole Island. Third edition.
Sarnia, Ont.: Printed at the office of the Sarnia Canadian, 1895. v, 488 p.