Friday, March 3, 2017

Ripples: Chapter Two - Our Earliest Fur Trade Ancestors


Our Earliest Fur Trade Ancestors and How they Fit Together

Champlain's ship Bonne-Renommée arriving at Tadoussac, 1603

Anne Godefroy (1615-1678) (my 9th great grandmother) daughter of Pierre Godefroy de Linctot (1585-1666) and Perrette Cavalier (1590-1636). Married 1630, to Jean Testard dit Lafontaine (1612-1705). Arrived in New France about 1652.

Jean Godefroy de Linctot, Sieur (1607-1678) (my 10th great-uncle) and brother of Anne Godefroy, also a son of Pierre Godefroy de Linctot (1585-1666) and Perrette Cavalier (1590-1636). In 1626, he arrived in New France with Samuel de Champlain, and served in the capacity of interpreter. After 1629, and the capture of Quebec by the Kirkes of England, he stayed on in the colony, living in the woods with the Indians. Married 1636 Marie Le Neuf (1612-1688)

Jeanne Testard (1642-1723) (my 8th great grandmother) daughter of Jean Testard dit Lafontaine (1612-1705) and Anne Godefroy (1615-1678). Jeanne was a Fille à Marier, arriving in New France before 1662. Married 1662 to Francois Leber (Lebert) (1626-1694)

Francois Leber (Lebert) (1626-1694) (my 8th great-grandfather) son of Robert LeBer (1601-1625) and Colette Cavelier (1605-1694). In 1688, voyageur to the 8ta8ats (Ottawa Country). Married (1) to BEF 1656 to Marguerite Leseur (1628-1662), (2) 1662 to Jeanne Testard (1642-1723) (8th great-grandmother). 

Jacques Leber (Lebert) dit Larose (1633-1706) (my 9th great-uncle) was the brother of Francois Leber (Lebert) (1626-1694), also a son of Robert LeBer (1601-1625) and Colette Cavelier (1605-1694). Between 1669-1687, Jacques Leber was a partner in Lachine's first Fur Trading Post. Married 1658 to Jeanne Le Moyne (1635-1682) (sister of Charles Le Moyne Sieur de Longueuil (1626-1685) his trading post partner).

Francois Pinsonnault dit LaFleur (1646-1731) (my 7th great-grandfather). In 1665, he arrived with the Carignan-Salieres Regiment and fought against the Iroquois. Married 1673 to Anne Leper (1647-1732) (my 7th great-grandmother) who was a Filles du Roi ( King's Daughter).

Francois Bourassa (1659-1708) (my 7th great-grandfather) son of Francois Bourassa (1630-1684) and Marguerite Dugas (1635-1698). 

Francois Bourassa (1659-1708) and his sons: Rene Bourassa dit LaRonde (1688-1778), Francois Joachim Bourassa (1698-1775), and Antoine Bourassa (1705-1780), were coureurs de bois and became known as "the fathers of the fur trade."

In 1686, François Bourassa made a voyage to Hudson Bay for the Compagnie du Nord. In 1688, René Legardeur, sieur de Beauvais, hired François Bourassa and Joachim Jacques Leber to make a voyage des 8ta8ats (Ottawa Indians). In 1690 René Legardeur hired Pierre Bourdeau, André Babeu, François Bourassa, and Joachim Leber for a voyage to Michilimackinac. Also in 1690, Pierre Bourdeau consented to a debt for merchandise from André Babeau, Joachim Leber, and François Bourassa, voyageurs, for their voyage to the Ottawa. Married 1668 to Marie Le Ber (1666-1756) (my 7th great-grandmother) daughter of Francois Leber (Lebert) (1626-1694) and Jeanne Testard (1642-1723), her father Francois Leber was active in the fur trade.


Samuel de Champlain (1567-1635), French explorer and colonial statesman. He established a settlement at Quebec in Canada in 1608 and developed alliances with the native peoples. He was appointed lieutenant governor of Nouvelle France (New France) in 1612.

