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The Seigneurs of Old Canada: by William Bennett Munro

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Edited by George M. Wrong and H. H. Langton
In thirty-two volumes

Volume 5

A Chronicle of New-World Feudalism




What would history be without the picturesque annals of
the Gallic race? This is a question which the serious
student may well ask himself as he works his way through
the chronicles of a dozen centuries. From the age of
Charlemagne to the last of the Bonapartes is a long stride
down the ages; but there was never a time in all these
years when men might make reckonings in the arithmetic
of European politics without taking into account the
prestige, the power, and even the primacy of France.
There were times without number when France among her
neighbours made herself hated with an undying hate; there
were times, again, when she rallied them to her side in
friendship and admiration. There were epochs in which
her hegemony passed unquestioned among men of other lands,
and there were times when a sudden shift in fortune seemed
to lay the nation prostrate, with none so poor to do her

It was France that first brought an orderly nationalism
out of feudal chaos; it was her royal house of Capet that
rallied Europe to the rescue of the Holy Sepulchre and
led the greatest of the crusades to Palestine. Yet the
France of the last crusades was within a century the
France of Crecy, just as the France of Austerlitz was
more speedily the France of Waterloo; and men who followed
the tricolour at Solferino lived to see it furled in
humiliation at Sedan. No other country has had a history
as prolific in triumph and reverse, in epochs of peaceful
progress and periods of civil commotion, in pageant and
tragedy, in all that gives fascination to historical
narrative. Happy the land whose annals are tiresome! Not
such has been the fortune of poor old France.

The sage Tocqueville has somewhere remarked that whether
France was loved or hated by the outside world she could
not be ignored. That is very true. The Gaul has at all
stages of his national history defied an attitude of
indifference in others. His country has been at many
times the head and at all times the heart of Europe. His
hysteria has made Europe hysterical, while his sober
national sense at critical moments has held the whole
continent to good behaviour. For a half-dozen centuries
there was never a squabble at any remote part of Europe
in which France did not stand ready and willing to take
a hand on the slightest opportunity. That policy, as
pursued particularly by Louis XIV and the Bonapartes,
made a heavy drain in brawn and brain on the vitality of
the race; but despite it all, the peaceful achievements
of France within her own borders continued to astonish
mankind. It is this astounding vigour, this inexhaustible
stamina, this unexampled recuperative power that has at
all times made France a nation which, whether men admire
or condemn her policy, can never be treated with
indifference. It was these qualities which enabled her,
throughout exhausting foreign troubles, to retain her
leadership in European scholarship, in philosophy, art,
and architecture; this is what has enabled France to be
the grim warrior of Europe without ceasing ever to be
the idealist of the nations.

It was during one of her proud and prosperous eras that
France began her task of creating an empire beyond the
Atlantic. At no time, indeed, was she better equipped
for the work. No power of Western Europe since the days
of Roman glory had possessed such facilities for conquering
and governing new lands. If ever there was a land able
and ready to take up the white man's burden it was the
France of the seventeenth century. The nation had become
the first military power of Europe. Spain and Italy had
ceased to be serious rivals. Even England, under the
Stuart dynasty, tacitly admitted the military primacy of
France. Nor was this superiority of the French confined
to the science of war. It passed unquestioned in the arts
of peace. Even Rome at the height of her power could not
dominate every field of human activity. She could rule
the people with authority and overcome the proud; but
even her own poets rendered homage to Greece in the realms
of art, sculpture, and eloquence. But France was the
aesthetic as well as the military dictator of seventeenth-
century Europe. Her authority was supreme, as Macaulay
says, on all matters from orthodoxy in architecture to
the proper cut of a courtier's clothes. Her monarchs
were the first gentlemen of Europe. Her nobility set the
social standards of the day. The rank and file of her
people--and there were at least twenty million of them
in the days of Louis Quatorze--were making a fertile land
yield its full increase. The country was powerful, rich,
prosperous, and, for the time being, outwardly contented.

So far as her form and spirit of government went, France
by the middle of the seventeenth century was a despotism
both in theory and in fact. Men were still living who
could recall the day when France had a real parliament,
the Estates-General as it was called. This body had at
one time all the essentials of a representative assembly.
It might have become, as the English House of Commons
became, the grand inquest of the nation. But it did not
do so. The waxing personal strength of the monarchy curbed
its influence, its authority weakened, and throughout
the great century of French colonial expansion from 1650
to 1750 the Estates-General was never convoked. The
centralization of political power was complete. 'The
State! I am the State.' These famous words imputed to
Louis XIV expressed no vain boast of royal power. Speaking
politically, France was a pyramid. At the apex was the
Bourbon sovereign. In him all lines of authority converged.
Subordinate to him in authority, and dominated by him
when he willed it, were various appointive councils,
among them the Council of State and the so-called Parliament
of Paris, which was not a parliament at all, but a semi-
judicial body entrusted with the function of registering
the royal decrees. Below these in the hierarchy of
officialdom came the intendants of the various provinces
--forty or more of them. Loyal agents of the crown were
these intendants. They saw to it that no royal mandate
ever went unheeded in any part of the king's domain.
These forty intendants were the men who really bridged
the great administrative gulf which lay between the royal
court and the people. They were the most conspicuous,
the most important, and the most characteristic officials
of the old regime. Without them the royal authority would
have tumbled over by its own sheer top-heaviness. They
were the eyes and ears of the monarchy; they provided
the monarch with fourscore eager hands to work his
sovereign will. The intendants, in turn, had their
underlings, known as the sub-delegates, who held the
peasantry in leash. Thus it was that the administration,
like a pyramid, broadened towards its base, and the whole
structure rested upon the third estate, or rank and file
of the people. Such was the position, the power, and
administrative framework of France when her kings and
people turned their eyes westward across the seas. From
the rugged old Norman and Breton seaports courageous
mariners had been for a long time lengthening their
voyages to new coasts. As early as 1534 Jacques Cartier
of St Malo had made the first of his pilgrimages to the
St Lawrence, and in 1542 his associate Roberval had
attempted to plant a colony there. They had found the
shores of the great river to be inhospitable; the winters
were rigorous; no stores of mineral wealth had appeared;
nor did the land seem to possess great agricultural
possibilities. From Mexico the Spanish galleons were
bearing home their rich cargoes of silver bullion. In
Virginia the English navigators had found a land of fair
skies and fertile soil. But the hills and valleys of the
northland had shouted no such greeting to the voyageurs
of Brittany. Cartier had failed to make his landfall at
Utopia, and the balance-sheet of his achievements, when
cast up in 1544, had offered a princely dividend of

For a half-century following the abortive efforts of
Cartier and Roberval, the French authorities had made no
serious or successful attempt to plant a colony in the
New World. That is not surprising, for there were troubles
in plenty at home. Huguenots and Catholics were at each
other's throats; the wars of the Fronde convulsed the
land; and it was not till the very end of the sixteenth
century that the country settled down to peace within
its own borders. Some facetious chronicler has remarked
that the three chief causes of early warfare were
Christianity, herrings, and cloves. There is much golden
truth in that nugget. For if one could take from human
history all the strife that has been due either to bigotry
or to commercial avarice, a fair portion of the bloodstreaks
would be washed from its pages. For the time being, at
any rate, France had so much fighting at home that she
was unable, like her Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and
English neighbours, to gain strategic points for future
fighting abroad. Those were days when, if a people would
possess the gates of their enemies, it behoved them to
begin early. France made a late start, and she was forced
to take, in consequence, what other nations had shown no
eagerness to seize.

