Reverend Gaston Carriere, O.M.I
THE FULL CONTENT OF A BOOK
IS NOT REVEALED until its reading is completed. Likewise, the
unity and the development of a man's life cannot be detected
at the outset of one's activities.
From the time I was old enough
to think for myself, I desired to be a priest and a professor.
By the grace of God, I became both. I wanted to be a priest because
I felt the call of God, but I think I was much influenced in
my second choice by the example of my older brothers and sisters,
who had already chosen this profession or were training to devote
themselves to the cause of Catholic education.
My father, Adélard Carriére,
and my mother, although they never had the privilege of a college
education, made the necessary sacrifices in order that we would
be blessed with such an education. They were greatly recompensed
because it turned out that the majority of their children are
I began my grade school in
my native village of Curran, Ontario, and although my father
died when I was nine (I was born on March 21, 1913, last child
of a family of nine), I was fortunate enough to continue my schooling
in Ottawa. I was about to enter the Minor Seminary of Ottawa
when I heard of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. I
always had desired to be a priest, as I said before, but until
that time the idea of joining a religious order had never entered
my mind. In 1926, I therefore entered the Juniorate du Sacrê-Coeur,
a minor seminary for the training of Oblate vocations, where
I attended the lectures of the High School of the College of
Ottawa and later the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ottawa.
During that period I became
interested especially in foreign languages and in the history
of the Oblate Fathers. I would have laughed at anyone who, at
that time, would have told me that one day the history of the
Oblates would become one of the main occupations of my life.
In 1932, I formally joined
the Congregation by entering the Novitiate at the end of which
I took the first vows in 1933. Registered in the School of Philosophy
of the University of Ottawa in the early days of September, I
was soon after transferred to the International Scholasticate
in Rome, where I studied philosophy and theology, graduating
from the Angelicum and the Gregorian University, and attending
the lectures of the Scuola di Biblioteconomia established at
the Vatican Library.
In midsummer of 1940, a year
after my ordination to the priesthood, my superiors appointed
me professor in the School of Philosophy of the University of
Ottawa and librarian at the Scholasticat St. Joseph. One of my
dreams became true and I have taught History of Ancient Philosophy
ever since. I was also secretary of the Socièté
Thomiste from 1947 to 1956.
How I came to write is somewhat
mysterious. Before leaving the Eternal City a professor of the
Library School of the Vatican invited some of my confreres to
prepare a French version of the world-famous cataloguing code
of the Vatican Library, Norme per il catalogo degli stampati.
I encouraged them to accept the proposition and as a consequence
was carried into the work myself. Due to delays occasioned by
the war and the postwar, the translation done with Fathers Paul-Emile
Drouin, O.M.I., and Bernard Julien, O.M.I., under the title of
Règles pour le catalogue des imprimés, was not
published till 1950.
This first experience should
have discouraged me, because no sooner was the translation finished
than it had to be revised to harmonize with a new edition printed
in Europe in the meantime.
Other books were to follow
this one. Before them however, I had written articles for various
periodicals. A section of my doctoral dissertation published
in 1945 in the Revue de l'Université d'Ottawa, my
first scientific paper, was to be followed by many others in
the same periodical. From then on, I contributed papers on Plotinus
in such reviews as The Thomist, The New Scholasticism, L'Anee
Thdologique (Paris), Divus Thomas (Piacenza), and
Revista de Filosofia (Madrid).
In 1947, I was appointed to
the editorial staff of the Revue tie l'Universite d'Ottawa and
since then have contributed several historical and philosophical
articles to it as well as the Chronique universitaire section.
A few of my lectures at the
School of Philosophy were published in mimeographed form for
private use and my Précis tie Méthodologie appeared
in 1951 and was favorably received by the critics.
1952 brought a change in my
career when my superiors entrusted me with the writing of the
history of the Oblates in Eastern Canada. I was brought back
to a subject I had enjoyed very much in college. The task was
great since the history had to cover the apostolate of the Oblates
in a territory extending from the boundary of the Province of
Manitoba to Newfoundland, including the missions of James Bay
and Labrador, as well as the work of the Congregation in the
United States until the year 1883. At the time it would have
been impossible to tell exactly how many books would find their
origin in the work.
Since beginning the work, almost
all my time had been devoted to it. Besides traveling to nearly
every part of Canada, many sections of the United States, and
Europe, visiting hundreds of archives to find the necessary documents
and doing most of the microfilming myself, the task of writing
has been considerable. Three volumes of the Histoire docurnentaire
de la Congregation des Missionnaires Oblats de Marie-Immaculée
dans l'Est du Canada (1841-1900) have already been published
and the manuscript for the whole of the history is now completed.
It will consist of ten volumes of some four-hundred pages each.
The vast amount of material
gathered for this general history gave me the necessary information
for several smaller books, mostly biographies of prominent missionaries.
These have already been published: L'Honorable Compagnie de
la Baie d'Hudson et les Missions catholiques dans l'Est du Canada,
Le Roi de Betsiamites (Rev. Fr. Charles Arnaud), Le Pere
Louis Reboul, O.M.I., Un apôtre a Québec (Rev.
Fr. Flavien Durocher), L'Arpenteur du bon Dieu (Bishop
Louis Rhéaume), Un grand Educateur (Rev. Fr. René
Lamoureux), and Und grand Missionnaire de la Mauricie (Rev.
Fr. Jean-Pierre Guéguen). A few others are in manuscript
or in process of being written and will appear in the next two
or three years.
hi 1958, I was asked to prepare
an extensive biography of Bishop Ovide Charlebois, O.M.I., first
Vicar Apostolic of Keewatin in northern Manitoba. The manuscript
of this lengthy work is now well advanced.
A few of my bibliographical
papers were also printed in Etudes Oblates and in Culture
while many brief articles on Canadian and American dioceses
appeared in Enciclopedia Cattolica and Dictionnaire de Theologie
catholique. Others will soon be published in Dictionnaire
This has been the leisure of
my recent years, besides a few lectures at meetings of various
historical and philosophical societies. Although it may seem
that I wrote on many subjects, a certain unity can be found.
My literary career was centered on three points of interest:
history of philosophy, history of the Oblates in Canada, and
As in the life of every man,
and of every religious in particular, it is clear that Providence
had its designs which were revealed to me piecemeal through the
guidance of my religious superiors. Had I foreseen or been told
in advance the amount of work involved, I would probably never
have had the courage even of making a start, but due to the mercy
of God, the pattern of my life, during these recent years, was
slowly manifested to me.
As for the future, I have a
few more biographies I hope to be able to write, but before that,
no doubt, the voice of obedience will be heard again and will
possibly direct me into some as yet unknown activity. As I said
in the beginning, the full content of a book is not revealed
until its reading is completed, so with a man's life.
published in The Book of Catholic Authors, Walter Romig,
Sixth Series, 1960.