Canadian Genealogy | Chronicles of Canada

 

Canadian Research

Alberta

British Columbia

Manitoba

New Brunswick

Newfoundland

Northern Territories

Nova Scotia

Nunavut

Ontario

Prince Edward Island

Quebec

Saskatchewan

Yukon

Canadian Indian Tribes

Chronicles of Canada

 

Free Genealogy Forms
Family Tree Chart
Research Calendar
Research Extract
Free Census Forms
Correspondence Record
Family Group Chart
Source Summary

 

New Genealogy Data
Family Tree Search
Biographies

Genealogy Books For Sale

Indian Mythology

US Genealogy

 

Other Websites
British Isles Genealogy
Australian Genealogy

 


FREE Web Site Hosting at
Canadian Genealogy

 

 

 

Three Seigneurs of Old Canada, Hebert, La Durantaye, Le Moyne

It was to the seigneurs that the king looked for active aid in promoting the agricultural interests of New France. Many of them disappointed him, but not all. There were seigneurs who, in their own way, gave the king's interests a great deal of loyal service, and showed what the colony was capable of doing if all its people worked with sufficient diligence and zeal. Three of these pioneers of the seigneuries have been singled out for special attention in this chapter, because each prefigures a type of seigneur who did what was expected of him, although not always in the prescribed way. Their work was far from being showy, and offers a writer no opportunity to make his pages glow. The priest and the trader afford better themes. But even the short and simple annals of the poor, if fruitful in achievement, are worth the recounting.

The honor of being the colony's first seigneur belongs to Louis Hebert, and it was a curious chain of events that brought him to the role of a yeoman in the St Lawrence valley. Like most of these pilgrim fathers of Canada, Hebert has left to posterity little or no information concerning his early life and his experience as tiller of virgin soil. That is a pity; for he had an interesting and varied career from first to last. What he did and what he saw others do during these troublous years would make a readable chronicle of adventure, perseverance, and ultimate achievement. As it is, we must merely glean what we can from stray allusions to him in the general narratives of early colonial life. These tell us not a tithe of what we should like to know; but even such shreds of information are precious, for Hebert was Canada's first patron of husbandry. He connected his name with no brilliant exploit either of war or of peace; he had his share of adventure, but no more than a hundred others in his day; the greater portion of his adult years were passed with a spade in his hands. But he embodies a type, and a worthy type it is.

Most of Canada's early settlers came from Normandy, but Louis Hebert was a native of Paris, born in about 1575. He had an apothecary's shop there, but apparently was not making a very marked success of his business when in 1604. he fell in with Biencourt de Poutrincourt, and was enlisted as a member of that voyageur's first expedition to Acadia. It was in these days the custom of ships to carry an apothecary or dispenser of health-giving herbs. His functions ran the whole gamut of medical practice from copious blood-letting to the dosing of sailors with concoctions of mysterious make. Not improbably Hebert set out with no intention to remain in America; but he found Port Royal to his liking, and there the historian Lescarbot soon found him not only 'sowing corn and planting vines,' but apparently 'taking great pleasure in the cultivation of the soil.' All this in a colony which comprised five persons, namely, two Jesuit fathers and their servant, Hebert, and one other.

With serious dangers all about, and lack of support at home, Port Royal could make no headway, and in 1613 Hebert made his way back to France. The apothecary's shop was re-opened, and the daily customers were no doubt regaled with stories of life among the wild aborigines of the west. But not for long. There was a trait of restlessness that would not down, and in 1616 the little shop again put up its shutters. Hebert had joined Champlain in the Brouage navigator's first voyage to the St Lawrence. This time the apothecary burned his bridges behind him, for he took his family along, and with them all his worldly effects. The family consisted of his wife, two daughters, and a young son. The trading company which was backing Champlain's enterprise promised that Hebert and his family should be paid a cash bonus and should receive, in addition to a tract of land, provisions and stores sufficient for their first two years in the colony. For his part, Hebert agreed to serve without pay as general medical officer of the settlement, to give his other services to the company when needed, and to keep his hands out of the fur trade. Nothing was said about his serving as legal officer of the colony as well; but that task became part o his varied experience. Not long after his arrival at Quebec, Hebert's name appears, with the title of procureur du Roi, at the foot of a petition sent home by the colonists to the king.

