French Canadian historian, b. at Montreal, December 25, 1805; d. at Quebec, January 11, 1865
Ferland, JEAN-BAPTISTE-ANTOINE, French Canadian historian, b. at Montreal, December 25, 1805; d. at Quebec, January 11, 1865. He studied at the college of Nicolet and was ordained priest September 14, 1828. He ministered to country parishes until 1841, when he was made director of studies in the college of Nicolet. He became its superior in 1848. Being named a member of the council of the Bishop of Quebec, he took up his residence in that city, where he was also chaplain to the English garrison. From his college days he had devoted himself to the study of Canadian history; the numerous notes which he collected had made him one of the most learned men of the country. It was not, however, until he had reached the age of forty that he thought of writing a history of Canada. In 1853 he published his “Observations sur l’histoire ecclesiastique du Canada“, a refutation and criticism of the work of the Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg; it was reprinted in France in 1854. In the latter year he published “Notes sur les registres de Notre-Dame de Quebec”, a second edition of which, revised and augmented, appeared in the “Foyer Canadien” for 1863. In 1855 he was appointed professor of Canadian history at the University of Laval (Quebec), and went at once to France to collect new documents to perfect him in his work. He returned in 1857, bringing with him valuable notes. The public courses which he delivered from 1858 to 1862 attracted large audiences, and his lectures, printed as “Cours d’Histoire du Canada“, established Ferland’s reputation. The first volume appeared in 1861; the second was not published till after the author’s death in 1865. This work, written in a style at once simple and exact, is considered authoritative by competent judges. It is, however, incomplete, ending as it does with the conquest of Canada by the English (1759). Ferland aimed above all at establishing the actual facts of history. He desired also to make known the work of the Catholic missions. His judgments are correct and reliable. Ferland also published in the “Soirees Canadiennes” of 1863 the “Journal d’un voyage sur les cotes de la Gaspesie”, and in “Litterature Canadienne” for 1863 an “Etude sur le Labrador”, which had previously appeared in the “Annales de l’Association pour la Propagation de la Foi”. For the “Foyer Canadien” of 1863 he wrote a “Vie de Msgr. Plessis”, Bishop of Quebec, translated later into English.
J. EDMOND ROY