DUPRÉ, FRANÇOIS, member of the community of priests of the seminary of Quebec, first parish priest of Champlain, second parish priest of Quebec; b. c. 1648 in France; d. 29 June 1720 at Ancienne-Lorette.
In September 1675, on returning from his second trip to France, Bishop Laval brought back with him a young priest from the diocese of Chartres, François Dupré. Nothing seems to be known today about his origins. All we know of his family is that at the beginning of 1704 he had a brother who was a tradesman in Orléans, another who had been a surgeon and assistant medical officer with the army in Italy and who had died the previous summer, a sister who lived somewhere in France, and a nephew in Canada, probably the Philippe Dupré who was ordained 1 Jan. 1704 by Bishop Laval.
François Dupré first served as a missionary of the seminary of Quebec; then in the autumn of 1678 he became the first parish priest of Champlain. At this period he also served Batiscan, whose parishioners he was obliged to pursue before the Conseil Souverain in 1682 to obtain payment of the tithes. In 1683 he was responsible for about 320 souls. His church was a modest wooden chapel with a thatched roof, 55 ft. long and 25 ft. wide. The following year the parish of Champlain was set up for the second time, and Maitre Dupré took solemn possession of it on 10 June 1685.
He resigned his office 17 March 1687 to succeed Henri de Bernières* at the head of the parish of Notre-Dame in Quebec. Four days later his installation took place in the cathedral, where the next day “to the ringing of the bell and at the end of the minor canonical hours” he was received as an honorary canon of the chapter of Quebec.
He had been chosen “as the person most apt for maintaining concord between the religious and the clergy” but was to become, probably very much despite himself, one of the numerous subjects of dispute between Bishop Saint-Vallier [La Croix] and the priests of the seminary of Quebec. The bishop, it seems, was a long time in pardoning them for appointing a parish priest for Quebec when he himself was absent. In 1693 he even attacked M. Dupré violently, demanding his resignation and threatening to suspend him from the execution of the duties with which he had just been entrusted as first assistant to the superior of the seminary. The members of the seminary regularly retorted that they had acted by virtue of the powers granted them by the union of the parish and the seminary of Quebec at a time when the successor to Bishop Laval was still only his vicar general.
For several years, however, they envisaged replacing at the head of the parish of Quebec someone who admitted to “having difficulty in remaining there because of his limited aptitude for expressing himself in his sermons.” Did M. Dupré’s indiscretion turn the scale? “M. le Curé is charged with being unable to keep anything secret,” wrote the procurator in Paris to the officers of the seminary in June 1707. “It is for this reason,” he continued, “that it is claimed that no one would dare confide any matter either to M. Dupré or to M. Desmaizerais [Ango Des Maizerets]. On the following 6 July Abbé Henri-Jean Tremblay* added however: “I believe that he must be truly humble if he agrees to resign, and if he reverts to a position such as that at Trois-Rivières.”
François Dupré was capable of such humility; he resigned his office on 10 October and ended his days as parish priest at Ancienne-Lorette, where he was buried in the sanctuary of the church. “I have committed myself completely to being directed by my superiors. I have always found my peace in that,” said his letter of resignation.
From 1701 to 1707 he had been spiritual director of the Ursulines, who appreciated his devotion, his wisdom, and his knowledge.
AAQ, Copies de documents, Série A; Église du Canada, I, 20; Registres d’insinuation A, 560, 690. ASQ, Chapitre, 21, 31, 198i, p.14; Lettres, M, 19, pp.34f.; 23, 24, 29, pp.3f.; 30, pp.37–40; 31, 38, pp.21f.; O, 37, p.20; 39, pp.33f.; 41, 45, p.1; 48; R, 6; Paroisse de Québec, 3a, 14–18; Paroisses diverses, 32, 33, 34; Polygraphie, XVIII, 54; XXII, 22, 22a; Séminaire, I, 11. Caron, “Inventaire de documents,” APQ Rapport, 1939–40, 1940–41. Jug. et délib. Mandements des évêques de Québec (Têtu et Gagnon), I, 122. Provost, Le Séminaire de Québec: documents et biographies, 184, 421. Cyprien Tanguay, A travers les registres (Montréal, 1886), 113. Cloutier, Histoire de la paroisse de Champlain. Auguste Gosselin, Henri de Bernières, premier curé de Québec (Les Normands au Canada, Québec, 1902). Les Ursulines de Québec (1866–78), II, 36.