All this looked fair enough on its face, but as matters turned out, Hebert made a poor bargain. The company gave him only half the promised bonus, granted him no title to any land, and for three years insisted upon having all his time for its own service. A man of ordinary tenacity would have made his way back to France at the earliest opportunity. But Hebert was loyal to Champlain, whom he in no way blamed for his bad treatment. At Champlain's suggestion he simply took a piece of land above the settlement at Quebec, and without waiting for any formal title-deed began devoting all his spare hours to the task of getting it cleared and cultivated. His small tract comprised only about a dozen arpents on the heights above the village; and as he had no one to help him the work of clearing it moved slowly. Trees had to be felled and cut up, the stumps burned and removed, stones gathered into piles, and every foot of soil upturned with a spade. There were no ploughs in the colony at this time. To have brought ploughs from France or to have made them in the colony would have availed nothing, for there were no horses at Quebec. It was not until after the sturdy pioneer had finished his lifework that ploughs and horses came to lessen the labor of breaking new land.

Nevertheless, Hebert was able by unremitting industry to get the entire twelve arpents into cultivable shape within four or five years. With his labors he mingled intelligence. Part of the land was sown with maize, part sown with peas, beans, and other vegetables, a part set off as an orchard, and part reserved as pasture. The land was fertile and produced abundantly. A few head of cattle were easily provided for in all seasons by the wild hay which grew in plenty on the flats by the river. Here was an indication of what the colony could hope to do if all its settlers were men of Hebert's persistence and stability. But the other prominent men of the little settlement, although they may have turned their hands to gardening in a desultory way, let him remain, for the time being, the only real colonist in the land. On his farm, moreover, a house had been built during these same years with the aid of two artisans, but chiefly by the labor of the owner himself. It was a stone house, about twenty feet by forty in size, a one-story affair, unpretentious and unadorned, but regarded as one of the most comfortable abodes in the colony. The attractions of this home, and especially the hospitality of Madame Hebert and her daughters, are more than once alluded to in the meager annals of the settlement. It was the first dwelling to be erected on the plateau above the village; it passed to Hebert's daughter, and was long known in local history as the house of the widow Couillard. Its exact situation was near the gate of the garden which now encircles the seminary, and the remains of its foundation walls were found there in 1866 by some workmen in the course of their excavations.

That strivings so worthy should have in the end won due recognition from official circles is not surprising. The only wonder is that this recognition was so long delayed. An explanation can be found, however, in the fact that the trading company which controlled the destinies of the colony during its precarious infancy was not a bit interested in the agricultural progress of New France. It had but two aims--in the first place to get profits from the fur trade, and in the second place to make sure that no interlopers got any share in this lucrative business. Its officers placed little value upon such work as Hebert was doing. But in 1623 the authorities were moved to accord him the honor of rank as a seigneur, and the first title-deed conveying a grant of land en seigneurie was issued to him on February 4 of that year. The deed bore the signature of the Duc de Montmorenci, titular viceroy of New France. Three years later a further deed, confirming Hebert's rights and title, and conveying to him an additional tract of land on the St Charles river, was issued to him by the succeeding viceroy, Henri de Levy, Duc de Ventadour.

The preamble of this document recounts the services of the new seigneur. 'Having left his relatives and friends to help establish a colony of Christian people in lands which are deprived of the knowledge of God, not being enlightened by His holy light,' the document proceeds, 'he has by his painful labors and industry cleared lands, fenced them, and erected buildings for himself, his family and his cattle.' In order, accordingly, 'to encourage those who may hereafter desire to inhabit and develop the said country of Canada,' the land held by Hebert, together with an additional square league on the shore of the St Charles, is given to him 'to have and to hold in fief noble for ever,' subject to such charges and conditions as might be later imposed by official decree.

