René-Charles de Breslay

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René-Charles de Breslay (June 1658 – 4 December 1735) was born and educated in France where he spent a number of years as “gentleman in waiting of the privy chamber of the king”. Following this period, he entered the order of Saint-Sulpice and became a Sulpician in 1689.

Breslay came to New France in 1694 and was stationed in Montreal; first as a curate and then as a parish priest at Notre-Dame. He became fluent in Algonquin and in March 1703, moved as parish priest to the Saint-Louis Mission in Sainte-Anne-du-bout-de-l'Ile, succeeding priest François-Saturnin Lascaris d'Urfé. This parish was initially located at the western end of Montreal Island at Pointe-Caron (at the site of the present-day Baie-d'Urfé yacht club) and he was able to establish an Algonquin mission at Île-aux-Tourtres, a project much promoted and planned for by another Sulpician, Michel Barthélemy. Breslay moved the mission from Baie d'Urfé to Isle aux tourtes, for the Nipissing Indians. Then after an accident where he broke his leg, he invoked Saint Anne if he were to survive, which he did. So he founded the parish of Sainte-Anne-du-bout-de-l'Isle, at the extremity of Montreal Island.

Breslay spent 16 years serving that area during which he was involved in three important events: the first saw the establishment of a new parish, the second was his interactions with Governor Philippe de Rigaud Vaudreuil regarding the brandy question and the third involved his assistance to François Dollier de Casson with the canal project to bypass Sault-Saint-Louis.

Father Breslay went to France in (1719–20) to discuss his missions and the brandy problem. There he met the Comte de Saint-Pierre who had been granted the lands then known as Île Saint Jean and Breslay was recruited to be the first parish priest on Île Saint Jean (Prince Edward Island). At the same time he was made vicar general of the bishopric of Quebec. He spent about two years there with another Sulpician, Marie-Anselme de Metivier and together they began the structure of what became the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlottetown.

After another voyage to France, Father Breslay, returned to Louisbourg (Île Royale), and subsequently was appointed to Annapolis Royal. A good beginning under Lieutenant-Governor Doucett turned to fleeing from Lieutenant-Governor Armstrong. When Governor Richard Philipps returned to Annapolis in 1729, he was restored to his parish. He retired the next year to France.

Breslay contributed significantly to the New World during his various postings. However, he appears to have had frequent conflicts with a variety of colonial authorities.

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