the French Connection – Part 8 – Trois Rivieres and Pierre Lefebvre

Trois-Rivieres c. 1700 by James Pichy
Trois-Rivieres c. 1700 by James Pichy

How many dang parts am I going to have in this French connection? I’m not sure. I’ve just been going along to see where it leads me. Trois Rivieres is a very significant city for my ancestors. I remember receiving my first package from a Quebec researcher. I gave her $50 and she gave me my French-Canadian family tree back to the 1600s. I was blown away. I had never seen anything like it. There were so many ancestors found in one fell swoop.  That’s the beauty of Catholic church records. Anyway, one of the most mentioned places was Trois Rivieres. My great great grandmother’s maiden name was Lefebvre and her ancestor, Pierre Lefebvre, was a founding settler of Trois Rivieres.

Trois Rivieres from the website of the Canadian Encyclopedia:

The regional capital of Quebec’s Mauricie region, is located on the west shore of the mouth of RIVIÈRE SAINT-MAURICE, midway between Québec City and Montréal. Its name derives from the 3-armed delta formed by the river’s islands at its mouth.

The fortified settlement built at Samuel de CHAMPLAIN‘s request in 1634 replaced the stockade abandoned earlier by the ALGONQUIN, who had likely fled the hostile IROQUOIS at the turn of the century. The former, who were allies of the French, lived for a long time in or near the small French village, whose major function was to organize the FUR TRADE in the interior. Following the administrative restructuring of NEW FRANCE in 1663, Trois-Rivières became the seat of local government, with a GOUVERNEUR, king’s lieutenant, major, court of royal jurisdiction and vicar general. This gave the settlement an importance which exceeded that of its size. At the time of the conquest in 1760 the town had 586 inhabitants.

The Rivière Saint-Maurice played a major role in Trois-Rivières’s history as a point of entry to the interior’s natural resources. It was first used to transport furs from the northern forests.


From Marjorie Lizotte at A Point in History:

An abbreviated timeline…

1541:  Jacques Cartier, while looking for gold and diamonds, found “a fine mine of the best iron ore in the world….”  However, it would be another 200 years before Canada’s iron ore mines were actually worked.  Politics and economics continually got in the way.

1617-1618:  Samuel de Champlain, projected an optimistic 1 million livres in revenues from the iron deposits found in the area.

1634: Under the orders of Champlain, LaViolette travels to the mouth of the Saint-Maurice River to found a fur trading post and build a fort on ‘le Platon’, a plateau situated on a hillock of land along the St. Lawrence River.  The fort would enclose a few homes and shops, and the settlement would become known as Trois-Rivières.  For a long time, this site will be one of the most advantageous for the activities of fur traders.

The First Fort in Trois Rivieres
The First Fort in Trois Rivieres – Pierre Lefebvre had lot 24

Map of Trois Rivieres
Map of Trois Rivieres – the Original fort was along the river amongst those purple dots in the lower part of the map


A history of Pierre Lefebvre, my 8th great grandfather from History of An American Family:

Pierre Lefebvre entered the world in the tumultuous 1600’s in Sceaux, a town just north of Paris. His destiny was to be hard work, adventure and prosperity. He took the dit name of Descoteaux, or “little hills” . Pierre probably arrived in Quebec in 1640 or 1641 as a contract worker. Old records say he was the master of his trade, without naming that trade.


Governor Huault de Montmagny granted Pierre land in 1644. Early in 1646 Pierre married Jeanne Aunois. In 1647 the Compagnie de la Nouvelle France ceded a tract of land to Pierre. It measured one kilometer by four kilometers, on the Saint Lawrence River, to the east of the Gentilly River. Those times were too precarious for him to develop his fief.

Charles Huault de Montmagny - first governor and lieutenant general of New France 1636-
Charles Huault de Montmagny – first governor and lieutenant general of New France 1636-1648

The paragraph below is from A Point in History website:

In April, 1647, la Compagnie de la Nouvelle-France, otherwise known as the Company of 100 Associates accepted Pierre Lefebvre as a member of the select class, if not as a Seigneur, then as one of the large land owners. It will be granting to him, as well as to Nicolas Marsolet, a piece of land at the mouth of the Gentilly River. The Domaine de Marsolat situated next to the Lefebvre property will be granted to him as a fief and Seigniory.  (Here’s old Nicolas Marsolet again)

Quebec Centre
Quebec Centre – Gentilly River is between Gentilly and Becancour. The St. Lawrence is running down the left side of this map. Trois Rivieres and Cap-de-la-Madeleine isare across the river from this area.

