Our ancestor

Jacques Archambault


Jacques Archambault and Françoise Tourault are the founders of the great Canadian family of the same name. Jacques and Françoise were married in France and gave birth to their seven children before emigrating to New France. This is an unusual, if not unique, story. It is not for nothing that this Germanic first name arcanbald, latinized archambaldus, means daring native.


It is in the hamlet of L’Ardillière that the couple of the Archambault ancestors lived. Jacques was born there in 1604, Françoise, around 1599.

In the 17th century, religious services, weddings, baptisms and burials took place in the village of Dompierre-en-Aunis, which was quite far from the hamlet of L’Ardillière at that time. In 1833, the hamlet merged with the commune of Saint-Xandre, which was more conveniently located. To distinguish Dompierre from other communes of the same name in the rest of France along the railroad, the name was changed to Dompierre-sur-Mer in 1868. This commune of more than 5,000 inhabitants is located 8 km from the port of La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime).

Son of Antoine Archambault and Renée Ouvrard, Jacques was a farmer and probably a winegrower, as a contract dated August 15, 1637, has been found in which he sold three barrels of white wine to Jérôme Bonnevye, a wine merchant from La Rochelle. Jacques had a brother and sister, Denys and Anne, who were married in Dompierre and made their home there. Jacques and Françoise were married around 1629.

The Archambault family

The seven children of the second generation, Denys, Anne, Jacquette, Marie, Louise, Laurent and Marie were all born in France, in a region ravaged by the war between the Catholics and the Protestants. Only Louise did not cross the Atlantic; she died before the family left. They arrived in Quebec City with Pierre Legardeur de Repentigny, who headed the new Compagnie des habitants, a fur-trading company, perhaps on August 5, 1645, more likely on September 23, 1646.

The eldest, Denys, was baptized at Dompierre on September 12, 1630, and according to the historian Faillon, he was one of the brave men who, on May 6, 1651, gave their lives to rescue Catherine Mercier, wife of Jean Baudart. The latter was massacred and the poor woman was kidnapped by the Iroquois and martyred in an unknown place. That same year, on St. Anne’s Day, 200 Iroquois attacked Ville-Marie, particularly the hospital. Lambert Closse and his men sustained this fierce struggle throughout the day. The attackers lost many warriors. Denys Archambault, setting fire for the third time to a cast iron cannon, “was killed instantly by a piece of the cannon which burst and killed many of the enemy. The hero Archambault was buried the same day. He should have a monument.

On July 27, 1647, Anne married Michel Chauvin at Notre-Dame de Québec and had two children born in Montreal. Louis Prudhomme, passing through France in 1650, learned that Michel Chauvin’s legitimate wife was living in misery in Sainte-Suzanne, in Anjou. On October 8, 1650, before Paul de Chomedey, according to the minute book of the notary Jean de Saint-Père, Chauvin confessed his fault. And the bigamous bird secretly took the road to France. Jean Gervaise, master baker, took Anne as his wife on February 3, 1654. The worthy couple, responsible for nine children, is the honor of the Gervais descendants. Anne died in Montreal on July 29, 1699.

As for Jacquette, she accepted as her husband the ancestor Paul Chalifou, widower of Marie Jeannet, on September 28, 1648. She spent her life in the Quebec City area and raised a family of 14 children. The ancestor of the Chalifou family was buried on December 17, 1700, in Quebec City.

Marie married a brave pioneer from Ville-Marie, Urbain Tessier dit Lavigne, and gave him 16 children, the majority of whom survived and raised a family. Marie was buried in Pointe-aux-Trembles on August 16, 1719. Her descendants are numerous.

Only one Archambault boy carried on the family name to the present day, Laurent, the carpenter. He was baptized in Dompierre, France, on January 10, 1642. At the age of 18, in Montreal, on January 7, 1660, he united his destiny with the orphan Catherine Marchand, daughter of Pierre and Geneviève Lespine, of the parish of Saint-Sulpice, Faubourg Saint-Germain in Paris. The couple settled in the Côte Saint-Ange. Laurent was chosen with François Bau as churchwarden to build the Pointe-aux-Trembles church on November 18, 1674. Catherine was buried in Pointe-aux-Trembles on February 25, 1713. Laurent was buried in the same place on April 19, 1730, at the respectable age of 88. A dozen children owed them the gift of life, one of whom, Marie Madeleine, became a hospitaler.

