TÉTREAU (also rendered Tétreault, Tetrault, and Tetrau), HUBERT-JOSEPH, Roman Catholic priest, Protestant evangelist; b. 25 Feb. 1803 at Verchères, Lower Canada, son of Jean-Baptiste Tétreau and Marie-Anne Guyon; d. 1 Dec. 1877 at Montreal.
Hubert-Joseph Tétreau studied at the college of Montreal, where he was encouraged to prepare for the priesthood. From 1822 to 1824 he taught at the seminary of Saint-Hyacinthe and at the seminary of Nicolet. He then studied theology at Quebec, and was ordained priest 8 Jan. 1826, by Bishop Bernard-Claude Panet*.
His first postings were as assistant priest to stations in the Montreal district, Varennes and Saint-Hyacinthe; next, 1826–30, as missionary in northern New Brunswick; the last 13 years of his life as a Roman Catholic were spent in the dioceses of Quebec and Montreal, his final posting as parish priest being to Les Éboulements. It was there that the break with the Roman Catholic Church occurred. For several years Tétreau had had differences with his superiors, and in October 1843 Bishop Joseph Signay* relieved him of his jurisdiction in the parish, although he did not forbid him to celebrate mass.
Tétreau settled at Sainte-Cécile-de-Milton (Shefford County), and devoted himself to the cause of French Canadian Protestantism. It cannot be established from documents that he was a regularly appointed minister in either the Baptist or the Wesleyan Church. He assisted Baptist clergy in their evangelical work and was active in door-to-door visiting and in public debate, the favourite weapons of the Protestant controversialists. He was associated with the Protestant missionaries Louis Roussy and Henriette Odin* Feller, not at their chief centre, Grande Ligne (Saint-Jean County) [see Charles La Rocque], but in the newer missions, Saint-Pie (Bagot County), established in 1842, and Salem (Roxton Pond, Shefford County), begun about 1848. In both places he aided the Reverend Théodore Lafleur, and, upon the opening of a school for girls in 1850 at Saint-Pie, Tétreau took charge of the primary department. When the girls’ school moved in 1855 to Longueuil, and later to Grande Ligne, he did not go with it, but continued to live in the locale of his mission post.
An appreciation of Tétreau was provided by his former co-worker, Lafleur. He found Tétreau less energetic than he would have liked, but “with very decided protestant principles . . . . He often wrote short but sensible articles for our french protestant papers.” When called to preach, Tétreau would give a good sermon, but might leave the impression after the service that “he had got rid of a duty which reminded him of the mass said in bygone days.”
Tétreau’s wife, Harriet, was buried in Montreal in July 1864. Whether the couple was then living there is not known. He spent the last years of his life in the city – from at least 1874 – and died there on 1 Dec. 1877. The funeral service was conducted (3 December) in the Baptist Church on St Catherine Street by his old mission associate, Lafleur. Burial was in the Mount Royal Cemetery.
[In the records of the Mount Royal Cemetery (Montreal) Tétreau’s Christian name is given as “Herbert” along with the title “Reverend”; they also show his age, place of birth, and his Montreal address. The Montreal Daily Witness, which had a strong denominational bias, gave notice of Tétreau’s death and a brief obituary; see issues of 3 and 4 Dec. 1877. Allaire’s Dictionnaire provides a brief statement on the Roman Catholic phase of Tétreau’s career, but has virtually nothing on the Protestant phase and is in error regarding his place of burial. The earliest and thus valuable biography of Henriette Odin Feller is by J. M. Cramp, A memoir of Madame Feller, with an account of the origin and progress of the Grande Ligne Mission, published in London probably in 1876. The standard history on French Protestantism is that of R.-P. Duclos, Histoire du protestantisme français au Canada et aux Etats-Unis (2v., Montréal, ), see I, 291. Théodore Lafleur’s A semi-centennial, historical sketch of the Grande Ligne Mission, read at the jubilee gathering, Grande Ligne, Oct. 18th, 1885 (Montreal, ), 52–53 gives an appreciation of Tétreau’s close associate at Saint-Pie and later his pastor in Montreal, and is valuable because of its objectivity. Amand Parent, The life of the Rev. Amand Parent, the first French-Canadian ordained by the Methodist Church (Toronto, 1887), which gives a good account of the French Canadian approach to proselytizing, is indispensable to an understanding of the evangelists’ frame of mind and of their techniques in controversy; see p.64, for a valuable reference to Tétreau’s work. W. N. Thomson, “Réflexions historiques sur le champ de Roxton Pond, Québec” (typescript in possession of the author, 1957), an able, though brief, study, refers to Tétreau’s relationship to Lafleur. Léo Traversy, La paroisse de Saint-Damase, co. Saint-Hyacinthe (s.l., 1964) contains a full account of Tétreau’s Roman Catholic life, but is much less satisfactory on the Protestant phase; it makes a statement, which I have been unable to substantiate, that Tétreau served in Granby as a Protestant minister. W. N. Wyeth, Henrietta Feller and the Grande Ligne Mission (Philadelphia, Penn., 1898), adds little not in Cramp, but contains some valuable references to the mission. j.i.c.]
AAQ, Diocèse de Montréal, 5, pp.87, 89; Diocèse de Montréal, 8, p.193; Registre des lettres des évêques de Québec, 6, pp.180, 320, 367, 398; Registre des lettres des évêques de Québec, 20, p.436; Vicaires généraux, 2, p.40. Archives judiciaires d’Iberville (Qué.), Registre d’état civil, 29 mars 1868. ASQ, Séminaire, LIV, 10; Polygraphie, L, 16–17.