PICHARD (Pichart), AMABLE, Roman Catholic priest; b. c. 1753 in Orléans, France; d. 24 Dec. 1819 in Berthier (Berthier-sur-Mer), Lower Canada.
Ordained to the priesthood in the diocese of Orléans on 21 Dec. 1782, Amable Pichard exercised his priestly duties there for some years. It is presumed that after the outbreak of the French revolution he refused to swear allegiance to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, for in 1799 he was in England under the jurisdiction of the exiled bishop of Saint-Pol-de-Léon, Jean-François de La Marche. Because of a shortage of clergy in the diocese of Quebec the British government had agreed that a number of French refugee priests might be sent there [see Jean-François Hubert*], and in 1799 Pichard volunteered. At that time he was described by Bishop La Marche as “a man of mediocre talent and ability, but most unassuming and of excellent personal qualities, very virtuous as well.”
Pichard arrived at Halifax, N.S., in August 1799 in company with Abbé Jacques-Ladislas-Joseph de Calonne*, brother of Louis XVI’s ex-minister of finance, Charles-Alexandre de Calonne. According to Joseph-Octave Plessis*, the coadjutor designate of Quebec, Pichard was known to several priests in the diocese who had lived in Orléans and who attested to his character. After obtaining the necessary faculties from Father James Jones, superior of the eastern missions, Pichard and Calonne proceeded to Prince Edward Island, where Pichard was to divide his time among the Acadian missions of Malpeque, Rustico, and Bay Fortune. Calonne, because he spoke English, was to minister to the Irish and other Catholics at Charlottetown; the Scots on the Island were served by the Reverend Angus Bernard MacEachern*. It seems, however, that Pichard’s ministry may not have kept him fully occupied: in June 1801 Plessis suggested that he might help with the New Brunswick missions. He resided in a one-room glebe-house at Rustico until the fall of 1803 when, in the wake of Bishop Pierre Denaut’s visitation of Prince Edward Island, he was transferred to Tracadie, N.S.
The first parish priest of Tracadie, Pichard also served the missions of Havre Boucher and Pomquet; in 1812 his flock was to number 310 communicants, exclusive of the Indians. Ill health, the reason for his transfer, continued to plague him, however, and in 1807 and 1809 he wrote to Bishop Plessis describing the difficulties of conducting his ministry. But the bishop was unable to offer him a new appointment in Lower Canada, since with the outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars the British government had become more reluctant to admit French emigrant priests there. In 1812 Plessis undertook a visitation of the eastern missions and it was apparently on this occasion that he decided to replace Pichard. The Micmacs complained that they did not have a priest able to understand them; moreover, there were at Tracadie a number of black Protestant families whom the bishop was anxious to proselytize. Pichard, he noted, was “no longer young enough to study a language other than his own.” In 1813 he wrote Pichard promising to send him a successor the following year. “It is high time, after 14 years of mission work, that you should come and get some rest as priest of a small parish in the interior of the diocese.” A year later he instructed him to remove to Quebec as soon as the opportunity arose, writing at the time to Abbé François Lejamtel* at Arichat to urge him to supervise Pichard’s departure: “You know how maladroit the good fellow is. I believe him incapable of finding a passage if you do not take a hand in it. . . .”
Pichard left Nova Scotia in 1815 to become parish priest at Berthier and was succeeded at Tracadie by Abbé Antoine Manseau*. He served his new parish until his death, while hearing confessions, on Christmas Eve 1819.
AAQ, 1 CB, VI: 114. AP, Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption (Berthier-en-Mer), Reg. des baptêmes, manages et sépultures, 28 déc. 1819. Allaire, Dictionnaire, vol.1. Caron, “Inv. de la corr. de Mgr Denaut,” ANQ Rapport, 1931–32; “Inv. de la corr. de Mgr Plessis,” 1927–28. Tanguay, Répertoire (1893). J.-H. Blanchard, Rustico: une paroisse acadienne de l’île du Prince-Édouard ([s.l., 1938]). [H.-R. Casgrain], Mémoire sun les missions de la Nouvelle-Écosse, du cap Breton et de l’île du Prince-Édouard de 1760 à 1820 . . . réponse aux “Memoirs of Bishop Burke” par Mgr O’Brien . . . (Québec, 1895). Johnston, Hist. of Catholic Church in eastern N.S., vol.1. J. C. MacMillan, The early history of the Catholic Church in Prince Edward Island (Quebec, 1905).