The year 1648 was rough for Pierre Lefebvre. On July 14, 1648 he was captured by the Iroquois. He left behind a pregnant wife and a small son. Such an event was usually fatal, but in October Pierre came back with a Mohawk Indian named Berger, who was a friend of the French. This is all we know of this event.

Pierre was captured by the Iroquois
Pierre was captured by the Iroquois

Rescued by a Mohawk Indian
Rescued by a Mohawk Indian

Pierre Lefebvre then eagerly followed the lead of Pierre Boucher, the Percheron, in building a solid stockade for Trois-Rivieres. Many disputed the wisdom of the project. In 1652, a new governor, Duplessis-Kerbodot, decided to lead a foray against the Iroquois. Pierre Boucher opposed this expedition and remained back in the stockade, as did Pierre Lefebvre. The Iroquois wiped out Duplessis-Kerbodot and twenty two of his men Pierre probably played his part in the heroic defense of Trois-Rivieres the next year when 600 Iroquois returned and laid siege.

Pierre Boucher - founder of Boucherville
Pierre Boucher – founder of Boucherville

In 1656 still interested in land, he bought nearly 40 arpents in Cap-de-la-Madeleine and Pierre Boucher granted him land at Point-du-lac. He continued living in Trois-Rivieres, where he was a civil official. In 1658 and again in 1660, the populace named him mayor. Pierre Lefebvre became church warden in 1663 and played a significant role in building the first church in Trois-Rivieres in 1664.

In 1666 the Jesuits gave him about an arpent of land in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, where he went to live for the balance of his life. He divided his property amongst his children in 1668 and died sometime in the next two years. Jeanne Auneau lived until 1697.


Another history for Pierre from “Our French Canadian Ancestors” by Thomas J. Laforest. There’s a little more detail about his capture by the Iroquois below:

Versatile and omnipresent are the words which best describe Pierre Lefebvre. Founder of the oldest Lefebvre family in America, this ancestor left his heritage with the families of the Denoncourt, Descoteaux, Lemerise, Lassisseraye, and with many of the Belisle, Beaulac, and Senneville, families.

Endowed with an uncommonly sharp intellect, this remarkable builder came from the Paris region. The son of Pierre Lefebvre and Jeanne Cutiloup, Pierre had come from Sceaux by 1642. His presence was first noted at Trois-Rivieres on April 11, 1643 in a case opposing the brothers Michel and Jacques Leneuf against Guillaume Isabel. The former were accused of kicking and beating the latter. The fact of his having been a witness to the charge must not have left the Leneufs with any rancor, because Jacques and Marie-Madeleine Leneuf were godparents to Pierre’s eldest son, Jacques, on January 12, 1647.

Some genealogists think that Pierre arrived in New France already married to Jeanne Aunois, but it is more likely their marriage was celebrated at Trois-Rivieres about 1646. No records have been found. However a contract recorded by Severin Ameau, dated September 2, 1663, indicates that Pierre was a native of Sceaux and that his father was named Pierre.

Pierre acquired his first land grant from Governor Charles Hualt de Montmagny, on August 15, 1644. According to historians, this plot had an area of thirty arpents and was bordered by land belonging to the heirs of Etienne Vien, to Jacques Aubuchon dit Le Loyal, and a third piece to the “savages”.

On April 16, 1647, the Company of New France ceded to Pierre a grant of a quarter league in frontage by a league in depth, whose southwest boundary extended to the mouth of the Gentilly River. On June 1, 1674, Montmagny bestowed another favor on Pierre. Along with Guillaume Pepin, Guillaume Isabel and Sebastien Dodier he allowed them to clear the Ile de Mileau, across from their homes.

