Painter: Dominique Beauregard
Photographer: Robin Simard
Detail: Acrylic on canvas; 48″ x 24″
Painting by Dominique Beauregard from the exhibition « Les Stations du curé Labelle »
“Right from the start of the crossing, I noticed a very tall, very big man with a ruddy face and a sparkle in his eye. He would stroll along the deck, always with his pipe in his mouth. His clothing caught people’s attention, too. He wore a large cassock, open at the front, and a top hat. He went from one person to the next, laughing and joking with those he already knew, and seeking to strike up conversation with those he didn’t. I realized immediately that the man who captivated everyone’s attention was Curé Labelle,” reads an article of the day delightfully describing Labelle’s outgoing nature.
La grande traversée focuses on Labelle’s 1885 crossing of the Atlantic. He was accompanied by his secretary, Abbé Jean-Baptiste Proulx, who wrote two brochures under his guidance: Le Canada, le curé Labelle et la colonisation, and Le guide du colon français au Canada. The two men are standing on the deck of the SS Circassian. Labelle serves as the ship’s figurehead, while its sails bear three symbols inspired by a quote from the priest: “With me, I’ll bring three flags: those of the Church, England and France.” He undertook his second trans-Atlantic crossing in 1890 as Quebec’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Colonization.