This excellent history was written by Georges Laurent Bouchard and until recently was displayed for all to enjoy on his own web site. His web site has dissapeared and all attempts to reach him or any of his known relatives have failed and given his age I am going to assume that he is no longer able to be with us.

Therefor, I offer this page as a memorial to Georges and to preserve his work for all the family. If any person with a valid claim to this material wishes to have me remove this, I will immediately comply.


"Le Petit" Claude

Claude (1st Gen.)

Claude Bouchard, son of Jacques Bouchard and Noelle Touschard, was born in Saint-Cosme-de-Vair, France, in 1626. Saint-Cosme-de-Vair was a community in the Department of the Sarthe, in Perche, and comprised seven parishes. Claude considered himself to be from the parish of Notre-Dame. He died on November 25, 1699 at the age of 73.

Why "Le Petit" ?

There were actually 6 or 7 different Bouchards who came to Canada (New France) in the seventeenth century. Two of them were named "Claude" Bouchard. One of these was a doctor (a surgeon) who came from Picardy. In order to differentiate the two the doctor was referred to as "Claude dit d'Orval" and the other as "Le Petit Claude". This latter listed his occupation as tailor (un Taileur d'habits). His surname, which means "The Small Claude", must have been because he was of smaller stature than the other Claude. This nickname, however, certainly was not merited when it came to his progeny, having 12 children of his own (6 boys and 6 girls) as a result of his union with Louise Gagne, whom he married in Beaupre in 1654. Fortunate indeed that he had 12 children, as my ancestor was the twelfth child in the family.

His coming to New France

In order to understand the occasion of Claude's coming to New France (Canada) one needs to have at least a brief understanding of the colony and how the powers in France at the time (Louis XIII and Louis XIV, along with the latter's Minister for the colonies Jean Baptiste Colbert) went about the business of colonizing the new land.

From the beginning of the colony it was intended that the social order in New France should rest upon a seignorial basis. This was a system of land tenure, a method of apportioning land and bringing it into production while avoiding the evils of speculation. Title to all the land in the colony rested in the king, who would grant concessions to seigneurs on the condition that they get their land cleared and made productive. This required, as part of their grant agreement with the crown, that the seigneurs enlist and establish settlers on their lands, as well as build a mill for the settlers' use, and also maintain a court of law to settle minor disputes.

A seigneur was not a landlord as we understand that term today. He had obligations and responsibilities both to the crown and to his settlers, and the authorities saw to it that he fulfilled them. The same applied to the settlers. The seigneur was actually little more than a land settlement agent and his finanacial rewards were not great. Being a seigneur was still something to be eagerly sought after since it gave one greatly enhanced social status, and this was manifested in a variety of ways.

For their part these settlers, or "censitaires" as they were known (although "habitants" is what they preferred to call themselves), were required to clear the lands granted them by the seigneurs, and were also obligated to pay modest dues (rents) in return. There were other modest requirements imposed on the settlers in return for the land concessions, which could be revoked if one did not fulfill his obligations. A settler could eventually own his concession to the point where he could even sell it, although if he sold it to anyone other than a direct heir he had to pay 1/12 of the sale price to the seigneur, and the latter also then had the right to buy the land at the price offered by the would-be purchaser within forty days of the sale. When land was sold, what the seller received was, in essence, not the worth of the land but compensation for the improvements he had made on it. This acted as a curb on land speculation.

One of the first seigneurs who fulfilled his trust to the letter was a named Robert Giffard. Monsieur Giffard, a doctor who had come to New France in 1627, was able to recruit several settlers beginning in 1632 (30 to 40 persons in 1632, and approximately the same number in 1635). Between 1635 and 1663 he was able to recruit an additional 50 or so persons, and this is where our Claude comes into the picture.

Claude Bouchard, a tailor, born in 1626, was from the Province of the Maine, a native of Saint-Cosme-de-Vair. As I understand it this place was actually in Perche, an area administered by the Province of the Maine at the time. His father was Jacques Bouchard and his mother was named Noelle Touschard. We know nothing of his youth except that he was a member of Notre Dame parish in his home town. We do know that he made a living as a tailor (un Taileur d'habits).