The journal of the Jesuits reported that on July 4, 1648, Pierre Lefebvre was captured by the Iroquois. The incident was described as follows: “The next day, the fourteenth of the same month July, an Algonquin having discovered the trail of the enemy, advised Monsieur de la Poterie of it, who warned the inhabitants by the alarm bell and by a volley of cannon, the ordinary signal to be on one’s guard; five Hurons nearest to the place where the enemy were already grappling with two of our Frenchmen who were guarding the cattle, ran to their voices and the clamor of the combatants, they joined them, resisting the effort of more than eighty men. Due to this noise, two armed boats were sent by water, but before they arrived at the place of combat, the Iroquois had already killed a Frenchman and a Huron, and took two Frenchmen prisoners; they were nevertheless frightened, having seen several of their men killed and wounded by the Frenchman, so they fled, even though they were at least ten against one. One of the French prisoners was the nephew of Monsieur de la Poterie who was out hunting a little way off and found himself taken without knowing how it happened; the Huron was a good Christian, he had made his confession the preceding Sunday, as did the Frenchman; the two captives Hurons were not baptized; as for the French prisoners, we may render testimony to their good life, even if they were at fault to be so exposed with the knowledge that they had of the enemy.”

Pierre had three long months as a captive among the Iroquois and returned in October in the company of one of the latter who had managed to escape his guards at Trois-Rivieres earlier.

On June 14, 1650, Pierre acquired a pied-a-terre in Trois-Rivieres. It measured 20 toises in frontage by the same depth, near the palisade. On this land stood a house shared by him and Bertrand Fafarddit Laframboise. Thirteen years later in a lawsuit brought by Pierre against Jacques and Rene Besnard it was inferred that this house which would today be on Turcotte Terrace, had no roof for the past two years and was in a state of decay. A bit later Pierre became the owner of a small island named l’Islet, situated at the mouth of the St-Maurice River between the mainland and Ile de la Trinite.

The Lefebvre family could have begun to travel between Trois-Riviers and the Cap-de-la-Madeleine in 1656. On May 11 of that year, Martin Boutet administrator of the estate of Antoine Denys sold Pierre a piece of land with two arpents frontage by 20 in depth located in the Cap.

Pierre Lefebvre was the tririverine mayor in 1658 and 1660, then church warden in 1663. On November 26, 1664 we see him with Pierre Boucher and Jean Cusson, two other sagacious men of the era, arbitrating a dispute between Father Jacques Fremin and Pierre Couc dit Lafleur. Pierre also participated in the construction of the first church in Trois-Rivieres, in 1664.

Pierre and his family were mentioned in the census of 1666 and 1667 at Trois-Riviers. In those years they had three employees, 7 head of cattle and 80 arpents of land.

On January 30, 1666, Father Jacques Fremin administrator of the Jesuits gave a two arpent homestead to Pierre. It was across the river in the seigneury of Cap-de-la-Madeleine and it here where Pierre and his family moved and where Pierre died two years later.

In 1668, Pierre, probably feeling the end was near, put his affairs in order. He gave his fief at Gentilly to his son-in-law, surgeon Felix Thunaye dit Dufresne. Pierre also divided his other property among his seven children. He made his last testament in his home on July 16, 1668, and although we do not have the exact date of his death, we know from a later marriage contract that his wife, Jeanne Aunois was a widow on October 12, 1670.

In the census of 1681, Jeanne was a widow, 54 years old, with sons, Michel, Ignace, and Pierre living at home probably to help her raise her cattle and work her 40 arpents of cleared land. According to Jette, she died and was buried at Trois-Riviers on February 12, 1697.




5 thoughts on “the French Connection – Part 8 – Trois Rivieres and Pierre Lefebvre

    1. Yep, that was about 15-20 years ago, but I couldn’t believe how much work she did for that. Basically filled the whole tree back on all the French families. Sure made my job easy. Thanks for reading Sue!

      1. Lally Cadeau

        Hi Rosh..I believe we’re related.I have a stack of geneology beside me, done by cousin in 1985, miraculous as that seems, without a computer. I’m a Cadeau, and my Grandmother was Brunault and a direct descendent of Louis Hebert. If I can figure out the charts, which have to be laid out properly to comprehend, Pierre Lefebre Did marryJeanne Aunois in Trois Rivieres, not in France, in 1646. But i have to figure out if it was my Grandmere or Pere who was related to Pierre…I enjoyed your story very much, and will now check the other stories..don’t know yet if you wrote them as well..Take Care, Lally Cadeau.

      2. Hello Lally, I am sure we are related. What a huge Quebec family we are. Thank you for writing. I love when people are excited about genealogy and ancestry. Yes I remember seeing Cadeau somewhere in my tree and interesting to see you are a descendant of Louis Hebert. I hope you enjoy the other stories. It’s fun to write about family history.
        Take care and let me know if you like the other stories! Blessings, Darcy (rosh)

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