It was Samuel Champlain, a seaman of Brouage, who first
secured for France and for Frenchmen a sure foothold in
North America, and thus became the herald of Bourbon
imperialism. After a youth spent at sea, Champlain engaged
for some years in the armed conflicts with the Huguenots;
then he returned to his old marine life once more. He
sailed to the Spanish main and elsewhere, thereby gaining
skill as a navigator and ambition to be an explorer of
new coasts. In 1603 came an opportunity to join an
expedition to the St Lawrence, and from this time to the
end of his days the Brouage mariner gave his whole interest
and energies to the work of planting an outpost of empire
in the New World. Champlain was scarcely thirty-six when
he made his first voyage to Canada; he died at Quebec on
Christmas Day, 1635. His service to the king and nation
extended over three decades.

With the crew of his little vessel, the Don de Dieu,
Champlain cast anchor on July 9, 1608, beneath the frowning
natural ramparts of Cape Diamond, and became the founder
of a city built upon a rock. The felling of trees and
the hewing of wood began. Within a few weeks Champlain
raised his rude fort, brought his provisions ashore,
established relations with the Indians, and made ready
with his twenty-eight followers to spend the winter in
the new settlement. It was a painful experience. The
winter was long and bitter; scurvy raided the Frenchmen's
cramped quarters, and in the spring only eight followers
were alive to greet the ship which came with new colonists
and supplies. It took a soul of iron to continue the
project of nation-planting after such a tragic beginning;
but Champlain was not the man to recoil from the task.
More settlers were landed; women and children were brought
along; land was broken for cultivation; and in due course
a little village grew up about the fort. This was Quebec,
the centre and soul of French hopes beyond the Atlantic.

For the first twenty years of its existence the little
colony had a stormy time. Some of the settlers were
unruly, and gave Champlain, who was both maker and enforcer
of the laws, a hard task to hold them in control. During
these years the king took little interest in his new
domains; settlers came slowly, and those who came seemed
to be far more interested in trading with the Indians
than in carving out permanent homes for themselves. Few
there were among them who thought of anything but a quick
competence from the profits of the fur trade, and a return
to France at the earliest opportunity thereafter.

Now it was the royal idea, in so far as the busy monarch
of France had any fixed purpose in the matter, that the
colony should be placed upon a feudal basis--that lands
should be granted and sub-granted on feudal terms. In
other words, the king or his representative stood ready
to give large tracts or fiefs in New France to all
immigrants whose station in life warranted the belief
that they would maintain the dignity of seigneurs. These,
in turn, were to sub-grant the land to ordinary settlers,
who came without financial resources, sent across usually
at the expense of His Majesty. In this way the French
authorities hoped to create a powerful military colony
with a feudal hierarchy as its outstanding feature.

Feudalism is a much-abused term. To the minds of most
laymen it has a rather hazy association with things
despotic, oppressive, and mediaeval. The mere mention of
the term conjures up those days of the Dark Ages when
armour-clad knights found their chief recreation in
running lances through one another; when the overworked,
underfed labourers of the field cringed and cowered before
every lordly whim. Most readers seem to get their notions
of chivalry from Scott's Talisman, and their ideas on
feudalism from the same author's immortal Ivanhoe. While
scholars keep up a merry disputation as to the historical
origin of the feudal system, the public imagination goes
steadily on with its own curious picture of how that
system lived and moved and had its being. A prolix tale
of origins would be out of place in this chronicle; but
even the mind of the man in the street ought to be set
right as regards what feudalism was designed to do, and
what in fact it did, for mankind, while civilization
battled its way down the ages.

Feudalism was a system of social relations based upon
land. It grew out of the chaos which came upon Europe in
the centuries following the collapse of the Roman Empire.
The fall of Roman power flattened the whole political
structure of Western Europe, and nothing arose to take
its place. Every lord or princeling was left to depend
for defence upon the strength of his own arm; so he
gathered around him as many vassals as he could. He gave
them land; they gave him what he most wanted,--a promise
to serve and aid in time of war. The lord gave and promised
to guard; the vassal took and promised to serve. Thus
there was created a personal relation, a bond of mutual
loyalty, wardship, and service, which bound liegeman to
lord with hoops of steel. No one can read Carlyle's
trenchant Past and Present without bearing away some
vivid and altogether wholesome impressions concerning
the essential humanity of this great mediaeval institution.
It shares with the Christian Church the honour of having
made life worth living in days when all else combined to
make it intolerable. It brought at least a semblance of
social, economic, and political order out of helpless
and hopeless disorganization. It helped Europe slowly to
recover from the greatest catastrophe in all her history.

But our little systems have their day, as the poet assures
us. They have their day and cease to be. Feudalism had
its day, from dawn to twilight a day of picturesque
memory. But it did not cease to exist when its day of
service was done. Long after the necessity for mutual
service and protection had passed away; long after the
growth of firm monarchies with powerful standing armies
had established the reign of law, the feudal system kept
its hold upon the social order in France and elsewhere.
The obligation of military service, when no longer needed,
was replaced by dues and payments. The modern cash nexus
replaced the old personal bond between vassal and lord.
The feudal system became the seigneurial system. The lord
became the seigneur; the vassal became the censitaire or
peasant cultivator whose chief function was to yield
revenue for his seigneur's purse. These were great changes
which sapped the spirit of the ancient institution. No
longer bound to their dependants by any personal tie,
the seigneurs usually turned affairs over to their
bailiffs, men with hearts of adamant, who squeezed from
the seigneuries every sou the hapless peasantry could
yield. These publicans of the old regime have much to
answer for. They and their work were not least among the
causes which brought upon the crown and upon the privileged
orders that terrible retribution of the Red Terror. Not
with the mediaeval institution of feudalism, but with
its emaciated descendant, the seigneurial system of the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, ought men to
associate, if they must, their notions of grinding
oppression and class hatred.

Out to his new colony on the St Lawrence the king sent
this seigneurial system. A gross and gratuitous outrage,
a characteristic manifestation of Bourbon stupidity--that
is a common verdict upon the royal action. But it may
well be asked: What else was there to do? The seigneurial
system was still the basis of land tenure in France. The
nobility and even the throne rested upon it. The Church
sanctioned and supported it. The people in general,
whatever their attitude towards seigneurialism, were
familiar with no other system of landholding. It was not,
like the encomienda system which Spain planted in Mexico,
an arrangement cut out of new cloth for the more ruthless
exploitation of a fruitful domain. The Puritan who went
to Massachusetts Bay took his system of socage tenure
along with him. The common law went with the flag of
England. It was quite as natural that the Custom of Paris
should follow the fleurs-de-lis.