The younger Marie, the second of this name, became the wife of the ancestor Gilles Lauzon on November 27, 1656, in Montreal, and, through her 13 children, the foremother of many descendants.

Such is the life record of this second Archambault generation in New France. And what about the first generation?

Quebec City region

If the glory of parents is their children, the honour of children is their parents. Leaving one’s country with a family in the making to adopt another, unknown, almost uncultivated country was both a challenge and an act of uncommon courage.

When he arrived in Quebec, it seems that Jacques Archambault was guaranteed protection by Pierre Legardeur de Repentigny. When his daughter Anne signed her marriage contract before the notary Bancheron on July 22, 1647, Jacques presented himself as Legardeur’s servant. Then, on the following October 2, Repentigny entrusted Jacques with the running of its farm. The five-year lease provided the Archambault family with a dwelling, two oxen, two cows, a heifer and pigs, all valued at 732 livres. Jacques was already in debt to Legardeur. He then undertook to pay him 898 livres, 10 sols, on the return of the ships from France. In addition, “in two years”, Jacques had to pay 500 livres “for the half of the land he would leave him in the first year”. The tenant could cut all the firewood he wanted, even to sell it, but paying 10 sols per cord. This rather complicated contract, signed by Lecoustre, suggests that Jacques had been duped.

On 19 August 1649, after the death of Pierre Legardeur in 1648, Jacques and Jean Juchereau, sieur de Maure, established their statement of account. The ancestor owes his creditor the sum of 384 livres, 7 sols.

It is not known if this lease ended in a dead end. One fact is certain: on September 15, 1651, at Fort Saint-Louis in Quebec City, Louis d’Ailleboust, governor, granted Jacques Archambault four arpents of land frontage “on the river of the great St. Lawrence River at a place called Cap Rouge”, between the concessions of Nicolas Pinel and Pierre Gallet. Jean de Lauzon, the new governor in office since October 13, 1651, confirmed this grant on November 17, 1652.

On September 23, 1654, Jacques bought from Étienne Dumets a house that the latter had built on Archambault’s concession. Price: 71 livres! How to explain this property of Dumets on the Archambault concession? Had Dumets received a verbal promise to sell this concession? In any case, the next day, September 24, Dumets gave the buyer a receipt in the presence of Marin Boucher, “soldier at the fort of Quebec”. Is it not instead Louis Marin Boucher, son of the Boucher ancestor?

On April 18, 1654, the censitaires of Gaudarville had promised to work well armed together to develop their lands, because of the Iroquois threat, and to remain in the fort at night. Michel Morin had made this promise on behalf of Jacques Archambault, who was absent. Jacques seemed distracted because his heart was elsewhere.

On February 13, 1657, Archambault gave a power of attorney to the Jesuit Jean de Quen, allowing him to dispose of his property in the Quebec region. According to Marcel Trudel, Archambault’s land passed to Gilles d’Anjou before 1662.

In Montreal

The regions of Quebec, Trois-Rivières and Montreal were in urgent need of settlers. Each jurisdiction tried to keep hesitant or passing inhabitants on its territory. This is how Jacques Archambault was led one day to say goodbye to Quebec City and settle permanently in Montreal. There, the eldest of the family had reddened the soil with his blood. Anne had been living there for several years, as well as Marie. On February 3, 1654, Jacques was present at the marriage of his daughter Anne to Jean Gervaise.

On November 18, 1652, M. de Maisonneuve, governor of the island, gave him 30 arpents of land adjoining the city, between his son-in-law Urbain Tessier and Lambert Closse, plus one arpent in the city north of Notre-Dame street, between the present Saint-Laurent and Saint-Joseph streets. Father Archange Godbout adds that on February 15, 1654, Jacques committed himself to live in Ville-Marie. Louis Loisel obtained a gratification of 1,000 livres; the majority, 400.

During the winter of 1655, Jacques and several inhabitants of Ville-Marie concluded a contract with the master surgeon Étienne Bouchard. On March 30, Bouchard agreed to “cure and medicate all kinds of illnesses, both natural and accidental, except the plague” for the signatories and their families for the annual sum of 100 sols or 5 livres. This was the first health insurance founded on the continent. If Archambault was part of the agreement, it was because he considered it very useful for his family living in the territory.

