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The Chapel of St. Louis

By Désirée Guirouard, 1893
Contributed by Eric Lalonde (ericllnd@sympatico.ca)

Our ancestor Jean De Lalonde was the first churchwarden of this parish which is today the city of Baie D'Urfé, Quebec.

By Désirée Guirouard, 1893

A transient mission was, for nearly fifteen years, the sole means of ministering to the upper end of the Island of Montreal. Faillon tells us that, upon the arrival of settlers on any part of the Island, the Seminary occasionally sent priests to look after their spiritual wants [1]. When one remembers that the mission of la Présentation (Dorval) was the nearest and in fact the only residence of the Lachine missionaries down to 1685, it may well be presumed that the missionaries of Bout de L' Isle came from La Présentation.

The highly distinguished Mr. D'Urfé is known to have been one of these missionaries from 1676, and probably before, to near 1680. Son of the Marquis D'Urfé, he belonged to one of the first families of France. He was closely connected with Mr. de Fenélon, and was also a near relative of Colbert, which accounts for his great influence at the French court. MM. D'Urfé, Fenélon and Remy occupy the first rank amongst the illustrious founders of St. Sulpice de Villemarie.

The terrier contains two interesting entries on the subject of the chapel at Bout de L' Isle. At No. 111, known today as Pointe Caron, it is stated:

"This land was formerly intended for the church of St. Anne's and in the concession made of it by the Seigniors to the said Lalonde, [2] they have reserved for themselves six superficial arpents, to be taken two by three or three by two, as it may please them. This mark shows the reserved land called D' Urfé Bay, on account of the Abbé D'Urfé, who had built the first chapel of St. Anne's on that spot."

At No. 112, the land book shows:

"This mark indicates the place where formerly stood the first chapel of St. Anne's, occupied and ministered to, habitée et desservie, by Abbé D' Urfé, who has given it his name."

When did Mr. D" Urfé build this chapel? Mr. Bourgeault, at one time Curé of Pointe Claire and now (1893) Vicar General to Archbishop Fabre, and noted for his learning and accuracy, believes that it was built in 1674." [3] This is certainly an error.

It did not even exist in 1683, for the ecclesiastical census of that year states that mass was celebrated in a private house, "there being neither chapel nor presbytery" [4] at that time and after the appointment, in 1676, of a Curé at Lachine, who administered it as a mission.

As early as the 6th of December 1682, Pierre Lormier is described in the register of Lachine as "an inhabitant of the Haut de L' Isle de Montréal, mission of this parish." The birth of "Marie Magdeleine Correau, fille de Cibard Courreau, Sieur de la Coste," was recorded in the registry of Lachine by Mr. Remy, on the 5th of July, 1683. Mr. Remy says: "This baptism was celebrated in the house of Jean de la Londe dit Lespérance, habitant of Haut de L' Isle de Montréal, being the place where I usually say mass for this mission, which is attached to the parish of the holy Angels of Lachine, comme le lieu où je dis ordinairement la messe de cette mission."

On the 26th of August, 1684, Mr. Remy makes another entry in relation to the baptism of Anne Barbary, at Lachine, by Mr. Dollier during the absence of Mr. Remy, "en ma mission du Hault de cette Isle pour faire le baptême ci-dessus (the baptism of a child (Guillaume) of de La Londe), et pour y célébrer la sainte messe."

The cemetery at Pointe Caron was not used in 1683, in as much as the dead body of Jean La Mérièque, the "domestique" of Gabriel de Berthé, Sieur de Chailly, was carried the whole distance from the house of the said Chailly "sise au Hault de L' Isle" to Lachine, where the burial took place.

