Pierre Robitaille and Marie Maufait

<Translation by David Robitaille of Vancouver>

Of the four Robitaille brothers who first came to New France, Pierre is the ancestor of most of us. Shortly after his arrival on November 24, 1670, at the age of 18, he signed a contract witnessed by the notary Gilles Rageot, granting him a lot situated in the parish of L'Ancienne-Lorette (Old Lorette) in the Seignory of Gaudarville. This seignory had been granted to Jean Lauzon, the governor, who had then passed it on to his son, Louis. The estate was named in memory of Louis’ mother, Marie Gaudart. Two years later, on March 20, 1672, before the same notary, Pierre signed another contract with the Jesuit fathers. This time the contract was for a lot in the nearby Seignory of Saint-Gabriel. He had, perhaps, taken on more than he could handle; because, in October 1674, he withdrew from a portion of that estate.

Five years alter his arrival, Pierre married Marie Maufait. Marie was born in Québec on September 25, 1660, and was 14  years old at the time of her marriage. Her father, Pierre Maufay, lived in Côte Saint-Michel and was the son of Toussaint Maufay and Jacqueline Bénard from St-Côme-de-Vair, in the district of Mamers, in the cathedral town of Le Mans, Maine (Sarthe). The couple signed a marriage contract before the notary, Gilles Duquet, on May 5, 1675. Marie was accompanied by her father, her mother Marie Duval, and her sister Jeanne and her husband, Simon Allain, who lived near the Robitaille land. Marie’s parents promised to give their daughter:

" a party on the eve of her wedding, a milk cow, and a pig. ... to dress their daughter for her wedding and to give her six shifts (chemises), six handkerchiefs, six hats. a cover. a pair of sheets, six towels. all new… "

Unfortunately, there is no trace of the Robitaille-Maufait marriage in the parish registry. Since the town of L'Ancienne-Lorette did not establish its first parish until 1676, they may have been married at the mission in Sillery where a fire destroyed ail the documents, around 1680.

Marie Maufait guaranteed the posterity of the Robitailles by having 13 children : 10 boys and 3 girls. Three of the boys died very young: Romain at 2 months: Louis was 5 years old and Claude was 3. Without a doubt, the cruellest bereavement was caused by the death of Charles, al the age of 26. François remained a bachelor and died at the age of 40. There is no trace of the daughter, Charlotte Catherine.

The other five boys and two girls did marry.

  • André, the eldest, was born July 16,1678 and baptised on July 17 by Father Chaumonot, a missionary and the founding pastor of the parish of L'Ancienne-Lorette. He marned Marguerite Hamel, daughter of John Hamel and Félicité Levasseur, on January 1706 in L'Ancienne-Lorette. They had three children but Marguerite died on March 31, 1711 al the age of 26. Two years later, on September 11, 1713, at Notre-Dame-de-Foy (Our Lady of the Faith) church, André remarried. His second wife was Françoise Catherine Chevalier, widow of Denis Masse and mother of two children aged 1 and 3. They had seven children of their own, two of whom died young. André was buried in L'Ancienne-Lorette on January  6, 1736 at the age of 58.
  • Marie-Suzanne was baptised on August 16, 1680. She married Guillaume Belot, son of Biaise Belot and Hélène Calais on November 14, 1707 in L'Ancienne-Lorette. They had 8 children. She was buried at Notre-Dame-de-Foy on November 6, 1760 at the age of 80.
  • Pierre was born on October 11, 1682 and baptised the following day. At the age of 39 he married Madeleine Berthiaume on November 27, 1721 at Notre-Dame-de-Foy. She was born in Sillery about 1686, the daughter of Jacques Berthiaume and Catherine Bonhomme. She had previously been married to Charles Danet, widower of Cathenne Brassard, and father of two children. They added six more. The widow Danet therefore had eight children when she married Pierre, and her last marriage provided two more.
  • Jean, who was born in 1687, married Marguerite Meunier, daughter of Mathunn Meunier and Marie Madeleine Meneux on January 26, 1717 at L'Ancienne-Lorette. They had 11 children, six of whom— three boys and three girls—were later married. It was Jean who stayed in the family home. He was buried at L'Ancienne-Lorette on November 13, 1748 at the age of 71. His widow later married Antoine Ouvrard, widower of Angélique Vézina, on July 19, 1751 in L'Ancienne-Lorette. She was buried at L'Ancienne-Lorette on April 18, 1774 at the age of 89.
  • Marie-Agnès was born in 1689 and marned Eustache Liénard Mondor Dubois on November 4, 1715 in L'Ancienne-Lorette. He was the son of Sébastien Dubois and Françoise Pelletier and widower of Marie Madeleine Maufay. They had six children. Eustache Dobois was buned September 26, 1749 at the age of 60, and Marie-Agnès on December 28, 1759 at the age of 79: both in L'Ancienne-Lorette.
  • Joseph was born on October 25, 1693 and baptized on October 27. He married Catherine Drolet, daughter of Pierre Drolet and Catherine Routier on January 21, 1722 al L'Ancienne-Lorette. They had 12 children. Joseph was buried on March 3, 1756 at the age of 63 and Catherine on December l7, 1782 at the age of 86, both in L'Ancienne-Lorette.
  • Romain was born and baptized on July 26, 1696. He married Marie Françoise Lemarié, daughter of Chailes Lemarié and Françoise Sédilot on October 10, 1723 at Notre-Dame-de-Foy. They had seven children. Romain was buried on December 3, 1749 ai the age of 53 and Marie Françoise on April 8, 1774 at the age of 75, both in Ancienne Lorette.