Finally, Archambault’s situation becomes clear to today’s researchers. On October 11, 1658, Jacques signed a contract with Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve to dig a 5-feet diameter well in Fort Ville-Marie on Place d’Armes. He agreed to provide at least 2 feet of stable water at the bottom of the well. Promised payment: 300 livres.

Jacques had discovered a particular talent for digging wells. On 8 June 1659, Abbot Gabriel de Queylus contacted Jacques. He needed a well ‘in the garden of the hospital of the said place’. Archambault, without flinching, guarantees to find water like a master dowser, “two feet of stable water at least… in front of the water line”. The clergyman will provide an 8 feet wooden ring, about twenty planks, stone, lime, sand, etc. But Jacques will take care of the rope and will receive 300 livres and 10 jars of brandy in exchange for the spring water! Jean Aubuchon and Jacques Millot sign as witnesses to the contract.

The ancestor was almost considered a sorcerer! On 16 May 1660, Jacques Leber asked Jacques Archambault to build a well, like the two others he had already dug, for the benefit of the commune. The depth will be from 15 to 18 feet. Price promised: 300 livres and 10 pots of fire water.

A bereavement

Things were going too well. Jacques had work and was well regarded. His children were all settled down on their own. Only one, Jacquette, lived in Quebec.

Françoise Tourault fell seriously ill. Doctor Bouchard could do nothing. He did not insure against death. On December 9, 1663, the courageous 64 years old grandmother was laid to rest in the presence of her grieving family.

For Jacques, it was a catastrophe. How to get out of it? He was no longer 20 years old. Already, on the 14th of October, he had sold the redoubt of the Infant Jesus, which protected his concession, to Jean Auger, known as Baron. On 15 December 1663, in the presence of Jean Gervaise, Jacques rented his farm for three years to Pierre Dardenne.

Things settled down. Jacques filled the void of his solitude by marrying Marie Denot de Lamartinière, widowed three times: Étienne Vien, of Marennes, in the first marriage, Mathieu Labat dit Fontarabie in the second and Louis Ozanne dit LaFronde in the third. Unfortunately, the marriage contract signed in Trois-Rivières before Séverin Ameau is lost. However, we know that Marie Denot’s parents were Étienne Denot and Marguerite Lafons, and that she was originally from Porcheresse, in the district of Angoulême. Obviously, this union was without posterity.

Last quarter of the century

Jacques Archambault lived for another quarter of a century and left other traces of his story in our national archives.

First of all, the question of Françoise Tourault’s inheritance, i.e. half of the property, had to be settled. The five surviving Archambault children each had three square arpents of land in one piece. They proceeded to the division on April 26, 1668, there was no dispute, no bloodshed. However, Jean Gervaise had difficulties when the sergeant François Bailly fixed the limits of his portion on July 31, 1670. Gervaise was not on the spot and his pride was hurt…

According to Faillon, on May 15, 1672, Jacques Archambault was among the 29 notables who elected Louis Chevalier as syndic. The ancestor remained the owner of 12 arpents of land. The Sulpician fathers showed interest in buying five perches and three feet in length by 12 feet in width, the whole ending in Saint-Jacques Street, near Urbain Tessier. The parish priest Gilles Pérot, on December 3, 1675, deposited 100 livres in Archambault’s hands for the price of this purchase.

Jacques was always very patient; he had, however, a good memory. On November 26, 1676, we learn that on May 10, 1660, the ancestor Archambault had contracted to dig a well for Leber, Le Moyne and Testard. The latter had never paid his share: 100 livres and 3⅓ pots of brandy. Jacques Testard finally paid his debt, 16 years later.

In the 1681 census, Jacques and Marie Denot, 62 years old, were living in the fief of Verdun, a suburb of Montreal.

Étienne Guyotte, priest of Saint-Sulpice, pastor of Ville-Marie, signed the burial act of Jacques Archambault on February 15, 1688. We would have liked to have more than one signature for an ancestor of this quality. Françoise Tourault and Jacques Archambault still live among us, because of their descendants, as numerous as the stars in the sky.

“On Canadian soil, the Archambault family tree has grown vigorous roots in all directions. The branches continue to branch out and bear fruit. Their variety and excellence have lost none of their richness” (P.-G. Roy).

Without the ancestors Jacques and Françoise Tourault, this human capital, the wealth of our people, would never have existed.

Jacques Archambault died on 15 February 1688.