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Louis Lepage of St. Clair

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

Louis Lepage of Sainte-Claire belonged to a family established in New France since 1663. Entering the seminary of Quebec, Lepage de Sainte-Claire received minor orders from Bishop Saint-Vallier [La Croix *] on October 8 1713. He was ordained a priest in the Cathedral of Quebec on 6 April 1715. As soon as he was ordained, Lepage de Sainte-Claire was appointed parish priest of Saint-François-de-Sales parish, Île Jésus. Some time after his installation, he bought land, and in January 1719 he obtained his first grant from the Seminary of Quebec, owner of Île Jésus; he acquired other properties in February and March 1720. In addition, he planned to operate the huge estates on the other side of the Thousand Islands 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 only established a small number of censitaires, and no ordinary mills or seigniorial mansions had been built. As a result of financial setbacks, Bouat ceded, the 2 September 1720, to the abbot Lepage the lordship of Terrebonne for the sum of 10 000ª, while keeping the mortgage on the land. The seigniory then occupied a territory of two leagues front on two leagues of depth.

Appointed canon of the chapter 9 June 1721, Lepage de Sainte-Claire obtained permission from his bishop to reside in his domain. He began the land grant in 1723 and, in one day, signed 24 contracts. The confession and enumeration of his lordship in 1736 shows that the number of censitaires had reached 81. Although the colony's authorities defended the settlement, Lepage de Sainte-Claire erected a village on the banks of the Thousand Islands River. He built on his estate a stone church, a presbytery serving as a stately home, four flour mills, a sawmill. According to the intendant Hocquart *, it was a real industry that was unlike any other in the colony.

However, the development of his lordship had not given him much time to fulfill his duties as a canon. He was not the only one in this case, and in a letter to Maurepas, October 19 1728, Canon Charles Plante complained of the negligence of the canons to attend the services and mentioned in particular "Mr. Louis Lepage [who] to his land and his mills to assert. Asked by Bishop Dosquet * to submit to the residence, Lepage de Sainte-Claire resigned from 1729.

In 1731, the lord of Terrebonne was granted a land of two leagues of depth adjoining his lordship to increase the supply of wood he needed. In the same year, he contracted to supply the shipyards of the colony and the metropolis with planks and planks of pine and oak, and to obtain more raw material, he exploited oak forests in the seigneuries of France. Berthier-en-Haut and Dautré. 20 October 1730, Lepage de Sainte-Claire had sent to the Minister a long memory where he stressed that the difficulties "to succeed in the different companies [...] came from the scarcity of money, and, men ". He proposed, in order to remedy these two disadvantages, the construction of a larger number of ships, which would "throw money into the colony" and "cause emulation". His plea was not taken into consideration, however,

At that time, Lepage de Sainte-Claire, whose health was shaky, was grappling with constant financial worries. He wanted to restore his situation and, on July 12, he signed a contract of association with the brothers of Ailleboust, of Montreal, in order to set up a forge in his seigniory. But he had neglected one essential point, namely to obtain the permission of the king, and, in spite of the support of Canon Pierre Hazeur * of L'Orme, he received the royal order not to follow up on this project. The king feared that this new venture would harm the forges of Saint-Maurice who were then experiencing great financial difficulties. Lepage de Sainte-Claire was in an unfortunate position, its partners having obtained the 1738 September 29 the termination of the contract. Father Lepage was then obliged to repay the sums advanced by his associates and to give them the enjoyment of his mill for eight years. He tried again, but without success, to interest the authorities in his enterprise. In a last attempt, he then asked permission to exploit the forging ironworks of Saint-Maurice, but, being unable to provide guarantees, he saw his proposal rejected.

15 January 1745, his financial situation having not improved, he sold his seigneury to Louis de La Corne, said the elder Horn, at the price of 60 000ª, to which was added a pension of 1 000ª in front of extinguish at death. The statement of his debts annexed to this contract of sale, indicated a sum of 55 268ª; the lordship, according to the estimates of the time. was worth at least 150 000ª. In 1749, in a last effort, Father Lepage built a mill on the Thousand Islands River, but the affair quickly declined.

The following year, he retired to the parsonage of Saint-Louis-de-Terrebonne, where he died on 3 December 1762, at the age of 72 years. Father Lepage de Sainte-Claire, like many other builders who could only rely on themselves, ran many businesses without paying too much attention to the debts he could incur. His activities on his seigniory and the management of his numerous enterprises did not prevent him from exercising his ministry in his seigniory and in the neighboring parishes without priests. He had also been parish priest or serving at Saint-François-de-Sales, Lachenaie and Sainte-Rose, Île Jésus. The many donations he made to these different churches always reflect his dedication and activity.

Aimé Despatie


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

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