Chapter 6

Charles Lemaître

The first years of Charles Lemaitre-Auger in Montréal were watershed years in Québec history. The 10,000 settlers endured innumerable Indian raids of which the most serious was inflicted on Fort Lachine (pictured) during the evening of August 4, 1689, when 24 French were massacred.

The French Governor, Louis de Baude, comte de Frontenac, retaliated by ordering an offensive South, into British-held land massacring of 60 Iroquois at Schenectady, New York.

Shortly thereafter, in 1690, a British fleet established a naval embargo against Quebec. Upon receiving a messenger of the British commander, William Phipps, the comte de Frontenac responded with the famous phrase:

"I have no reply to make to your general other than from the mouths of my cannons and muskets!"

Fort Lachine, 1689In 1691, over 100 settlers were killed during Indian raids. Then, suddenly, in 1692 international power dynamics changed dramatically when the French navy was defeated by England. Before long, English vessels were in control of Québec and the entire Saint Lawrence River.

Already, by the second generation of the Duhaime/Duheme ancestors in New France, the family had become somewhat fragmented. Even on official or religious documents, Charles surname was spelled Lemaistre-Auger then, later, Lemaître-Augé, or some variation thereof.

Charles, the fourth son of François Lemaistre and Judith Rigaud, also had two step-brothers with the names of Jean Terrien dit Duhaime and Louis-Michel Duhaime dit Terrien!

This, in addition to his two natural sisters, Marie-Louise and Marguerite. Seven years separated Charles from the two oldest boys, Pierre and François II.

Like his older brothers before him, Charles was a fur pelt trader. As early as 1686, when he was just 20 years old, he invested in his brother's Ottawa River trading permit.45 From that first venture, Charles Lemaître's name appears in a succession of voyageur ventures, at times involving his brothers, at times involving other local merchants. At home, he and his young wife, like the rest of his rural family, were constantly harassed by marauding Indians.

The prolonged stay of Charles and Madeleine in Montréal, was highlighted by a misadventure of brother-in-law Jacques Passard de la Bretonniere. In 1691 or soon thereafter, Passard was living on Saint-Paul Street in an apartment owned by an elderly judge, Migeon de Branssat. One night, Passard heard shuffling in his quarters. He picked up his musket and fired in the dark in the general direction of the noise. He heard a cry and a thud. He had shot a beggar dead. Hauled into court, Passard explained to the judge that he had been robbed of 500 pounds by armed burglars only weeks earlier. He was acquitted.

But the Iroquois threat continued unabated.

Iroquois warriorThe population of New France was approaching ten thousand and the Indians were desperate to stifle immigration. Part of their strategy was to prevent the French settlers from tending their lands thus hoping to provoke mass starvation. In addition, the developing alliance between Iroquois and the English settlers to the East and South aggravated Iroquois-French relations and encouraged the Iroquois to continue their terrorism.

Finally, in 1696, Frontenac took the offensive and the natives suffered a series of devastating defeats. The Iroquois were finally forced to retreat and to defend their own core settlements.

In the result, to the north of Montréal, the threat of Iroquois attack gradually diminished and settlers slowly returned to cultivate their lands.

But it would be 1701 before the French and Iroquois would formally agree to a lasting peace.

During their stay in Montreal, Charles Lemaistre-Auger and Madeleine Crevier had four children: Charles Lemaitre dit Auger, born June 8,1694; Etienne-Charles Lemaitre dit Auger-Beaunoyers, born November 5, 1695; Catherine, born on July 27, 1697; and Jeanne, whose exact birth date is unknown.

The family returned to Riviere-du-Loup in the fall of 1700 at about the same time as Charles' older brother Jean.46 During his stay in Montreal, Jean Lemaitre dit Lalongé had married Catherine Godefroy, daughter of Joseph Godefroy de Vieux-Pont. They arrived in Riviere-du-Loup with their three children.

Charles Lemaitre-Augé wasted little time in reviving his fur trade business. But in mid-December, 1700, he provided his Abénaquis (Indian) trading partners with liquor. The natives spent four days in a cabin near Lemaitre-Augé's residence. His former seignior, le Chasseur had Charles summoned before the court in Three-Rivers and fined him 20 pounds for selling alcohol to Indians.47

Ottawa rapidsThe six-member family was still without their own property although Charles was working the land of his absent brother Pierre, who has become a permanent resident of Three-Rivers.

