Sixteen years as a priest in France may have prepared Monsignor Joseph-Bruno Guigues for the theological issues he faced as the first Bishop of Bytown, but they almost certainly did not prepare him for the physical and organizational challenges he would be required to meet. When he was consecrated in 1848, the Diocese of Ottawa contained 40,000 Catholics. This flock was spread out over much of what is today Eastern Ontario; as mentioned in the previous post, Guigues might be expected to travel 320 kilometres away to Temiscaming and his missionaries might need to reach as far as James Bay. Furthermore, Guigues didn’t even have a formal seat of office for the first five years of his posting, until Notre Dame was completed; to add insult to injury, the hot water heating system was not installed until two years after his death.
Despite the many issues he faced, however, Guigues made his mark. During his 26 years in office (from his ordination until his death in 1874), Guigues founded Catholic schools across his diocese, including the College of Bytown (today the University of Ottawa and St. Pauls University), and erected 43 other parishes and missions across the region. Upon his death, Guigues received a large funeral attended by most local notables; flags flew at half-mast across the city. Today, he is remembered by a statue on one side of Notre Dame Basilica and by a street named in his honour on the other.
In the years following the death of Guigues there have been other notable Archbishops (for Guigues was both the first and last Bishop of Bytown; his successors were the Archbishops of Ottawa). Joseph Thomas Duhamel, his successor and the first Archbishop, presided over the separation of the Diocese into smaller components, only some of which remain under the jurisdiction of Ottawa today, and remained as Archbishop until his death from a heart attack in 1909. Marie-Joseph Lemieux, Archbishop from 1953-1966, had previously been a priest in Japan and Haiti, and would go on to run St. Peters in Rome. The current Archbishop, Terrence Prendergast (and also the first whose name is not French in origin), has taught theology for most of his career at locations as diverse as the University of Toronto, Jerusalem, and Halifax; he was also the Archbishop of Halifax prior to assuming his current role in 2007. The posting is a distinguished one in a distinguished location; when visiting Notre Dame today, keep in mind the individuals who have made it what it is. I hope you all enjoyed this post, and have a wonderful day.
1 Ottawa Citizen. “Roman Catholic archdiocese turns 100.” May 5, 1986.
2 Ottawa Citizen. “Roman Catholic archdiocese turns 100.” May 5, 1986.
3 Taylor, C.J. Manuscript Report Number 268: Some Early Ottawa Buildings. Ottawa: Parks Canada Historical Research Section, 1975. 353.
4 Ottawa Citizen. “Roman Catholic archdiocese turns 100.” May 5, 1986.
5 Ottawa Citizen. “Roman Catholic archdiocese turns 100.” May 5, 1986.
6 Ottawa Citizen. “Roman Catholic archdiocese turns 100.” May 5, 1986.
7 Montreal Gazette. “Mgr. Duhamel Dead: Archbishop of Ottawa Dies Suddenly at Casselman.” June 7, 1909.
8 Ottawa Citizen. “Roman Catholic archdiocese turns 100.” May 5, 1986.
9 Archdiocese of Ottawa. “Office of the Archbishop.” Last modified 2007.