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d. 23 April 1845 at Wellington Square (Burlington), Upper Canada


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YOUNG, JOSEPH-MARIE (originally Jacques-Victor-Joseph-Marie Yung; also called Jean-Marie and various combinations of his original given names; Lejeune; Yung, dit Lejeune; Yong; and Yonge), brother, Cleric of St Viator, and educator; b. 1820 in Metz, France, son of Nicolas Yung and Thérèse-Élisabeth Marcus; d. 13 July 1897 in Montreal and was buried 15 July in Joliette, Que.

Joseph-Marie Young lost his hearing when he was five years old. Since his family was well off, he was given an excellent education at the Institut des Sourds-Muets in Nancy, France. Subsequently he taught at the Institution des Sourds-Muets in Soissons. He tried twice to become a religious, but ill health stood in his way. When he was teaching at the Institution des Sourds-Muets in Lyons in 1854, he met Bishop Ignace Bourget* of Montreal, who had come to France looking for teachers to revive the Institution des Sourds-Muets de Montréal [see Charles-Irénée Lagorce*]. Shortly thereafter Young entered the noviciate of the Clerics of St Viator at Vourles, near Lyons, and he took his vows in October 1855.

In December Brother Young arrived in Montreal and with a team of young members of his community immediately took charge of the institution for deaf and mute pupils. Located at Coteau-Saint-Louis (also called Saint-Louis-du-Mile-End), it was officially Catholic and bilingual. Early in January 1856 its prospectus and curriculum, prepared by Young and published in the newspapers, announced that it would provide instruction in dactylology, or sign language using the fingers instead of gesticulation, and that all the subjects on the course of study, which differed little from that of contemporary model schools, would be taught in writing and sign language.

From 1856 to 1897 Young devoted himself primarily to the education of deaf mute pupils; he also served as head of the bookbinding shop and, in later years, as librarian and infirmarian. As director and bursar of the school until 1863, he was responsible for its pedagogical and material administration. He introduced in Montreal the best methods being used at the time in France and the United States. To make it easier for less gifted children to memorize, he composed a shorter catechism containing only the essentials of faith and including sign language written above the French words. This teaching aid was undoubtedly the basis for the catechisms published by teachers at the institution from 1876. To ensure that his work would go on, Young trained dependable associates, among them Alfred Bélanger, Prosper Thériault, and Damien Mainville. From 1873, when the establishment was incorporated as the Institution Catholique des Sourds-Muets pour la Province de Québec, until the end of his life he sat on the board of trustees.

From 10 pupils in 1855–56 (a time when there were about 900 deaf mute people in Lower Canada), the Montreal school had grown by 1897 to more than 100 boarders, taught by a staff of some 30 teachers and shop instructors. Under the impetus of Young and the able leadership of his successor as director, Father Alfred Bélanger, there was rapid progress. Speech and articulation were being taught from 1870, and the young students learned various trades, including farming. In 1893 the institution participated in the world’s Columbian exposition in Chicago.

Brother Young engaged in a diversity of activities beyond its walls. From the time of his arrival in Montreal he had been involved in teaching religion to deaf and mute adults, meeting them on Sundays, generally in a city church, sometimes in as many as three different places on the same day. In addition he paid visits to prepare them to receive the sacraments, a service he also provided for the elderly sheltered in the institution. He accompanied the priests of the community on their travels about Canadian dioceses and collaborated in preaching to deaf and dumb audiences.

In the course of his long career Joseph-Marie Young had himself become a symbol of the cause he had made his life’s work. Being deaf and mute himself, he was living proof that people so afflicted could be brought out of their mutism. His extraordinary ability to express himself with gestures enabled him to make himself universally understood, even by those who knew no sign language but thronged to his Sunday classes in religion. An impressive figure with a patriarchal beard, Young played a highly significant role through his exceptional gifts as a communicator, his colourful personality, and the quality of his religious life. As an educator, he influenced not only the deaf but also the government, the clergy, and the public, all of whom had originally been insensitive to the cause.

Léo-Paul Hébert

Joseph-Marie Young is the author of the following manuscripts held by the Arch. des Clercs de Saint-Viateur (Montréal): “Aspirations affectueuses et pieuses envers St Viateur ou rayons du nom de St Viateur”; “Le chemin du paradis; recueil de prières diverses”; “Diverses prières à St Viateur”; and “Recueil de méditations de la vie de saint Viateur, patron de la Société des Clercs de Saint-Viateur.” He also wrote the prayers included in the last six pages of “Élévations du religieux de St Viateur ou l’âme religieuse sanctifiée par la prière en union avec St Viateur . . .” (1871).

