Grande Recrue

Our story continues in Ville Marie (Montreal). By 1651, Maisonneuve’s dreams were not yet accomplished.  Ville Marie had a very small population and was under constant threat from the Iroquois as I wrote about here. All the settlers, and the hospital founded by Jeanne Mance, were forced to move inside the fort for protection. Really, one would think these people would be tempted to go back to France!  Some did, but obviously not our ancestors or I wouldn’t be writing this.

And so began the “Grande Recrue”.  Jeanne Mance offered money from her French benefactor to Maisonneuve, so he could recruit more settlers in France. He was looking for young, strong men who had useful skills and, perhaps more importantly, could use firearms.  The men would sign contracts agreeing to work for three to five years. About 100 men and 15 women made the voyage. The women included Marguerite Bourgeoys, who was coming to start a school in the colony.

The voyage in 1653 was not an easy one. The ship The Saint-Nicolas-de-Nantes left Saint-Nazaire on June 20, 1653. After a few days it became obvious the ship need major repairs and the decision was made to return to France.

From the website of Maison Saint-Gabriel we learn:

Marguerite Bourgeoys explained the events: “Sieur de Maisonneuve and all of his soldiers stopped on an island from which there was no escape. Otherwise, not a single one would have stayed. Some even set about swimming to save themselves since they were furious and believed they had been taken to perdition.” (Les Écrits de Mère Bourgeoys, p. 46).

Not an auspicious start to this adventure! The repaired ship, or perhaps a different one, finally left on July 20, 1653. Illness was rampant on the ship and eight men died. The ship finally arrived at Quebec City on September 22, 1653. They arrived in Montreal on November 16, 1653.

Five of the men and one woman who made this voyage are our ancestors. They were Girardin ancestors Fiacre Ducharme dit Fontaine, Louis Guertin dit Le Sabotier,  and Jacques Milot Laval; Hogue ancestor Michel Theodore dit Gilles, as well as Toussaint Hunault dit Deschamps and Marie Lorgueil who would marry in 1654 and are both Girardin and Hogue ancestors.  Of course there is a plaque commemorating this event, in Place de la Dauversière, Montreal.

By Jean Gagnon (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jean Gagnon (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

The plaque says (my translation) “They saved the island of Montreal and all of Canada also”. Quite an accomplishment! Today’s post will talk about three of these men.

Fiacre Ducharme dit Fontaine was a master woodworker who married fille à marier Marie Pacreau in 1659.  He also served as corporal the 18th squadron of Montreal’s Sainte-Famille militia.

As many of our Montreal ancestors served in this militia, I will offer some background on what it was. In 1663 Maisonneuve created this militia because there were not enough regular soldiers to protect Montreal from the Iroquois attacks.

The Loyal Edmonton Regiment Military Museum tells us that:

“The Soldats de la Sainte-Famille de Jésus, Marie et Joseph consisted of 20 squads of 7 men each. The force provided additional guards for workers in the fields and relieved the Montreal militia for nightly guard duty on the walls of the town. Following the arrival of French regular troops in 1665, Maisonneuve disbanded the Soldats de la Sainte-Famille de Jésus, Marie et Joseph in 1666. In three years, the unit lost only eight men to Iroquois war parties.”

Fiacre died in 1677 when the youngest of their seven children was only three years old.  Marie married again.

1-Fiacre DUCHARME FONTAINE (abt 1628-1677)
+Marie PACRAU/PACREAU (abt 1630-1699)
2-Marie Angelique DUCHARME (1674-1742)
+Claude DUDEVOIR (1663-1735)
3-Philippe DUDEVOIR (1701-1755)
+Marie Marguerite DUBREUIL (1701-1769)
4-Marie Catherine DUDEVOIR LACHINE (1726-1777)
+Francois GUERTIN (1723-1788)
5-Marie Catherine GUERTIN (1745-1835)
+Francois DUPRE (1731-?)
6-Pierre DUPRE (1773-1858)
+Marie Amable LETARTE (1784-?)
7-Marie Amable DUPRE (1801-?)
+Jean Baptiste BONIN (1799-?)
8-Marie BONIN (1827-?)
+Joseph Pierre ALLARD (1826-1875)
9-Onesime ALLARD (1852-1896)
+Napoleon GIRARDIN (1851-1929)
10-Marie Emma GIRARDIN (1878-1979)

Louis Guertin dit Le Sabotier was a wooden shoe maker (sabotier) and he also married a fille à marier Elisabeth  Camus in 1659. In 1663 he became a member of the 19th squadron of Montreal’s Sainte-Famille militia.