Pierre Robitaille was courageous and enterprising. In the 1681 census, he was 30 years old and Marie was 18. They had two children. André, four years old and Marie, one. They owned a gun, six heads of cattle, and six arpents of land. In April 1683, Pierre undertook to clear one arpent of land belonging to his brother-in-law, Pierre Maufay.

He agreed " to remove all of the wood and burn it; leaving no more than 12 stumps ”. He was paid 60 pounds ("livres") for this work.

In 1693, after 20 years of work, at a time when the family already had seven children, Pierre acquired the lands owned by his two brothers, Jean and Nicolas. Jean’s farm included, in addition to the land, a house " made of pieces of wood laid on top of one another ” and a shed "surrounded with stones and covered with straw ” Nicolas had yielded his concession verbally to his brothers, before returning to France.

Pierre was involved with the justice system only once when he was sued by Pierre Soullani, the husband of Louise Prou. We will never know what actually happened because the documents of the prefecture of Quebec were partly destroyed and all we can tell is that Pierre was ordered to pay half the price of a cow. This he did before notary Genaple on March 7, 1702, paying 24 pounds in paper money.

On January 18, 1710 the intendant Raudot, ordered an official survey of the lands belonging to Pierre Robitaille and his neighbour, Pierre Drolet. On January 20 of that year, the nobleman Dustiné gave 16 arpents of land to Pierre Robitaille in the Seigneury of Saint-Gabriel. Our ancestor, therefore, owned three concessions in the Selgneury of Gaudarville and two in the Seigneury of Saint-Gabriel. That meant he was the largest landowner in L'Ancienne-Lorette.

By 1715, Pierre was 60 years old and likely very ill, because he signed a contract to sell part of his land to his son, Jean, and died eight days later. He bequeathed to his son "a farm with a house for the sum of 800 pounds ”. It was also stipulated in the contract that Jean was to pay his parents 75 bushels of wheat to compensate for three years of unpaid pension. Pierre Robitaille was buried on May 8, and the funeral was conducted by Father François Dupré.

At the time only André and Marie-Suzanne were married.

The other six adult children were all living at home.

On April 29,1716, as required by law, the notary Bernard de la Rivière undertook an audit of Pierre Robitaille's assets. It is very interesting to learn from this inventory all that had been accomplished by this young French man and his wife in the 46 years they had been in Canada. They had raised nine children and they had cleared and cultivated 10 arpents of land. In addition, Marie probably made all of the family’s clothes since she owned a hand-loom and a spinning-wheel. The couple raised their own sheep and used the wool to make clothes. They owned three cows, five sheep, four lambs, four bulls, two mares, and three pigs. They also had some debts:

  • 20 pounds to the surgeon Gaspart Emery;
  • 40 pounds to the nuns at the Hôtel-Dieu hospital (probably to cover the cost of Marie-Suzanne hospitalisation on April 6, 1699 for a period of 16 days);
  • 133 pounds to the merchant Pierre Haimard;
  • 40 pounds to a Mr. Pelletier from Côte Saint-Michel;
  • 20 pounds for 20 masses requested by the children for the rest of their father 's soul.

Pierre Robitaille certainly had the family spirit. He signed the parish registry of L'Ancienne-Lorette 13 times as a godfather, six times as a witness for baptisms, eight times as a witness for marriages, and twice for burials.

Marie outlived her husband by 15 years. She died on December 21, 1730 at the age of 73. The parish registry indicates that she died of an attack of apoplexy. She had the joy of seeing seven of her children married and she had many grandchildren. Only François remained unmarried, and he died three years after his mother.

It is important to recognise the very special contribution made by our ancestor, Marie Maufait. Can we imagine how a little girl of 14 could get married and settle in a log cabin, in the middle of a forest by the banks of a creek? This young woman had to enjoy good health in order to raise her family in such difficult conditions. She is, for us, a model of extraordinary courage and she deserves our admiration.