Sir David Kirke (c. 1597-1654) was an adventurer, colonizer and governor for the king of England. He and his brothers are best known for their successful capture of New France in 1629, during the Thirty Years' War.

filles à marier, (1634 and 1663) 262 “marriageable girls” emigrated to New France representing one quarter of all the single girls arriving in New France through 1673.

Lachine's first fur trading post, Le Ber-Le Moyne House is the oldest complete building in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is located in the borough of Lachine, bordering the Saint Lawrence River, ... Ville Marie's richest merchants, Jacques Le Ber and Charles Le Moyne bought the land from Cavelier de La Salle to construct Lachine's first fur trading post.

Carignan-Salieres Regiment, In 1665 King Louis XVI ordered the Carignan-Salieres Regiment to Canada to help save the Royal Colony from destruction at the hands of the Iroquois. Between June and September 1665, some twenty-four companies of 1200 soldiers and their officers of the Carignan-Salières Regiment arrived in Quebec, under the leadership of Lt. General Alexander de Prouville, Sieur de Tracy. 

Launched almost immediately upon arrival to attack the Indians in the dead of winter, the regiment was almost destroyed. Within months though it had stabilized the French situation and ensured the survival of the colony. Following their service, many members of the Regiment stayed on in Canada. The Carignan-Salieres Regiment was the first regular military unit to serve in Canada.

dit names: found primarily in France and New France (French-Canada) are essentially an alias tacked on to a family name or surname. Dit, in French, is a form of the word dire, which means "to say," and in the case of dit names is translated loosely as "that is to say," or "called." 

I wonder if my love of shooting comes from André Mignier dit Lagace "The Trigger"?

Therefore, the first name is the family's original surname, passed down to them by an ancestor, while the "dit" name is the name the person or family is actually called or known as. Dit names are used by families, not specific individuals, and are usually passed down to future generations, either in place of the original surname, or in addition to it.

Filles du Roi, or King's Daughters, were some 770 women who arrived in the colony of New France between 1663 and 1673, under the financial sponsorship of King Louis XIV of France. 

They were part of King Louis XIV's program to promote the settlement of his colony in Canada. 

New France settlers welcome King's Daughters, 1667

Some 737 of these women married and the resultant population explosion gave rise to the success of the colony. Most were single French women and many were orphans. Their transportation to Canada and settlement in the colony were paid for by the King. Some were given a royal gift of a dowry of 50 livres for their marriage to one of the many unmarried male colonists in Canada. 

These gifts are reflected in some of the marriage contracts entered into by the filles du roi at the time of their first marriages. Of the nearly 1000 women who undertook the journey, about 770 made it to Canada. They were promised 50 livres if they married a soldier or farmer and 100 livres if an officer.

The Compagnie du Nord was founded in 1682 by French merchants, with their director Charles Aubert de La Chesnaye, to begin at Hudson Bay by sea what the English had been successful in creating in 1670, known as the Hudson's Bay Company, with the help of Pierre-Esprit Radisson and his brother-in-law Médard Chouart Des Groseilliers.

The company benefited from the backing of the French government, who organized in 1681 in Paris at meeting of promoters and explorers such as Pierre-Esprit Radisson and Médard Chouart Des Groseilliers. Given two ships, it has as a mission to establish alliances with their native allies to the north of the Great Lakes, which took place with combats with the Iroquois.

Coureurs Des Bois, (French pronunciation: [kuʁœʁ de bwa]) or coureur de bois (French pronunciation: [kuʁœʁ də bwa], runner of the woods; plural: coureurs de bois) was an independent entrepreneurial French-Canadian woodsman who traveled in New France and the interior of North America. Usually unlicensed and after 1691, were considered outlaws.

Voyageur, (especially in Canada) a boatman employed by the fur companies in transporting goods and passengers to and from trading posts (usually by canoe). Voyageurs are generally licensed and legal.

