A Spirit of Independence

It took some time before the colony of Montreal became self-sufficient. Although filled with people of high rank and birth, all depended on the good will of the French King, firstly Louis XIII and then Louis XIV.  Accounts were kept, reports made, rules re-arranged but all with the King’s approval. This mode of existence was not for all. The French spirit of adventure, freedom and enterprise more often than not prevailed.

By the end of the 17th century,  French fur trade was well established in the upper Great Lakes.  Intermarriage with the Native women led to the rise of the Métis  or “mixed bloods”. The “country-born” were the offspring the British traders, all sometimes referred to as “half-breeds”.  The blend of Native and European customs made them unique. In a few generations, Métis settlements extended from the upper Great Lakes to the Red River and south through the Great Plains to the Arkansas River.

We find the two brothers, Jacques and Pierre Beauchamp (sons of original settler Jacques Beauchamp), at Fort Pontchartrain, Detroit listed on the rent list of 1707-1710 as non-payers since they are only there as “canotiers” or voyageurs (from the website,  “metis-history-info”.  Below an example of what a voyageur contract looked like, this one for Francois Beauchamp , grandson of original settler Jean Beauchamp.

Francois B. Voyageur contract 2

Francois B. Voyageur Contract 1748

The Voyageur Database at the St. Boniface Historical Society in Winnipeg, Manitoba supplies a printed record as well.

Francois

There are a few interesting points in these records. There is little to no information about the oldest emigrant brother, Pierre, something common among the voyageurs. On the written contract above, the head canoeman is Pierre Deschamps. That name is often interchanged with Beauchamp. As well, the lowest member is Francois Beauchamp perhaps taken as a protege by Pierre . In the list of people paying rent at Detroit, just above the Beauchamp brothers, are two Bazinet brothers, Pierre and Joseph. It happens that Pierre and Jacques married two Bazinet sisters, Anne and Marie.

A Dangerous Business

I had written previously about Jacques Beauchamp (born c. 1760), very likely a descendant of  Jacques Beauchamp, pioneer of Montreal, being with Alexander MacKenzie when he finally made it to the Pacific in 1793. That I found on this website. Then I found this article about Jacques Beauchamp, voyageur,  being killed by Eskimos. Genealogy Quebec has a Jacques Beauchamp listed as born in 1760 with no information for date or location of death.  I feel there is good reason to give credit to the previous article.

From Montreal to Manitoba

Here are the descendants of Jean Beauchamp,  said pioneer which run down to my father who was in the first generation the first to be born in Manitoba. The descendant being the male on the top left of the first tables. Interestingly, there would be 3 Jean’s before we get to a different name.

Family Record Jean Beauchamp and Marie Jeanne Mulouin m1701.jpg

Jean Baptiste Beauchamp and Marie Josephe Filion family.jpg

Jean b. Beauchamp and Marie Anne Duquet Madry family.jpg

Nicolas Beauchamp and Apolline Charbonneau family.jpg

BEAUCHAMP, Joseph 1807- PRDH Individual Record 695464.jpg

Theophile Beauchamp Baptism PRDH.JPG

Damase from nosorignes.JPG

Joseph Frederick Beauchamp nosorigines.JPG

Birth- Edmond Beauchamp.JPG

I admit to being a bit messy with this but each website only has certain years these documents are available for. The first are from a venerable source,  The Programme de recherche en demographie historique (The Research Program in HIstorical Demography) at the University of Montreal.    The green tables are from “Nosorigines” an excellent website for linking families together, a little less formal. Of course, I had to revert to my father’s actual birth certificate until I find something else but here you have the line down from Jean Beauchamp, pioneer in New France to my father, Edmond Beauchamp.

 

 

The Passing

Jacques Beauchamp, my 7th great uncle had passed away on the 8th of February, 1693. In her book, “Habitants and Merchants in Seventeenth Century Montreal”, Louise Dechêne describes the inventory of his clothing; “Beauchamps’ wardrobe consisted of the basics: a coat, a jerken, and because nothing was ever thrown out, a second wornout and worthless jerkin, a pair of hide hose, woollen breeches, a hat , a pair of shoes, stockings, four used shirts, and two nightcaps, worth altogether no more than 40 to 50 livres.” In the notarial record below we see an transaction between Marie Dardenne, Jacques’ widow, and her sons-in-law right after an inventory has been taken. (Line 2364).

Quittance from Marie Dardenne to sons in law

Jacques died the same year as Lambert Closse famed Indian fighter who disappeared in the bush. Sadly he missed the land grants in Pointe Aux Trembles.

