JOSEPH-THOMAS DUHAMEL,
PRIEST AND ARCHBISHOP
 
Born in Contrecœur, Quebec, on 6 November 1841, Joseph-Thomas Duhamel was three years old when his family settled in Bytown. He entered the St. Joseph’s College at the age of 7 and received a classical education. On 3 September 1857, he entered the seminary and was ordained on 19 December of the same year. He was only 22. He was vicar in Buckingham from 1863 to 1864, then parish priest in Saint-Eugène-de-Prescott until 1874. From September to December 1869, he accompanied Mgr. Guigues to the ecumenical council at the Vatican. In 1874, when only 33, he became the second bishop of the Ottawa diocese, following the death of Mgr. Guigues. In 1877, he established the ecclesiastical conference foundation and, in 1879, he developed the Forty Hours Devotion. In 1886, he became the first archbishop of Ottawa. Three years later, he played an instrumental role in obtaining a papal charter for the University of Ottawa. His diocese was bilingual and it took a lot of diplomacy to prevent a blow-up between the French Canadian and English Canadian faithful after Louis Riel was hanged in 1885. At the start of his episcopate, the diocese included 61 parishes and missions, 80 priests and 96 000 faithful. When he died, there were 136 parishes and missions, 258 priests, more than 150 000 faithful and 13 religious communities. During his ministry, Mgr. Duhamel ordained 70 priests. He was the honorary president of L’Union Saint-Joseph d’Ottawa, and patron of L’Institut canadien-français d’Ottawa, La Garde indépendante Champlain and La Société de colonisation du Témiscamingue. He received a Doctorate in Theology and was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Religious and Military Order of Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. The first honorary president of La Convention des instituteurs bilingues d’Ontario in 1907-1908, he was an honorary member of the founding committee of the Ontario French Canadian Educational Congress in 1909. In addition, he was the Chancellor of the University of Ottawa. He died suddenly in Casselman, near Ottawa, on 5 June 1909, just as he was starting his diocesan pastoral visit. An Ottawa school and a Quebec township bear his name.