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Joseph Octave Plessis

1762-1825. Roman Catholic archbishop of Quebec. Born near Montreal, the son of a blacksmith, he received a classical education at Montreal College and trained for the priesthood at the Petit Séminaire in Quebec. Completing these studies, he taught for a time at Montreal College, became secretary to Bishop Briand,* and was ordained a priest in 1786. He became a leader in resisting the predominance of the British over the French, and the British party attempted to hinder his rapid rise in the hierarchy. He was consecrated as bishop-coadjutor in 1801 and as bishop of Quebec in 1806. Enmity between the two groups increased at this time, but at the outbreak of the War of 1812 he urged the French to be loyal to Canada, thus winning the appreciation of the government. In 1814 he was granted a seat in the legislative council, and he used this to further the position of the Roman Catholic population, especially those of French extraction. He was consecrated archbishop of Quebec in 1818.