A Once in 350 Years Opportunity

French carpenter Gaspard Boucher of the town Mortagne in the province of Perche landed in Quebec in 1634 or 1635. His oldest son Pierre was thirteen. Gaspard worked for Jesuits on their farm at Notre-Dame-des-Anges. Pierre received his education from the Jesuits. When Pierre was fifteen years old, he went to live with the Jesuits among the Huron tribe, learning their customs and dialects.

Pierre Boucher afterward had a career as a soldier. In 1654 at age 32, he became governor of Trois-Rivieres. In 1661 at age 39, he was made a French noble and in that year he traveled to France. While there, he met with King Louis XIV. In France Boucher obtained support from the French crown for the struggling French settlers in Quebec.

In 1667 at age 45, Pierre Boucher founded a seigneury near what is now Montreal. The seigneury was called Boucherville and Boucher became its seigneur. A seigneury in New France was similar to a manor. Boucher chose settlers of good character with good work ethics and together they built a model seigneury called “one of the finest and richest properties in the colony.”

Pierre Boucher wrote a book about New France, entitled True and Genuine Description of New France, Commonly Called Canada and of the Manners and Customs and Productions of That Country. The book was published in Paris in 1664 and has been republished in the last few years by the University of Montreal. Pierre Boucher is honored as Canada’s first author.

Pierre Boucher died in his manor house at the age of 95, having lived 13 years in France and 82 in New France. Before he died, he wrote “my last wishes,” which included these words:

I do not leave you great wealth but the little that I do leave you has been very properly acquired. I have done what I could to leave you more, I have neglected nothing to that end, having indulged in no foolish expense, as you all know; but it did not please God, who is the master, to give me more. I leave you for friends many persons of rank and distinction and many honest people. I leave you no enemies for my part, as far as I know. I have done what I could to live without reproach; try to do the same.

After these words, Pierre listed his wife and children by name and wrote a statement about each one in which he revealed something about his or her personality.

When my daddy’s daddy whom we grandchildren called Daddy Leland told me we were descended from Timothy Demonbreun, I knew nothing about Timothy’s great-grandfather Pierre Boucher. When I returned from Canada, I finally traced my lineage back through Daddy Leland whose father was Gabe Boyd whose mother was Florence Demonbreun Boyd whose father was John Gabriel Demonbreun whose father was Jean Baptiste Demonbreun whose father was Timothy Demonbreun (full  name: Jacques Timothe Boucher de Montbrun) whose father was Etienne Boucher whose father was Jean Boucher whose father was Pierre Boucher whose father was Gaspard Boucher.

Through my newfound interest in all things Boucher and Demonbreun, I learned that this year Boucherville, which is now a suburb of Montreal, is celebrating the 350th anniversary of its founding. I also learned that special celebrations have been scheduled in August, especially for descendants of Pierre Boucher. I can hardly believe that Ray and I are planning to go back to Canada just weeks after we were there, but we have decided not to wait for three years to go back to see the statue of Pierre Boucher in Quebec City. We have decided that a once-in-350-years opportunity is just that — a once-in-350-years opportunity. We can’t see the hidden statue at the parliament building, but we do plan to see the unveiling of the new one in Boucherville this August!

At the end of his life, Pierre Boucher told his wife and children: “I have done what I could to live without reproach; try to do the same.” In Philippians, Paul gave Christians a similar admonition, one we would all like to give to our own children:

Do all things without grumbling or disputing;
so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent,
children of God above reproach
in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,
among whom you appear as lights in the world,
holding fast the word of life,
so that in the day of Christ
I will have reason to glory
because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.
Philippians 2:14-16

Information for this was obtained from the article on Pierre Boucher at http://www.biographi.ca.



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