Monday, July 24, 2017

Jean Baptiste Moreau and the Compagnie de la Colonie du Canada


Of the many companies that held fur monopolies, only two were controlled by New France (The Canadians).  They were The Communauté des Habitants and The Compagnie de la Colonie.

The Communauté des Habitants only existed for about 15 years in the mid-17th century (1645-1663).  You may recall Philippe Foubert (1616-1661) our 10th great-grandfather appears to have been a voyageur for the Compagnie des Habitants in 1649. SEE: https://laprairie-voyageur-canoes.blogspot.com/2017/07/philippe-foubert-voyageur-for-compagnie.html

The Compagnie de la Colonie lasted an even shorter period of time (1700-1706). 

In 1699, faced with a prolonged slump in the beaver trade caused by over-production, the colony's merchants had two options: to lower the price of the pelts they sold to the farmer-generals (financiers who collected in a certain district) of the Domaine d'Occident, at that time holders of the monopoly for the buying of furs and their sale in Europe; or to take over the monopoly themselves. 

They chose the second solution, set up the Compagnie de la Colonie, and sent two delegates to France to negotiate transfer of the monopoly. An agreement between the two parties was signed on June 9, 1700, and ratified by representatives of Canada's elite on behalf of the whole colony, in October, at the Château Saint-Louis in Québec. 

Weighed down by debt, and unable to deal with the decline in the fur trade, the Compagnie de la Colonie was liquidated in 1706 and the monopoly was handed over to French merchants.  Source: http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/exploration-settlement/new-france-new-horizons/Pages/trade.aspx?wbdisable=true#2

1704 and 1705 engagements from the Archives of Quebec

Jean Baptiste Moreau (1657-1727) our 8th great-grandfather was engaged by the Compagnie de la Colonie in 1704 and again 1705, to go fort le pont Chartrain (aka Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit or Fort Detroit).

View of Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Explorer Nicolas Perrot and our La Prairie Voyageurs


Nicolas Perrot (1644-1717), far right on this delightful sculpture depicting "The Spirit of the Northwest," (located in Green Bay Wisconsin) was a French fur trader, North American colonial official, and explorer

Perrot immigrated to New France (Canada) as a youth, and his services there under the Jesuits and Sulpicians enabled him to learn Indian languages and native cultures. He entered the fur trade about 1663, working in the Great Lakes region, and in 1668 he was among the first French traders who dealt with the Algonkin tribes around Green Bay. Governor Frontenac sent Perrot in 1670 as interpreter on an expedition that claimed the Upper Mississippi area for France in June 1671. He returned to New France that autumn, married, and settled on an estate at Becancour. For the next 12 years, he evidently worked his lands but also engaged in some fur trading, as he was awarded a license for that purpose in 1674.

In 1683 Governor Lefebvre de La Barre authorized Perrot to undertake a Great Lakes trading expedition, and the next year, the governor directed him to obtain the support of western tribes in his campaign against the Iroquois. In 1685 Perrot was made commandant of the Green Bay region, and, with his commission, he journeyed to the junction of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers, where he built Ft. St. Nicolas. In 1686 he constructed Ft. St. Antoine on Lake Pepin and initiated trade with the Sioux and other local tribes. The following year, Perrot was ordered to assist another campaign against the Iroquois. He ousted British fur-traders expeditions from the Great Lakes region, and, on May 8, 1689, he officially renewed France’s claim to the Upper Mississippi.

Perrot continued to work among the western tribes until 1696, when all trading licenses were revoked. He then returned to Lower Canada. Perrot subsequently worked as an interpreter and served in the militia, although he devoted his final years to writing his memoirs, published in 1864.

Source above: Encyclopædia Britannica - https://www.britannica.com/biography/Nicolas-Perrot

Between 1667 and 1690, three of our La Prairie Voyageur Ancestors traveled with Perrot, and became some of the first European men to travel in the Upper Mississippi Valley, in what is now Wisconsin and Minnesota.

1667 Société Desroches, Beaudry, Nafrechoux & Perrot Notary Record

1667, August 12, Nicolas Perrot formed a trading company (Société) with Toussaint Baudry, Jean Baptiste Desroches (1621-1684) our 8th great-grandfather. and Isaac Nafrechoux.  Together they traveled west to Ottawa. Traveling still further west, Perrot and his partners became the first French traders to deal with the Algonquian tribes near Green Bay in 1668. Working to break the trade monopoly the Ottawas had over the western tribes, Perrot opened direct trade relations with the Potawatomi and established himself as an Indian diplomat by settling a dispute between the Potawatomi and the Menominee.

"The Pageant of the Sault, France claims the Great Lakes" 

St-Lusson explaining to the natives that they are now subjects of King Louis XIV of France

1670, September 3, Intendant of New France Jean Talon asked explorer-trader Nicolas Perrot to accompany, as an interpreter, Daumont de Saint-Lusson.  Saint-Lusson was Talon's commissioner delegate "to the land of the savages Outaouas, Nose-pierced , Illinois, and other nations discovered in North America on the side of Lake Superior.  He was also to search and discover mines of all kinds, especially of copper, to take possession in the name of the King of the whole inhabited and uninhabited country.

Perrot then formed a new commercial company, this time with Pierre Poupart (1653-1699) our 8th great-grandfather, Jean Dupuis, Denis Masse, Jean Guytard and Jacques Benoît, and set off with Saint-Lusson. They made a brief stop in Montreal, and in October they went on to Lake Huron via the Outaouais River, Lake Nipissing and the French River. They spent the winter at Manitoulin Island, and in the following spring Perrot dispatched Indian emissaries to the northern nations with the mission of inviting them to Sault Ste. Marie in order to hear the King's word that Saint-Lusson bore them and all the nations. Perrot had gone ahead to the nations of Bay des Puants, to invite them to this important meeting. 

On 4 June 1671 Saint-Lusson called together all the Indian nations that could be reached; there were 14 of them.  In the presence of this important gathering of nations and a few prominent Frenchmen a ceremony took place which had important diplomatic consequences. 

The interpreter Perrot, in the name of the king of France, began to read in the Indian language from the document that confirmed the appropriation by France of this immense territory, discovered and yet to be discovered, which stretched from the seas of the north and west to that of the south. 

Then they erected a cross, “to bring forth there the fruits of Christianity,” and immediately beside it a cedar post bearing the arms of France. As the crowd, made up of both French and Indians, uttered repeated cheers of “Long live the king,” a “sod of earth” was lifted in the air three times, in a symbolic gesture. Henceforth this part of a continent belonged to the king of France, and these 14 nations were dependent on His Majesty and subject to his laws and customs.  In return they could count on his protection. 

The French intoned the Vexilla Regis, to the great wonderment of the Indians. Then Father Allouez delivered a harangue to the Indians in which he extolled the power of Louis XIV, “the Captain of the greatest Captains.” 

Daumont de Saint-Lusson then spoke, and expressed himself “in martial and eloquent language.” In the evening a splendid bonfire was lighted, presents were exchanged, and a Te Deum was sung to thank God, in the Indians’ name, for having made of them “the subjects of so great and powerful a Monarch.”

Some Hurons and Ottawas, who arrived late for the ceremony, likewise swore allegiance to Louis XIV. Saint-Lusson’s official journey, which cost the king of France nothing and which added a segment – somewhat symbolically it is true – to his empire, in fact marks the beginning of the planned explorations that were to lead to James Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Rocky Mountains.