There was every reason to expect, moreover, that in the
New World the seigneurial system would soon free itself
from those barnacles of privilege and oppression which
were encrusted on its sides at home. Here was a small
settlement of pioneers surrounded by hostile aborigines.
The royal arm, strong as it was at home, could not well
afford protection a thousand leagues away. The colony
must organize and learn to protect itself. In other words,
the colonial environment was very much like that in which
the yeomen of the Dark Ages had found themselves. And
might not its dangers be faced in the old feudal way?
They were faced in this way. In the history of French
Canada we find the seigneurial system forced back towards
its old feudal plane. We see it gain in vitality; we see
the old personal bond between lord and vassal restored
to some of its pristine strength; we see the military
aspects of the system revived, and its more sordid phases
thrust aside. It turned New France into a huge armed
camp; it gave the colony a closely knit military
organization; and, in a day when Canada needed every
ounce of her strength to ward off encircling enemies both
white and red, it did for her what no other system could
be expected to do.

But to return to the little cradle of empire at the foot
of Cape Diamond. Champlain for a score of years worked
himself to premature old age in overcoming those many
obstacles which always meet the pioneer. More settlers
were brought; a few seigneuries were granted; priests
were summoned from France; a new fort was built; and by
sheer perseverance a settlement of about three hundred
souls had been established by 1627. But no single
individual, however untiring in his efforts, could do
all that needed to be done. It was consequently arranged,
with the entire approval of Champlain, that the task of
building up the colony should be entrusted to a great
colonizing company formed for the purpose under royal
auspices. In this project the moving spirit was no less
a personage than Cardinal Richelieu, the great minister
of Louis XIII. Official France was now really interested.
Hitherto its interest, while profusely enough expressed,
had been little more than perfunctory. With Richelieu as
its sponsor a company was easily organized. Though by
royal decree it was chartered as the Company of New
France, it became more commonly known as the Company of
One Hundred Associates; for it was a co-operative
organization with one hundred members, some of them
traders and merchants, but more of them courtiers.
Colonizing companies were the fashion of Richelieu's day.
Holland and England were exploiting new lands by the use
of companies; there was no good reason why France should
not do likewise.

This system of company exploitation was particularly
popular with the monarchs of all these European countries.
It made no demands on the royal purse. If failure attended
the company's ventures the king bore no financial loss.
But if the company succeeded, if its profits were large
and its achievements great, the king might easily step
in and claim his share of it all as the price of royal
protection and patronage. In both England and Holland
the scheme worked out in that way. An English stock
company began and developed the work which finally placed
India in the possession of the British crown; a similar
Dutch organization in due course handed over Java as a
rich patrimony to the king of the Netherlands. France,
however, was not so fortunate. True enough, the Company
of One Hundred Associates made a brave start; its charter
gave great privileges, and placed on the company large
obligations; it seemed as though a new era in French
colonization had begun. 'Having in view the establishment
of a powerful military colony,' as this charter recites,
the king gave to the associates the entire territory
claimed by France in the western hemisphere, with power
to govern, create trade, grant lands, and bestow titles
of nobility. For its part the company was to send out
settlers, at least two hundred of them a year; it was to
provide them with free transportation, give them free
lands and initial subsistence; it was to support priests
and teachers--in fact, to do all things necessary for
the creation of that 'powerful military colony' which
His Majesty had in expectation.

It happened, however, that the first fleet the company
dispatched in 1628 did not reach Canada. The ships were
attacked and captured, and in the following year Quebec
itself fell into English hands. After its restoration in
1632 the company, greatly crippled, resumed operations,
but did very little for the upbuilding of the colony.
Few settlers were sent out at all, and of these still
fewer went at the company's expense. In only two ways
did the company, after the first few years of its
existence, show any interest in its new territories. In
the first place, its officers readily grasped the
opportunity to make some profits out of the fur trade.
Each year ships were sent to Quebec; merchandise was
there landed, and a cargo of furs taken in exchange. If
the vessel ever reached home, despite the risks of wreck
and capture, a handsome dividend for those interested
was the outcome. But the risks were great, and, after
a time, when the profits declined, the company showed
scant interest in even the trading part of its business.
The other matter in which the directors of the company
showed some interest was in the giving of seigneuries
--chiefly to themselves. About sixty of these seigneuries
were granted, large tracts all of them. One director of
the company secured the whole island of Orleans as his
seigneurial estate; others took generous slices on both
shores of the St Lawrence. But not one of these men lifted
a finger in the way of redeeming his huge fief from the
wilderness. Every one seems to have had great zeal in
getting hold of these vast tracts with the hope that they
would some day rise in value. As for the development of
the lands, however, neither the company nor its officers
showed any such fervour in serving the royal cause. Thirty
years after the company had taken its charter there were
only about two thousand inhabitants in the colony; not
more than four thousand arpents of land were under
cultivation; trade had failed to increase; and the
colonists were openly demanding a change of policy.

When Louis XIV came to the throne and chose Colbert as
his chief minister it was deemed wise to look into the
colonial situation. [Footnote: See in this Series 'The
Great Intendant', chap. I.] Both were surprised and
angered by the showing. It appeared that not only had
the company neglected its obligations, but that its
officers had shrewdly concealed their shortcomings from
the royal notice. The great Bourbon therefore acted
promptly and with firmness. In a couple of notable royal
decrees he read the directors a severe lecture upon their
avarice and inaction, took away all the company's powers,
confiscated to the crown all the seigneuries which the
directors had granted to themselves, and ordered that
the colony should thenceforth be administered as a royal
province. By his later actions the king showed that he
meant what his edicts implied. The colony passed under
direct royal government in 1663, and virtually remained
there until its surrender into English hands an even
century later.

Louis XIV was greatly interested in Canada. From beginning
to end of his long administration he showed this interest
at every turn. His officials sent from Quebec their long
dispatches; the patient monarch read them all, and sent
by the next ship his budget of orders, advice, reprimand,
and praise. As a royal province, New France had for its
chief official a governor who represented the royal
dignity and power. The governor was the chief military
officer, and it was to him that the king looked for the
proper care of all matters relating to the defence and
peace of New France. Then there was the Sovereign Council,
a body made up of the bishop, the intendant, and certain
prominent citizens of the colony named by the king on
the advice of his colonial representatives. This council
was both a law-making and a judicial body. It registered
and published the royal decrees, made local regulations,
and acted as the supreme court of the colony. But the
official who loomed largest in the purely civil affairs
of New France was the intendant. He was the overseas
apostle of Bourbon paternalism, and as his commission
authorized him to 'order all things as he may think just
and proper,' the intendant never found much opportunity
for idleness.

Tocqueville, shrewdest among historians of pre-revolutionary
France, has somewhere pointed out that under the old
regime the administration took the place of Providence.
It sought to be as omniscient and as omnipotent; its ways
were quite as inscrutable. In this policy the intendant
was the royal man-of-all-work. The king spoke and the
intendant transformed his words into action. As the
sovereign's great interest in the colony moved him to
speak often, the intendant's activity was prodigious.
Ordinances, edicts, judgments and decrees fairly flew
from his pen like sparks from an anvil. Nothing that
needed setting aright was too inconsequential for a
paternal order. An ordinance establishing a system of
weights and measures for the colony rubs shoulders with
another inhibiting the youngsters of Quebec from sleigh-
riding down its hilly thoroughfares in icy weather.
Printed in small type these decrees of the intendant's
make up a bulky volume, the present-day interest of which
is only to show how often the hand of authority thrust
itself into the daily walk and conversation of Old Canada.

