In focus

Dissolving the Order

By virtue of its structure, “La Patente,” officially named the Ordre de Jacques-Cartier (OJC), is an extremely centralized organization. Its highly autocratic leadership does not lend itself very well to the great diversity of realities experienced by French Canadians across the country. The ensuing tensions reach a climax during the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s.

Very early in the organization’s history, the rigid and undemocratic operations of the OJC cause significant friction between the Chancery and Quebec elements of the Order. Conflicts fester from the 1960s onwards, as disparities grow between goals sought by some and strategies suggested by others. Increasingly masters of their institutions, the French Canadians of Quebec have ambitions that are far removed from those in the rest of the country. They form the largest contingent of members of the Order, which remains under the iron fist of the Chancery in Ottawa. When Quebec authorities of the Order adopt a manifesto favouring a French-speaking national state in Quebec, the situation ignites in the autumn of 1964. After several months of confrontation, a resolution to dissolve the Order is passed in February 1965.

The Ontario Chancellors, however, continue their activities as Commanders within a new entity known as the Ordre des Franco-Ontariens. Since the organization still operates in the shadows, it adopts a shadow name: the Association culturelle ontarienne. Its structure is identical to that of the Ordre de Jacques-Cartier: a Supreme Authority, the Chancery, and local Commanders, along with some intermediate structures. Nor did the mission of the new organization differ from the original aspirations which inspired the formation of the Ordre de Jacques-Cartier nearly half a century earlier: to promote the rights of Catholic French Canadians.

The Association culturelle ontarienne, which has never officially ceased to exist, leaves no trace of activities after 1971.