1690, Nicolas Perrot establishes a lead mine and trading post on the Mississippi River

1690 May 11, Nicolas Perrot engages Jean Cusson for a voyage to the 8ta8ois

From the notary record of Antoine Adhémar (Montreal) we know Jean Cusson (1630-1718) our 9th great-grandfather was a voyageur engaged by Perrot 1690, May 11, for a voyage to the 8ta8ois (Ottawa Indians).  Source: 17th Century Engagé Contracts to the Great Lakes and Beyond – 20 May 1682 to 15 May 1690 – Part 1, Diane Wolford Sheppard. 

In 1690, some Miami Indians, then living upon the Mississippi, brought Perrot a specimen of lead ore from a "ruisseau" (probably Catfish creek, Dubuque), and requested him to come and establish a trading-post among them, which he shortly proceeded to do. Hence the region became known as "Perrot's Mines." 

Thomas Jeffreys, in "The Natural and Civil History of the French Dominions in North and South America," London, 1760, p. 135, says, "Ten leagues below the Wisconsin are the lead mines, formerly discovered by the Sieur Perrot, 'and still bearing his name." The site of that trading-post is undetermined.

A commanding point at the mouth of Tete des Morts creek, ten miles below Catfish creek, has been suggested for it. "The fact that the village of the grand chief of the Miamis was but four leagues below, was a good reason for locating the trading-post at this place, where it would be convenient for him and his people to barter their furs." (L. C. Draper. Wisc. His. Coll. x. 332). Source: State Historical Society of Iowa, "Nicolas Perrot, the First Commercial Traveler on the Upper Mississippi" by Rev. Dr. William Salter. 

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Monday, July 3, 2017

More Fascinating Ancestors from the Fur Trade Era of New France

Pierre Leber's portrait of Marguerite Bourgeoys, c. 1700

In CHAPTER TWO, Our Earliest Fur Trade Ancestors and How they Fit Together, I introduced readers to the Leber brothers: Francois Leber (Lebert) (1626-1694) voyageur (my 8th great-grandfather) and his brother Jacques Leber (Lebert) dit Larose (1633-1706)(my 9th great-uncle) Montreal trading post partner of Charles Le Moyne. Francois and Jacques were the sons of Robert LeBer (1601-1625) and Colette Cavelier (1605-1694).

Two fascinating ancestors in the history of New France are children of Jacques Leber (Lebert) dit Larose:

French colonial period artist Pierre Leber 

Pierre Leber (Le Ber) was for a long time considered as a well-meaning but untalented amateur; he suddenly became famous, however, as the result of the discovery in 1965 of the original of the portrait of Marguerite Bourgeoys, hailed as one of the masterpieces of Canadian art. 

There is, of course, no comparison between this canvas – completely repainted on two occasions – and the formal portrait as the great century conceived it, but its accent of truth and the economy of the means employed could not fail to appeal to modern taste. According to eye-witnesses, Le Ber was apparently seized by a sudden inspiration and executed his work with extraordinary facility. Be that as it may, he rendered with unusual force the human qualities that the early Montrealers saw in Sister Bourgeoys. It is in truth a great work, worthy of the subject that inspired it, and certainly a good likeness.

Was it merely a stroke of luck? There is in any case no doubt that Le Ber, who was probably trained at Quebec, devoted the major part of his time to artistic work. Proof of this is to be seen in the substantial amount of painter’s equipment and the abundance of artist’s supplies enumerated in the inventory of his possessions made after his death. 


Moreover, his will informs us that he concerned himself with ornamentalist architecture. It refers to the chapel of St Anne – a stone building which he had had constructed at Pointe-Saint-Charles to match the one at Bonsecours – and mentions a tabernacle for which he had furnished the design to a carver from Ange-Gardien, no doubt Charles Vézina.

Painting St. Charles Borromée, patron of Pointe-Saint-Charles, 
attributed to Pierre LeBer, early 18th century

In “Ma Saberdache,” Jacques Viger transcribes a text by Abbé Sattin which relates that during the building of the Hôpital Général Le Ber “himself worked at the interior decoration by contributing a large number of pictures painted by his own hand,” and adds “that only one of them remains [in 1843], that it is a daub, and that the others have wisely been burned.” Despite this statement, it is doubtful that the Sisters of Charity resorted to such an auto-da-fé

The question is obscure. When in 1719 Brother Chrétien [Turc] succeeded Charon at the head of the Hospitallers, he had an inventory of the establishment drawn up; no painting is listed in it, except a “picture representing a crucifix,” which was apparently a framed print. On the other hand, when Mother Youville [Dufrost] took possession of the hospice in 1747, the inventory mentioned the presence of 27 pictures in the sacristy and the church. If one can go by the titles, only two of these would seem still to exist in the mother house of the Sisters of Charity: a “St Catherine” and a “Jésus au jardin des oliviers.” According to accounts of the time, it seems that the others were lost in the fire of 1765, and that they were not deliberately destroyed. 

Finally, to Le Ber are attributed various works which are to be found at the Congrégation de Notre-Dame, particularly an “Enfant Jésus” painted for Sister Barbier.



Jeanne Leber, Famous Recluse of Montreal

Jeanne Le Ber, famed recluse; b. 4 Jan., 1662 at Montreal, daughter of Jacques Le Ber and Jeanne Le Moyne; d. 3 Oct. 1714 at Montreal.

Jeanne Le Ber was baptized the day she was born by Abbé Gabriel Souart, Maisonneuve [Chomedey] being her godfather and Jeanne Mance her godmother. At an early age she was interested in a religious vocation and frequently visited Jeanne Mance and the Hospitallers. To complete her formal education she spent three years, 1674 to 1677, as a boarder with the Ursulines in Quebec where her aunt, Marie Le Ber de l’Annonciation, taught. The Ursulines were impressed by her many acts of self-denial and were disappointed when, at the age of 15, she returned to her family in Montreal. She was a pensive, withdrawn, and introverted young lady, who daily spent much time in prayer and in adoration of the Sacrament. A friendship with Marguerite Bourgeoys was greatly to influence her future.

Jeanne Le Ber seemed to savour the social status of her family, however, and always enjoyed prominence and praise for her virtues and talents. As the only daughter (she had three younger brothers) of Jacques Le Ber, with a dowry of approximately 50,000 écus, she was rightly considered the most eligible girl in New France.

The death of one of the sisters of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame in 1679 profoundly affected her; she sought the guidance of Abbé Seguenot, Sulpician parish priest at Point-aux-Trembles (Montreal) who was to remain her confessor, and decided to live a secluded life for a five-year period. With her parents’ permission she retired to a cell at the rear of the church of the Hôtel-Dieu, which served as parish church at that time. Her practices of self-mortification increased: she wore an undergarment of haircloth and corn-husk shoes, she refused to communicate with her family or friends, and she reportedly practised self-flagellation. She left her seclusion only to attend daily mass.

Jeanne Le Ber remained undecided about entering a regular order and taking permanent vows; nevertheless, her determination to shun the attractive life her family offered became evident. In November 1682 she refused to leave her cell to attend her dying mother and later refused to assume the management of the household for her widowed father.

Instead, on 24 June 1685 she took a simple vow of perpetual seclusion, chastity, and poverty. Her spiritual directors, the Abbés Dollier de Casson and Seguenot, encouraged her to continue her pious observances. Her poverty and seclusion, however, were somewhat tempered by the fact that, befitting her social rank, she retained throughout her years of withdrawal from the world an attendant, her cousin Anna Barroy, who saw to her physical requirements and accompanied her to mass. Pleading frailty, she did not abstain from meat as did strict observers in the 17th century. When her brother Jean-Vincent was killed by the Iroquois in 1691, her vows did not prevent her viewing his body and assisting with funeral arrangements. At the same time she attended to a number of business matters, for she had not felt obliged by her vows to divest herself of her property. She ceded the farm at Pointe Saint-Charles to the Hôpital Général of the Charon brothers. 