From first to last there were a dozen intendants of New
France. Jean Talon, whose prudence and energy did much
to set the colony on its feet, was the first; Fracois
Bigot, the arch-plunderer of public funds, who did so
much to bring the land to disaster, was the last. Between
them came a line of sensible, hard-working, and loyal
men who gave the best that was in them to the uphill task
of making the colony what their royal master wanted it
to be. Unfortunate it is that Bigot's astounding depravity
has led too many readers and writers of Canadian history
to look upon the intendancy of New France as a post held
chiefly by rascals. As a class no men served the French
crown more steadfastly or to better purpose.

Now it was to the intendant, in Talon's time, that the
king committed the duty of granting seigneuries and of
supervising the seigneurial system in operation. But,
later, when Count Frontenac, the iron governor of the
colony, came into conflict with the intendant on various
other matters, he made complaint to the court at Versailles
that the intendant was assuming too much authority. A
royal decree therefore ordered that for the future these
grants should he made by the governor and intendant
jointly. Thenceforth they were usually so made, although
in some cases the intendant disregarded the royal
instructions and signed the title-deeds alone; and it
appears that in all cases he was the main factor in
determining who should get seigneuries and who should
not. The intendant, moreover, made himself the chief
guardian of the relations between the seigneurs and their
seigneurial tenants. When the seigneurs tried to exact
in the way of honours, dues, and services any more than
the laws and customs of the land allowed, the watchful
intendant promptly checkmated them with a restrictive
decree. Or when some seigneurial claim, even though
warranted by law or custom, seemed to be detrimental to
the general wellbeing of the people, he regularly brought
the matter to the attention of the home government and
invoked its intervention. In all such matters he was
praetor and tribune combined. Without the intendancy the
seigneurial system would soon have become an agent of
oppression, for some Canadian seigneurs were quite as
avaricious as their friends at home.

The heyday of Canadian feudalism was the period from 1663
to about 1750. During this interval nearly three hundred
fiefs were granted. Most of them went to officials of
the civil administration, many to retired military
officers, many others to the Church and its affiliated
institutions, and some to merchants and other lay
inhabitants of the colony. Certain seigneurs set to work
with real zeal, bringing out settlers from France and
steadily getting larger portions of their fiefs under
cultivation. Others showed far less enterprise, and some
no enterprise at all. From time to time the king and his
ministers would make inquiry as to the progress being
made. The intendant would reply with a memoire often of
pitiless length, setting forth the facts and figures.
Then His Majesty would respond with an edict ordering
that all seigneurs who did not forthwith help the colony
by putting settlers on their lands should have their
grants revoked. But the seigneurs who were most at fault
in this regard were usually the ones who had most influence
in the little administrative circle at Quebec. Hence the
king's orders were never enforced to the letter, and
sometimes not enforced at all. Unlike the Parliament of
Paris, the Sovereign Council at Quebec never refused to
register a royal edict. What would have happened in the
event of its doing so is a query that legal antiquarians
might find difficult to answer. Even a sovereign decree
bearing the Bourbon sign-manual could not gain the force
of law in Canada except by being spread upon the council's
records. In France the king could come clattering with
his escort to the council hall and there, by his so termed
'bed of justice,' compel the registration of his decrees.
But the Chateau of St Louis at Quebec was too far away
for any such violent procedure.

The colonial council never sought to find out what would
follow an open defiance of the royal wishes. It had a
safer plan. Decrees were always promptly registered; but
when they did not suit the councillors they were just as
promptly pigeon-holed, and the people of the colony were
thus left in complete ignorance of the new regulations.
On one occasion the intendant Raudot, in looking over
the council records for legal light on a case before him,
found a royal decree which had been registered by the
council some twenty years before, but not an inkling of
which had ever reached the people to whom it had conveyed
new rights against their seigneurs. 'It was the interest
of the attorney-general as a seigneur, as it was also
the interest of other councillors who are seigneurs, that
the provisions of this decree should never be made public,'
is the frank way in which the intendant explained the
matter in one of his dispatches to the king. The fact is
that the royal arm, supremely powerful at home, lost a
good deal of its strength when stretched across a thousand
leagues of ocean. If anything happened amiss after the
ships left Quebec in the late summer, there was no regular
means of making report to the king for a full twelvemonth.
The royal reply could not be had at the earliest until
the ensuing spring; if the king's advisers desired to
look into matters fully it sometimes happened that another
year passed before the royal decision reached Quebec. By
that time matters had often righted themselves, or the
issue had been forgotten. At any rate the direct influence
of the crown was much less effective than it would have
been had the colony been within easy reach. The governor
and intendant were accordingly endowed by the force of
circumstances with large discretionary powers. When they
agreed it was possible to order things about as they
chose. When they disagreed on any project the matter went
off to the king for decision, which often meant that it
was shelved indefinitely.

The administration of New France was not efficient. There
were too many officials for the size and needs of the
colony. Their respective spheres of authority were too
loosely defined. Nor did the crown desire to have every
one working in harmony. A moderate amount of friction--
provided it did not wholly clog the wheels of administration
--was not deemed an unmixed evil. It served to make each
official a tale-bearer against his colleague, so that
the home authorities might count on getting all sides to
every story. The financial situation, moreover, was always
precarious. At no time could New France pay its own way;
every second dispatch from the governor and intendant
asked the king for money or for things that cost money.
Louis XIV was astonishingly generous in the face of so
many of these demands upon his exchequer, but the more
he gave the more he was asked to give. When the stress
of European wars curtailed the king's bounty the colonial
authorities began to issue paper money; the issues were
gradually increased; the paper soon depreciated, and in
its closing years the colony fairly wallowed in the slough
of almost worthless fiat currency.

In addition to meeting the annual deficit of the colony
the royal authorities encouraged and assisted emigration
to New France. Whole shiploads of settlers were at times
gathered and sent to Quebec. The seigneurs, by the terms
of their grants, should have been active in this work;
but very few of them took any share in it. Nearly the
entire task of applying a stimulus to emigration was
thrust on the king and his officials at home. Year after
gear the governor and intendant grew increasingly urgent
in repeated requests for more settlers, until a rebuke
arrived in a suggestion that the king was not minded to
depopulate France in order to people his colonies. The
influx of settlers was relatively large during the years
1663-72. Then it dwindled perceptibly, although immigrants
kept coming year by year so long as war did not completely
cut off communication with France. The colony gained
bravely, moreover, through its own natural increase, for
the colonial birth-rate was high, large families being
everywhere the rule. In 1673 the population of New France
was figured at about seven thousand; in 1760 it had
reached nearly fifty thousand.

The development of agriculture on the seigneurial lands
did not, however, keep pace with growth in population.
It was hard to keep settlers to the prosaic task of
tilling the soil. There were too many distractions, chief
among them the lure of the Indian trade. The traffic in
furs offered large profits and equally large risks; but
it always yielded a full dividend of adventure and
hair-raising experience. The fascination of the forest
life gripped the young men of the colony, and they left
for the wilderness by the hundred. There is a roving
strain in Norman blood. It brought the Norseman to France
and Sicily; it took his descendants from the plough and
sent them over the waters of the New World, from the St
Lawrence to the Lakes and from the Lakes to the Gulf of
Mexico. Church and state joined hands in attempt to keep
them at home. Royal decrees of outlawry and ecclesiastical
edicts of excommunication were issued against them.
Seigneurs stipulated that their lands would be forfeited
unless so many arpents were put under crop each year.
But all to little avail. So far as developing the permanent
resources of the colony were concerned these coureurs de
bois might just as well have remained in France. Once in
a while a horde of them descended to Quebec or Montreal,
disposed of their furs to merchants, filled themselves
with brandy and turned bedlam loose in the town. Then
before the authorities could unwind the red tape of legal
procedure they were off again to the wilds.

