1912 letter missionary AJ Brabant Victoria B.C., photos Nootka Sound

$350.00 CAD

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Interesting letter from dying Catholic missionary priest, infamous Reverend A.J. Brabant to rector de Becker  in Louvain Belgium. Nicely illustrated with image of St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Also included are two photo sof members of the Nootka First Nation.

The Belgian-born priest The Reverend Father Auguste-Joseph Brabant did missionary work among the Nootka/Hesquiat of Vancouver Island. Hesquiat is situated approximately two-thirds of the distance from Victoria to Cape Scott, the most northwesterly tip of Vancouver Island. The Hesquiat are part of the Nootkan peoples.

He is infamous as the Father of the first residential school in B.C.

From the summary on a book in his life:

Father August Brabant (1845 1912) was the first Roman Catholic missionary to live and work among aboriginal people on the west coast of Vancouver Island during the colonial period. He endured long periods of isolation, built a number of log churches and undertook extraordinarily difficult trips along the west coast in dugout canoes. His thirty-three-year-long effort to transform Nuu-chah-nulth culture gives us a provocative case study of the dynamics that shaped, and continue to define, the settler-colonial relationship between indigenous peoples and the state in Canada. Convinced he had a mission to save the indigenous people from being themselves, the zealous priest strove to instill alien spiritual beliefs. He served as a willing instrument for imposing colonial power by introducing new forms of justice, commerce, dress, housing, personal identity, and most devastating of all schooling. As the father of British Columbia s first residential school, Brabant precipitated the single institution that proved most destructive to the destructive to the people he set out to rescue.


St. Joseph’s Hospital
Victoria B.C.   9 March 1912
Mgr de Becker Rector American College
Enclosed remittance American Col. Bulletin. It will be my last – I am down with paralysis since 19 May 1911 – limbs and eyes are affected. I am practically retired from ministry since then no mass – no ---. It is a matter of perhaps a brief time and the end will have arrived.
Moriturus vos salutat omnis decotus vestu X. Jesu servus (?)
AJ Grabant


He died on the 4th of July 1912. 

Folded horizontally. Small piece peeled up. Tears on fold.

27.50 x 21 cm

Photo of Nootka Sound First Nation members on beach with missionary

Photo of Nootkans posing for photo on beach. In background white men standing, rowboat.  Possibly Rev. Brabant at centre?


Printed on thin paper.

Missing portion upper right. Folded vertically/ Stain UL. Creases. 

17 x 22.50 cm

Photo of Nootka First Nation  members on beach with fish

Photo of Nootkans posing for photo on beach. In background pile of large fish. 

Printed on thin paper, over-exposed

Folded vertically. Creases.

17 x 22.50 cm

(Red text is an electronic watermark that is not physically part of the photos for sale)


…on 25 September 1874, the Reverend Auguste-Joseph Brabant arrived at Hesquiat to begin a mission that continued under his direction for thirty-three years, until 1908.

 Brabant was born to a distinguished, devout and well to do family in Rolleghem, near Bruges, West Flanders, on 23 October 1845. Brabant’s choice of mission was Vancouver Island, where Bishop Demers was in charge. He left Antwerp 28 August 1869 in the company of other clergy, and landed at Victoria 18 October, via New York Chicago, San Francisco and Portland. For a few years, Brabant lived in Victoria, assisting the Bishop and his secretary, Father (later Archbishop) Charles John Seghers, teaching at St. Louis College and serving as assistant priest of St. Andrews Cathedral – all the while learning English…. Brabant’s diary shows that he possessed an inordinate and enviable supply of perseverance and patience. He realized that you could not make devout believers of indigenous peoples overnight… Brabant was appointed apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Victoria in 1908, and thus returned somewhat ill and weak to a city that he had known as a young man. He requested on account of age not to be considered to succeed the retiring archbishop. He stayed with the Sisters of St. Ann in Victoria, who in his failing health accorded him every respect and assistance…



The American College at Louvain

It was founded in 1857...Its purpose was, on the one hand, to enable American-born students to pursue thorough courses of theology in Europe, while familiarizing themselves with the languages, usages, and customs of the Old World; on the other hand, to afford young men of various European nationalities an easy means of preparation for the work of the ministry in America, thus presenting to the bishops an opportunity of adopting well-trained subjects for their several dioceses. Originally, the college was established only for the instruction of students in elementary and advanced theology. They were supposed to have studied philosophy, either in America or in one of the preparatory seminaries of Europe...

…Although the bishops mentioned above took the initiative in establishing the college, its field of action has by no means been confined to their two dioceses. The co-operation of all the dioceses of the United States has been requested, and several ecclesiastical provinces situated in British-American territory have taken part in the work. These include the Archdiocese of Victoria, B.C., with the suffragan see of New Westminster…

The college has had four rectors since its inception… 1898, when …Very Rev. J. De Becker, assumed the charge.