I feel his loss is more irreparable than ever; it’s as if a horrible void is opening up inexorably all around me, in my whole life.
Arthur Buies, Au portique des Laurentides
The first publication about Labelle’s life and achievements, Le Roi du Nord, biographie et portrait (author unknown), came out just a few months after his death in January 1891. The 25-page pamphlet was the first in a series of titles devoted to Labelle. That same year, Arthur Buies published one of the finest tributes to Labelle, in his book Au portique des Laurentides. Labelle died while the book was being written. Buies presents a sincere, vibrant homage to the man, his mission and the friendship that united them. The very moving epigram above reflects how distraught Buies was at the time.
The 1930 biography by Abbé Elie-J. Auclair, Le curé Labelle, sa vie et son oeuvre, is by far the book that reveals the most about Labelle’s personality and character.
In contrast, Le Curé Labelle, messianisme, utopie et colonisation au Québec 1850–1900, by Gabriel Dussault, is an essay that focuses more on the colonizing missionary’s work. Published in 1983, it is, by many accounts, one of the most comprehensive treatments of Labelle’s life and work.
A significant part of Labelle’s voluminous correspondence has not yet been read or transcribed, which suggests there is still much to discover about the King of the North.