Photomontage: Dominique Beauregard
Source: Private collection of Dominique Beauregard
L’ILLUSTRATION – Saturday, February 15, 1890, 48th year, no 2451
LA FRANCE ILLUSTRÉE – Saturday, April 12, 1890 – 17th year, no 802
Both of Curé Labelle’s missions to Europe were successful. Wherever he went, he tirelessly repeated his entreaties promoting immigration to Canada. To his great surprise, he became remarkably popular in fashionable circles, and quickly forged ties with important people. In a May 1885 letter to a friend, Mr. Faucher, Labelle told of how he was invited to a meeting of the Société coloniale et maritime, where he was most impressed by the well-known people that he met. As the meeting wrapped up, the Baron de Kimbourg called attention to the presence of a “great Frenchman” in their midst: Curé Antoine Labelle. The man who thought of himself as a simple country priest could not understand why he was being honoured in this way. Simultaneously embarrassed and seized with emotion, he found himself unable to utter a word, his eyes brimming with tears. When he finally managed to speak and thank his hosts for their moving welcome, he was so unsettled that he thought he was expressing himself terribly. Yet his audience applauded warmly. The man accompanying him, J.B. Proulx, assured him later that he had simply adopted the appropriate tone for the circumstances.