DOUCET, Léon, was born at Beaugency (Loiret), France, on January 7th, 1847. He was the son of Jean-Jacques Doucet and Zélie Lemoine. He died in Edmonton, Alberta, on March 3rd, 1942.
Léon studied at Notre-Dame de Cléry, at the Juniorat of Notre-Dame de Lumières (1861-1865), and entered the Novitiate of Notre-Dame de l'Osier on August 26th, 1865 and made his profession on 26th August, 1866. He made his perpetual vows at the Scolasticat of Autun on September 8th, 1867.
Attracted to the Western Canadian missions by Mgr Vital Grandin, o.m.i., Coadjutor of Mgr Alexandre Taché, o.m.i., Brother Doucet ended his theology studies at Lac-Sainte-Anne, Alberta, under the direction of Fr Vital Fourmond, o.m.i., and was ordained a priest at Saint-Albert, Alberta, October 9th, 1870, by Mgr Grandin. He was the first priest ordained in Alberta.
Fr Doucet was sent to Saint-Paul-des-Cris [Brosseau], Alberta (1870-1872), where he also worked at La Prairie. An epidemic forced him to return to Saint-Albert, and he then went to l'île-à-la-Crosse (1872-1874), where he was also responsible for Green Lake (1873).
He returned to Saint-Albert in 1874, where he wintered with the hunters, then, on May 18th, 1875, he went to Notre-Dame-des Prairies [Bow River] and was the first White man to set up a tent at the mouth of the Bow and Elbow Rivers [Calgary], which six months later received the name Fort Brisebois, and, in 1876, that of Calgary. Fr Doucet, then, visited Fort MacLeod (1876-1878) and subsequently lived at Brocket (1878-1883).
From this date onwards, he dedicated himself to Southern Alberta working with the Peigan [Brocket], in 1881; and at Blackfoot Crossing [Gleichen] (1883-1898), where he visited the communities established along the Canadian Pacific Railway line from Laggan to Swift Current. This included service at Maple Creek (1894 -1898); Lethbridge (1883); Canmore (1885 -1887); Cochrane (1885-1887); Banff (1886 -1887), where he said the first Mass on August 4th, 1886; and Medicine Hat and Dunmore (1894 -1898). He next went to Brocket (1898-1901), and afterwards served the Blood, the Sarcee and the Kanai [Stand Off, Cardston] (1901-1902), finally returning to Brocket (1902-1910). From 1910 to1914, he divided his time among the various missions of Southern Alberta; in 1914, he went to Midnapore, entrusted with the mission of Saint-Georges-among the Sarcee, where he remained until 1917, except for a brief visit to Lac-Sainte-Anne in 1916. He then spent several years each at Cluny (1917-1919); Dunbow (1919-1920); and Cardston (1920-1922). He returned again to Cluny (1922-1926); to the hospital at Stand Off (1926); to Cluny, again, among the Blackfoot (1927-1934); and, then, to Saint-Albert (1934-1938), before returning to Cardston (1938-1939). He retired to Saint-Albert (1939 - 1942).
Fr Doucet authored various manuscripts in Native languages. He was buried in the Oblate Cemetery at Saint-Albert, Alberta.1
Reprinted with the permission of Les Archives Deschâtelets and the publisher from Gaston Carriere, o.m.i., Dictionnaire de Marie Immaculée au Canada, volume I (Ottawa: Éditions de l’Université d’Ottawa, 1979), pp 295-96.
1. M.B. VENINI BYRNE, Rev. Léon Doucet, O.M.I., in From the Buffalo to the Cross, p. 376-377; Mort du R.P. L. Doucet, O.M.I., à l'âge de 92 ans, dans La Survivance [Edmonton], 4 March 1942; Décès du R.P. Doucet, O.M.I., in La Liberté et le Patriote, 7 mars 1942; Le R.P. Léon-Joseph Doucet, 1847-1952, in Le Courrier de la province d'Alberta-Saskatchewan, 2 (1942), p. 1-7; Oblate Archives, O.M.I., Edmonton, Alberta.
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