By this indenture feudalism cast its first anchor in the New World. Some historians have attributed to the influence of Richelieu this policy of creating a seigneurial class in the transmarine dominions of France. The cardinal-minister, it is said, had an idea that the landless aristocrats of France might be persuaded to emigrate to the colonies by promises of lavish seigneurial estates wrested from the wilderness. It will be noted, however, that Hebert received his title-deed before Richelieu assumed the reins of power, so that, whatever influence the latter may have had on the extension of the seigneurial system in the colonies, he could not have prompted its first appearance there.

Hebert died in 1627. Little as we know about his life, the clerical chroniclers tell us a good deal about his death, which proves that he must have had all the externals of piety. He was extolled as the Abraham of a new Israel. His immediate descendants were numerous, and it was predicted that his seed would replenish the earth. Assuredly, this portion of the earth needed replenishing, for at the time of Hebert's death Quebec was still a struggling hamlet of sixty-five souls, two-thirds of whom were women and children unable to till the fields. Hebert certainly did his share. His daughters married in the colony and had large families. By these marriages a close alliance was formed with the Couillards and other prominent families of the colony's earliest days. From these and later alliances some of the best-known families in the history of French Canada have come down,--the Jolliets, De Lerys, De Ramesays, Fourniers and Taschereaus,--and the entire category of Hebert's descendants must run well into the thousands. All but unknown by a busy world outside, the memory of this Paris apothecary has none the less been cherished for nearly three hundred years in many a Canadian home. Had all the seigneurs of the old regime served their king with half his zeal the colony would not have been left in later days so naked to its enemies.

But not all the seigneurs of Old Canada were of Hebert's type. Too many of them, whether owing to inherited Norman traits, to their previous environment in France, or to the opportunities which they found in the colony, developed an incurable love of the forest life. On the slightest pretext they were off on a military or trading expedition, leaving their lands, tenants, and often their own families to shift as best they might. Fields grew wild while the seigneurs, and often their habitants with them, spent the entire spring, summer, and autumn in any enterprise that promised to be more exciting than sowing and reaping grain. Among the military seigneurs of the upper St Lawrence and Richelieu regions not a few were of this type. They were good soldiers and quickly adapted themselves to the circumstances of combat in the New World, meeting the Iroquois with his own arts and often combining a good deal of the red man's craftiness with a white man's superior intelligence. Insatiable in their thirst for adventure, they were willing to assume all manner of risks or privations. Spring might find them at Lake Champlain, autumn at the head-waters of the Mississippi, a trusty birch-bark having carried them the thousand miles between. Their work did not figure very heavily in the colony's annual balance-sheet of progress with its statistics of acreage newly cleared, homes built and harvests stowed safely away. But according to their own ideals of service they valiantly served the king, and they furnish the historian of the old regime with an interesting and unusual group of men. Neither New England nor the New Netherlands possessed this type within their borders, and this is one reason why the pages of their history lack the contrast of light and shade which marks from start to finish the annals of New France.