This Indian trade, despite the large and valuable cargoes
of beaver pelts which it enabled New France to send home,
was a curse to the colony. It drew from husbandry the
best blood of the land, the young men of strength,
initiative, and perseverance. It wrecked the health and
character of thousands. It drew the Church and the civil
government into profitless quarrels. The bishop flayed
the governor for letting this trade go on. The governor
could not, dared not, and sometimes did not want to stop
it. At any rate it was a great obstacle to agricultural
progress. With it and other distractions in existence
the clearing of the seigneuries proceeded very slowly.
At the close of French dominion in 1760 the amount of
cultivated land was only about three hundred thousand
arpents, or about five acres for every head of
population--not a very satisfactory showing for a century
of Bourbon imperialism in the St Lawrence valley.

Yet the colony, when the English conquerors came upon it
in 1759, was far from being on its last legs. It had
overcome the worst of its obstacles and had created a
foundation upon which solid building might be done. Its
people had reached the stage of rude but tolerable comfort.
Its highways of trade and intercourse had been freed from
the danger of Indian raids. It had some small industries
and was able to raise almost the whole of its own
food-supply. The traveller who passed along the great
river from Quebec to Montreal in the early autumn might
see, as Peter Kalm in his Travels tells us he saw, field
upon field of waving grain extending from the shores
inward as far as the eye could reach, broken only here
and there by tracts of meadow and woodland. The outposts
of an empire at least had been established.



A good many people, as Robert Louis Stevenson once assured
us, have a taste for 'heroic forms of excitement.' And
it is well for the element of interest in history that
this has been so at all ages and among all races of men.
The most picturesque and fascinating figures in the
recorded annals of nations have been the pioneers,--the
men who have not been content to do what other men of
their day were doing. Without them and their achievements
history might still be read for information, but not for
pleasure; it might still instruct, but it would hardly

In the narratives of colonization there is ample evidence
that Frenchmen of the seventeenth century were not lacking
in their thirst for excitement, whether heroic or otherwise.
Their race furnished the New World with explorers and
forest merchants by the hundred. The most venturesome
voyageurs, the most intrepid traders, and the most untiring
missionaries were Frenchmen. No European stock showed
such versatility in its relations with the aborigines;
none proved so ready to bear all manner of hardship and
discomfort for the sake of the thrills which came from
setting foot where no white man had ever trod. The
Frenchman of those days was no weakling either in body
or in spirit; he did not shrink from privation or danger;
in tasks requiring courage and fortitude he was ready to
lead the way. When he came to the New World he wanted
the sort of life that would keep him always on his mettle,
and that could not be found within the cultivated borders
of seigneury and parish. Hence it was that Canada in her
earliest years found plenty of pioneers, but not always
of the right type. The colony needed yeomen who would
put their hands to the plough, who would become pioneers
of agriculture. Such, however, were altogether too few,
and the yearly harvest of grain made a poor showing when
compared with the colony's annual crop of beaver skins.
Yet the yeoman did more for the permanent upbuilding of
the land than the trader, and his efforts ought to have
their recognition in any chronicle of colonial achievement.

It was in the mind of the king that 'persons of quality'
as well as peasants should be induced to make their homes
in New France. There were enough landless gentlemen in
France; why should they not be used as the basis of a
seigneurial nobility in the colony? It was with this idea
in view that the Company of One Hundred Associates was
empowered not only to grant large tracts of land in the
wilderness, but to give the rank of gentilhomme to those
who received such fiefs. Frenchmen of good birth, however,
showed no disposition to become resident seigneurs of
New France during the first half-century of its history.
The role of a 'gentleman of the wilderness' did not appeal
very strongly even to those who had no tangible asset
but the family name. Hence it was that not a half-dozen
seigneurs were in actual occupancy of their lands on the
St Lawrence when the king took the colony out of the
company's hands in 1663.

But when Talon came to the colony as intendant in 1665
this situation was quickly changed. Uncleared seigneuries
were declared forfeited. Actual occupancy was made a
condition of all future grants. The colony must be built
up, if at all, by its own people. The king was urged to
send out settlers, and he responded handsomely. They came
by hundreds. The colony's entire population, including
officials, priests, traders, seigneurs, and habitants,
together with women and children, was about three thousand,
according to a census taken a year after Talon arrived.
Two years later, owing largely to the intendant's unceasing
efforts, it had practically doubled. Nothing was left
undone to coax emigrants from France. Money grants and
free transportation were given with unwonted generosity,
although even in the early years of his reign the coffers
of Louis Quatorze were leaking with extravagance at every
point. At least a million livres [Footnote: The livre
was practically the modern franc, about twenty cents.]
in these five years is a sober estimate of what the royal
treasury must have spent in the work of colonizing Canada.

No campaign for immigrants in modern days has been more
assiduously carried on. Officials from Paris searched
the provinces, gathering together all who could be induced
to go. The intendant particularly asked that women be
sent to the colony, strong and vigorous peasant girls
who would make suitable wives for the habitants. The king
gratified him by sending whole shiploads of them in charge
of nuns. As to who they were, and where they came from,
one cannot be altogether sure. The English agent at Paris
wrote that they were 'lewd strumpets gathered up by the
officers of the city,' and even the saintly Mere Marie
de l'Incarnation confessed that there was beaucoup de
canaille among them. La Hontan has left us a racy picture
of their arrival and their distribution among the rustic
swains of the colony, who scrimmaged for points of vantage
when boatloads of women came ashore from the ships.
[Footnote: Another view will be found in The Great
Intendant in this Series, chap. IV.]

The male settlers, on the other hand, came from all
classes and from all parts of France. But Normandy,
Brittany, Picardy, and Perche afforded the best recruiting
grounds; from all of them came artisans and sturdy
peasants. Normandy furnished more than all the others
put together, so much so that Canada in the seventeenth
century was more properly a Norman than a French colony.
The colonial church registers, which have been kept with
scrupulous care, show that more than half the settlers
who came to Canada during the decade after 1664. were of
Norman origin; while in 1680 it was estimated that at
least four-fifths of the entire population of New France
had some Norman blood in their veins. Officials and
merchants came chiefly from Paris, and they coloured the
life of the little settlement at Quebec with a Parisian
gaiety; but the Norman dominated the fields--his race
formed the backbone of the rural population.

Arriving at Quebec the incoming settlers were met by
officials and friends. Proper arrangements for quartering
them until they could get settled were always made
beforehand. If the new-comer were a man of quality, that
is to say, if he had been anything better than a peasant
at home, and especially if he brought any funds with him,
he applied to the intendant for a seigneury. Talon was
liberal in such matters. He stood ready to give a
seigneurial grant to any one who would promise to spend
money in clearing his land. This liberality, however,
was often ill-requited. Immigrants came to him and gave
great assurances, took their title-deeds as seigneurs,
and never upturned a single foot of sod. In other cases
the new seigneurs set zealously to work and soon had good
results to show.

