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1/4 First tale of Pattersons of Canada origins

The first of the family to settle in Canada were Nicolas Peltier, his wife Jeanne de Voisy (Voissy, Vousy) and their two sons Jean and François, who arrived on June 11, 1636. Nicolas’s father had been a tailor in their home town of Gallardon, France. His widowed mother, Simone Pichereau, who accompanied the family to Canada, lived to be 103. They arrived at Quebec when the city and surrounding area had about 200 settlers, mostly single military men, fur merchants or missionaries. The founding father of the nation, Samuel de Champlain, who made more than two dozen crossings of the raging North Atlantic in support of the colony and retrieved Quebec in 1632 from the marauding Kirke brothers after they held it for two years, had died only six months before, on Christmas day 1635.

It scarcely needs mentioning that the arrival of the Peltiers was an unusual, if not unprecedented, event. The first family ever to settle in Canada (then New France), the Louis Hébert clan, had come just eighteen years before. At that time, Quebec was a settlement of some fifty Europeans who were mainly transient soldiers, fur trappers or missionaries. The economy of the settlement was dependent on some 20,000 beaver pelts annually sent to merchants in France in exchange for supplies. Only five French families followed the Héberts to New France in the next 10 years.

What inspired the Peltiers to make the dangerous ocean crossing to a new and sparsely settled land? Printing had been possible for almost two hundred years and though there weren’t a lot of readers yet, Nicolas had some level of literacy (he could write his name, at least) and his interest in far off venturing was likely stirred and excited by the books published in 1602 and 1631 by Champlain, a great explorer and crony of the king, and by reports from the front lines of the colony in the Jesuit Relations published annually in France starting in 1632. It’s relevant that the principal occupation in Canada at the time was the fur trade. Pelletier, the spelling of the family name that became dominant in the next generation, means furrier in French. Some of his sons would take to the fur trade, but Nicolas was a master carpenter.

Nicolas, Jeanne and their rapidly expanding family (five children born in Canada) lived in the ‘habitation’ of Quebec until 1645 and Nicolas worked there at his craft. It’s known that he appraised the timber frames of the house of Louis Hébert’s late son Guillaume in 1639 and hired himself out to construct and maintain various houses and barns in the area. In 1647, he constructed the church steeple of Notre-Dame de Québec and the next year he installed the roof of Château Saint-Louis, the governor’s residence. Earlier, on September 12, 1645, Governor Charles Huault de Montmagny granted him a concession of fifty arpents (42 acres) of land in the nearby seigneury of Sillery, where the family settled soon after.

Sillery, established in 1637 about a league and a half west of old Quebec, was the first reserve created by missionaries for Indigenous peoples, funded by a wealthy French nobleman, Noël Brûlart de Sillery, in response to an ad placed by Fr. Paul Le Jeune in an early edition of the Jesuit Relations. On a sandy bay at the foot of the Cap Diamand cliff, Sillery was a site favoured by the Montagnais and Algonquins, who knew it as “place where we come to fish.” It was still a mission reserve when Nicolas and family moved there and when they received another fifty arpents from the Jesuits in 1659. It was near this site on September 12, 1759, that General Wolfe’s British troops disembarked in order to climb to the Plains of Abraham where they would meet and defeat General Montcalm’s French troops and Canadien militia in a 15 minute battle the next morning that decided who would rule in Canada until Canadians were ready to rule themselves.

By the 1670s, alcoholism, epidemics, Iroquois raids and the difficulties of adapting to a sedentary lifestyle depopulated the settlement and by the late 1680s the last natives had left Sillery, many moving west to mission villages closer to Montreal, La Montagne (at what is now Atwater and Sherbrooke) and later Kahnawake and Kanehsatake. Peltiers remained, however. Nicolas was buried in Sillery in 1674.

They would have four daughters and another son here. Pattersons are directly descended from their eldest daughter and first Canadian-born, Anne-Marie. Her sister Jeanne’s line would lead in a few generations to Louis Riel. Evidence indicates that Anne-Marie was married at 15 to Nicolas Goupil, of whom little is known except that he came from France and he died shortly after their daughter, Marie-Anne Goupil was born, March 7, 1653, in Sillery.

Marie-Anne married the surgeon, Pierre Brabant-Lamothe, who had been born in France. They would have six children before he died, age 29. Our direct ancestor, Michel Brabant-Lamothe (1678–1758), was born in Sillery March 9, 1678, six months after his father died. Marie-Anne would marry twice again and have another eight children.

Michel Brabant-Lamothe would move the family a couple of hundred miles west, to Montreal’s west island, where he and his wife Marie Elisabeth Lafaille, would have an even dozen children, most born in Ste. Anne de Bellevue. The sixth of the clan, Joseph Brabant (1718–1793), married Francoise Desmarais in 1741 and when their daughter Marie-Anne Brabant married Eustache Sauvé dit Laplante in 1802 at Les Cèdres, Quebec, the family tale was about to take a turn to the Indigenous. Eustache and Marie-Anne’s son Julien, born in 1819 at Les Cèdres, would marry Marie Aurelie Lecompte, direct descendant of an Onondaga sachem at a critical time of transition in Canada from savage butchery to widespread reconciliation.

2/4 Second tale of Pattersons of Canada origins, If You Hear Not My Word I Will Be The First To Wage War Against You, is freely available at Cannections on MEDIUM.