Her self-imposed rule of silence was subject to amendment by her spiritual director, and she does not seem to have been refused permission to receive visitors whenever she desired. In 1693, for example, she had a long conversation with M. de La Colombière who wished to re-enter Saint-Sulpice.

When she heard that the sisters of the Congrégation planned to build a church on their property she gave them generous financial assistance on condition that they reserve for her a three-room apartment directly behind the altar, so that she could view the blessed sacrament without leaving her quarters. The apartment was built to her specifications, one room at each of three levels: the lower storey, a vestry for confessions and communion, with a door to the sisters’ garden; the second storey, a simple bedchamber; the upper level, a workroom. Dollier de Casson witnessed the agreement drawn up by the notary Basset, whereby the sisters of the Congrégation promised to supply food, clothing, and fuel, to offer daily intercessions, and to wait on her whenever her lady-in-waiting was absent. In return Jeanne Le Ber provided the capital funds for building and decorating the church and an annual income of 75 livres.

On 5 Aug. 1695 she took the solemn vows of a recluse at a ceremony attended by scores of curious colonists. She spent much time in making church vestments and altar cloths and in fine embroidery. Six or seven hours a day were devoted to prayer and meditation, communion was received four times a week; and when the sisters of the Congrégation retired for the night Jeanne Le Ber would spend hours prostrate before the altar of the deserted and silent church. According to her confessor she did not find complete consolation in her self-abnegation and her religious exercises were always burdensome to her.

She introduced the practice of the perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and made a gift of 300 livres to the sisters of the Congrégation for its observance. Another 8,000 livres provided for perpetual masses. She also presented them with the tabernacle, ciborium, chalice, ostensorium, and a silver lamp for the chapel.

Throughout the colony she enjoyed a great fame and continued to receive distinguished visitors from time to time. In 1698, Bishop Saint-Vallier [La Croix], returning from France, accompanied two English gentlemen, one of them a Protestant minister, on a visit to her. Her father visited her twice a year. His request to be buried in the church of the sisters of the Congrégation to be near his daughter was granted, but Jeanne, to the disappointment of the curious, did not attend his funeral.
When a final illness overtook her in September 1714 she divested herself of her remaining possessions. The sisters of the Congrégation received 18,000 livres, the revenue of which maintained seven boarders, and all her furniture. She died on 3 October and was buried next to her father.


In 2015, from: https://www.catholicregister.org/item/21302-sainthood-cause-opened-for-montreal-laywoman -- Sainthood cause opened for (Jeanne Leber) Montreal laywoman, Calling her a star in a “constellation of holiness,” Montreal Archbishop Christian Lépine has opened the cause for sainthood of a 17th-century Montreal laywoman.

More about their father, Jacques Leber (Lebert) dit Larose

LeBer-LeMoyne Fur Trading Post in Montreal

Jacques Leber (Lebert) dit Larose (1633–1706)
BIRTH 1633 • Normandie, Eure, Haute-Normandie, France
DEATH 25 NOV 1706 • Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Our 9th great-uncle
married to: Jeanne Le Moyne (1635–1682)
BIRTH ABOUT 1635 • France
DEATH NOV 1682 • Ville Marie, Nouvelle France, Canada
wife of our 9th great-uncle and the sister of Charles Le Moyne Sieur de Longueuil his business partner.

Jacques Leber (Lebert)(Le Ber) dit Larose, merchant, seigneur, ennobled in 1696; b. c. 1633 in the parish of Pistre, diocese of Rouen, son of Robert Le Ber and Colette Cavelier, who may have been related to Cavelier de La Salle; d. 25 Nov. 1706 in Montreal.

Le Ber came to Canada in 1657 and took up residence in Montreal. A brother, François, also settled there around the same time, and a sister, Marie, became an Ursuline nun in Quebec. The Iroquois were then intensifying their war against the colony and Jacques, living in the area most exposed to their incursions, risked his life on many expeditions against these Indians. In 1663, he and François were members of the militia of the Holy Family which Chomedey de Maisonneuve had organized for the defence of the island.

Le Ber, however, was not primarily a soldier but a businessman. On 7 Jan. 1658, he had wed Jeanne Le Moyne, sister of Charles Le Moyne de Longueuil et de Châteauguay, and shortly afterwards he went into business with his brother-in-law. By 1664, the two partners owned stores in Montreal and Quebec and their affairs were in a flourishing state. Le Ber’s activities, however, were not limited to the fur trade and the sale of merchandise. He was keenly interested in Canada’s other economic resources and was one of the principal pioneers of their development. He engaged in the cod fisheries, in trade with the West Indies, was one of the first men to send staves and sheathing to France, and experimented with the transplanting of European fruit trees.

By the 1670s Le Ber was one of the key figures in the closely knit group of wealthy and ambitious businessmen which had emerged in Canada. Among his associates was Charles Bazire, the partner of Charles Aubert de La Chesnaye, with whom he engaged in various commercial ventures. 

In 1674, Governor Louis de Buade de Frontenac leased to the two men the post he had founded at Cataracoui, which was strategically located for trade with the Iroquois and some of the western tribes. The following year, however, the governor arranged for the transfer of the lease to Cavelier de La Salle. Le Ber, who had previously acted as a staunch ally of Frontenac, now became one of his chief adversaries. With Le Moyne, La Chesnaye, and Philippe Gaultier de Comporté, who also felt slighted by Frontenac’s policy, he appears to have organized a rival fur-trading network. In 1682, this group of powerful merchants gained the favour ofLe Febvre de La Barre. The new governor promptly placed Le Ber and La Chesnaye in possession of Fort Frontenac (Cataracoui, now Kingston, Ont.) and also encouraged the formation of the Compagnie du Nord, in which Le Ber and Le Moyne invested 21,357 livres.

By the 1680s, Le Ber was one of the wealthiest and most respected men in New France. He owned a store in Montreal and each year sent large quantities of fur and bills of exchange to France. In 1693 alone, those drawn on the state and private parties amounted to 79,380 livres. He was also the seigneur of two-thirds of Île Saint-Paul near Montreal, whose value was given as 18,400 livres in an inventory of 1694, and of Senneville, an estate of 200 arpents on Lac des Deux Montagnes. Le Ber himself lived on Rue Saint-Paul in Montreal, in a two-storey house whose grounds were enclosed by a wooden fence. When he entertained at dinner his guests were probably served on silver plates worth 2,140 livres and waited upon by Jacques, a Negro slave. In 1696, Louis XIV placed a number of letters of nobility on sale in order to replenish his depleted finances. Le Ber promptly purchased his for 6,000 livres and proudly added the title esquire to his name. In August 1715 a decree of the council of state revoked all letters of nobility sold since 1689, but Le Ber’s descendants obtained letters patent exempting them from this law.

Le Ber’s wealth gave him considerable influence in the affairs of the colony. He was one of the 20 notables summoned by Frontenac in 1678 to give their opinion on the brandy trade with the Indians. The majority view was that no restrictions should be placed on this trade, but Le Ber and four others maintained that it should be forbidden outside the confines of the main settlements. The question was temporarily settled the following year when Louis XIV issued an edict that reflected this minority opinion. In 1684, Le Ber sat on another assembly of notables; along with the others present on this occasion, he opposed replacing the tax of 25 per cent on beaver pelts and of 10 per cent on moosehides by a head tax (capitation) and impositions on foodstuffs and property.
When the Iroquois renewed their war on New France in the early 1680s, Le Ber and his family once more came to the defence of the colony. In 1686, he built a stone mill on the island of Montreal near the Ottawa River to provide the inhabitants of that area with a shelter in case of attack by the Five Nations. In 1693, he joined a war party of 300 Canadians, 100 soldiers, and 230 Indians that attacked the Mohawks in their own territory.