When the Carignans stepped ashore at Quebec in 1665 one of their officers was Olivier Morel de la Durantaye, a captain in the regiment of Campelle, but attached to the Carignan-Salieres for its Canadian expedition. In the first expedition against the Mohawks he commanded the advance guard, and he was one of the small band who spent the terrible winter of 1666-67 at Fort Ste Anne near the head of Lake Champlain, subsisting on salt pork and a scant supply of moldy flour. Several casks of reputedly good brandy, as Dollier de Casson records, had been sent to the fort, but to the chagrin of the diminutive garrison they turned out to contain salt water, the sailors having drunk the contents and refilled the casks on their way out from France. Warlike operations continued to engross Durantaye's attentions for a year or two longer, but when this work was finished he returned with some of his brother officers to France, while others remained in the colony, having taken up lands in accordance with Talon's plans. In 1670, however, he was back at Quebec again, and having married a daughter of the colony, applied at once for the grant of a seigneury. This was given to him in the form of a large tract, two leagues square, on the south shore of the lower St Lawrence, between the seigneury of Beaumont des Islets and the Bellechasse channel. To this fief of La Durantaye adjoining lands were subsequently added by new grants, and in 1674 the seigneur also obtained the fief of Kamouraska. His entire estate comprised about seventy thousand arpents, making him one of the largest landowners in the colony.

Durantaye began his work in a leisurely way, and the census of 1681 gives us the outcome of his ten years of effort. He himself had not taken up his abode on the land nor, so far as can be ascertained, had he spent any time or money in clearing its acreage. With his wife and four children he resided at Quebec, but from time to time he made visits to his holding and brought new settlers with him. Twelve families had built their homes within the spacious borders of his seigneury. Their whitewashed cottages were strung along a short stretch of the river bank side by side, separated by a few arpents. Men, women, and children, the population of La Durantaye numbered only fifty-eight; sixty-four arpents had been cleared; and twenty-eight horned cattle were reported among the possessions of the habitants. Rather significantly this colonial Domesday of 1681 mentions that the sixteen able-bodied men of the seigneury possessed 'seven muskets' among them. From its situation, however, the settlement was not badly exposed to Indian assault.

In the way of cleared lands and population the fief of La Durantaye had made very modest progress. Its nearest neighbor, Bellechasse, contained two hundred and twenty-seven persons, living upon three hundred and twenty arpents of cultivable land. With an arsenal of sixty-two muskets it was better equipped for self-defense. The census everywhere took more careful count of muskets than of ploughs; and this is not surprising, for it was the design of the authorities to build up a 'powerful military colony' which would stand on its own feet without support from home. They did not seem to realize that in the long run even military prowess must rest with that land which most assiduously devotes itself to the arts of peace.

Ten years later the fief of Durantaye made a somewhat better showing. The census of 1692 gave it a marked increase in population, in lands made arable, and in herds of domestic cattle. A house had been built for the seigneur, whose family occupied it at times, but showed a preference for the more attractive life at Quebec. Durantaye was not one of the most prosperous seigneuries, neither was it among those making the slowest progress. As Catalogne phrased the situation in 1712, its lands were 'yielding moderate harvests of grain and vegetables.' Fruit-trees had been brought to maturity in various parts of the seigneury and were bearing well. Much of the land was well wooded with oak and pine, a good deal of which had been already, in 1712, cut down and marketed at Quebec.

Morel de la Durantaye could not resign himself to the prosaic life of a cultivator. He did not become a coureur de bois like many of his friends and associates, but like them he had a taste for the wild woods, and he pursued a career not far removed from theirs. In 1684 he was in command of the fortified trading-post at Michilimackinac, and he had a share in Denonville's expedition against the Onondagas three years later. On that occasion he mustered a band of traders who, with a contingent of friendly Indians, followed him down to the lakes to join the punitive force. In 1690 he was at Montreal, lending his aid in the defense of that part of the colony against raiding bands of Iroquois which were once again proving a menace. At Boucherville, in 1694, one historian tells us with characteristic hyperbole, Durantaye killed ten Iroquois with his own hand. Mohawks were not, as a rule, so easy to catch or kill. Two years later he commanded a detachment of troops and militiamen in operations against his old-time foes, and in 1698 he was given a royal pension of six hundred livres per year in recognition of his services. Having been so largely engaged in these military affrays, little time had been available for the development of his seigneury. His income from the annual dues of its habitants was accordingly small, and the royal gratuity was no doubt a welcome addition. The royal bounty never went begging in New France. No one was too proud to dip his hand into the king's purse when the chance presented itself.

