NAVIÈRES, JOSEPH, parish priest; b. and baptized 12 June 1709 in the parish of Saint-Michel-des-Lions in Limoges, France, son of Jean Navières, a merchant, and Madeleine Sicot; d. 25 Dec. 1756 at Saint-Paul d’Eyjeaux, Limousin, France.
Joseph Navières was ordained a priest on 14 Dec. 1733 and at the end of June 1734 he left France for Canada, sailing on the ship which was carrying Bishop Dosquet*. He landed at Saint-Joachim on 13 August, reached Quebec by land the next day and was appointed parish priest of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, where he went on 25 August. Shortly after he wrote a letter to his friend, M. Veyssière, curate of the collegiate church of Saint-Martial de Limoges. In this letter he gave a picturesque and sometimes humorous account of the voyage from Newfoundland to Quebec. Then he described Lower Town, “where all the merchants live,” and Upper Town, “which is inhabited by what we commonly call the bourgeois.” All the houses were built of stone “and except for three or four which are roofed with slate, the others have roofs made of wood shaped like slates, which nevertheless is not disagreeable in appearance.” The town was well situated and “it is not less well fortified than the fortress towns of France.” The population was dense, and “the people there are gracious, courteous, decent, kind, everything in the manner of Paris, which they pride themselves on following.”
At the end of August Navières went to his parish of Sainte-Anne; he explained to his friend Veyssière that it was “located not quite seven leagues from Quebec on the shore of the St Lawrence River, in a broad plain about ten leagues in length which is fertile and pleasant.” His church, he wrote, was “one of the most beautiful and most finely embellished in Canada. . . . The country churches in France are not comparable to that in the region where I live.” He praised the variety of liturgical ornaments, “all of them clean and beautiful; the consecrated vessels, costly and in silver gilt; the immense church, decorated with pictures given as votive offerings. . . . The high altar is architecturally exceptional, and the retable surpasses in richness and magnificence everything that I have seen.” He observed that “relics in the church are very popular and are held in great veneration; the main one, although it is the smallest, is a well-authenticated part of the hand of St Anne.” Pilgrims flocked there, “which causes me no small inconvenience.” Joseph Navières emphasized that he had “in abundance everything necessary to live well”; he lacked only a good cook, and he regretted that he was not familiar with “this science, so necessary for a parish priest, particularly in Canada, where good cooks are as rare as wine.”
The following year, in a letter addressed to M. Romanet de Briderie and dated 28 Sept. 1735, he pointed out among other things that there were “almost no poor in Canada; the least favoured with fortune do not lack good wheaten bread.” In October 1737, however, he confided to his sister that his income was scanty, despite the great numbers of pilgrims, and that he found it hard to put up with the solitude in which he was confined for long months each year and with the lack of books “in this country where there is neither a printing press nor a bookshop.”
Joseph Navières left his parish 3 Sept. 1740 and returned to France. On his arrival he announced the death of Bishop Lauberivière [Pourroy*] to Canon Pierre Hazeur* de L’Orme, at that time the delegate in France of the chapter of the cathedral of Quebec. His return had not been without difficulty. Indeed he had to make a stay in the port of Flushing (Neth.), for the ship on which he was travelling was captured. He was able to resume his journey immediately, however, since France was not at war.
Shortly after his return Joseph Navières was appointed parish priest of Saint-Sylvestre de Grandmont, Marche, then on 15 May 1755 archpriest of Saint-Paul d’Eyjeaux, where he died on Christmas day, 1756.
AD, Haute-Vienne (Limoges), G 689, 14 déc. 1733. Bibliothèque municipale de Limoges (France), État civil, Saint-Michel-des-Lions, 12 juin 1709. “Un voyage à la Nouvelle-France (Canada) sous Louis XV (1734); relation inédite,” Ludovic Drapeyron, édit., Revue de géographie (Paris), X, no.1 (1882), 81–105. “Un voyage à la Nouvelle-France en 1734,” Benjamin Sulte, édit., Revue canadienne, 2e sér., VI (1886), 15–25. “Sainte-Anne de Beaupré,” Annales de la Bonne Sainte Anne de Beaupré (Québec), XXXIV (1906), 102–6, 133–37. Henri Têtu, “Le chapitre de la cathédrale de Québec et ses délégués en France,” BRH, XIV (1908), 103–4; XVI (1910), 294–95.