February 14 – PROVINCIALS OF CANADA
PROVINCIALS OF CANADA
The first five Provincials of Canada were French. They were: Br. Louis-Bertrand (1891-1898), Br. Paul de la Croix (1898-1903), Br. Louis-Bertrand again (1903-1905), Br. Euphrone (1905-1909), Br. Louis-Bertrand for the third time (1909-1917), Br. Tarcisius (1917-1920), and Br. Augustin (1920-1922). Afterwards and until the setting up of the Provinces of Champlain and Montreal in 1953, all the Provincials were Canadian-born: Br. Elzear (1922-1935), Br. Emmanuel (1935-1945) and Br. Fran ois Solano (1945-1953). Incidentally let us note that the last three were elected Assistants General, as were Br. Louis-Bertrand and Br. Augustin before them. All these Provincials contributed to the expansion of the Province, but perhaps more particularly four of them.
Br. Louis-Bertrand was Provincial for 17 years altogether on three different occasions. His features, his good manners and his speech were so refined that they impressed even the priests of Saint-Sulpice in Montreal. Pious, widely-read, and firm, he always took care to provide the junior Brothers with a solid religious and secular formation, and he worked unceasingly to build up the family spirit which is its characteristic to this day. At the age of 70 years, when he lived at Saint-Laurent, he plastered the walls of his cell with photographs from Canada: such· a fascinating Province cannot be easily forgotten.
Br. Tarcisius arrived in Canada at the age of 18 years and fitted perfectly into his new Province. Brilliantly intelligent, with an excellent judgement, he wrote a lot a·nd in a lively style and was a fluent and fascinating speaker; known the affection of the Brothers and ·young people as weH the adrillration of the clergy and the educational authorities. As the novice master for 16 years, he trained a whole generation of Brothers. During his all too short mandate as Provincial, he started a Gabrielite magazine and opened a scholasticate in 1919. After his return to Europe he corresponded frequently with his former friends and those he had trained.
Br. Elzear was literally speaking a giant and, despite his modesty, was also outstanding because of his will-power, his brilliant intelligence and his unconventional ideas. He promoted the Brothers’ studies, transferred the juniorate from Montreal to Saint-Bruno (1925), provided the scholasticate with the status of a teacher-training college and sent two Brothers to London in preparation for the missions in India and Thailand. Unlike his predecessors, who had started many schools (23 in 30 years, though 4 were no longer run by the Brothers), he preferred to support and consolidate those in existence and opened only two: one at Montreal-East and one at Ville-Marie.
Br. Fran ois Solano was, as it were, a saint; his faith was deep, he was kind, generous, upright and bore his bad health patiently; it is a pity that his biography has not been written. As Director of the scholasticate, he trained generations of Brothers before becoming Provincial, a post he filled with great wisdom despite his frail health and under difficult circumstances: the Province was just emerging from a crisis which had made necessary a canonical visitation by an outside person. He bought Camp Marcel and turned it into a rest and study centre for the Brothers, mainly the junior ones.