Taschereau, Elzéar Alexandre
TASCHEREAU, ELZÉAR ALEXANDRE
First Canadian cardinal; b. Sainte Marie, Feb. 17, 1820; d. Quebec, Canada, April 12, 1898. The Taschereau family were members of the lesser nobility, who maintained their position in Canada after the English conquest and contributed many illustrious people to the military, the bench, and politics. Elzéar Alexandre was the sixth child of Jean Thomas and Marie (Panet) Taschereau. His father, one of the founding patriots of the newspaper Le Canadien, was removed and imprisoned by the English governor James Craig; his mother was the niece of Bp. Bernard Claude Panet of Quebec. At 16, after completing his classical studies in Quebec and making a trip to Rome, Taschereau entered the Grand Seminary; he was ordained Sept. 10, 1842. During the typhus epidemic of 1847 he volunteered for duty with the sick, contracted the disease, and nearly died. For many years he served as professor of various disciplines at the Seminary of Quebec and became its director and then superior. In 1852 he helped to found the University of Laval, Quebec, and he was its second rector (1860). He made several trips to Rome, earned a doctorate in canon law (1856), and was Abp. Charles François Baillargeon's theologian at Vatican Council I (1869–70). As vicar-general of the Archdiocese of Quebec from 1862, he became its administrator at the death of Baillargeon (1870), was named his successor, and was consecrated March 19, 1871.
During Taschereau's episcopacy he made many pastoral visits and was the leader and spokesman of the Canadian hierarchy. He convoked and presided at the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Provincial Councils of Quebec, and saved the College of Ste. Anne de la Pocatière from failure. He increased the number of religious in his diocese, adding the Redemptorists, the Clerks of St. Viator, the Religious of St. Vincent de Paul, the Marist Brothers, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, and the Brothers of Charity. He actively favored the cause of beatification of Bp. F. de M. Laval and promoted devotion to the Holy Family. In 1886 Leo XIII chose him to be the first Canadian cardinal. The end of his life was clouded by a cerebral softening that affected his mental faculties. His works include Remarques sur les mémoires de l'évêque de Trois-Rivières sur les difficultés religieuses en Canada (Quebec 1882).
Bibliography: h. tÊtu, Les Évêques de Québec (Quebec 1889). p. g. roy, La Famille Taschereau (Levis, Quebec 1901). o. e. mathieu in L'Annuaire del'Université Laval, 1898–99 (Quebec 1898) 145–166, eulogy.