We find Claude, in March of 1650, present at the White Horse Inn (Hotel du Cheval Blanc), situated on the road leading to Rouperoux, attending a conference being given by Monsieur Giffard who was looking for volunteers to emigrate to New France. Claude, and a friend named Julien Fortin, volunteered to go. They put their affairs in order and sometime after embarked for New France. It is recorded in a certain Jesuit journal that Monsieur Giffard's vessel arrived on the 14th of July, but does not give the year. It may have been 1650, but then some believe it was 1652. In any event, a sizeable group of Bouchards were present at the White Horse Inn, in Saint-Cosme-de-Vair in 1952, to unveil a plaque commemorating the 300th anniversary of the departure of their ancestor Claude Bouchard for New France. I nonetheless accept as fact that Claude arrived in New France on July 14, 1650, because of other dates one comes accross in the telling of his story.

Upon arriving, Claude and his friend Julien went to the seigneury de Beauport (situated between where Quebec stands today and the Mount Morency Falls to the north) to secure food and lodging. It appears that Claude had come with some funds of his own (being his father's heir as well as an accomplished tailor) and had come to New France not as an indentured servant but rather under the protection of Monsieur Giffard with some freedom to travel, which he did. We next find him, on October 26, 1650, in the office of Oliver Letardif, agent for the seigneurie de Beaupre, for the purpose of buying a tract of land with one fifth of a mile fronting on the river and about five miles deep into the interior. This tract was located about three miles northeast of where the church of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre stands today. Three years later, on October 1, 1653, Claude wanted to sell this tract to a Louis Guimond, but the sale was not approved (as it had to be, by the royal charter company) until October 1, 1657, for which he received 600 livres, a fair sum in its day, which amounted to approximately $1,200 in 1968 Canadian currency.

His Wife, Louise

Louise Gasnier, born on January 21, 1642 in S Martin d'Inge, Orne, France, was not yet a teen-ager when, on October 30, 1653, at the home of her parents, a Notary by the name of Aubert read a contract of marriage between Claude Bouchard and Louise, a minor. Louise was born in the region of Perche in France, the eldest daughter of Louis Gasnier and Marie Michel. Perche was a region located in the general area between Chartres and Alencon, some 50 to 75 miles west-southwest of Paris. The church nuptial blessing of Claude and Louise was delayed until May 25, 1654, taking place at the home of her parents who were then living in Quebecville. The blessing was given by Father Paul Ragueneau, a Jesuit priest who had come over from France in 1636 with other missionaries (including Isaac Joques who died a martyr at the hands of the Iroquois on October 18, 1646).

Claude and Louise first settled at Sainte-Anne de Beaupre, living near her parents. On July 30, 1657, Claude signed a 6-year lease on some land at Saint-Charles of Cap Tourmente, in the Seigneurie de Beaupre just north-east of Sainte-Anne. Claude and Louise moved there, and it was while they were living there that their first child, a daughter named Marie, was born on October 27, 1659 when Louise was 17.

In October of 1661 Claude and Louise are forced to leave the area in haste and abandon their farm because of Iroquois incursions on their land. The Iroquois (mostly bands of Mohawks and Oneidas) had been terrorizing the region since June of that year. The family takes refuge at Chateau Richer, below Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, and does not return to the farm for several years. Their next four children are born at the Chateau. Louise's father disappears very mysteriously one day, probably abducted by savages.

Claude and Louise eventually returned to the Cap Tourmente area after the Iroquois problems had subsided following the arrival of a regiment of regular soldiers from France. Claude is listed in the census of 1666 as having a wife and four children living at Cap Tourmente, with the widow Gasnier (Louise's mother) and her children living nearby. The following year the census taker noted that Claude Bouchard owned 7 head of livestock and had 8 arpents of land under cultivation (one arpent being approximately equal to five-sixths of an acre).

We next find Claude, in 1675, anxious to again make a move. He sells some land and obtains 12 arpents of frontage land at Petite Riviere. He then obtains additional land in 1676 in the same area. Furthermore, Claude is commissioned by the Lord Bishop to explore an area called Saint-Aubin which was in the domain of Baie Saint-Paul. He then lived in the Baie Saint-Paul area for a while. It appears that he finally settled his family in the area of Petite Riviere at a place called Cap a Maillard.