Le Ber died in Montreal on 25 Nov. 1706. According to the report of Jacques Raudot on the financial status of the principal shareholders of the Compagnie de la Colonie, he was then a wealthy man. Le Ber’s wife had died on 8 Nov. 1682, and two sons had also predeceased him: Louis, Sieur de Saint-Paul, who died in the early 1690s in La Rochelle where he had acted as his father’s business agent, and Jean-Vincent, Sieur Du Chesne, fatally wounded during an encounter with an English and Iroquois war party near Fort Chambly in 1691. Three children survived their father: Jeanne, the famous recluse, Pierre, and Jacques, Sieur de Senneville. While serving in France as aide-de-camp in the 1690s, Senneville dissipated his share of 40,000 livres from his father’s estate. Following his return to Canada, he was made a captain in the colonial regular troops and soon became a successful fur-trader and merchant. When he died in 1735, he and Toussaint Pothier, with whom he had formed a partnership in 1731, had 64,000 livres in cash in their Montreal store.


About Charles Le Moyne de Longueuil

Charles Le Moyne, Monument at Place d'Armes, Montréal

Charles Le Moyne Sieur de Longueuil (1626–1685)
BIRTH 2 AUG 1626 • Dieppe, Haute-Normandie, France
DEATH 1685 • Montréal, Quebec, Canada
brother-in-law of our 9th great-uncle

Charles Le Moyne de Longueuil et de Châteauguay, soldier, interpreter, trader, seigneur, son of Pierre Le Moyne, innkeeper, and of Judith Du Chesne; b. 2 Aug. 1626 at Dieppe (Normandy); d. February 1685 at Montreal.

The fact that his maternal uncle, the surgeon Adrien Du Chesne, was in the colony, encouraged Charles Le Moyne to come to New France. He was 15 years old when he arrived in 1641. At first he was an indentured employee of the Jesuits in the Huron country, and over a period of four years he familiarized himself with the Indian languages.

In 1645 he was serving in the Trois-Rivières garrison as an interpreter, a clerk, and a soldier. The following year he settled at Ville-Marie (Montreal), where he was to remain throughout his whole career. His life there took the form of continual skirmishes with the Indians, who plagued the fort unceasingly with their attacks. In 1646, and again in 1648, he took a number of Iroquois prisoners. In the spring of 1651, with the pioneer Jacques Archambault, he barely escaped a massacre in which several settlers perished; there was only one other survivor, Jean Chicot, and he had been scalped. On 18 June of the same year he repelled another attack, and for his bravery he was named storekeeper of the fort.

In another ambush, in 1655, he and Lambert Closse took half a dozen Indians prisoner, among them a chief. During a trip he made to Quebec in 1657 he instituted an exchange of French and Iroquois prisoners. He very nearly set out with Dollard Des Ormeaux on the 1660 expedition; he did not go, however, because he wanted it to be postponed until after seed-time.

During an attack by 160 Indians in February 1661, only Le Moyne had a weapon with which to defend himself. Just as he was about to be captured he was saved by Mme Celles Duclos, who brought him an armful of weapons. In the summer of 1665 he was taken prisoner by an Iroquois party, but set free thanks to Garakontié, a friend of the French and a chief of the Onondagas.
In January 1666 Le Moyne was in command of the settlers of Ville-Marie who served as the advance guard for Governor Rémy de Courcelle’s fruitless expedition to the Iroquois country. In the autumn he was to be found at the head of the Montreal settlers in the campaign against the Mohawks, which was personally conducted by the lieutenant general, Prouville de Tracy. On his return he escorted the army chaplain to Fort Sainte-Anne on Lake Champlain. In addition, in the summer of 1671, he took part, as an interpreter, in a new expedition to Lake Ontario organized by Courcelle. In 1673 he resumed his role as an interpreter for the chiefs of the Iroquois tribes, when Governor Buade de Frontenac went to Lake Ontario to lay the foundations for the settlement of Cataracoui.

In the autumn of 1682 he took part in the assembly of the notables of the country, called by Governor Le Febvre de La Barre to decide whether New France should take the Offensive against the Iroquois territory. In the spring of 1683, he was again delegated by La Barre, this time to go with four Indian chiefs from Laprairie, near Montreal, to the south shore of Lake Ontario; they were to take gifts to the Five Nations, who were once more defying the authorities of New France and neglecting to send their deputies, according to agreement, to negotiate the terms of the fur trade and of the alliances.

In the year of his marriage (1654), Charles Le Moyne had received from Chomedey de Maisonneuve a gift of money and a grant of 90 acres of land, since called Pointe-Saint-Charles, and a site in Saint-Paul Street, where for 30 years he had his home and his headquarters.
The Lauson family, in 1657, granted him a fief of 5,000 acres, in accordance with the uses and customs of Le Vexin in France; this was on the south shore at Montreal, cut directly out of the huge seigneury of La Citière. To this fief was added in 1665 grants of land on the Île Sainte-Hélène and the Île Ronde. In 1669 he had an establishment at the Saint-Louis rapids. 

In 1672 Governor Frontenac and Intendant Jean Talon confirmed him in his title to the seigneury of Longueuil by augmenting it with the unallotted lands between Varennes and Laprairie, and by extending it to one and a half leagues in depth. The following year, “because of the zeal that he has always shown in the service of the king,” Frontenac granted him a seigneury at Châteauguay two leagues across by three in depth, and the Île Saint-Bernard, now called the Île Châteauguay, at the mouth of the Rivière du Loup. In 1676 the intendant Duchesneau, in compliance with his request, still further extended the depth of his seigneury of Longueuil, and Le Moyne collected all his fiefs under the name of Longueuil.

With his brother-in-law and business associate Jacques Leber (Le Ber) he acquired in 1679 the Boisbriant fief, which subsequent documents situate “at the upper end of the Île de Montréal,” which took the name of Senneville, and of which Leber became the sole holder. Under M. de La Barre’s administration he obtained with Leber the right to trade in furs at Fort Cataracoui and to ship supplies there, in compensation for funds advanced to Cavelier de La Salle, a bad debtor.

In 1682 he had been one of the shareholders of the Compagnie du Nord, whose agents, Radisson and Chouart Des Groseilliers, went over to the English in the Hudson’s Bay Company.
He made application, in 1684, for the purchase of the fief of the Île Perrot, which had belonged to François-Marie Perrot, the governor of Montreal.

In addition to his residence in Saint-Paul Street – the finest at Ville-Marie – Le Moyne, from 1674, owned a house and buildings on his fief of Longueuil. In 1675 he had there some 20 copyholders (censitaires). In 1684, in favour of his eldest son Charles, he relinquished his Longueuil fief, which was to be elevated to a barony in 1700.

With Pierre Gadoys, Le Moyne was elected a warden of the parish church of Ville-Marie in 1660, and when the royal government was set up at Montreal in 1663 he was given the office of attorney-general, which he filled for a year of two.

In 1668 Le Moyne received letters patent of nobility. These letters, which were not registered within the prescribed time-limit and which were therefore theoretically cancelled, were nevertheless recognized by the authorities of the colony and by the king himself. Nobody, moreover, seems to have challenged the right of Le Moyne or of his descendants to their titles between 1668 and 1717, at which time the situation was regularized by the registration of the letters patent in the Parlement of Paris and the Cour des Aides.