8ta8ats (Ottawa Indians), is "Land of the Witawiats" which finally became "Outaouais" in French. They are an Algonquian tribe living in the vicinity of Calumet Island above Ottawa. Ottawa is the English pronunciation of Outaouais.

Michilimackinac, a place where fur traders and Indians rendezvoused, is derived from an Ottawa name for present-day Mackinac Island and the region around the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

The Canoe, was the primary means of transportation during the fur trade. The waterways that span Canada were efficient highways that made travel across its vast distances practical.

The ideal craft for North America's waters, the canoe was perfected by the First Nations. The Algonquin of the eastern woodlands are most closely associated with the style of birchbark canoe familiar to us today. Made of birch bark and other readily available materials, it was lightweight. Weighing less than 300 lb - twice that when wet - it could carry many times its own weight in freight. 

Maneuverable, it was easily portaged, and could be coaxed through the most treacherous white water. The great disadvantage of the canoe was its fragility. The slightest error in judgment while running a rapid might throw it against a rock and rip a gash in its bottom. 

The canoe was soon adopted as the primary means of transportation for anyone traveling great distances into the wilderness.

Three types of canoe were routinely used by fur traders. 

The Montreal Canoe (canot du maître) was the larger of the two. Some 36-40 feet long, with a crew of 10 to 12 paddlers, could be portaged by 4 men and carried a payload of about three tons. 
It was used on route from the St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes. On the trip from Montreal to Grand Portage, a large canoe was needed. First, to handle the dangerous waters of the Great Lakes and second the large cargo of trade goods and provisions going out, and the fur pelts coming back.

The North Canoe (canot du nord) was smaller  about 21-25 feet long, light enough that two men could carry it, and only required a crew of 6 to 8 men. 

It was used in the west because of the rugged rivers and many portages along the way, but due to its smaller size could only carry about a ton and a half of freight. The north canoe was in use from Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River, in what is now Oregon, to the Athabaska country.

The Express Canoe (canot lager), a third type of canoe, was about 15-18 feet long. These were used to carry important people, reports, and news to and from different posts in the Northwest. 

North West Company canoes were manned by professional paddlers known as voyageurs, almost exclusively French-Canadians, a fact made evident from the terminology. 

Employed on contract for their paddling expertise, these hired men (engages), lived a very tough life, paddling as many as 14 hours a day.

Crew members had distinct roles dictated by where they sat in the canoe. The bowman or foreman (avant) sat in the front (or bow) of the canoe and acted as the navigator and guide. The steersman (gouvernail), sat or stood at the stern (rear) and steered the craft as directed by the bowman. The  middleman (milieu), sat in the middle and paddled. These milieux were the least experienced crew and, after learning the ropes, could aspire to become bowmen or steersmen. Because of the skill and experience required, the bowmen and steersmen were paid twice the rate of middlemen. A conductor, or pilot, which all were obliged to obey, was appointed to every 4 or 6 canoes.

The usual speed on lakes was about 40 strokes a minute, which propelled the craft at about 5 miles per hour. At this rate, up to 70 miles, or over 115 km, could be covered in a day. 

The speed of the express canoes was almost twice this. But such speeds were not usually possible on the swift rivers of the northwest, which were more frequently interrupted by rapids necessitating portage.

A portage (literally "carrying") was a stop where both the canoe and its load had to be carried overland. When a canoe was beached, it was unloaded and the bowman and the steersman hoisted it on their shoulders, followed by the crew. 

The voyageurs carried the freight with a tumpline, a leather strap that went across the forehead, then back and around the load. At a portage, each voyageur was assigned to carry a minimum of two 90 pound bundles. Sometimes it was not necessary to portage around an obstruction, but merely to lighten the canoe by removing some gear. This was a décharge

To pass a décharge, it was necessary to tow the canoe though the rapids by means of a rope or cable.

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