LE PRÉVOST, PIERRE-GABRIEL, parish priest; b. c. 1674; buried 18 Nov. 1756 at Sainte-Foy.
Pierre-Gabriel Le Prévost’s origins are obscure. According to Cyprien Tanguay* he may have been the son of Jacques Le Prévost and Jeanne Fauvault, whose marriage took place on 25 Nov. 1669 in the church of Notre-Dame de Québec. Yet the couple, of whom there is no record after this date, do not seem to have had any children, at least in the colony. Le Prévost’s certificates for the tonsure and priesthood tell us nothing about his origins. His year of birth can, however, be set around 1674, as his burial certificate mentions that he died at 82 years of age.
Le Prévost was ordained a priest in the cathedral of Quebec on 7 Oct. 1714, 13 years after receiving the tonsure. On 13 Jan. 1715 he was appointed parish priest of Notre-Dame-de-Foy de Sainte-Foy. A few weeks later, on 5 February, Le Prévost took possession officially of this parish; he had already been tending it for some time, having entered certificates in the parish registry since 28 Sept. 1714, when he was only a deacon. On 8 Nov. 1756, after a ministry of more than 41 years, he entered his last certificate in the registry as priest of this parish. He died soon after, leaving a will dated 15 Nov. 1756 which he was unable to sign having been overwhelmed by great weakness. He was buried on 18 November 1756 in the old church of Sainte-Foy.
Despite the lack of information about his life and career, Pierre-Gabriel Le Prévost has attracted the attention of several researchers, who thought that in him they recognized the author of a statue of Notre-Dame de Foy, preserved today in the church of the parent parish of Sainte-Foy. This supposition rests upon too fragile a base not to raise certain doubts. It would indeed be risky to translate without reservation the inscription on the statue, “L.P.S. 1716” by “Le Prévost Sculpsit 1716.” This inscription has been the source of hypotheses, for the most part impossible to verify, concerning the alleged artistic training of the parish priest of Sainte-Foy. The experts are in agreement in recognizing that the author of the statue found his inspiration in the wood-carving techniques characteristic of Canadian art, and certain investigators have deduced further that Le Prévost had learned his craft from the teachers at the École des Arts et Métiers at Saint-Joachim, but no document justifies this assertion.
In short, nothing allows us to assert that Le Prévost was really an artist. Perhaps we shall never know who carved the little statue of Notre-Dame de Foy, but this work is no less important for the study of Canadian art at the beginning of the 18th century.
AAQ, 12 A, Registres d’insinuations A, 809. AJQ, Registre d’état civil, Notre-Dame de Québec, 25 nov. 1669. ANQ, Greffe de P.-A.-F. Lanoullier Des Granges, 15 nov. 1756; Greffe de J.-N. Pinguet de Vaucour, 7 juin 1734, 8 janv. 1747; AP, Pierre-Gabriel Le Prévost. Archives paroissiales de Notre-Dame-de-Foy (Sainte-Foy, Qué.), Registres des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures, 28 sept. 1714, 8, 18 nov. 1756. ASQ, Polygraphie, XXIII, 53g; XLVI, 9e; Séminaire, XCII, 22A, p. IL IOA, Dossier Pierre-Gabriel Le Prévost, sculpteur. “Procès-verbaux du procureur général Collet” (Caron), APQ Rapport, 1921-22, 264–66. Carom “Inventaire de documents,” APQ Rapport, 1940–41, 346, 407, 445, 446; 1941–42, 188, 251. P.-G. Roy, Inv. ord. int., II, 10; Inv. testaments, II, 57–58. Tanguay, Dictionnaire; Répertoire. Marius Barbeau, J’ai vu Québec (Québec, 1957). Amédée Gosselin, L’instruction au Canada. Morisset, Coup d’œil sur les arts. Antoine Roy, Les lettres, les sciences et les arts au Canada sous le régime français (Paris, 1930), 230. H.-A. Scott, “Notre-Dame de Sainte-Foy,” BRH, VI (1900), 67–75.