Louis Lepage of St. Clair

Historical documents

LEPAGE DE SAINTE-CLAIRE, LOUIS, priest, canon, lord, born August 22, 1690 in Saint-François, Île d'Orléans, son of René Lepage de Sainte-Claire, first lord of Rimouski, and Marie-Madeleine Gagnon, died in Terrebonne (Quebec) on December 3, 1762.

Louis Lepage de Sainte-Claire belonged to a family established in New France since 1663. Having entered the seminary of Quebec, Lepage de Sainte-Claire received minor orders from Mgr de Saint-Vallier [La Croix *] on October 8, 1713. He was ordained a priest in the cathedral of Quebec on April 6, 1715. Immediately ordained, Lepage de Sainte-Claire was appointed parish priest of Saint-François-de-Sales, Île Jésus. Some time after his installation, he bought land, and in January 1719 he obtained his first concession from the seminary of Quebec, owner of Île Jésus; he acquired other properties in February and March 1720. In addition, he planned to exploit the immense estates located on the other side of the Mille-Îles river. Indeed, the seigneury of Terrebonne, granted for the first time in 1673, had hardly been developed. The successive owners, André Daulier Deslandes, Louis Le Conte * Dupré and François-Marie Bouat * had established only a small number of censitaires, and no banal mill or manor seigneurial had been built. Following financial setbacks, Bouat ceded the seigneury of Terrebonne to Father Lepage on September 2, 1720 for the sum of 10 livres, while keeping the mortgage on the land. The seigneury then occupied a territory of two leagues abreast and two leagues deep.

Appointed canon of the chapter on June 9, 1721, Lepage de Sainte-Claire obtained permission from his bishop to reside in his domain. He began the land grant in 1723, and in a single day he signed 24 contracts. The confession and enumeration of his seigneury in 1736 shows that the number of censitaires had reached 81. Even if the authorities of the colony defended its establishment, Lepage de Sainte-Claire erected a veritable village on the banks of the Rivière des Mille- He is. He had a stone church built on his estate, a presbytery serving as a stately home, four flour mills, a sawmill. According to Intendant Hocquart *, it was a veritable industry that had no equal in the whole colony.

However, the development of his seigneury had hardly left him time to fulfill his duties as a canon. He was not the only one in this case and, in a letter to Maurepas on October 19, 1728, Canon Charles Plante complained of the canons' negligence in attending services and mentioned in particular "M. Louis Lepage [who] has its land and its mills to promote ”. Asked by Bishop Dosquet * to submit to the residency, Lepage de Sainte-Claire resigned in 1729.

In 1731, the lord of Terrebonne was granted land two leagues deep adjoining his lordship in order to increase the reserves of wood he needed. The same year, he undertook by contract to supply the shipyards of the colony and the metropolis with planks and planking of pine and oak, and, to obtain more raw material, he exploited oak groves in the lordships of Berthier-en-Haut and Dautré. On October 20, 1730, Lepage de Sainte-Claire had sent the minister a long memorandum in which he underlined that the difficulties “to succeed in the various enterprises […] only [come] from the scarcity of money, and of men ". To remedy these two disadvantages, he proposed the construction of a greater number of ships, which would “throw money into the colony” and “cause emulation”. However, his plea was not taken into consideration.

At this time, Lepage de Sainte-Claire, whose health was failing, was struggling with constant financial worries. He wanted to restore his situation and, on July 12, 1738, he signed a contract of association with the brothers of Ailleboust, of Montreal, in order to set up a forge in his seigneury. But he had neglected one essential point, namely to obtain the king's permission, and, despite the support of Canon Pierre Hazeur * de L'Orme, he received the royal order not to proceed with the plan. The king feared that this new enterprise would harm the forges of Saint-Maurice which were then experiencing great financial difficulties. Lepage de Sainte-Claire found himself in an unfortunate position, his associates having obtained the termination of the contract on September 29, 1739. Father Lepage was then obliged to repay the sums advanced by his associates and to cede to them the use of his sawmill for eight years. He tried again, but without success, to interest the authorities in his enterprise. In a last attempt, he then asked for permission to operate the periclitous forges of Saint-Maurice, but, unable to provide any guarantees, he saw his proposal rejected.

On January 15, 1745, his financial situation not having improved, he sold his seigneury to Louis de La Corne, known as La Corne the elder, at a price of 60 livres, to which was added an annuity of 000 livres in front of his 'switch off on death. The statement of his debts annexed to this contract of sale, indicated a sum of 1 livres; the seigneury, according to the estimates of the time. was worth at least 000 livres. In 55, in a last effort, Father Lepage built a sawmill on the Mille-Îles River, but the business quickly declined.

The following year, he retired to the presbytery of Saint-Louis-de-Terrebonne, where he died on December 3, 1762, at the age of 72. Father Lepage de Sainte-Claire, like many other builders who could only count on themselves, ran many businesses without worrying too much about the debts he could contract. His activities on his seigneury and the management of his many businesses did not prevent him from exercising his ministry in his seigneury and in the neighboring parishes deprived of priests. He had also been pastor in title or serving in Saint-François-de-Sales, Lachenaie and Sainte-Rose, Île Jésus. The many donations he made to these different churches still testify to his dedication and activity.

Aimee Despatie


AAQ, 12 A, Registers of innuendo B, 245, 246; Innuendo Registers C, 7; 11B, Correspondence, II: 150; 1W, Church of Canada, I: 69–75.— AJQ, Civil register, Saint-François, Île d'Orléans, August 22, 1690.— AN, Col., C11A, 53, pp. 116–123; 57, pp. 123–128; 58, pp. 52s. ; 74, pp. 27–31; Col., E, 278 (Lepage file) (copies to the APC) .— ANQ, Greffe de Pierre Duquet, 26 Oct. 1681; NF, Confessions and counts; NF, Ord. int., I: 115.— ANQ-M, Greffe de C.-F. Coron, July 10 1749; L.-C. Danré de Blanzy, Jan. 15, 1745; Registry of Pierre Raimbault, Oct. 1, 1718, Sept. 2, 1720; Registry of Nicolas Senet, Jan. 24, 1719, April 24, 1723, March 26, 1730, July 12. 1738. - APC, MG 8, A7, 5; MG 24, L3, 7; 37; 44.— Minutes of Attorney General Collet (Caron), RAPQ, 1921–1922, 291, 369.