Bout de L' Isle was erected into a parish in the summer of 1685, under the name of St. Louis, and on the 20th of September of the same year, the Bishop of Québec, while on a visit to that place, established its boundaries, namely, bounded to the east by Pointe-Claire inclusively, (that is the point where the parish church stands to-day), and to the west by the lands beyond the end of the island, "commençant à la Pointe-Claire inclusivement et finissant par delà la Pointe du Bout de L' Isle." The Bishop was accompanied by Jean Guenet, "habitant du dit lieu," Olivier Quesnel, churchwarden of Lachine, Jean de La Londe, churchwarden of the parish of St. Louis, Mr. Dollier, Superior of the Seminary and Vicar general, and Mr. Remy, Curé of Lachine and Missionaire de Saint-Louis. [5] What remains of the registers of St. Anne's from 1686 to 1703 will be found at Lachine.

The registers of Lachine contains a memorandum in the handwriting of Mr. Remy, in which it is stated that the registers of the parish of St. Louis were commenced in 1686. They extend only to the years 1686 and 1687, and are all signed "D' Urfé or D' Urfé, Curé," that is as explained in the text, "Curé of the parish of St. Louis du Haut de L' Isle de Montréal." The first entry in the D' Urfé register was that of the marriage J. Bte. de Celoron. Sieur de Blainville, with Hélène Picoté de Bélestre, widow of Antoine de La Fresnaye, Sieur de Bruçy, already mentioned. The marriage took place in the parish on the 29th of November 1686 and was undoubtedly the first marriage performed at that place; but Curé D' Urfé does not state where it was celebrated, whether in a chapel or in a private house.

The next entry is that of the natural death of Claude de la Mothe dit le Marquis de Sourdy, buried on the 23rd of February 1687, "à ;a Pointe-St.-Louis." On the 1st of March 1687, the child of Jean Tillard "was brought to the church, à l'Eglise, to be baptized." On the 21st of September 1687, Jean Vincent, killed during the Iroquois war, was buried "à la Pointe St. Louis."

On the 30th of September, 1687, Jean de La Londe dit Lespérance was killed by the Iroquois, and the next day, 1st of October, was buried. "within the enclosure of the church of St.Louis."

On the same day and under the same circumstances, Pierre Bonneau dit Lajeunesse was buried "near the spot intended for the building of the church of St. Louis." It can hardly be supposed that the entry was a mistake, for the same statement is repeated in the burial certificates of Pierre Perthius, Henri Fromengeau and Pierre Pettiteau, also killed by the Iroquois on the 30th of September, 1687.

Pierre Camus dit La Feuillade, killed by the Indians on the 18th of October, 1687 was buried on the 19th, "near the spot intended for the cemetery, near the parish church of St. Louis;" and on the same day, J. Bte. Le Sieur dit La Hogue, also killed by the Iroquois on the 18th of October, was buried "on the spot intended for the cemetery of the parish of St. Louis." Louis Jets, miller (meunier engagé) of Mr. Le Ber, who died a natural death" after having received the last sacraments" on the 17th of November 1687, was buried on the following day "in the cemetery of the parish of St. Louis."

This is the last entry to be found in the registers of St. Louis, since its erection in 1685 to the year 1703. The registers were either mislaid or destroyed or perhaps none were kept. (Ed. note: None were kept as the parish was inactive during that period)

It is also possible and even probable that the mission of St. Louis, with the exception perhaps of the little colony at Fort Senneville, on Fief Boisbriant, was closed after the massacre of 1687, and during the entire period of the terrible Indian war which raged until 1698. In fact it would appear from Mgr. Tanguay's Dictionnaire Généalogique, the registers of Lachine and the greffe of Pottier, that during that long period of more than ten years, the old inhabitants of St. Louis were living either at Villemarie or Lachine, and among others, Jean Guenet, J. Bte. Celoron, Sieur de Blainville, Guillaume D'Aoust [a], the Daillebousts, Cybard Corriveau, la veuve de Jean de La Londe dit Lespérance, Jean Nepveau, Jean Tillard, Aimé Legros dit Lecompte, Pierre Cavalier, Nicolas Le Moyne, la veuve Pierre Bonneau dit Lajeunesse and Pierre Maupetit dit Le Poitevin who sought refuge in Lachine but were taken prisoner during the night of the massacre of the 5th of August 1689, and afterward killed by the Iroquois in their village. [6]