In size these seigneuries varied greatly. The social rank
and the reputed ability of the seigneur were the determining
factors. Men who had been members of the noblesse in
France received tracts as large as a Teutonic principality,
comprising a hundred square miles or more. Those of less
pretentious birth and limited means had to be content
with a few thousand arpents. In general, however, a
seigneury comprised at least a dozen square miles, almost
always with a frontage on the great river and rear limits
extending up into the foothills behind. The metes and
bounds of the granted lands were always set forth in the
letters-patent or title-deeds; but almost invariably with
utter vagueness and ambiguity. The territory was not
surveyed; each applicant, in filing his petition for a
seigneury, was asked to describe the tract he desired.
This description, usually inadequate and inaccurate, was
copied in the deed, and in due course hopeless confusion
resulted. It was well that most seigneurs had more land
than they could use; had it not been for this their
lawsuits over disputed boundaries would have been unending.

Liberal in the area of land granted to the new seigneurs,
the crown was also liberal in the conditions exacted.
The seigneur was asked for no initial money payment and
no annual land dues. When his seigneury changed owners
by sale or by inheritance other than in direct descent,
a mutation fine known as the quint was payable to the
public treasury. This, as its name implies, amounted to
one-fifth of the seigneury's value; but it rarely accrued,
and even when it did the generous monarch usually rebated
a part or all of it. Not a single sou was ever exacted
by the crown from the great majority of the seigneurs.
If agriculture made slow headway in New France it was
not because officialdom exploited the land to its own
profit. Never were the landowners of a new country treated
more generously or given greater incentive to diligence.

But if the king did not ask the seigneurs for money he
asked for other things. He required, in the first place,
that each should render fealty and homage with due feudal
ceremony to his official representative at Quebec.
Accordingly, the first duty of the seigneur, after taking
possession of his new domain, was to repair without sword
or spur to the Chateau of St Louis at Quebec, a gloomy
stone structure that frowned on the settlement from the
heights behind. Here, on bended knee before the governor,
the new liegeman swore fealty to his lord the king and
promised to render due obedience in all lawful matters.
This was one of the things which gave a tinge of chivalry
to Canadian feudalism, and helped to make the social life
of a distant colony echo faintly the pomp and ceremony
of Versailles. The seigneur, whether at home or beyond
the seas, was never allowed to forget the obligation of
personal fidelity imposed upon him by his king.

A more arduous undertaking next confronted the new
seigneur. It was not the royal intention that he should
fold his talent in a napkin. On the contrary, the seigneur
was endowed with his rank and estate to the sole end that
he should become an active agent in making the colony
grow. He was expected to live on his land, to level the
forest, to clear fields, and to make two blades of grass
grow where one grew before. He was expected to have his
seigneury surveyed into farms, or en censive holdings,
and to procure, as quickly as might be, settlers for
these farms. It was highly desirable, of course, that
the seigneurs should lend a hand in encouraging the
immigration of people from their old homes in France.
Some of them did this. Robert Giffard, who held the
seigneury of Beauport just below Quebec, was a notable
example. The great majority of the seigneurs, however,
made only half-hearted attempts in this direction, and
their efforts went for little or nothing. What they did
was to meet, on arrival at Quebec, the shiploads of
settlers sent out by the royal officers. There they
gathered about the incoming vessel, like so many land
agents, each explaining what advantages in the way of a
good location and fertile soil he had to offer. Those
seigneurs who had obtained tracts near the settlement at
Quebec had, of course, a great advantage in all this,
for the new-comers naturally preferred to set up their
homes where a church would be near at hand, and where
they could be in touch with other families during the
long winters. Consequently the best locations in all the
seigneuries near Quebec were soon taken, and then settlers
had to take lands more remote from the little metropolis
of the colony. They went to the seigneuries near Montreal
and Three Rivers; when the best lands in these areas were
taken up, they dispersed themselves along the whole north
shore of the St Lawrence from below the Montmorency to
its junction with the Ottawa. The north shore having been
well dotted with the whitewashed homes, the south shore
came in for its due share of attention, and in the last
half-century of the French regime a good many settlers
were provided for in that region.

For a time the immigrants found little or no difficulty
in obtaining farms on easy terms. Seigneurs were glad
to give them land without any initial payment and frequently
promised exemption from the usual seigneurial dues for
the first few years. In any case these dues and services,
which will be explained more fully later on, were not
burdensome. Any settler of reasonable industry and
intelligence could satisfy these ordinary demands without
difficulty. Translated into an annual money rental they
would have amounted to but a few sous per acre. But this
happy situation did not long endure. As the settlers
continued to come, and as children born in the colony
grew to manhood, the demand for well-situated farms grew
more brisk, and some of the seigneurs found that they
need no longer seek tenants for their lands. On the
contrary, they found that men desiring land would come
to them and offer to pay not only the regular seigneurial
dues, but an entry fee or bonus in addition. The best
situated lands, in other words, had acquired a margin of
value over lands not so well situated, and the favoured
seigneurs turned this to their own profit. During the
early pears of the eighteenth century, therefore, the
practice of exacting a prix d'entree became common; indeed
it was difficult for a settler to get the lands he most
desired except by making such payment. As most of the
newcomers could not afford to do this they were often
forced to make their homes in unfavourable, out-of-the-way
places, while better situations remained untouched by
axe or plough.

The watchful attention of the intendant Raudot, however,
was in due course drawn to this difficulty. It was a
development not at all to his liking. He thought it would
be frowned upon by the king and his ministers if properly
brought to their notice, and in 1707 he wrote frankly to
his superiors concerning it. First of all he complained
that 'a spirit of business speculation, which has always
more of cunning and chicane than of truth and righteousness
in it,' was finding its way into the hearts of the people.
The seigneurs in particular, he alleged, were becoming
mercenary; they were taking advantage of technicalities
to make the habitants pay more than their just dues. In
many cases settlers had taken up lands on the merely oral
assurances of the seigneurs; then when they got their
deeds in writing these deeds contained various provisions
which they had not counted upon and which were not fair.
'Hence,' declared the intendant, 'a great abuse has
arisen, which is that the habitants who have worked their
farms without written titles have been subjected to heavy
rents and dues, the seigneurs refusing to grant them
regular deeds except on onerous conditions; and these
conditions they find themselves obliged to accept, because
otherwise they will have their labour for nothing.'

The royal authorities paid due heed to these complaints,
and, although they did not accept all Raudot's suggestions,
they proceeded to provide corrective measures in the usual
way. This way, of course, was by the issue of royal edicts.
Two of these decrees reached the colony in the due course
of events. They are commonly known as the Arrets of Marly,
and bear date July 11, 1711. Both were carefully prepared
and their provisions show that the royal authorities
understood just where the entire trouble lay.