In June 1703 Durantaye received the signal honor of an appointment to the Superior Council at Quebec, and this post gave him additional remuneration. For the remaining twenty-four years of his life the soldier-seigneur lived partly at Quebec and partly at the manor-house of his seigneurial estate. At the time of his death, in 1727, these landed holdings had greatly increased in population, in cleared acreage, and in value, although it cannot be said that this progress had been in any direct way due to the seigneur's active interest or efforts. He had a family of six sons and three daughters, quite enough to provide for with his limited income, but not a large family as households went in those days. Durantaye was not among the most effective of the seigneurs; but little is to be gained by placing the various leaders among the landed men of New France in sharp contrast, comparing their respective contributions one with another. The colony had work for all to do, each in his own way.

Among those who came to Montreal in 1641, when the foundations of the city were being laid, was the son of a Dieppe innkeeper, Charles Le Moyne by name. Born in 1624, he was only seventeen when he set out to seek his fortune in the New World. The lure of the fur trade promptly overcame him, as it did so many others, and the first few years of his life in Canada were spent among the Huron in the regions round Georgian Bay. On becoming of age, however, he obtained a grant of lands on the south shore of the St Lawrence, opposite Montreal, and at once began the work of clearing it. This area, of fifty lineal arpents in frontage by one hundred in depth, was granted to Le Moyne by M. de Lauzon [Footnote: Jean de Lauzon, at this time president of the Company of One Hundred Associates, which, as we have seen, had the feudal suzerainty of Canada. Lauzon was afterwards governor of New France, 1651-56.] as a seigneury on September 24, 1647.

Despite the fact that his holding was directly in the path of Indian attacks, Le Moyne made steady progress in clearing it; he built himself a house, and in 1654, at the age of twenty-eight, married Mademoiselle Catherine Primot, formerly of Rouen. The governor of Montreal, M. de Maisonneuve, showed his good will by a wedding gift of ninety additional arpents. But Le Moyne's ambition to provide for a rapidly growing family led him to petition the intendant for an enlargement of his holdings, and in 1672 the intendant Talon gave him the land which lay between the seigneuries of Varennes and La Prairie de la Magdelaine. This with his other tract was united to form the seigneury of Longueuil. Already the king had recognized Le Moyne's progressive spirit by giving him rank in the noblesse, the letters-patent having been issued in 1668. On this seigneury the first of the Le Moynes de Longueuil lived and worked until his death in 1685.

Charles Le Moyne had a family of eleven sons, of whom ten grew to manhood and became figures of prominence in the later history of New France. From Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico their exploits covered every field of activity on land and sea. [Footnote: These sons were: (1) Charles Le Moyne de Longueuil, born 1656, who succeeded his father as seigneur and became the first Baron de Longueuil, later served as lieutenant-governor of Montreal, and was killed in action at Saratoga on June 8, 1729; (2) Jacques Le Moyne de Ste Helene, born 1659, who fell at the siege of Quebec in 1690; (3) Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, born in 1661, voyageur to Hudson Bay and the Spanish Main, died at Havana in 1706; (4) Paul Le Moyne de Maricourt, born 1663, captain in the marine, died in 1704 from hardships during an expedition against the Iroquois; (5) Francois Le Moyne de Bienville, born 1666, intrepid young border-warrior, killed by the Iroquois in 1691; (6) Joseph Le Moyne de Serigny, born 1668, served as a youth in the expeditions of his brother to Hudson Bay, died in 1687; (7) Louis Le Moyne de Chateauguay, born 1676, his young life ended in action at Fort Bourbon (Nelson or York Factory) on Hudson Bay in 1694; (8) Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, born 1680, founder of New Orleans, governor of Louisiana, died in Paris, 1767; (9) Gabriel Le Moyne d'Assigny, born 1681, died of yellow fever at San Domingo in 1701; (10) Antoine Le Moyne de Chateauguay, born 1683, governor of French Guiana.] What scions of a stout race they were! The strain of the old Norse rover was in them all. Each one a soldier, they built forts, founded cities, governed colonies, and gave their king full measure of valiant service.