On June 3, 1701, Charles bought his brother's land (the deed of sale described the five acre-wide slice as almost completely treed over and without any building). Ten days later, the community was abuzz with the latest news: Le Chasseur had sold his fief to Michel Trottier dit Beaubien.

On July 2, 1701, a fifth child was born to Charles and Madeleine, Michel Lemaître dit Auger, with the new Seignior Beaubien standing as the child's god-father.48

Charles still had a stake in the land which his mother Judith Rigaud had acquired from the former Seignior le Chasseur in 1684. In 1699 he promised his brother (only a year older than him) and half-owner of the tract, that he would cede it entirely to him. After all, Jean Lemaitre-Lalongé had almost single-handedly cleared the land and repaired the buildings on the property. A local notary (Pottier) completed the legal transaction on March 4, 1704.49

A sixth child, Jean-Baptiste Lemaître dit Augers-Bellenoix was born to Charles and Madeleine on May 25, 1704.

Just over a year later, another child, François Lemaître dit Duhaime was born on September 1, 1705. The record of baptism shows that this child was "conditionally baptized" at the Riviere-du-Loup chapel on September 22 (the baby could not attend - apparently retained at home by sickness) and his godfather was Charles' nephew, François Paul Lemaître dit La Morille, son of Charles' older brother François who had died only two years earlier and had been buried in Montreal.

The second last child of Charles Lemaître dit Augé, a daughter, Marie-Joseph, was born on January 13, 1707.

Meanwhile, in March of 1708, Seignior Beaubien bought the property along the Grande Riviere-du-loup adjacent to Charles Lemaître and built a new manor; and Charles and the Seignior were neighbours. A year later, Charles was appointed captain of the seigneury's militia.

In April of 1710, Charles' older brother Jean died at the age of 49 and was buried in Trois-Rivieres.51

Charles was then 48 years old and his wife Madeleine, 39. The couple would yet have another child when Marie-Anne-Alexis was born on July 27, 1712.

The Lemaître family was well established. Charles' niece Françoise married one of the wealthiest men of New France, shipbuilder Charles Guillimin, in 1710 (Guillimin later lost his fortune and died a poor man).

The farming community was enjoying a period of prosperity and growth. There were frequent arrivals of new residents and Beaubien did all in his power to keep his seigneury thriving. Meanwhile, the end of the Iroquois threat had reopened the fur trade and on July 18, 1713, Charles' eldest son, Charles Lemaitre-Auger signed up as a coureur des bois and was soon off, exploring the far reaches of the Ottawa River.Coureur des bois

In 1723, Seignior Beaubien sold his land to a religious organization, the Ursulines de Trois-Rivieres. A 1724 census showed Charles Lemaitre Auger, then 62, as land owner in the Ursulines seigneury. His land was described as five acres wide with a house, barn, stable and thirty acres under cultivation. His son Charles also owned a strip of land with five acres of river front, a house and ten acres under cultivation. Charles junior also owned two other properties, each four acres wide, but neither with any inhabitants. Another son, François, according to the same census, owned a four-acre wide slice of land with no house and only five square acres under development.

Both sons, Charles and François, became voyageurs and coureurs des bois and their land remained, for the most part, vacant. One participated in an expedition to Michilimakinac in 1724 and the other went west.52 A younger brother, Michel, also owned a tract of land in the Ursulines Seigneury.

Around 1725, the community decided to upgrade a rough horse trail which linked all the properties, to a cleared and maintained public road, with each landowner responsible for road constructions on his land. The directive provided for a road ten feet wide and bridges twelve feet wide. Charles Lemaître-Auger was named in the order, as captain of the militia, with the mandate to ensure that the roads and bridges were constructed and maintained by the landowners. Seven years later, a vast public construction was announced which would impact on the whole colony: a 24-foot wide road would be built between Quebec City and Montreal, through Trois-Rivieres, to be called the Chemin du roi. The road would also serve the residents of the Ursulines Seigneury.

No known document confirms the date of Charles Lemaître-Auger's death.

FURTHER READING:

  • Colour canoe in rapids image is by P. J. Bainbrigge. The painting is called Chats Rapids, near Ottawa and is held by the National Archives of Canada, catalogue number C-11854.
  • Duhaime, Lloyd, The Musket & The Cane: References