PARANT, JOSEPH, physician, surgeon, justice of the peace, and politician; b. 22 Aug. 1796 at Quebec, son of Antoine Parant, a wig-maker, and Geneviève Bois, and brother of Antoine; m. there 11 July 1822 Marie-Antoinette Doucet, and they had five children; d. there 28 Feb. 1856.
Joseph Parant received his classical education at the Petit Séminaire de Québec from 1806 to 1816. In 1818 he was in London studying medicine along with Jean Blanchet and Augustin Mercier. After returning home, he was authorized on 29 Aug. 1820 to practise medicine in Lower Canada, and opened a surgery at Quebec. The next year he was listed for the first time in the Almanach de Québec as a physician and surgeon.
His considerable professional competence was quickly recognized. In 1824 the nuns of the Hôpital Général in Quebec were invited by Archbishop Joseph-Octave Plessis* to accept him as their acting doctor. On 16 April 1834, after the death of William Holmes*, who had been the physician there, Parant and his colleague Joseph Painchaud* offered themselves as replacements. Parant’s work at the hospital came to an end in 1844, but in the preceding two years his activities there had been restricted because of illness.
Throughout his career Parant displayed a “zeal” and an “assiduity beyond all praise.” The religious communities and the poor placed in their charge were the principal beneficiaries. As an instance, while working at the Hôpital Général Parant made his professional services available to the Ursulines of Quebec from 1828 to 1832, replacing Dr Thomas Fargues*. Then, for more than 20 years, from 1825 to 1847, he attended the sisters of the convent and the poor of the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec without remuneration. Because of his ill health, he agreed to be replaced at the Hôtel-Dieu in 1847 by Charles-Jacques Frémont* and to take on the less onerous duties of visiting surgeon and consultant.
Along with his role as physician to religious communities, Parant gave his attention to medical publishing and education. In 1826 he was a member of the editorial committee of the Quebec Medical Journal, founded that year by François-Xavier Tessier*. His participation ended in 1827 when the journal ceased publication. Four years later Parant was nominated by his colleagues to the Medical Board of Examiners for the district of Quebec. In addition he was a member of the Quebec Education Society a number of times, notably in 1835 and 1841.
Parant’s public-spiritedness was shown by his presence on the municipal scene. In 1837 he was one of the justices of the peace who administered the city of Quebec [see Hippolyte Dubord*], and in 1840 he became a town councillor. He participated at that time in the work of committees on public order, the watch and street lighting, and public health. The following year he was a member of the markets and stalls committee, and in 1842 he shared in the activities of the public schools committee. Parant gave up political involvement that year.
From 1835 to 1855 Parant served as medical inspector of the port of Quebec and was responsible for the quarantine station on Grosse Île [see George Mellis Douglas*]. These duties and the work he did at the Marine and Emigrant Hospital [see James Douglas*] “kept [him] so busy” that he complained in a letter to the mother superior of the Hôtel-Dieu. In the letter, dated 19 July 1847, Parant mentioned his poor health, and thanked the sister for her “kindnesses” towards him and for her “patience in putting up with [his] bad moods for more than twenty years.” He asked one favour of her: he wanted to be given after his death “a little corner in [the] church where [his] body might be laid.” This wish was to be granted.
Joseph Parant died at Quebec on 28 Feb. 1856. He was buried on 3 March at the Hôtel-Dieu convent in the nave of its church. In addition to the assets he left his family, Parant bequeathed a box of surgical instruments to the Hôtel-Dieu.
ANQ-Q, CE1-1, 23 août 1796, 11 juill. 1822, 15 juin 1823, 3 juin 1824, 12 nov. 1827, 11 janv. 1830; CE1-22, 23 oct. 1871. Arch. de l’Hôpital Général de Québec, Annales des Augustines du monastère, 1844–66: 18.104.22.168, 332. Arch. du monastère de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, Actes capitulaires, I: f.132; Corr., Médecins, Joseph Parant, 1855; 29 févr., 1er, 13 mars 1856; Dispositifs et règlements, 1825–55, 22, 28 oct. 1825; Inventaires, 1791–1822, 21 oct. 1825; Médecine et chirurgie, 1818–1914, 10 oct. 1820; 7 avril 1825; 16, 19, 20 juill. 1847; Notes et mémoires des anciennes mères, tome 2, chap.94, no.6; Notes sur les médecins, no.31: 48–49; Rapports au sujet de l’administration et de la tenue de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, avant 1724; Reg. des sépultures, 1847–57, V: f.85. Arch. du monastère des ursulines (Québec), Reg. des notes sur les médecins. ASQ, Fichier des anciens. AVQ, I, 1, mai 1836–août 1840; II, 1, b, août 1840–mai 1842. Morgan, Sketches of celebrated Canadians. Quebec almanac, 1821–41. Quebec directory, 1847–55. Abbott, Hist. of medicine. M.-J. et George Ahern, Notes pour servir à l’histoire de la médecine dans le Bas-Canada depuis la fondation de Québec jusqu’au commencement du XIXe siècle (Québec, 1923). J. J. Heagerty, Four centuries of medical history in Canada and a sketch of the medical history of Newfoundland (2v., Toronto, 1928), 2.