45894_83024005508_1004-00241

The oldest brother Pierre died the following year apparently on February 8, 1693. I sometimes wonder if he even existed, there is little to no information on him. Then on May 4, 1700, Jean, my 7th great grandfather died.  He, like most of Montreal’s inhabitants, had lived largely in debt, borrowing money whenever he could to buy more land. In 1666, shortly after his arrival in Montreal, he had married Jeanne Loisel, whose parents were among the earlier settlers. First, a contract had to be signed.

Mar. Contract J. Beauchamp.JPG

The wedding took place November 23, 1666. Marr-Beauchamp Loisel.jpg

They had a family.

Jean Beauchamp Jeanne Loiselle.jpg

At the time of his death he had accumulated some land which was always a priority for future generations of the family. In Quebec, property was not inherited by the oldest son but was divided equally among all the children, a custom brought from France. Jean had been granted land on Rue St. Jean and Rue St. Francois in Pointe Aux Trembles. A year after he died, The Great Peace of Montreal was established with the Iroquois. Below, his death record.

Original D.Rec. Jean BEauchamp Full Image.JPG

Jacques “Le Grand” Beauchamp and Jean “Le Petit” Beauchamp are considered to be among the founding families of not just Montreal but Canada itself. They suffered privation and constant threat but helped to build this land with courage and enterprise. Their descendants number in the thousands. Both are buried in the Cimetiere St. Enfant Jesus in Point Aux Trembles, Quebec.

Nature or Nurture?

I have in the last month attended two online “bootcamps” hosted by Thomas MacEntee of Hide-Definition Genealogy and his guest speaker Mary Eberle who is a genetic genealogist and DNA expert. The first was Getting Started with DNA and Genealogy and the second Additional Tools and Concepts (regarding DNA testing). The courses are fairly intense and absolutely full of information if you are thinking of using DNA testing as an adjunct to your genealogy research.  The price is more than fair for what you get which is the online talk as well as handouts. You will also get a copy of the webinar and handouts for one year afterward.  So, though these are past, they are still available at the links above.

The whole DNA testing phenomena I am sure,  has people curious and frightened at the same time. We are very excited by the leaps and bounds of technology but there is also an aura of the unknown about it which smacks of our worst science fiction movies.  “Security breach” used to be a term only the government had to worry about. Now it is an everyday part of our lives. Mary Eberle addresses some of these issues in her first lecture. She also talks about the various testing companies and how they work. Only one does the medical tests and that is 123 and Me.

All this brings once again to the fore the old concept of whether it is nature, for example our DNA or nurture, the way we are raised which makes us who we are. That question would certainly rise when dealing with criminals. I think we have all seen the two sides, the incorrigible child  of two gentle parents or the scholar who comes from a very disadvantaged background.  I wonder what DNA will tell us.

To me so far, it is leading to a lot of confusion and we are finding out the obvious; that a family is composed of many different genes which shows up in sibling differentiation. If you want to know how that happens, than you can study genetics. We can verify family stories or perhaps unverify them. Also, we can find out what path of emigration our ancient ancestors took out of Africa and where they ended up.  I myself am just getting used to the fact that we all originated from Africa to begin with!  I would definitely recommend getting some previous training and information before you embark on this journey, just to make it all worth the effort.

 

Happy Birthday to Me!

On this day, awhile ago shall we say, I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba to my beautiful mother, Sheila Joy Richard Phillips and my father Edmond Guillaume Daniel Beauchamp. I was a bonny wee lass, here in the arms of my maternal grandmother, Jane Smith Phillips.

Babe in Arms

I was a bit fussed over, being the first child of a couple who were head over heels. Both had a rough childhood, my father being the victim of polio when he was young and losing the use of his right forearm. My mother was shipped off when she was 16 from the farm to the city.

Not many years ago, I came into some photos of my childhood through an aunt. The first I had seen. On the back of each was the scratchy handwriting of my father, who died at 45 from a heart attack. On this one, he had written “Yolande says ” Hey Dad! Look at me, I’m dancing.”

On the back of another photo, he had written, “This was a proud day for Mom too in her bright red taffeta dress”. It inspired me to create this picture of Mom and I. She just looks radiant. What they were celebrating I don’t know.

There were many hard times ahead of them but on this day I want to say thanks to Mom and Dad for making me the person I am today. You taught me hope and determination and love of family. Thank you.

