Olivier Le Tardif

Remember studying Canadian history in school?  You may have forgotten much of what you learned then, but you probably remember the name of the famous Canadian explorer, Samuel de Champlain who is the founder of Quebec City.  You can, if you want, refresh your memory at The Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

The first of my father’s ancestors to come to New France was a contemporary of Champlain’s. Olivier Letardif (sometimes spelled Le Tardif or just Tardif) was my 9th great-grandfather in the Girardin line. He was born sometime between 1601 and 1604 in Etables, Bretagne (Brittany in English).  Bretagne is that area of northwest France that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. He was definitely in New France by 1621, and perhaps by 1618.

Letardif became one of Champlain’s most trusted interpreters.  Champlain professed a desire to live peacefully with the natives and learn from them. Historians may have varied opinions on Champlain’s motives, but he did send young men out to live with the native tribes, learn their languages, and be ambassadors.  In David Hackett Fischer’s book Champlain’s dream: the visionary adventurer who made a new world in Canada (Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2008 p. 502) he describes Letardif …“As a young man he traded actively with the Indians of the St. Lawrence Valley, lived among them, and learned their languages with remarkable success.  Champlain began to refer to him as “Olivier le truchement” and wrote that he became as “skilled in the languages of the Montagnais and Algonquin as in those of the Huron,” an extraordinary achievement.”  Check Google Books for this page.

Le Tardif plaque

Commerative plaque in Château-Richer, Quebec placed by Les Familles Tardif d’Amerique.

Picture courtesy of Julia Saxby Stevens.

Letardif became an influential citizen in Quebec. He became head clerk of the Company of 100 Hundred Associates in 1633. This was the organization charged with overseeing trade and colonization in New France.  By 1653 he was the seigneurial judge in Beaupré. Letardif was also a witness to Champlain’s will. You can view his signature here.

He married twice.  His first wife was Louise Couillard, granddaughter of Louis Hebert (considered the first European farmer in New France).  Louise was only twelve at the time, and died at the age of sixteen, months after giving birth to a son.  Louise’s sister, Marguerite, married Jean Nicolet who was also one of Champlain’s interpreters and is credited with being the first European to “discover” Lake Michigan.

It is from Letardif’s second marriage in 1648 to Barbe Emard (while he was back in France) that we descend. We actually descend from two of their children as these lists show:

Olivier LETARDIF (abt 1604-1665) + Barbe EMARD (1625-?)
Barbe Delphine LETARDIF (1649-1702) + Jacques CAUCHON DIT LAMOTHE (1635-1685)
Jacques COCHON (1663-1726) + Jeanne VERREAULT (1668-1711)
Jean Baptiste COCHON (1704-1755) + Marguerite DUMAS (1698-1771)
Paul LAMOTHE DIT COCHON (1733-?) + Marie Anne LEGARE 1736-?)
Marie Josephe LAMOTHE DIT COCHON (1765-?) + Joseph BONIN (1766-?)
Jean Baptiste BONIN (1799-?) + Marie Amable DUPRE (1801-?)
Marie BONIN (Jul 1827-?) + Joseph Pierre ALLARD (1826-1875)
Onesime ALLARD (1852-1896) + Napoleon GIRARDIN (1851-1929)
Marie Emma GIRARDIN (1878-1979)


Olivier LETARDIF (abt 1604-1665) + Barbe EMARD (1625-?)
Guillaume LETARDIF (1655-?) + Marie Marguerite GODIN (Mar 1665-?)
Charles LETARDIF (1688-1740)+Marie Genevieve ROY DESJARDINS (1697-1763)
Marie Angelique LETARDIF (1723-1764) + Nicolas LETARTE (1722-?)
Joseph LETARTE (Dec 1761-?) + Marie Elisabeth PAQUET (1750-1826)
Marie Amable LETARTE (1784-?) + Pierre DUPRE (1773-1858)
Marie Amable DUPRE (1801-?) + Jean Baptiste BONIN (Mar 1799-?)
Marie BONIN (1827-?) + Joseph Pierre ALLARD (1826-1875)
Onesime ALLARD (1852-1896) + Napoleon GIRARDIN (1851-1929)
Marie Emma GIRARDIN (1878-1979)

You can read more about Letardif at The Dictionary of Canadian Biography.