Bout de l'Isle appears to have been deserted, except by the representatives of the proprietors of Fort Senneville, to be re-occupied only after peace was practically made with the Iroquois in 1698. Mr. de Cathalonge, in the same mémoire which has been so often cited, seems to corroborate this assertion without a doubt: "As everyone was entrenched in the town and forts, and as the habitants dared not go into the fields except in a body, those of the upper end of the Island of Montreal went there every fall, having to pass though a small grove." [7]

This evacuation may explain the dates of the concessions of Pointe Claire and those north of Fort Senneville during the year 1698 and following. No allusions to the parish of St. Louis is made in the registers of Lachine or in the greffe of Pottier, during that long period, extending from 1688 to 1701.

As we have seen, St. Anne's or rather St. Louis du Bout de l'Isle de Montréal was erected into a parish during the summer of the year 1685, probably in view of the transfer of the Indian mission located at La Présentation (Dorval) which was sold to Pierre Lagardeur, Sieur de Repentigny, on the 7th of September 1685.

Jean De La Londe was elected the first churchwarden of the parish of St. Louis, and in fact had occupied that position before the civil erection; as far back as the 21st of August 1684 he was styled "Marguillier de la Mission du Hault de l'Isle" [8]

On the 22nd of may 1685 the baptism of a son of Sieur Cavalier (Pierre), "Receveur de Messieurs les Seigneurs" was celebrated at Lachine. The godmother was "the wife of Jean de La Londe, first churchwarden of the Upper Part of this Island" [8]

On the 12th of November 1685 the publication of the first ban of marriage of Claude de la Mothe was made "at the mission of Haut de l'Isle on a working day, although mass is as yet only celebrated there like in a mission." [8] On the 18th of February 1686 the next ban of Guillaume D'Aoust was announced "au prosne de la messe dite en cette paroisse de St. Louis" but it was not stated where the service was held. This is the marriage of Guillaume D'Aoust to Marie-Madeleine de La Londe the daughter of Jean de La Londe. There were present at the marriage at Lachine, Gabriel de Berthé, Sieur de Chailly, Pierre Dailleboust, Sieur D'Argenteuil, Cybard Correau, Sieur de La Coste and Jean Guenet, all residing in St. Louis. [9]

Notwithstanding the apparent contradictions in the registers of St. Louis, it may fairly be inferred that St. Louis du Bout de l'Isle had a small temporary chapel as early as 1685, which was intended to be replaced by a church or église paroissale, no later than 1687.

The terrier, quoted in the text, states that when the deed of concession was granted to Jean de La Londe dit Lespérance, the chapel had been built by Mr. D'Urfé. This deed was passed on the 3rd of March 1687 before Pottier, notary, and not in 1711 as alleged by Mr. Bourgeault; (see also inventory of De La Londe by Pottier 19th January 1688).[b]

Mr. D'Urfé became Curé in the fall of 1685 or 1686. From the registers of St. Louis and the terrier, it is evident that Pointe St. Louis was the site selected for the parish church, but was subsequently changed. After the massacre of 1687 it was undoubtedly considered unsafe, at least not as safe as the Ste. Anne's Rapid, which was in close proximity to Fort Senneville, and as a necessary consequence, the idea of building "une église paroissiale" a parish church at Pointe St. Louis (Caron) near Baie D'Urfé was abandoned.

At what time was the D'Urfé chapel destroyed? The date of the destruction of Mr. D'Urfé's chapel is more uncertain than is erection. Mr. Bourgeault, in the same article, is of the opinion that it was used as the parish church until about 1714, and he bases his opinion on the registers of Ste. Anne's.

After Mr. D'Urfé, the registers were reopened on the 18th of December 1703. Those of 1704 and 1705 are complete, while those of 1706, 1707 and 1708 are missing. The register of 1709 exists but that of 1710 is also missing. The register of 1711, to be found at the greffe of Montreal Court House, appears to be complete; but those for 1712 and 1713 are again missing save some few entries in the register of the mission at Isle aux Tourtes; the Curé having nearly always kept two sets of registers, the one for his parish and the other for the mission.