Claude and Louise had 12 children, six boys and six girls. The baptisms of Rosalie, Claude Junior, and Louis are all recorded at Saint-Anne-de-Beaupre, which attests to the fact that the family, during the period of 1676-1680, lived somewhere in the area of the Seigneurie de Beaupre. One thing for certain is that Antoine, my ancestor, was baptized at Baie Saint-Paul by Father Louis Soumande on October 25, 1682.

Of the six boys which Claude and Louise had, only three survived into adulthood (Jacques died in a drowning accident at age 18, with Gilles and Claude Junior having died in infancy). The three who survived, Francois, Louis and Antoine, are the ones who gave us many descendants, the three having had eighteen, five, and eleven children respectively. Before his death, Claude, wanting to make a distribution to his children, on October 19, 1698, passed to his surviving sons ten arpents each of land fronting on the river. Louise, in March of 1700, deeded some prairie land to each of her sons in law, Rene Lavoye, Michel Tremblay, and Etienne Simard. Louise outlived her husband by some 22 years. She was 79 at the time of her death in April of 1721.

Their Children

  1. Marie
    Born: October 27, 1659 in Quebec
    Died: April 29, 1739
    Marie became a nun, entering the Congregation of Notre Dame at Montreal where she took the name of Sister Saint Paul, taking her vows on August 5, 1698.

  2. Jacques
    Born: September, 1662 in Chateau Richer
    Died: December 12, 1680 at Chateau Richer
    Jacques died in a drowning accident at Chateau Richer at age 18

  3. Gilles
    Born: March 8, 1664 in Chateau Richer
    Died: March 22, 1664 at Petit Cap
    Died in infancy

  4. Marguerite
    Born: October 15, 1665 at Chateau Richer
    Died: April 6, 1731 at Baie S Paul
    Marguerite married twice, first to Rene de Lavoye at Saint Anne de Beaupre on November 4, 1683, and then (date unknown) to Jean Gagnon. It is recorded that Marguerite and Rene had ten children

  5. Louise
    Born: 1668 at Chateau Richer
    Died: December 8, 1696 at Petite Riviere

  6. Anne
    Born: February 20, 1670 at Cap Tourmente
    Died: April 8, 1731 at Chateau Richer
    Anne married Louis Jobidon at L'Ange Gardien on November 20, 1690
    They had five children

  7. Genevieve
    Born: April 25, 1672 at S Anne de Beaupre
    Died: March 23, 1754 at Petite Riviere
    Genevieve married Michel Tremblay at Baie S Paul on June 20, 1686
    They had fourteen children

  8. Francois
    Born: April 8, 1674 at Cap Tourmente
    Died: October 12, 1756 at Petite Riviere
    Francois married Marguerite Simard, sister of Madeleine Simard (married to Antoine) at Baie S Paul on June 15, 1699. It is recorded that Francois and Marguerite had eighteen children of their own.

  9. Rosalie
    Born: April 6, 1676 at S Anne de Beaupre
    Died: June 23, 1733 at Baie S Paul
    Rosalie married Etienne Simard at Baie S Paul on November 22, 1695. Etienne was the brother of both Madeleine (married to Antoine) and Marguerite (married to Francois). Rosalie and Etienne had eleven children

  10. Claude
    Born: October 14, 1678 at S Anne de Beaupre
    Died: October 28, 1678 at S Anne de Beaupre
    Died in infancy

  11. Louis
    Born: April12, 1680 at S Anne de Beaupre
    Died: November 17, 1727 at Montreal
    Louis married twice, first to Suzanne Lefebvre on February 25, 1715 at Laprairie, and next to Francoise Dania-Daigneau on December 2, 1724, also at Laprairie. Louis and Suzanne had five children

  12. Antoine
    Born: October 15, 1682 at Petite Riviere
    Died: June 24, 1759 at Baie S Paul
    Antoine married Madeleine Simard (sister of Marguerite and also of Etienne) on November 20, 1704 at Baie S Paul. Antoine and Madeleine had eleven children. Antoine died while hiding in the woods in the area of Baie Saint-Paul where he and other neighbors had taken refuge to avoid the passage of the troops of the english General Wolfe who was conducting a terror campaign up and down the river in the hope of drawing out the french General Montcalm's troops out of their fortifications in Quebec. The tactic failed, but Wolfe was nonetheless successful the following September in defeating Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham above Quebec, which eventually resulted in the end of the Colony of New France in North America.

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Most recent revision Tuesday, 29 March 1998