Louis Garceau was born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec on June 21, 1847. He was the son of Marie Adélaïde (Adèle) Poulin de Courval and Louis Benjamin Garceau, a tax collector, justice of the peace, and organist. The baby was baptized the day after his birth at the Immaculate Conception parish church by Father Thomas Cooke, the parish priest, who was also named the baby’s godfather and who would later become the first bishop of the diocese of Trois-Rivières, established in 1852.

After studying at the Séminaire de Nicolet, then the Collège de Trois-Rivières (founded in 1860), Louis Garceau went into law and was called to the bar. He decided to join the 3rd detachment of Canadian Zouaves and left for Rome. He was described as colossal in stature, “built like an athlete, a jolly fellow; he made a handsome soldier.” Serving from June 20, 1868, to September 20, 1870, in defense of Pope Pius IX, Garceau had written this note in his notebook: “If I fall on the field of battle, friend or foe who finds this notebook, you would do [me] service by sending it to Mrs. Louis Garceau.”

Upon his return to the country, Louis Garceau became the secretary/treasurer of the Corporation de la cité de Trois-Rivières. He then made the decision to radically alter his life. He entered the Novitiate of the Jesuits of Sault-au-Récollet as early as 1871. After the novitiate, philosophy studies, two years of regency, two years of special studies, three years of theology, and a third year in the novitiate, he was ordained as a priest in April 1882 by Msgr. Édouard-Charles Fabre, the bishop of Montreal.

After working as a professor of theology at the Séminaire de Trois-Rivières (1882-1885) and holding multiple positions at the Collège Sainte-Marie de Montréal (1885-1889), Louis Garceau spent a year in England (1889-1890) for his third year of probation as a Jesuit. Then, in Sault-Sainte-Marie, Michigan (1890-1892), he was successively a vicar, superior, and parish priest. He returned to Montreal to the Collège Sainte-Marie (1892-1894). He went to Quebec City (1894-1901), then returned to Montreal as choirmaster, procurator, and other roles within the Immaculate Conception parish of Montreal. He died on January 30, 1929, of pneumonia.

Father Louis Garceau was the uncle of Canon Louis Denoncourt, who was one of the three priests who saved several sacred objects from the flames that threatened the parish church during the fire in Trois-Rivières in June 1908.

Father Garceau was also the uncle of the wife of Judge Philippe Bigué, Mrs. Marie-Louise Denoncourt.

Musée Pierre-Boucher Collection
1977 415 F.2-1