GUICHART, VINCENT-FLEURI (also called Guichart de Kersident), Sulpician priest and missionary; b. 13 April 1729 at Bannalec, France, son of Sylvestre Guichart and Françoise-Marie Cozer; d. 16 Oct. 1793 in Montreal (Que.).
On 17 Oct. 1749 Vincent-Fleuri Guichart joined the Robertins in Paris, a religious community which provided training for the priesthood under the guidance of the Sulpicians. He joined the Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice on 22 March 1754, was ordained priest eight days later, and left for Canada on 13 May, reaching Montreal on 5 September. Guichart was to serve in the mission of Lac-des-Deux-Montagnes (Oka) for the rest of his life, except when he was curate of Notre-Dame in Montreal from 1767 to 1777.
On his arrival at Lac-des-Deux-Montagnes on 9 Nov. 1754, he was given the responsibility of ministering to the Algonkins, whose language he quickly learned. Manuscripts that he wrote in this language, including a dictionary, sermons, prayers, songs, and examinations of conscience, are still extant. He also began to learn Iroquois, and sermons written in it have been found dating from 1761.
In 1777, at the end of his service as curate at Notre-Dame in Montreal, Guichart was reappointed to Lac-des-Deux-Montagnes. The following year he became the mission’s bursar and in 1784 its superior, succeeding Pierre-Paul-François de Lagarde. As a missionary he administered the sacraments, preached, taught both Canadians and Indians, and managed the Sulpicians’ seigneury.
The registers indicate that from 1777 to 1793 there was an average of 65 baptisms, 12 marriages, and 30 burials annually. Bishop Jean-François Hubert made pastoral visits in 1786 and 1791, confirming 143 persons on the first occasion. Since there were not many Sulpicians in Canada, Guichart was assisted during his first three years as superior by Antoine-Théodore Braun, a priest of German extraction who served as bursar and missionary to the Iroquois. Braun was able to exercise a good influence despite the mission’s poverty and lack of food but he left suddenly in September 1787. The stir caused by his departure subsided only slowly after the arrival of Michel-Félicien Leclerc*, the. first Canadian Sulpician missionary.
Guichart had to resolve numerous difficulties in the practical management of the mission. From 1763 the community had been disturbed by Iroquois claims to a part of the seigneury [see François-Auguste Magon de Terlaye]. It is possible that he mentioned quitting his post; on 25 Sept. 1787 a group of Mississaugas and Algonkins presented him with a necklace “six feet long and half a foot wide” to keep him from going away and abandoning them and also four dollars, in return for which Guichart said a high mass for them. The presence of whites posed other problems for the missionaries, since merchants brought spirits into the mission. Étienne Montgolfier, superior of the Sulpicians, had urged Guichart in 1784 to avoid violence in fighting the traders. The whites also wanted to settle on lands belonging to the Sulpicians, and from 1784 to 1793 Guichart had to resist the claims of Eustache-Ignace Trottier Desrivières-Beaubien, who even took his case to the Court of Appeal but without success.
During the final months of his life Guichart lost the use of his legs. While Michel Leclerc carried on the ministry, Guichart kept the parish registers. He was recalled to the Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice in Montreal because of his health and died there on 16 Oct. 1793. He was buried the next day beneath Notre-Dame. Montgolfier noted in 1784 that Guichart was intelligent but could be employed in virtually no work other than that of the mission. Contemporary accounts often mention the beauty of his voice, which was said to have been “sweeter than the swan’s song.”
AD, Finistère (Quimper), État civil, Bannalec, 13 avril 1729. Archives civiles, Terrebonne (Saint-Jérôme, Qué.), État civil, L’Annonciation (Oka) (copy at PAC). ASSM, 8, A; 24, Dossier 2, Dossier 6. Gauthier, Sulpitiana (1926), 221. Louis Bertrand, Bibliothèque sulpicienne, ou histoire littéraire de la Compagnie de Saint-Sulpice (3v., Paris, 1900). Olivier Maurault, “Nos Messieurs” (Montréal, 1936). Pierre Rousseau, Saint-Sulpice et les missions catholiques (Montréal, 1930). J.-A. Cuoq, “Anotc kekon,” RSC Trans., 1st ser., XI (1893), sect.i, 137–79.