The greater number of the Indian mission registers have been mislaid. The existing registers at the greffe and at Ste. Anne's establish that, from the 18th of December 1703 to the 22nd of September 1711, Mr. De Breslay, Curé of Haut de L'Isle almost invariably styled himself "Missionary of the Indian mission, exercising the functions of Curé of the parish of St.Louis." Nevertheless, on the 11th January 1712 he calls himself "Indian missionary exercising the functions of Curé to the inhabitants of the upper end of Montreal Island," a quality which he had already assumed previously, more particularly on the 19th of July, the 7th of August and the 1st of November 1711.

Is it at all likely that, if the name of his chapel was at that time changed to that of Ste. Anne's, at his own request, owing to a miracle which he obtained through the intercession of the good Ste. Anne's? As tradition tells us, Mr. de Breslay would have failed to assume, then and there, the title of Curé of Ste. Anne's. Mr. Bourgeault, on the authority of the archives of the seminary, informs us that it was during the years 1713 and 1714, that Mr. de Breslay went to France, [10] and it can hardly be presumed that the name of his parish was changed during his absence or that a new church or chapel was built.

Is it not rather to be presumed that, in passing through Quebec, on the onward or return trip, he may have requested the Bishop to grant a new dedication? Be that as it may, Mr. de Breslay reappeared at Stew. Anne's on the 18th of October 1714 and requested the certificate of a new register, wherein he says that he exercises "the functions of Curé in the parish and mission of the church of Ste. Anne's of Hault de l'Isle de Montréal."

Mr. D'Urfé's wooden chapel, which was unprotected except that it was probably enclosed by a stake fence, must have been destroyed like the rest of the habitations of Bout de l'Isle. During the Iroquois war, from September 1687 to the year 1698, this parish seems to have been abandoned by that part of its population, which had escaped the massacres of the autumn of 1687. Even Mr. Le Ber's stone fort proved useless against the rush of the savage Indians. In the beginning of May 1691, it was burned by them (800 strong) during one of the many inroads which they made almost yearly upon the Island of Montreal, [11] Faillon, Ferland and contemporaneous manuscripts allude to this destruction and to other devastation at Pointe aux Trembles and Repentigny, [12] but they do not mention any loss of life at Bout de l'Isle because it was abandoned.


References

  1. Histoire de la Colonie Française, 355 [back to text]
  2. Jean de la Londe dit Lespérance [back to text]
  3. L'Echo du cabinet de Lecture Paroissial, 1866, p. 266. [back to text]
  4. Mandements des ƒveques, vol. 1, p. 128 [back to text]
  5. Register of Lachine, p. 7 [back to text]
  6. Greffe de Pottier, 2nd May 1700 [back to text]
  7. 1 Col. 589 [back to text]
  8. Register of Lachine [back to text]
  9. Register of Lachine [back to text]
  10. Mr. de Vaudreuil wrote to the French Minister in 1713: "Le Sr. de Breslay, missionaire des Nipissingues et Algonquins, passe en France pour avoir l'honneur de vous représenter les besoins de sa mission et les siens particuliers. Canadian Archives, Cor. Gén, 1713-14, vol. 34, p. 22 [back to text]
  11. Vie de Mlle Le Ber, p. 321 and Ferland, 1 Histoire du Canada, 232 [back to text]
  12. Collection de manuscrits, vol. 1, pp. 571, 594, 596. [back to text]


Errors in the text of Desirée Girouard

a) Guillaume D'Aoust died on March 9th 1729 [back to text]

b) Marie Barban, the widow of Jean de La Londe, was present at the signing of the deed of sale of the concession in Baie D'Urfé to her son Jean-Baptiste on July 24, 1702 before notary Antoine Ahdemar. [back to text]

© 2002 Chris Lalonde & Eric Lalonde                                        Updated: June 22, 2003