Governor Le Febvre de La Barre, asserting that Le Moyne had done more than any other person in the war against the Iroquois, recommended him in 1683 for the post of governor of Montreal.
Shortly afterwards, Le Moyne was to perform his final service for his country. It was he who in the summer of 1684, with the help of Father Jean deLamberville, saved from disaster La Barre’s unfortunate expedition against the Iroquois, by inducing the latter to negotiate for peace at Anse de la Famine (Famine Cove).

Worn out before his time, Charles Le Moyne was not yet 60 when he dictated his last will and testament on 30 Jan. 1685. He passed away a few days later and was buried in the crypt of the church of Notre-Dame at Montreal.

At Ville-Marie, in 1654, he had married Catherine Thierry (1640–90), the adopted daughter of Antoine Primot and of Martine Messier. His wife survived him by only five years. He had by her two daughters and 12 sons, almost all of them famous: of the latter several died in battle of their wounds; others were commandants of different localities; and one, Pierre Le Moyne* d’Iberville, was the most renowned soldier of New France.

The inventory of Charles Le Moyne’s possessions, which was drawn up shortly after his death by the notary Bénigne Basset, enumerated, in addition to the titles of landed property quoted earlier, personal possessions to the value of more than 125,000 livres; this makes Le Moyne the richest Montreal citizen of his day.


Also see: Chapter Three - La Prairie's Leber Family

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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Philippe Foubert voyageur for the Compagnie des Habitants, 1649



Philippe Foubert (1616-1661) our 10th great-grandfather appears to have been a voyageur for the Compagnie des Habitants in 1649.


 • From the files of Laurent Bermen, royal notary in New France, we find a record (above) dated 1649, Sep 12, for the engagement of Philippe Foubert to Charles Sevestre. 

About Philippe Foubert

Philippe Foubert
Born: 1616, St Vivien, Rouen, Seine, France
Married Bef 1641, St Vivien, Rouen, Normandie, France, to Jeffine Riviere
Died: 1656 to 1661, Capmadeleine, Champlain, Quebec
Burial: 1661 Cap De Madelaine, Champlain, Quebec 

In 1652, Philippe Foubert was referred to as a miller, when he bought a home in Trois-Rivieres of two arpents of frontage on the river. On 3 Oct 1655, Philippe and his brother, Robert signed a note of obligation for 100 livres to Charles Sevestre, probably the downpayment required to bring their wives to New France. 

The women arrived in Quebec the summer of 1656, Jeffine Riviere, age 48 wife of Philippe, accompanied by her daughter, Marie age 15, Marguerite Riviere age 50, wife of Robert Foubert and the young wife of Georges Pelletier, age 32. 

They made haste to return to Trois-Rivieres to announce the prospective marriage of Marie Foubert to voyageur Jean Cusson which took place 16 Sep 1656.

About Charles Sevestre

We  know Charles Sevestre was a clerk in the fur trade monopoly of the Communauté des Habitants [aka  Compagnie des Habitants] at its storehouse at Quebec, and eventually, before 1649, became the general manager of the storehouse. He was also financier and outfitter for investors and traders based at Quebec, Trois-Rivières, and Montreal.

Sources:

Charles Sevestre emigrated from France in 1636, and served as the clerk and manager of the warehouse of the fur trade company of New France through the 1640s and 1650s, at Quebec. Source: http://www.timothyjkent.com/bio.htm

Charles Sevestre and his wife Marie Pichon. Clerk in the fur trade monopoly company's storehouse at Quebec, and eventually the general manager of the storehouse. Also financier and outfitter for investors and traders based at Quebec, Trois-Rivières, and Montreal. Source: http://www.timothyjkent.com/phantomcontents.htm

Charles Sevestre [clerk in the Quebec warehouse, procurator-syndic of the Communauté des Habitants [aka  Compagnie des Habitants], special lieutenant of the seneschal’s court of Quebec] was born 17 January 1609 in Paris, France. Charles Sevestre was the child of Charles was an immigrant to Canada, arriving by 1636. He married  Marie Pichon 1631 in Paris, France .  The couple had (at least) 7 children. Marie Pichon  was born abt. 1600 in Paris, France .  She died 3 May 1661 in Québec, Québec, Canada .  Charles Sevestre died 8 December 1657 in , Québec Province, Canada . Source: http://greenerpasture.com/Ancestors/Details/24088

From: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/sevestre_charles_1E.html 
CHARLES SEVESTRE, clerk in the Quebec warehouse, procurator-syndic of the Communauté des Habitants, special lieutenant of the seneschal’s court of Quebec; son of Charles Sevestre and Marguerite Petitpas; d. 1657 at Quebec.

The Sevestre family came from Paris, where, some time around 1627, Charles had married Marie Pichon, the widow of Philippe Gauthier de La Chenaye. We know of four of Charles’s brothers: Louis, who was a bookseller; Étienne, Ignace, and Thomas, who probably arrived at Quebec with Charles not later than 1636. They brought with them their widowed mother. The Compagnie des Cent-Associés granted them lands at Quebec in the spring of 1639.

Charles Sevestre’s first occupation is unknown to us; he is referred to in 1641 only as a “settler living at the aforesaid Quebec.” But in 1645, when the Communauté des Habitants was founded, Sevestre makes his appearance as clerk of the warehouse. On 23 Aug. 1648, at a meeting of all the notables of the Quebec region, he was elected procurator-syndic of the Communauté. It was in this capacity that he was required, in 1649, to initiate the construction of the first church at Trois-Rivières. On 8 May 1651 he is mentioned as being provost judge of the Lauson seigneury, an office that he was the first to hold. During the years 1651 and 1652 he was one of the churchwardens of the parish of Quebec. Finally, from 1651 until his death, he was the first appointee to the important office of special civil and criminal lieutenant in the seneschal’s court of Quebec, created by Governor Jean de Lauson.

Charles Sevestre died at Quebec and was buried on 9 Dec. 1657 under his pew in the church; his wife was to follow him on 4 May 1661.

About the Compagnie des Habitants

The Compagnie des Habitants (or Communauté des Habitants, as both names can be used) was formed in 1645, in Quebec. Its promoters were Pierre Le Gardeur de Repentigny, François de Chavigny, Noël Juchereau des Châtelets, Jacques Leneuf de la Potherie, Michel Leneuf du Hérisson, Guillaume Couillard, Jean Paul Godefroy, Jean Bourdon, Mathurin Gagnon, and Jean Guyon. 

In 1645, thanks to the influence of the Jesuits at court, it obtained from the Company of New France the transfer of its trade monopoly, outside Acadia, on condition of assuming all the administrative, military, and religious charges of the colony, as well as the yearly transportation of 20 colonists, and an annual payment of one thousand beaver skins. This agreement was confirmed by a royal edict of March 6, 1645.

The company was open to all the inhabitants, divided into three classes: the important men, the middle-class citizens and the common people. Profits were to be divided equally among members of each class, but unequally among the classes, and directors were elected by the members. As a matter of fact, the company was composed of the better-off families of the colony.

In a small country of about 500 souls, the company had to borrow all its capital, mostly in France, at very high interest. During the first years, the monopoly proved profitable, but in face of the directors' extravagance, the King in March, 1647, appointed to take their place a council consisting of the governor, the superior of the Jesuits, and the governor of Montreal, and this council was entrusted with the necessary trade and financial administration. At the same time, the fur barter was thrown open to every one, on condition of taking the skins to the company's stores at Quebec or Three Rivers. 

By a decree of March, 1648, while the European trade was also made free, the council was reformed so as to include two inhabitants selected by the permanent councillors, and later, in 1657, was again remodeled so as to include four councillors elected by the inhabitants of Quebec, Three Rivers, and Montreal.