The eldest, who bore his father's name and possessed many of his traits, inherited the seigneury. Soon he made it one of the most valuable properties in the whole colony. The old manor-house gave way to a pretentious chateau flanked by four imposing towers of solid masonry. Its dimensions were, as such things went in the colony, stupendously large, the structure being about two hundred feet in length by one hundred and seventy in breadth. The great towers or bastions were loopholed in such way as to permit a flanking fire in the event of an armed assault; and the whole building, when viewed from the river, presented an impressive facade. The grim Frontenac, who was not over-given to eulogy, praised it in one of his dispatches and said that it reminded him of the embattled chateaux of old Normandy. Speaking from the point of view of the other seigneurs, the cost of this manorial abode of the Longueuils must have represented a fortune. The structure was so well built that it remained fit for occupancy during nearly a full century, or until 1782, when it was badly damaged by fire. A century later still, in 1882, the walls remained; but a few years afterwards they were removed to make room for the new parish church of Longueuil.

Le Moyne did more than build an imposing house. He had the stones gathered from the lands and used in building houses for his people. The seigneur's mill was one of the best. A fine church raised its cross-crowned spire near by. A brewery, built of stone, was in full operation. The land was fertile and produced abundant harvests. When Catalogne visited Longueuil in 1712 he noted that the habitants were living in comfortable circumstances, by reason of the large expenditures which the seigneur had made to improve the land and the means of communication. Whatever Charles Le Moyne could gather together was not spent in riotous living, as was the case with so many of his contemporaries, but was invested in productive improvements. That is the way in which he became the owner of a model seigneury.

A seigneur so progressive and successful could not escape the attention of the king. In 1698 the governor and the intendant joined in bringing Le Moyne's services to the favorable notice of the minister, with the suggestion that it should receive suitable acknowledgment. Two years later this recognition came in the form of a royal decree which elevated the seigneury of Longueuil to the dignity of a barony, and made its owner the Baron de Longueuil. In recounting the services rendered to the colony by the new baron the patent mentioned that 'he has already erected at his own cost a fort supported by four strong towers of stone and masonry, with a guard-house, several large dwellings, a fine church bearing all the insignia of nobility, a spacious farmyard in which there is a barn, a stable, a sheep-pen, a dovecote, and other buildings, all of which are within the area of the said fort; next to which stands a banal mill, a fine brewery of masonry, together with a large retinue of servants, horses, and equipages, the cost of which buildings amount to sixty thousand livres; so much so that this seigneury is one of the most valuable in the whole country.' The population of Longueuil, in the census returns of 1698, is placed at two hundred and twenty-three.

The new honor spurred its recipient to even greater efforts; he became one of the first gentlemen of the colony, served a term as lieutenant-governor at Montreal, and, going into battle once more, was killed in action near Saratoga in the expedition of 1729. The barony thereupon passed to his son, the third Charles Le Moyne, born in 1687, who lived until 1755, and was for a time administrator of the colony. His son, the third baron, was killed during the Seven Years' War in the operations round Lake George, and the title passed, in the absence of direct male heirs, to his only daughter, Marie Le Moyne de Longueuil who, in 1781, married Captain David Alexander Grant of the 94th British regiment. Thus the old dispensation linked itself with the new. The eldest son of this marriage became fifth Baron de Longueuil in 1841. Since that date the title has been borne by successive generations in the same family.

