PAPINEAU FAMILIES OF QUÉBEC
AND OTHER PLACES
Samuel Papineau dit Montigny 1670-1737
1.1 The beginning of the saga, from Montigny to La RochelleIt is Saturday afternoon, April 25th of 1699, in Ville-Marie in New-France.
A tall young man moves swiftly in the still muddy street from the remnants of winter snow.
He is in trapper's dress, safe for the blue woollen cap decorated with a white anchor, the traditional badge of the soldiers of the French Troops of Marine.
To his left, is the silhouette of the bell tower of the humble church of Notre-Dame, and to the right, the stony mass of the new seminar of the priests of Saint-Sulpice, Lords of the island of Montreal. It is there that he has a meeting.
The first church of Notre-Dame in Ville-Marie, built by father Dollier de Casson
between 1672 and 1683 and demolished in 1829.
Behind the half-opened door, the superior, François Dollier de Casson, a former captain of cavalry become priest, and later first city historian of Ville-Marie, welcomes Samuel Papineau dit Montigny and invites him to follow him in one of the rooms.
Documents are spread over the table and wait for the signatures of the witnesses, namely, the royal surgeon, Jean de Mosny and the royal notary, Pierre Raimbault.
His fate is cast, Samuel will stay in Nouvelle-France rather than return to France.
He does not know if he will see again his mother, Marie Delain, widow of his father Samuel who died some years before his departure. He thinks of his home of la Papinière in the village of Montigny close to the river Sèvre Nantaise where, as a child, after his chores at the windmill, he used to go fishing with other young Vendée children.
The village of la Papinière in Montigny. (photo JYP, October, 1998)
The drawings and maps of Cassini in 1768 show Montigny, the church, La Papiniere house, the windmill and the brook named "ruisseau Papiniere".
And the neighbour "la Pommeraie" also exists today.
Samuel has left his native Poitou, in the kingdom of France, joining as a volunteer in the thirty - fifth and last company of the " Detachments of Marines " recruited between 1683 and 1688 in order to put an end to the wars with the Iroquois indians.
In this magnificent autumn of 1687 all the people of his village are there.
The recruiting sargeant orders a solemn drum roll before the church yard.
St-Pierre parish church, Montigny.
11-th century choir, 19-th century bell tower. (photo JYP, May, 2000)
The choice of the draw falls on his older brother (Gilles ?) who has recently become the family support. Without hesitation, Samuel quite naturally takes his place, to the great pleasure of the captain who is looking for tall strong soldiers to impose fear on the enemy. This young giant with the bold appearance will do.
This gesture will allow Samuel during all his life to declare himself proudly a "volunteer" and not a conscript as most of the others of the recruit of 1688.
The drummer continues his work in the towns and villages of the neighborhood. To St-André-sur-Sèvre, wherefrom comes another comrade, sargeant Pierre Meriau dit Laprairie, after the name of his village of La Prairie. Then to the fortified cities of St-Mesmin and Pouzauges and then on to Cerisay, where the city fathers will complain bitterly to the Governor of Poitou about these excessive levying of troops for Canada.In the meantime, Samuel is doing the rounds to say goodbye to his friends.
He goes by Montigny's gracious castle of Plessis-Batard,
and continuous towards that of La Forêt-sur-Sèvre. (Photos JYP, May, 1998)
This magnificient domain is doubly historic. It was built by the great family of the famous poet Joachim du Bellay. The castle later became the property of Philippe du Plessis Mornay, nicknamed in Poitou: " the pope of the Huguenots ". He was a very influential protestant theologian, councillor of the king of Navarre who later became Henri IV, king of France.(see a romantic 18th century painting by Kauffman of Henri IV with Duplessis Mornay)
From there Samuel continues to the market-city of Bressuire, dominated by the enormous dark towers of its castle. He comes here every Thursday for the family business, and every year, for the renowned fair of Saint-Jacques which attracts to its cattle market the traders and merchants of all France.
He needs one complete day, riding his sure footed Poitou mule, for all these farewells and to cover in the smoke filled air the five leagues of this trip by hollow roads and narrow paths lined with hedges of coarse weeds that the farmers burn to enrich their thin lands.
Then he says very bravely goodbye to his family. His mother reminds him a last time in Vendée patois the famous poem by Joachim Du Bellay about returning home : " Tchao qui a teurviré aux quatre coins de la terre".... Happy who like Ulysses has made a beautiful journey ". Her Samuel also, she hopes, will return soon to his native country.
He remembers then the forced march of the small troop southward through the hills of the typical Vendée hedged farmland, sometimes slowed down, because in several villages new recruits are drafted. Quite often the sergeant - recruiter has to fetch the young conscript in the inns which had proliferated in roadsite cities .
For the first time he sees La Chataigneraie, then Fontenay-le-Comte, the martyred city of the last wars of religions. From there, one comes down slowly towards the Poitou marshes which, with the help of Dutch experts, France makes every effort to reconquer from the sea.
One crosses Maillezais where the monumental abbey spires stand out on the low October sky, celebrated by the writer Rabelais who was during three years the secretary of the Lord-Bishop, Geoffroy of Estissac. Then one turns westward towards the sea to join Marans whose watery tranquility inspired the famous courteous letters of king Henri IV to la belle Corisande, his mistress.
One crosses there the ford on the river Sèvre Niortaise. Then due south to the Charente country and the new port city of Rochefort which the great Colbert had built inland in 1665 to make the Atlantic coast safer from the English ships that were forever attacking the coastal ports of Brest and La Rochelle.
It is there that the old dragoons of the glorious Louis XIV's wars begin to inculcate in this ill-assorted troop the military discipline which made them victorious: exercises and training with musket and sword and in manual combat. At first they are quite reluctant. All these youngsters are by tradition independent and quite cunning. Parades, for them, are very far from the effective ambush and fine hunt practised in their moors.
It is not very easy either during these months of preparation for the long crossing to master the French language, from now on compulsory for all these young people, for the greater part illiterate and coming from several French provinces, each with the local words of their regions.
He notices that for the greater part they are from western France, Brittany, Anjou, Poitou, Aunis, Saintonge and Angoumois, and that they have in common very strong accents, at the same time melodious and rocky. Those of the central provinces and Paris find very amusing some of these local words: fourrer: to deceive, garocher: to throw, bêtises: insults, galipote: witchcraft; all beautiful words which they will take with them to New-France
In brief moments of freedom, the recruits promenade on Rochefort's quays and streets under the mischievous eyes of the local girls attracted by the uniform. It is greyish white with blue border, topped with the black three-cornered hat decorated with the white anchor and lined with a gold-coloured braid, similar to the traditional headgear of Caudebec in Normandy.
But at 18, one is very young to be moved for a long time at the sight of the enticing maids or to admire the sweetness of bucolic landscapes, especially when one struts about in uniform and speaks about vessels, about artillery, and about adventures in the unknown overseas.
Soldiers of the troops at Rochefort (Eugène Leliepvre)
The port of Rochefort, as seen from the colonies' stores.
Engraving from a painting by Joseph Vernet, 1762.