Scene at first meeting of the Council elected in 1657

After the dispersion of the Hurons by the Iroquois, the fur-trade suffered a sudden collapse. 

The company soon found great difficulty in defraying the colonial budget of about 40,000 livres a year. 

In 1652, a duty amounting to half the beaver traded was imposed, but was reduced to one-fourth the following year, and the Tadoussac territory trade was leased out for a lump sum. Nevertheless, the company was obliged, in 1653, to suspend the annual shipment of the 1,000 beaver skins to the Company of New France and to secure from the king, in 1655, a five-year moratorium of its debts. All these measures proving insufficient, in spite of an additional duty of one-tenth on moose skins, it offered, but vainly, to give up its monopoly. The situation not improving, it was forced, in 1658, again to lease for 9,000 livres the Tadoussac trade. 

Two years later, in order to rescue the company, a new duty of 10 per cent. was imposed on all imported goods, and farmed for 10,000 livres to Aubert de la Chesnaye. Yet, in February, 1660, the company had to sublet for four years its fur monopoly to a French company, headed by Toussaint Guenet, agreeing to pay 10,000 livres a year to extinguish the Community's debts, as well as 50,000 livres in exchange of the moose and beaver duty, but this agreement was cancelled by the king in 1662. 

Then the Tadoussac trade was again leased and the 10 per cent. duty sublet the same year by Governor D'Avaugour himself.

In 1663, with the suppression of the Company of New France, the Communauté des Habitants ceased to exist, but the king allowed the 10 per cent. collected on importation to be applied to the discharge of its debt. This debt was estimated at 163,000 livres, and seems to have been repaid, but very slowly, through a long period of years.

Sources: 

See G. Lanctot, The elective council of Quebec (Can. hist. rev., June, 1934).

W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., p. 109-111.

http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/quebechistory/encyclopedia/CompagniedesHabitants1645-QuebecHistory.htm

About the Colony Company

Of the many companies who have held a monopoly on furs only two were controlled by Canadians: Community of Inhabitants, for fifteen years in the middle of the 17th century, and the Company of the Colony. 

In 1699, because of a crisis of overproduction of the beaver, which had prevailed in recent years, colonial merchants were faced with an alternative: to reduce the price of hides they sell to the farmers of the Domaine d'Occident with the monopoly on the purchase of fur and their sale in Europe - or to take control of the monopoly. 

Opting for the second solution, they set up the Compagnie de la Colonie and sent two delegates to France to negotiate the transfer of the monopoly. An agreement was signed on 9 June 1700 between the two parties; In October, at Château Saint-Louis in Quebec City, it was ratified by representatives of Canada's elite, on behalf of the entire colony. In debt and unable to cope with the beaver crisis, the Compagnie de la Colonie was liquidated in 1706 and the monopoly was sold to French merchants.

Source: 

http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/fra/decouvrez/exploration-colonisation/nouvelle-france-horizons-nouveaux/Pages/commercer.aspx#2

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Francois Bourassa's 1686, voyage to Hudson Bay for the Compagnie du Nord


Francois Bourassa (1659-1708) (our 7th great-grandfather) made a voyage to Hudson Bay for the Compagnie du Nord in 1686.

The following is an account of his adventure from "Chevalier de Troyes and the Attack at Hudson’s Bay" 

In 1685, news reached New France that the British had established permanent posts on Hudson’s Bay, and had carried off a large shipment of beaver pelts intended for Quebec City. 

In response, French Governor Brisay de Denonville charged Chevalier de Troyes, a captain in the Piémont Regiment, to lead an expedition to rout the British from the bay. De Troyes was given the task of capturing any British that he could, especially associates of Pierre Radisson, who was by then regarded as a traitor (Legget 1975: 40). 

The expedition was funded in large part by the Compagnie du Nord, which then held the monopoly on the fur trade in the region for the French. In 1686, de Troyes and his three senior officers, the brothers Pierre, Paul, and Jacques Le Moyne, led 96 other men in over thirty canoes up the Ottawa River and on towards the English posts of Hudson’s Bay. 


The voyage went well. Leaving Montreal on March 20th, when ice was still on the Ottawa, they reached the junction at Mattawa on May 10th, but here, instead of following the accustomed route west, they continued north up the Ottawa and into Lake Temiskaming. The company followed the portage route into the Abitibi River, and finally reached James Bay on June 20th, exactly three months after their departure (Legget 1975: 40). 

They captured three British forts without great difficulty ‐ Monsipi (Moose Factory), Rupert (Charles), and Albany, and all without any losing of any of their men. Pierre Le Moyne remained in charge of the forts, and de Troyes led the main body of the troop safely back to Quebec by that October. 

In total, the expedition resulted in the loss of only three men: two from drowning, and a third from exposure (Legget 1975: 40). The operation was therefore a military success with positive results for the Compagnie du Nord. 

Sources: 

The Fur Trade along the Ottawa River

Families of Michilimackinac – Boisguillet/Boisguilbert to Bourassa Compiled by Diane Wolford Sheppard

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Tasse à canot de voyageurs - Voyageurs canoe cup

"Canoes in a Fog" by Frances Anne Hopkins


During the fur trade era French-Canadian voyageurs and Native American hunters traveling by canoe often carried wooden canoe cups (sometimes called belt cups), a practical accessory that allowed them to dip drinking water from a lake or stream while paddling a canoe.  Until drinking unfiltered water became identified as dangerous in the 1970s, the tradition of carrying canoe cups continued with sportsmen.


Canoe cups were typically made from a tree burl, often maple or birch, that was hollowed out and shaped with crooked knife. The cups were sometimes decorated with incised, relief-carved, painted, or burned (pyrography) motifs of indigenous flora and fauna. 


Attached to the cup was usually a piece of deer or moose hide cordage, and a twig or carved toggle, which allowed the cup to hang from the sash or belt. 


My hand-carved canoe cup (pictured here) is engraved and decorated with burnt wood details of a trout or whitefish on each side.  It measures about  4¾" long by 3¼" wide by 2¼" deep, and is unsigned.  It was made by a Northern Cree (Atikamekw) Indian from the Manawan area of Quebec, Canada (about 160 kilometers northeast of Montreal).  


The Atikamekw are the indigenous inhabitants of the area they refer to as Nitaskinan ("Our Land"), in the upper Saint-Maurice River valley of Quebec.  The Atikamekw language, is a variety of the Cree language.  Their name, which literally means "lake whitefish", is sometimes also spelt "Atihkamekw", "Attikamekw", "Attikamek", or "Atikamek".  The French colonists referred to them as Têtes-de-Boules, meaning "Ball-Heads" or "Round-Heads" because of the shape of their headdress.

Carved Burl canoe cup from author's collection

Carved Moose canoe cup from author's collection

More elaborately carved examples of "Canoe Cups" or "Belt Cups" can be seen at:

Belt Cup, c. 1820, Anishinaabe, Ottawa or Ojibwa -- http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/exhibitions/indigenous (search - "Belt Cup")

Exceptional Northeast Carved Wood Belt Cup -- https://www.skinnerinc.com/auctions/2685B/lots/245

Northeast Carved and Painted Wood Canoe Cup -- https://www.skinnerinc.com/auctions/2563B/lots/332

Eastern Woodlands carved wood Belt Cup. c. 1760 -- https://fineart.ha.com/itm/american-indian-art/wood-sculpture/an-eastern-woodlands-carved-wood-belt-cupc-1760/a/5161-50330.s

Update -- Woodlands Indian Canoe Cup on PBS -- http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/season/6/miami-fl/appraisals/native-american-artifacts--200102A34/

Canoe Cup appraised on PBS Antiques Roadshow at $15-20,000

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Eastern Woodlands Indian Mocotaugan or Crooked Knife



This Eastern Woodlands Indian artifact, called a Mocotaugan by the Cree (pronounced “mah-kuh-TAW-gun”) is also called a “crooked knife.” It was an anthropologically important, intriguing, and sometimes beautiful woodworking tool typically used to split or carve wood for basket-making and canoe building.