Two inventories of archival holdings are useful, the first prepared by Father François Prud’homme, c.s.v., in 1977, “Archives des Clercs de Saint-Viateur – archives de la direction générale – documentation concernant les provinces et les établissements du Canada, 1841–1919,” and the other entitled Congrégation des Clercs de Saint-Viateur – archives canadiennes – documentation de provenance extérieure sur les Clercs de Saint-Viateur canadiens conservée en diverses archives du Canada, 1844–1919 (Outremont, 1980). Both may be consulted on microflm at the Arch. des Clercs de Saint-Viateur at Joliette (Que.), and in Rome, as well as at the NA and the ANQ. Some correspondence relating to Young is in vols.5 and 6 of the Dossier Amérique (6v. polycopiés, Coteau-du-Lac, Qué., 1955–59), in vols.33 and 34 of the Dossier Querbes (44v. polycopiés, Rome, 1973–77), and in vols.7 and 8 of the Documents (14v., Coteau-du-Lac), all of which may be consulted at the congregation’s archives at Outremont.

ACAM, 355.107, 856–1; 465.105, 854–26, 855–1, 855–4, 855–9, 855-I8, 856–24, 858–8; 789.008; 901.055, 855–39; 901.077, 855–6, 855–9, 856–2; RLB, IX: 254–56, 296–98, 305–6; XVIII: 147. ANQ-M, CE5–24, 15 juill. 1897. Arch. de l’Institution des sourds-muets (Montréal), Articles de journaux, B, 34; C, 6–7, 12, 27, 36, 49, 52, 55, 58, 71; “Mémoire sur l’oeuvre des sourds-muets catholiques de la province de Québec” (Montréal, 1912); Reg. 105: 27, 61, 254–56; 106: 14; 108: 6; 114: 6, 26–27; 116: 43. Arch. des Clercs de Saint-Viateur (Montréal), Étienne Champagneur, “Annales de la Société de Saint-Viateur en Canada,” 1857–73; Corr., Bourget à Young, 15 oct. 1855; Champagneur, circulaire, 20 déc. 1855; Champagneur à Young, lettre d’obédience, 8 sept. 1862; Favre à Lajoie, 5 avril 1870, 21 déc. 1871; Querbes à Champagneur, 13 nov. 1855, 3 déc. 1857; Dossier Institution des sourds-muets, rapports des visites canoniques; copie de corr. diverses; Institution des sourds-muets, renseignements antérieurs aux ordos de l’institution, 1848–95; Sér.N, dossier J.-M. Y[o]ung. Arch. des Clercs de Saint-Viateur (Rome), Corr., Bourget à Querbes, 22 mars 1857; Champagneur à Querbes, 11 nov. 1856, 20 avril 1857; Damais à Querbes, 9 janv. 1856; Jacques-Duhaut à Querbes, 6 févr. 1856; Lagorce à Querbes, 18 janv. 1856; Lagorce à LaRocque, 19 mars 1856; Parot à Young, 18 oct. 1855; Young à Querbes, 17 janv. 1855, 4 janv. 1856, 31 août 1859; Young à Favre, 15 janv., 11 juin 1860. Ignace Bourget, Circulaire de Sa Grandeur Mgr l’évêque de Montréal au sujet des sourds-muets (Montréal, 1856). É.-C. Fabre, “Les sourds-muets [circulaire aux curés de la ville et de la banlieue de Montréal, 18 févr. 1883],” La Minerve, 27 févr. 1883. L’Étoile du Nord (Joliette), 15 juill. 1897. La Minerve, 27 févr. 1883. Le Monde (Montréal), 1er mars 1873, 27 mars 1893. La Presse, 3 juin 1893, 14 juill. 1897. [J.-P. Archambault], Une oeuvre sociale: l’Institution des sourds-muets . . . (Montréal, 1949). Antoine Bernard, Les Clercs de Saint-Viateur au Canada (2v., Montréal, 1947–51), 1: 229, 237, 326, 415, 587. Benoît Levesque, “Naissance et implantation des Clercs de Saint-Viateur au Canada, 1847–1870” (thèse de ma, univ. de Sherbrooke, Qué., 1971). [J.-B. Manseau], Notes historiques sur l’Institution catholique des sourds-muets pour la province de Québec . . . (Montréal, 1893). Léon Pouliot, Monseigneur Bourget et son temps (5v., Montréal, 1955–77), 3: 118. Pierre Robert, Vie du père Louis Querbes, fondateur de l’Institut des Clercs de Saint-Viateur (1793–1859) (Bruxelles, 1922), 544–47, 553, 556. “Frère Jean-Marie-Joseph Young,” Institut des Clercs de Saint-Viateur, Annuaire (Montréal), 7 (1897–98): 113–19. Augustin Groc, “Conférence . . . un coup d’oeil sur le passé,” L’Ami des sourds-muets (Montréal), 1 (1908–9), no.9: 56–59; no.11: 73. “Le R. P. Alfred Bélanger (1835–1910),” Institut des Clercs de Saint-Viateur, Annuaire, 20 (1911): 28–38. Corinne Rocheleau-Rouleau, “Parler est chose facile, vous croyez?” RHAF, 4 (1950–51): 345–74.

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Léo-Paul Hébert, “YOUNG, JOSEPH-MARIE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 12, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed April 23, 2017, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/young_joseph_marie_12E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/young_joseph_marie_12E.html
Author of Article: Léo-Paul Hébert
Title of Article: YOUNG, JOSEPH-MARIE
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 12
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1990
Year of revision: 1990
Access Date: April 23, 2017