Of all the titles of honor, great and small, which the French crown granted to the seigneurs of Old Canada, that of the Baron de Longueuil is the only one now legally recognized in the Dominion. After the conquest the descendants of Charles Le Moyne maintained that, having promised to respect the ancient land tenures, the new British suzerains were under obligation to recognize Longueuil as a barony. It was not, however, until 1880 that a formal request for recognition was made to Her Majesty Queen Victoria. The matter was, of course, submitted to the law officers of the crown, and their decision ruled the claim to be well grounded. By royal proclamation, accordingly, the rank and title of Charles Colmore Grant, seventh Baron de Longueuil, were formally recognized. [Footnote: The royal recognition was officially promulgated as follows: 'The Queen has been graciously pleased to recognize the right of Charles Colmore Grant, Esquire, to the title of Baron de Longueuil, of Longueuil, in the province of Quebec, Canada. This title was conferred on his ancestor, Charles Le Moyne, by letters-patent of nobility signed by King Louis XIV in the year 1700.'-(London Gazette, December 7, 1880.)]

The barony of Longueuil at one time included an area of about one hundred and fifty square miles, much of it heavily timbered and almost all fit for cultivation. The thriving towns of Longueuil and St Johns grew up within its limits in the century following the conquest. As population increased, much of the land was sold into freehold; and when the seigneurial system was abolished in 1854 what had not been sold was entailed. An entailed estate, though not now of exceeding great value, it still remains.

No family of New France maintained more steadily its favourable place in the public view than the house of Longueuil. The sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons of the Dieppe innkeeper's boy were leaders of action in their respective generations. Soldiers, administrators, and captains of industry, they contributed their full share to the sum of French achievement, alike in war and peace. By intermarriage also the Le Moynes of Longueuil connected themselves with other prominent families of French Canada, notably those of Beaujeu, Lanaudiere, and Gaspe. Unlike most of the colonial noblesse, they were well-to-do from the start, and the barony of Longueuil may be rightly regarded as a good illustration of what the seigneurial system could accomplish at its best.

These three seigneurs, Hebert, La Durantaye, and Le Moyne, represent three different, yet not so very dissimilar types of landed pioneer. Hebert, the man of humble birth and limited attainments, made his way to success by unremitting personal labor under great discouragements. He lived and died a plain citizen. He had less to show for his life-work than the others, perhaps; but in those swaddling days of the colony's history his task was greater. Morel de la Durantaye, the man-at-arms, well born and bred, took his seigneurial rank as a matter of course, and his duties without much seriousness. His seigneury had his attention only when opportunities for some more exciting field of action failed to present themselves. Interesting figure though he was--an excellent type of a hundred others--it was well for the colony that not all its seigneurs were like him in temperament and ways. Le Moyne, the nearest Canadian approach to the seigneur of Old France in the days before the Revolution, combined the best qualities of the other two. There was plenty of red blood in his veins, and to some of his progeny went more of it than was good for them. He was ready with his sword when the occasion called. An arm shot off by an Iroquois flintlock in 1687 gave him through life a grim reminder of his combative habits in early days. But warfare was only an avocation; the first fruits of the land absorbed his main interest throughout the larger part of his days. Each of these men had others like him, and the peculiar circumstances of the colony found places for them all. The seigneurs of Old Canada did not form a homogeneous class; men of widely differing tastes and attainments were included among them. There were workers and drones; there were men who made a signal success as seigneurs, and others who made an utter failure. But taken as a group there was nothing very commonplace about them, and it is to her two hundred seigneurs or thereabouts that New France owes much of the glamour that marks her tragic history.


This site includes some historical materials that may imply negative stereotypes reflecting the culture or language of a particular period or place. These items are presented as part of the historical record and should not be interpreted to mean that the WebMasters in any way endorse the stereotypes implied.

Chronicles of Canada, The Seigneurs of Old Canada, A Chronicle of New World Feudalism, 1915

 

Chronicles of Canada


Add/Correct a Link

Comments/Submit Data


Copyright 2002-2014 by Canadian Genealogy
The WebPages may be linked to but shall not be reproduced on another site without written permission.