My crooked knife (circa 1850) has a chip-carved ash handle with blade made from an old file, the blade is held in place with copper wire wrapping (partially missing). It is approximately  8.5" long.


Watch Caesar Newashish, a Native American of the Attikamek nation of the Manouane reserve in Quebec, use a crooked knife as he builds his bark canoe. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRFCxxAKafc

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Narcisse Roy (1765-1814) Montreal Fur Trade Silversmith

Hudson Bay trade silver cross made by Narcisse Roy c.1800

This Native American Indian trade silver cross on a red faceted trade bead necklace was made by Narcisse Roy “N.R.” of Montreal, Quebec, Canada circa 1800. The cross is a museum quality trade silver artifact with the correct hallmarks for Quebec, the crown, “HB” (Hudson Bay Company), crown over V (meaning the silver is sterling), and “N.R.” (Narcisse Roy’s cartouche or touch mark). 

The front of the cross has a setting of glass or perhaps a gem stone which magnifies a “HB” hallmark. The cross hangs on a trade bead necklace with red faceted glass beads and brass trade beads all from the late 18th or early 19th century.  The cross measures 4 1/4” T x 3 1/8” W.


The trade bead necklace is on a 32" long strand. When I purchased the cross and necklace its provenance was stated to be from the Bryce Hathcock Collection.

ABOUT NARCISSE ROY 

Narcisse Roy (1765 - 1814) Artist, silversmith and manufacturer in Montreal, Quebec. Worked between 1797 and 1814. Narcisse Roy did considerable silversmithing for the Hudson’s Bay Company, and supplied vast quantities of trade silver to the North West Company.

More from: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/roy_narsise_5E.html

NARSISE (Narcis, Narcisse, Narsis, Narsisse) ROY, silversmith, artist and merchant; b. 27 Nov. 1765 in Montreal, Que., son of Jacques Roy and Marie-Françoise Prud’homme; d. there 23 March 1814.

Narsise Roy must have done his apprenticeship as a silversmith in the period between 1777 and 1786. Robert Cruickshank may have given him his training, since their marks bear striking similarities, particularly in the way the initials RC and NR are formed. However, Roy could have had as master one of the many other silversmiths who were active in Montreal at that time: Louis-Nicolas Gaudin, dit La Poterie, Charles-François Delique, Jacques Varin*, dit La Pistole, Joseph Schindler*, Louis-Alexandre and Pierre Huguet, dit Latour, Bernard Decousse, Dominique Rousseau*, François Larsonneur, Caspar Frederic Grunewalt, Pierre Foureur, dit Champagne, Simon Beaugrand, John Wood, or Charles Arnoldi.

On 25 June 1787, Roy, “a merchant silversmith,” married Marie-Joseph Jérôme, dit Latour, in Montreal. The bride brought a dowry of 1,100 livres; in addition she received an inheritance from her mother in 1788 and one from her father in 1789, which brought in 1,800 livres, 301 cords of hardwood, and a year’s wheat crop. The couple moved into the house belonging to Pierre Roy, Narsise’s brother, on Rue Saint-Laurent. Twelve children were born of the marriage.

Roy remained in close touch with his family. From 1794 he kept his mother in his own home and looked after her; hence he gained certain benefits under her will and some minimal financial aid from one of his brothers because “his large family does not permit him to keep his said mother without some compensation.” Bonds of family and friendship linked the Roys with a number of silversmiths, in particular Nathan Starns, at whose marriage they were present on 20 Feb. 1794. Roy was also godfather to Narcisse Auclair, who would become an apprentice of Cruickshank in 1805 and then of Starns in 1807. Another of Cruickshank’s apprentices, Michel Roy, was a nephew of Narsise. Furthermore Roy appraised the tools of Pierre Huguet, dit Latour, and the contents of his silversmith’s shop for the inventories made after the deaths of his two wives, the first being done in 1788 with the assistance of Foureur, dit Champagne, and the second in 1802 with the help of Starns.

Roy regularly engaged in land and real estate transactions. In 1789 and 1790 he purchased in succession two properties in the faubourg Saint-Laurent, one of them from the merchant Louis Cavilhe. It is interesting that the sum of 6,500 shillings required for this purchase was paid entirely in trade silver. The first installment, made in February 1791, was valued at 1,000 shillings; it consisted of “two thousand ear pendants for the Indians, of thoroughly cleaned and polished silver, half of them small and half large.” The final remittance was delivered in 1794. That year Roy bought a third property, again in the faubourgSaint-Laurent, from the merchant Joseph Howard*, for 3,000 livres, of which 2,400 would be paid “in silverware for the Indians.” This debt eventually had to be paid to the merchant Jean-Baptiste-Toussaint Pothier* since Howard’s heirs transferred it to him in 1805. In 1796 Roy bought another piece of land in the faubourg Saint-Laurent, and in 1798 a lot on Rue Saint-Jacques on which he immediately erected a two-story stone house. He had another house built in 1808–9. These numerous investments give evidence of real prosperity and business acumen.

The hiring of five apprentices in succession reflected intense activity. Jean-Baptiste Lapointe was taken on in 1793 for six years, and Roy remained in touch with him and acted as a witness at his marriage in 1802; Charles-Olivier Lepage was engaged in 1796, Antoine Delisle in 1797, Louis Tribaut, dit Laffriquain, in 1801, and François Leclair in 1802. From 1801 until 1804 Roy filled orders for the North West Company amounting to an impressive total of some 45,000 articles of trade silver: brooches, ear-rings, charms in the shape of crosses, bracelets, and “couettes”; the £1,500 of income they generated was a very large sum at the time. Roy also sold the company other goods, such as bolts of cloth and shoes.

At the end of the 18th century there was a heavy demand for trade silver. Like a number of Montreal silversmiths Roy directed the greater part of his professional activity to that market, having abandoned production of religious silverware. As the articles for the fur trade were not always marked, and as they were dispersed over an immense territory, only a few utensils and pieces of jewelry bearing his mark have been identified. The commercial importance of trade silver, in terms of the number of silversmiths involved and the phenomenal quantities of items produced, has not yet been adequately assessed in the context of an economy in which the fur trade occupied a privileged position.