The first arret went direct to the point. 'The king has
been informed,' it recites, 'that there are some seigneurs
who refuse under various pretexts to grant lands to
settlers who apply for them, preferring rather the hope
that they may later sell these lands.' Such attitude,
the decree went on to declare, was absolutely repugnant
to His Majesty's intentions, and especially 'unfair to
incoming settlers who thus find land less open to free
settlement in situations best adapted for agriculture.'
It was, therefore, ordered that if any applicant for
lands should be by any seigneur denied a reasonable grant
on the customary terms, the intendant should forthwith
step in and issue a deed on his own authority. In this
case the annual payments were to go to the colonial
treasury, and not to the seigneur. This decree simplified
matters considerably. After it became the law of the
colony no one desiring land from a seigneur's ungranted
domain was expected to offer anything above the customary
annual dues and services. The seigneur had no legal right
to demand more. By one stroke of the royal pen the Canadian
seigneur had lost all right of ownership in his seigneury;
he became from this time on a trustee holding lands in
trust for the future immigrant and for the sons of the
people. However his lands might grow in value, the
seigneur, according to the letter of the law, could exact
no more from new tenants than from those who had first
settled upon his estate. This was a revolutionary change;
it put the seigneurial system in Canada on a basis wholly
different from that in France; it proved that the king
regarded the system as useful only in so far as it actively
contributed to the progress of the colony. Where it stood
in the way of progress he was prepared to apply the knife
even at its very vitals.

Unfortunately for those most concerned, however, the
royal orders were not allowed to become common knowledge
in the colony. The decree was registered and duly
promulgated; then quickly forgotten. Few of the habitants
seem to have ever heard of it; newcomers, of course, knew
nothing of their rights under its provisions. Seigneurs
continued to get special terms for advantageous locations,
the applicants for lands being usually quite willing to
pay a bonus whenever they could afford to do so. Now and
then some one, having heard of the royal arret, would
appeal to the intendant, whereupon the seigneur made
haste to straighten out things satisfactorily. Then, as
now, the presumption was that the people knew the law,
and were in a position to take advantage of its protecting
features; but the agencies of information were so few
that the provisions of a new decree rarely became common

The second of the two arrets of Marly was designed to
uphold the hands of those seigneurs who were trying to
do right. The king and his ministers were convinced, from
the information which had come to them, that not all the
'cunning and chicane' in land dealings came from the
seigneurs. The habitants were themselves in part to blame.
In many cases settlers had taken good lands, had cut down
a few trees, thinking thereby to make a technical compliance
with requirements, and were spending their energies in
the fur trade. It was the royal opinion that real
homesteading should be insisted upon, and he decreed,
accordingly, that wherever a habitant did not make a
substantial start in clearing his farm, the land should
be forfeited in a year to the seigneur. This arret, unlike
its companion decree, was rigidly enforced. The council
at Quebec was made up of seigneurs, and to the seigneurs
as a whole its provisions were soon made known. During
the twenty years following the issue of the decree of
1711 the intendant was called upon to declare the forfeiture
of over two hundred farms, the owners of which had not
fulfilled the obligation to establish a hearth and home
(tenir feu et lieu) upon the lands. As a spur to the
slothful this decree appears to have had a wholesome
effect; although, in spite of all that could be done,
the agricultural development of the colony proceeded with
exasperating slowness. Each year the governor and intendant
tried in their dispatches to put the colony's best foot
forward; every autumn the ships took home expressions of
achievement and hope; but between the lines the patient
king must have read much that was discouraging.

It may be well at this point to take a general survey of
the colonial seigneuries, noting what progress had been
made. The seigneurial system had been a half-century in
full flourish--what had it accomplished? That is evidently
just what the home authorities wanted to know when they
arranged for a topographical and general report on the
seigneuries in 1712. This investigation, on the intendant's
advice, was entrusted to an engineer, Gedeon de Catalogne.
Catalogne, who was a native of Bearn, born in 1662, came
to Canada about the year 1685. He was engaged on the
improvement of the colonial fortifications until the
intendant set him to work on a survey of the seigneuries.
The work occupied two or three years, in the course of
which he prepared three excellent maps showing the
situation and extent of all the seigneuries in the
districts of Quebec, Three Rivers, and Montreal. The
first two maps have been preserved; that of the district
of Montreal was probably lost at sea on its way to France.
With the two maps Catalogne presented a long report on
the ownership, resources, and general progress of the
seigneuries. Ninety-three of them are dealt with in all,
the report giving in each case the situation and extent
of the tract, the nature of the soil and its adaptability
to different products, the mineral deposits and timber,
the opportunities for industry and trade, the name and
rank of the seigneur, the way in which he had come into
possession of the seigneury, the provisions made for
religious worship, and various other matters.

Catalogne's report shows that in 1712 practically all
the lands bordering on both sides of the St Lawrence from
Montreal to some distance below Quebec had been made into
seigneuries. Likewise the islands in the river and the
lands on both sides of the Richelieu had been apportioned
either to the Church orders or to lay seigneurs. All
these tracts were, for administrative purposes, grouped
into the three districts of Montreal, Three Rivers, and
Quebec; the intendant himself took direct charge of
affairs at Quebec, but in the other two settlements he
was represented by a subordinate. Each district, likewise,
had its own royal court, and from the decisions of these
tribunals appeals might be carried before the Superior
Council, which held its weekly sessions at the colonial

On the island of Montreal was the most important of the
seigneuries in the district bearing its name. It was held
by the Seminary of St Sulpice, and its six parishes
contained in 1712 a population of over two thousand. The
soil of the island was fertile and the situation was
excellent for trading purposes, for it commanded the
routes usually taken by the fur flotillas both from the
Great Lakes and from the regions of Georgian Bay. The
lands were steadily rising in value, and this seigneury
soon became one of the most prosperous areas of the
colony. The seminary also owned the seigneury of St
Sulpice on the north shore of the river, some little
distance below the island.

Stretching farther along this northern shore were various
large seigneuries given chiefly to officers or former
officers of the civil government, and now held by their
heirs. La Valterie, Lanoraie, and Berthier-en-Haut, were
the most conspicuous among these riparian fiefs. Across
the stream lay Chateauguay and Longueuil, the patrimony
of the Le Moynes; likewise the seigneuries of Varennes,
Vercheres, Contrecoeur, St Ours, and Sorel. All of these
were among the so-termed military seigneuries, having
been originally given to retired officers of the Carignan
regiment. A dozen other seigneurial properties, bearing
names of less conspicuous interest, scattered themselves
along both sides of the great waterway. Along the Richelieu
from its junction with the St Lawrence to the outer limits
of safe settlement in the direction of Lake Champlain,
a number of seigneurial grants had been effected. The
historic fief of Sorel commanded the confluence of the
rivers; behind it lay Chambly and the other properties
of the adventurous Hertels. These were settled chiefly
by the disbanded Carignan soldiers, and it was their task
to guard the southern gateway.

The coming of this regiment, its work in the colony, and
its ultimate settlement, is an interesting story,
illustrating as it does the deep personal interest which
the Grand Monarque displayed in the development of his
new dominions. For a long time prior to 1665 the land
had been scourged at frequent intervals by Iroquois raids.
Bands of marauding redskins would creep stealthily upon
some outlying seigneury, butcher its people, burn everything
in sight, and then decamp swiftly to their forest lairs.
The colonial authorities, helpless to guard their entire
frontiers and unable to foretell where the next blow
would fall, endured the terrors of this situation for
many years. In utter desperation they at length called
on the king for a regiment of trained troops as the
nucleus of a punitive expedition. The Iroquois would be
tracked to their own villages and there given a memorable
lesson in letters of blood and iron. The king, as usual,
complied, and on a bright June day in 1665 a glittering
cavalcade disembarked at Quebec. The Marquis de Tracy
with two hundred gaily caparisoned officers and men of
the regiment of Carignan-Salieres formed this first
detachment; the other companies followed a little later.
Quebec was like a city relieved from a long siege. Its
people were in a frenzy of joy.

