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1850 printed letter and note from Bishop of Toronto to seminaries in France, looking for priests

Printed letter in French, sent to heads of Seminaries and Congregations, that gives details on the Diocese of Toronto, and current needs:

  • One can go from Paris to Toronto in 15 days
  • Diocese has 400,000 inhabitants
  • There are 80 Catholic missions and only 33 priests. Of the 33, 15 are Jesuits in the most difficult situations
  • A further 40 priests are needed, and only money prevents excellent ones from going
  • The last Bishop died of typhus, and the cathedral and episcopal house are in debt of 250,000 francs, just barely avoiding becoming Protestant establishments
  • In addition, Toronto was devastated by a large fire last year, and by general flooding this year
  • The plan of the Bishop, approved by the Pope, is to bring Capuchins, Oblates of Marseille and Maratistes of Lyon to Canada.

Hand-written note suggesting interested parties to contact nearest House, confirming his address in Paris while in France, and forwarding address in Toronto.

This particular letter has a handwritten note on last page from Bishop Charbonnel, dated Lyon 16th July 1850, and forwarded to M. Count de Charbonnel in Allier. Friendly greetings, he is touring France (said mass 3 times on Sunday in Monistrol), busy organizing the trip of several missionaries to Toronto. He leaves 15th-20th August.

Four pages.



Armand-François-Marie de Charbonnel (1802 – 1891) was the Bishop of Toronto from 1847 to 1860 and the only French and non-English priest to hold the post.

With the death of Bishop Power of Toronto, the Canadian hierarchy asked the Propaganda in Rome to appoint Charbonnnel. Pope Pius IX consecrated him bishop in the Sistine Chapel on 26 May 1850. Charbonnel left for Toronto in 1847 as the city's Bishop. Bishop Charbonnel arrived in Toronto on 21 September 1850. He worked to give the diocese a stable pastoral and financial footing. An eloquent preacher Bishop Charbonnel nonetheless, never felt up to the responsibilities of bishop, because of the linguistic and cultural gap that existed between him and his flock.

Much of the Toronto diocese's debt was retired using money from his paternal estate in France. During his ten-year episcopate, he built twenty-three churches, organized the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and founded important institutions: hospitals, orphanages, homes for the elderly and youth hostels. Bishop Charbonnel brought several religious communities to the diocese to look after education and social assistance, among others, the Christian Brothers, the Basilian Fathers, and the Sisters of St. Joseph.