During the 17 years of his business Narsise Roy hired five apprentices. Over a period of 34 years Cruickshank took on the same number, whereas Huguet in his 35 years of practice relied on two master silversmiths and eight apprentices. Cruickshank and Huguet, however, made a great deal of religious and domestic silverware as well. Thus Roy may be ranked as one of the largest producers of trade silver, along with the Huguets, Cruickshanks, Arnoldis, Rousseaus, and Schindlers.

by Robert Derome and José Ménard

[John E. Langdon is the only author to mention Narsise Roy’s apprenticeship with Robert Cruickshank, but he does not cite the source of this statement.  r.d. and j.m.]
ANQ-M, CE-51, 28 nov. 1765, 25 juin 1787, 4 nov. 1790, 26 mars 1814; CE1-63, 1802; CN1-68, 23 avril 1813; CN1-74, 17 janv. 1788; 30 janv., 27–28 sept. 1802; 12, 26 déc. 1808; 27 avril 1809; CN1-121, 23 nov. 1790, 14 mai 1794; CN1-128, 21 juin 1787; 1er oct. 1788; 30 mars, 30 mai, 21 août 1789; 11 févr. 1793; 20 févr., 29 juill., 25 sept. 1794; 19, 20 août, 25 oct., 23 nov. 1796; 22 sept. 1797; 30 août, 10 sept. 1798; 24 août, 13 sept. 1799; 13 juin 1801; 29 mai 1805; CN1-185, 15 June, 13 Dec. 1802; 4 Nov. 1805; 16 Oct. 1807; CN1-243, 29 mai 1805; CN1-313, 23 mai 1809; 17 févr., 27 mars 1810. MAC-CD, Fonds Morisset, 2, R888/M623/2; R888/N222.5. Langdon,Canadian silversmiths. Traquair, Old silver of Quebec. Gérard Morisset, “Bibelots et futilités,” La Patrie (Montréal), 15 janv. 1905: 14–15.
General Bibliography
© 1983–2017 University of Toronto/Université Laval


ABOUT TRADE SILVER

From: Encyclopedia Dubuque, by Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer

When white traders made contact with Native American peoples,they were anxious to find highly desirable and portable items to trade with the natives in exchange for furs. Glass beads and silver jewelry filled this need perfectly.

Newly elected chief at the Huron Tribal Council

Silver became a symbol of friendship and alliance and was first used in military alliances during the colonial wars. Fur traders presented gifts of silver to the chiefs of tribes with whom they wanted to trade. Not seen as a bribe but as a token of goodwill, the practice followed the Native American tradition of wampum exchange symbolizing an agreement between equals.

The first pieces of "trade silver" may have been personal items owned by the traders. Before long, specific styles of silver jewelry were being produced - in Europe at first, then later in North America - expressly for the fur trade. From 1725 until about 1825 silver became one of the dominant items of the fur trade. Fashioned from coins, usually melted down and shaped or hammered into thin sheets, trade silver was produced in large quantities.

High quality trade pieces were manufactured by silversmiths in Montreal, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis. Major Canadian makers included Robert Cruickshank who traveled to the Upper Mississippi region, Charles Arnoldi, Pierre Huguet dit Latour, Joseph Schindler and Narcisse Roy. Such masters would employ up to thirty other silversmiths to help meet the demands of fur traders. Larger pieces bore the mark of the silversmith; smaller pieces usually did not.

The use of makers' marks by these craftsmen have make it possible to trace these pieces back to maker, location and date. These early craftsmen used hand-made iron punches, chisels and saws to cut the intricate designs. Then they finished the piece by hammering the silver on a polished iron block (doming), filing, polishing and lastly, engraving.

Because of the high demand between 1780 and 1820, trade silver became a mainstay of the silversmiths' trade.

The most important requirement from the trader's point of view was that the pieces be thin, both to reduce cost and to make the silver light for transportation into the interior.

Northeastern tribes - who at first had little in the way of metal-working crafts - placed great value in silver jewelry in specific styles. An active trade in sterling silver brooches, rings, earrings, and other pieces flourished through the fur-trade era of the 17th through mid-19th centuries. After that time, changes were introduced including so-called "nickel silver", also known as "German silver." This inexpensive alloy of nickel, copper, and zinc contained no real silver.

"German silver" came into this country during the early 1800s, it was not obtainable in sheet form before 1838 and does not appear to have been used as a substitute for sterling in trade silver until after 1850.

Associating pieces of trade silver to a certain historical date or narrow time period is very difficult. Most of the artifact pieces are dated by their makers' marks, and makers generally produced items over several decades of their career. Generally the more basic the silver piece, the earlier the time period. The simpler rings - with few or no piercings, the crowned or weeping hearts, the plainest crosses, and nosebobs - are the ones which date to the early to mid 1700s although these designs were not necessarily dropped in favor of the more ornate work. The more elaborate pieces with fancy-shaped or multiple cutouts were generally not produced until the late 1700s to 1800s.

In the fierce competition between the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company, the British-based HBC tried to avoid introducing silver into its trade because it was a fairly expensive item. However, the North West Company were so successful that the British were forced to introduce trade silver in 1796. In 1821, when they took over control of the Montréal-based NWC, the first item dropped from the trading lists was silver.

Canoes passing Caughnawaga (Frances Ann Hopkins)

ROY WAS A DISTANT RELATIVE

Narcisse Roy was a distant relative of mine.  You may think this is taking things too far in trying to make a genealogy connection, but he was the grand-nephew of the wife of our 9th great-uncle.

Confused?  The lineage back to Lucy Pinsonneau (my 2nd great-grandmother) looks like this:

Narcisse Roy (1765 - 1814) -- grand-nephew of wife of 9th great-uncle -- Montreal Silversmith
Jacques Roy (1718 - 1773) -- father of Narcisse Roy
Jacques Roy (1688 - 1731) -- father of Jacques Roy
Catherine Ducharme (1657 - 1719) -- mother of Jacques Roy
Madeleine Roy (1684 - 1726) -- daughter of Catherine Ducharme
Jean Perras dit Lafontaine (1668 - 1736) -- husband of Madeleine Roy -- 9th great-uncle
Denise Lemaitre (1635 - 1691) -- mother of Jean Perras dit Lafontaine
Marguerite Perras dit La Fontaine (1665 - 1708) -- daughter of Denise Lemaitre
Joseph Poupart (1696 - 1726) -- son of Marguerite Perras dit La Fontaine
Marie Josephe Poupart (1725 - 1799) -- daughter of Joseph Poupart
Pierre Barette dit Courville (1748 - 1794) -- son of Marie Josephe Poupart
Marie Angelique Baret (Barette) dit Courville (1779 - 1815) -- daughter of Pierre Barette dit Courville
Marie Emélie (Mary) Meunier Lagassé (1808 - 1883) -- daughter of Marie Angelique Baret (Barette) dit Courville
Lucy Passino (Pinsonneau) (1836 - 1917) -- daughter of Marie Emélie Meunier Lagassé -- my 2nd great-grandmother

ADDENDA (June 9, 2017) Narcisse Roy, Born in Montreal, Nov. 27, 1765.

His paternal grandmother, Marguerite French, was born in Deerfield, Mass., May 22, 1695; was captured by the Indians and taken to Montreal March 1707, and was there rescued and brought up by the sisters of the Congregation de Notre Dame.  Married in Montreal 1787 Marie Josephte Gerome Latour, related to other Montreal silversmiths.

As a silversmith, he trained several apprentices and made much silver for the Indian trade.  His mark, NR in script in a shaped cartouche, is found on Indian silver ornaments and some domestic silver.

In the manuscript account and invoice books of the Northwest Company (traders at Mackinac and elsewhere among the Indians), now in the archives of the Seminary at Quebec, are many records of the trade silver supplied by Narcisse Roy, as in 1801, the order including:

2,000 Broaches 
1,500 Small Crossee 
10 Arm Bands
2,000 Earbobs 
49 Ear Wheels 
10 Sets Gorgets
264 Heart Broaches 
34 Wrist Bands 
78 Beavers (effigies)
20 Double Crosses

Narcisse Roy died in Montreal March 18, 1814.

sources:

"The Old Silver of Quebec" by Ramsay Traquair, Toronto, 1940

"Indian Trade Silver" by Marius Barbeau. 1840.

-- o --

Beware of fake trade silver...


Not long ago I bought this "Hudsons Bay Company engraved trade silver beaver effigy pendant" supposedly made by Robert Cruickshank an early Montreal silversmith.

I was excited to get an 18th century treasure for such a bargain price, but I can't anything like it in any reference books.  I hope it's not a fake because Lord knows there are plenty of them in fur trade collectibles.

Caveat emptor

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