Elisabeth was about fifteen when she married.  She bore 11 children and died in 1680 when the youngest was only two and a half months old!  Louis died seven years later.

We descend from two of their sons:

1-Louis GUERTIN  DIT LE SABOTIER (1625-1687)
+Marie Elisabeth CAMUS (abt 1645-1680)
2-Louis GUERTIN (1668-1733)
+Marie Madeleine CHICOINE BELLEVUE (1672-1745)
3-Marguerite GUERTIN (1692-1746)
+Michel LANGEVIN (abt 1693-1757)
4-Michel LANGEVIN (1718-?)
+Marie Madeleine BANLIER LAPERLE (1721-1795)
5-Marie Madeleine LANGEVIN (1749-1822)
+Louis LUSSIER (1749-?)
6-Christophe LUSSIER (1773-?)
+Marie Charlotte BRUNEL (1774-1806)
7-Magdeleine LUSSIER (1795-1832)
+Charles ALLARD (1787-1862)
8-Joseph Pierre ALLARD (1826-1875)
+Marie BONIN (1827-?)
9-Onesime ALLARD (1852-1896)
+Napoleon GIRARDIN (1851-1929)
10-Marie Emma GIRARDIN (1878-1979)
2-Paul GUERTIN (1680-1755)
+Marie Madeleine PLOUF (1683-1760)
3-Francois GUERTIN (1723-1788)
+Marie Catherine DUDEVOIR dite LACHINE (1726-1777)
4-Marie Catherine GUERTIN (1745-1835)
+Francois DUPRE (1731-?)
5-Pierre DUPRE (1773-1858)
+Marie Amable LETARTE (1784-?)
6-Marie Amable DUPRE (1801-?)
+Jean Baptiste BONIN (1799-?)
7-Marie BONIN (1827-?)
+Joseph Pierre ALLARD (1826-1875)
8-Onesime ALLARD (1852-1896)
+Napoleon GIRARDIN (1851-1929)
9-Marie Emma GIRARDIN (1878-1979)

Jacques Milot Laval was listed as a milicien, meaning a militia man, on the list of immigrants of 1653. In 1663 he was also a member of the 10th squadron of Montreal’s Sainte-Famille militia.

He married Marie Jeanne Hebert whose parents I wrote about here. Marie was only about 13 when she married.  She bore 11 children, and died at the age of 40.  That was two years after the birth of her last child who died the day it was born.  The youngest living child was five. Such hard lives our female ancestors had.

1-Jacques MILOT LAVAL (abt 1629-1699)
+Marie Jeanne HEBERT (abt 1647-1687)
2-Catherine MILOT LAVAL (1665-1708)
+Jean Baptiste JOFRION (abt 1670-1740)
3-Marie Catherine JOFRION (1698-1761)
+Pierre TAILLEFER (1700-1773)
4-Jacques TAILLEFER (1733-1769)
+Marie Josephe DAUNAIS LAFRENIERE dite DELAUNAY (1742-?)
5-Jean-Baptiste TAILLEFER (1765-?)
+Marie Angelique DEBONNE (6 Jul 1766-?)
6-Marie TAILLEFER (1801-1872)
+Jean Baptiste BERNARDIN (1784-1857)
7-Marie Louise BERNARDIN (1824-1912)
+Paul GIRARDIN (1801-1878)
8-Napoleon GIRARDIN (1851-1929)
+Onesime ALLARD (1852-1896)
9-Marie Emma GIRARDIN (1878-1979)



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