The work which the regiment had been sent out to do was
soon begun. The undertaking was more difficult than had
been anticipated, and two expeditions were needed to
accomplish it; but the Iroquois were thoroughly chastened,
and by the close of 1666 the colony once more breathed
easily. How long, however, would it be permitted to do
so? Would not the departure of the regiment be a signal
to the Mohawks that they might once again raid the colony's
borders with impunity? Talon thought that it would, hence
he hastened to devise a plan whereby the Carignans might
be kept permanently in Canada. To hold them there as a
regular garrison was out of the question; it would cost
too much to maintain six hundred men in idleness. So the
intendant proposed to the king that the regiment should
be disbanded at Quebec, and that all its members should
be given inducements to make their homes in the colony.

Once more the king assented. He agreed that the officers
of the regiment should be offered seigneuries, and provided
with funds to make a start in improving them. For the
rank and file who should prove willing to take lands
within the seigneuries of the officers the king consented
to provide a year's subsistence and a liberal grant in
money. The terms proved attractive to some of the officers
and to most of the men. Accordingly, arrangements were
at once made for getting them established on their new
estates. Just how many permanent settlers were added to
the colonial population in this way is not easy to
ascertain; but about twenty-five officers (chiefly captains
and lieutenants) together with nearly four hundred men
volunteered to stay. Most of the non-commissioned officers
and men showed themselves to be made of good stuff; their
days were long in the land, and their descendants by the
thousand still possess the valley of the Richelieu. But
the officers, good soldiers though they were, proved to
be rather faint-hearted pioneers. The task of beating
swords into ploughshares was not altogether to their
tastes. Hence it was that many of them got into debt,
mortgaged their seigneuries to Quebec or Montreal merchants,
soon lost their lands, and finally drifted back to France.

When Talon arranged to have the Carignans disbanded in
Canada he decided that they should be given lands in that
section of the colony where they would be most useful in
guarding New France at its most vulnerable point. This
weakest point was the region along the Richelieu between
Lake Champlain and the St Lawrence. By way of this route
would surely come any English expedition sent against
New France, and this likewise was the portal through
which the Mohawks had already come on their errands of
massacre. If Canada was to be safe, this region must
become the colony's mailed fist, ready to strike in
repulse at an instant's notice. All this the intendant
saw very plainly, and he was wise in his generation.
Later events amply proved his foresight. The Richelieu
highway was actually used by the men of New England on
various subsequent expeditions against Canada, and it
was the line of Mohawk incursion so long as the power of
this proud redskin clan remained unbroken. At no time
during the French period was this region made entirely
secure; but Talon's plan made the Richelieu route much
more difficult for the colony's foes, both white and red,
than it otherwise would have been.

Here was an interesting experiment in Roman imperial
colonization repeated in the New World. When the empire
of the Caesars was beginning to give way before the
oncoming barbarians of Northern Europe, the practice of
disbanding legions on the frontier and having them settle
on the lands was adopted as a means of securing defence,
without the necessity of spending large sums on permanent
outpost garrisons. The retired soldier was a soldier
still, but practically self-supporting in times of peace.
These praedia militaria of the Romans gave Talon his idea
of a military cantonment along the Richelieu, and in
broaching his plans to the king he suggested that the
'practice of the politic and warlike Romans might be
advantageously used in a land which, being so far away
from its monarch, must trust for existence to the strength
of its own arms.'

All who took lands in this region, whether seigneurs or
habitants, were bound to serve in arms at the call of
the king, although this obligation was not expressly
provided in the deeds of land. Never was a call to arms
without response. These military settlers and their sons
after them were only too ready to gird on the sword at
every opportunity. It was from this region that expeditions
quietly set forth from time to time towards the borders
of New England, and leaped like a lynx from the forest
upon some isolated hamlet of Massachusetts or New York.
The annals of Deerfield, Haverhill, and Schenectady bear
to this day their tales of the Frenchman's ferocity, and
all New England hated him with an unyielding hate. In
guarding the southern portal he did his work with too
much zeal, and his stinging blows finally goaded the
English colonies to a policy of retaliation which cost
the French very dearly.

But to return to the seigneuries along the river. The
district of Three Rivers, extending on the north shore
of the St Lawrence from Berthier-en-Haut to Grondines,
and on the south from St Jean-Deschaillons east to Yamaska,
was but sparsely populated when Catalogne prepared to
report in 1712. Prominent seigneuries in this region were
Pointe du Lac or Tonnancour, the estate of the Godefroys
de Tonnancour; Cap de la Magdelaine and Batiscan, the
patrimony of the Jesuits; the fief of Champlain, owned
by Desjordy de Cabanac; Ste Anne de la Perade, Nicolet,
and Becancour. Nicolet had passed into the hands of the
Courvals, a trading family of Three Rivers, and Becancour
was held by Pierre Robineau, the son of his famous father,
Rene Robineau de Becancour. On all of these seigneuries
some progress had been made, but often it amounted to
very little. Better results had been obtained both eastward
and westward of the region.

The district of Quebec was the first to be allotted in
seigneuries, and here of course agriculture had made
better headway. Grondines, La Chevrotiere, Portneuf,
Pointe aux Trembles, Sillery, and Notre-Dame des Anges
were all thriving properties ranging along the river bank
eastward to the settlement at Quebec. Just beyond the
town lay the flourishing fief of Beauport, originally
owned by Robert Giffard, but now held by his heirs, the
family of Juchereau Duchesnay. This seigneury was destined
to loom up prominently in later days when Montcalm held
Wolfe at bay for weeks along the Beauport shore. Fronting
Beauport was the spacious island of Orleans with its
several thriving parishes, all included within the
seigneury of Francois Berthelot, on whom the king for
his zeal and enterprise had conferred the title of Comte
de St Laurent. A score of other seigneurial tracts,
including Lotbiniere, Lauzon, La Durantaye, Bellechasse,
Riviere Ouelle, and others well known to every student
of Canadian genealogy, were included within the huge
district round the ancient capital.

The king's representatives had been much too freehanded
in granting land. No seigneur had a tenth of his tract
under cultivation, yet all the best-located and most
fertile soil of the colony had been given out. Those who
came later had to take lands in out-of-the-way places,
unless by good fortune they could secure the re-grant of
something that had been abandoned. The royal generosity
did not in the long run conduce to the upbuilding of the
colony, and the home authorities in time recognized the
imprudence of their policy. Hence it was that edict after
edict sought to make these gentlemen of the wilderness
give up whatever land they could not handle properly,
and if these decrees of retrenchment had been strictly
enforced most of the seigneurial estates would have been
mercilessly reduced in area. But the seigneurs who were
the most remiss happened to be the ones who sat at the
council board in Quebec, and what they had they usually
managed to hold, despite the king's command.



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 honour 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 labour of breaking new

Nevertheless, Hebert was able by unremitting industry to
get the entire twelve arpents into cultivable shape within
four or five years. With his labours 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 labour 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 meagre
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 honour 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 labours 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

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 mouldy 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
neighbour, 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-defence. 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

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 defence 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 honour 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 Hurons 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,

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
favourable 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 honour 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 honour, 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

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,

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