Chapter 7

François Lemaître

One can hardly blame Charles' sons for leaving the Trois-Rivières homestead and trying their luck in the fur trade.

Times were difficult and they could not ignore the North American forest, at the very edge of their farm, beckoned with irresistible attraction of easy and fast money, fame and wild adventure.

The economy of Nouvelle-France was in a state of constant crisis. In the year preceding François' birth, historians report that the population was on the verge of riot.53

As local industries failed, the upper class hoarded the paper money causing rampant inflation, poverty and hunger among the working class.

1705 baptism record Francois LemaitreTo make matters worse, the unchallenged English fleet marauded constantly just off shore of the French North American territories.

In 1715, the year France crowned a new king, Louis XV, droughts and harsh winters followed one another in the colony. Luckily, in Rivière-du-Loup, the Charles Lemaître-Auger family had land to cultivate and were probably better able to weather the worst of crises which hounded the larger urban centres of Montréal and Québec.

François Lemaître dit Duhaime was raised in a large family.

Unlike his ancestors and immediate descendants, only one offspring of Charles and Madeleine died while young: the first born Jacques, who was born on October 19, 1690 and was buried 18 days later later.

Born in 1705, François Lemaître dit Duhaime was the youngest of five boys.

His notarized baptism record reads (pictured above):

"Baptism de Francois Lemaitre de la Riviere du Loup: Today, the 22nd of September of the year 1705 was conditionally baptised by the undersigned, in the chapel of Riviere du Loup, Francois Lemaitre, born the first of this same month and same year...."

While he was in his twenties, he saw that two of his brothers left Rivière-du-loup to join trading expeditions to points west. But, for the time being, he was a stay-at-home son, choosing the profession of carpentry.54

François was married at the age of 28, on September 21, 1733, to Marie "Charlotte" Guignard, four years his junior: she was born in Trois-Rivières on December 18, 1709. Her parents were Pierre Guinard (1678-1710) and Thérèse Badayac (1685-1756).

Charlotte and François were to have six children.

New France circa 1750Their first-born, Marie-Françoise was baptized on October 13, 1733, but died several weeks later.

François Jr. was baptized on November 13, 1734 and Catherine followed almost two years later, on November 5, 1736.

Another child named Marguerite, was also born to the Lemaître-Guinard couple sometime during 1736 and 1738. The exact date of Marguerite's birth is unknown.

Joseph was born on June 28, 1738 and Alexis, on August 20, 1740.

The record of baptism of the first Alexis born into the Lemaitre descendance is almost unreadable. For example, the inscription of Alexis' father refers to

françois le maitre dit du??me

Charlotte then gave birth to Madeleine in 1742 and to another daughter also named Catherine, baptized on March 14, 1743.

She then gave birth to twins on November 23, 1744, Charles and Antoine, although Antoine did not survive infancy.

Her last two children were Pierre, baptized on July 17, 1746, and another Antoine, baptized on January 30, 1749.

The cause of Charlotte's death is not known with certainty but considering the primitive medical conditions under which birth occurred, that she had 12 children in 16 years, and that her date of burial was 2½-months after the birth of Antoine, it is likely that she died of complications arising from her last childbirth.

She was buried in Riviere-du-Loup (now Louiseville) on April 24, 1749.

On January 28, 1750, François remarried to a woman named Marie-Anne Dulignon-Lamirande, a native of Yamachiche. Together, they had six children. Added to the household were Jean-Baptiste (baptized on 16 July 1751), Louis (17 August 1752), Gabriel (18 April 1754) and Antoine (28 March 1756).

In 1756, England declared war on France and the Seven Years War began. Warring nations for centuries, the two European giants had fought many battles in the past, but this time, the site for warfare would be in North America: Canada.

The superior British navy marauded virtually uncontested on the Saint Lawrence River and captured French supply ships. The winter of 1757 was one of deprivation. Some colonists starved and were forced to eat horse meat.

The new year was worse. The French fort at Louisburg capitulated on July 26.

A year later, in June of 1759, 39,000 British troops under the command of General James Wolfe, reinforced by unchallenged naval forces, began the siege of Quebec. One night, under the cover of darkness and benefiting from the carelessness of French sentries, Wolfe managed to establish a foothold in Quebec and establish a supply line. Dawn shed light on an entire English battle line assembled on the Plains of Abraham and the battle began. Both commanding officers, Wolfe and French General Louis-Marquis Montcalm, were fatally wounded during the battle. The flag of France was lowered over Quebec and replaced by the British flag on September 17. A year later, Montreal fell and New France was under British control.

This day remains a day of infamy to Quebec separatists.

Throughout the hostilities, life continued as before in Riviere-du-Loup. A fifth child was born to François and Marie-Anne on December 9, 1757, Marie-Anne.

In 1760, the Duhaime Flour Mill was built on the Yamachiche River and stood until 1785.

In 1762, almost a year before France formally ceded New France to England, their last child, Joseph, was born (22 February 1762).

Beaten and suing for peace, the French entered into the Treaty of Paris with the English, which also transferred ownership of Acadia and territory west of the Mississippi to the English, and provided that the residents of New France were given 18 months to return to France, if they so desired.

Few, if any, French settlers returned to their Mother country.

In 1763, the British government renamed la Nouvelle France, "Quebec".