GINGRAS, LOUIS, secular priest and superior of the Séminaire de Québec; b. 5 Sept. 1796 at Saint-Olivier (Saint-Mathias, Quebec), son of Charles Gingras and Marie-Charlotte Blanchard, dit Raynaud; d. 6 March 1866 at Quebec.
Louis Gingras had as a benefactor Abbé Joseph Signay*, then parish priest of Sainte-Marie-de-Monnoir (Marieville), who sent him in 1810 to complete his studies at the Collège de Montréal. There the young man began his clerical training in 1817 and taught successfully for three years. He was ordained priest, however, at Quebec on 5 Nov. 1820. His protector had by then become the parish priest of the cathedral, and Gingras remained with him as curate until 28 Sept. 1821, when Bishop Joseph-Octave Plessis* appointed him missionary at Memramcook, New Brunswick. His health having deteriorated, he was recalled to the Quebec region. He became parish priest in turn of Sainte-Foy in 1825, of Saint-Pierre, Île d’Orléans, on 1 July 1826, serving also Saint-Laurent from 1827, and finally of Cap-Saint-Ignace from 10 Oct. 1832.
On 8 Aug. 1833 Gingras sought and obtained admission to the Séminaire de Québec. After a year’s probation he was not only made a member of the community, but became its bursar, which gave him access to the directors’ council. During his administration he appears to have concerned himself particularly with the seigneury of Île-Jésus. He was elected superior of the seminary in July 1848, and presided over part of the deliberations that led to the creation of the Université Laval. After three years in office he stepped down in favour of Abbé Louis-Jacques Casault, in order to devote himself to the teaching of theology. It was probably as a theologian that Abbé Gingras was summoned by Archbishop Pierre-Favien Turgeon, in August 1851, to sit on the first provincial council of Quebec. He continued as a member of the seminary council, and as such was one of the nine priests to sign the petition of 1852 asking Queen Victoria to grant the charter of the Université Laval. Although his name disappears from the list of teachers at the seminary after 1854, Gingras had further opportunities to show his perspicacity and decisiveness when its superior, Casault, died unexpectedly in 1862, and when its building burned in 1865. Gingras, almost blind during the last 12 years of his life, resigned from the council in 1865, and died in March 1866.
A tradition has been handed down in Gingras’ family to the effect that he once refused a mitre, and indeed it is conceivable that Abbé Signay, who became bishop of Quebec in 1833, may have thought of taking his former protégé as a coadjutor.
AAQ, 210 A, XII, 493, 501, 530; XIII, 217; XIV, 100; XV, 159, 282; 101 CM, 30. ASQ, mss, 676, pp.36–37, 146–54; Polygraphie, XXVI, 48; Séminaire, 75, no.9. L’Abeille (Québec), 13 mars 1879. Université Laval, Annuaire (Québec), 1867–68, 26–30.