The Wood Runners

By 1721, the very lifeblood of New France, the fur trade, was on the brink of disaster. The market in France was glutted and fur shipments were no longer being accepted. The King (Louis XIV) had tried in many ways to establish industry in the colony and control it to his benefit but had largely failed, at times because of lack of materials, at times lack of industriousness on the part of the colony itself. Various monetary systems were tried, even to the point of creating “card money” yes, literally marking playing cards with a stamp.

It did not take long for some of the men in the colony, who became known as the “coureurs des bois”, already hardened by the fur trade, to start trading for themselves. They knew they would have to compete with the Indian fur traders and to this end, ventured further inland looking for new trapping grounds thus stimulating western exploration. The royal reaction was to turn these men into outlaws and create trading licenses. Each license allowed the departure of two canoes loaded with goods. Only one canoe was allowed afterwards bearing 3 men and 400 pounds of freight. The licenses were sometimes sold for the profit of government and sometimes given to widows of officers, the hospital or other people in need.  At times, they would be sold privately to merchants or voyageurs. The licenses were valid for a year and a half, with each canoeman sharing in the profits which could be considerable, providing you didn’t drown first.

The bane of the fur trade was the running off of the young men into the woods, at one time 800 disappeared following the call of Daniel Dulhut. The fear was that they would not resettle and help to build the colony. The way of life was one of adventure and freedom, many adopting the ways of their native brothers. Unlike the natives though, they had a better capacity for the brandy which was part of the trading deal. An inebriated Indian could always be cheated in an unfair trade deal.  It was considered to be one the “tools of the trade”. The reason this continued was the fear of losing the young men to the English traders or driving them away from the Church.

The King had ordered that whipping and branding be given for the first offence of trading without a license and being sent to the galleys  for the second offense. Nothing the intendant Duchesneau did could prevent the debauchery and lawlessness. Therefore, siegneuries were abandoned, wives left behind and children ran about in the streets as men gathered and disappeared into the forest. They could be gone for years out of the reach of the law. Montreal  was the headquarters for the fur trade. When a party of “coureurs des bois” returned, the settlement would turn into a place of revelry and debauchery. The men would bedeck themselves in a blend of French finery and Native decoration, always with a sword at their side, the women following suit. Of course, after the celebration was over, confessions were heard and penances issued for the Church could not afford to lose any more souls.

One of the most famous coureurs des bois was Daniel Greysolon Dulhut who was a noblemen and career soldier from Lyon, France. His mission was to create a peace between the western Indian tribes and the French while fortifying areas that were under threat by the English and Iroqouis. To this end, he fortified the fort at Michillimakinac, Michigan and built Fort William on Lake Superior and later, Fort St. Joseph. He made an enemy of the intendant Duschsneau for disobeying the orders of the King and was slandered by La Salle in order to gain a monopoly on exploration rights for New France. In spite of this, he was able to secure the authority of New France in the Great Lakes area. He died in Montreal in 1710, leaving a part of his fortune to Charles Delauney who had cared for him. The city of Duluth, Minnesota is named after him.

It is likely that at this point, the ending of the 17th century and with the rise of the coureurs des bois a new nation started to form in New France, that of the Metis as they took  “country wives”, women they had children with but did not marry. Eventually, the coureurs des bois would fade away and in their place came the “voyageur”, a man whose business it was to legally transport goods up into the “pays des haut”.

There were several voyageurs in the family of which I would like to find out more. For now I will just list some. Francois Beauchamp, Michel Beauchamp, Joseph Beauchamp, Antoine Beauchamp, Pierre Beauchamp, Augustin Beauchamp, Hubert Beauchamp and Jean Beauchamp, very likely the son or grandson of our original settler. There were also voyageurs in my grandmother’s family (Daigneault), Richard Daigneault was one of them. Below are some maps of the fur trade hub lakes taken from a book by Eric Morse, Fur Trade Routes of Canada/Now and Then.

Fur Trade Routes Out of Lake Athabasca

Lake Superior Fur Trade Routes E. Morse

Lake Superior Trade Routes

Lake Winnipeg Fur Trade Routes. Eric Morse

Lake Winnipeg Trade Routes

Sources included but not limited to :
Francis Parkman, The Old Regime in Canada
Francis Parkman,  Pioneers of France in the New World
Canada: The Fur Trade at Lachine
St. Boniface Historical Society-Voyageur Contracts 
PRDH-University of Montreal
Genealogy Quebec
Ancestry.ca
Virtual Museum of New France