In any case, Mathurin operated his farm under contract for only a short time. Indeed, he soon opted to move to the south shore of the St-Lawrence River. On Tuesday, October 10, 1686, Mathurin Dubé, designated as “a resident of Grande Anse” (1) and his wife Marie Campion presented themselves before notary Gilles Rageot to conclude a contract for the sale of their land, obtained in concession in June 1667, to Julien Dumont dit Lafleur. The witnesses were Jean-Baptiste Morin dit de Rochebelle and Métru, who signed the document, while “the said parties declared to be unable to write or sign.” (2) This last statement, although constant for Mathurin, was not quite exact for Marie. Therefore, after having spent some twenty years on Orléans Island, Mathurin and his family left their land in late September or early October 1686 for lot number 30 in the new seigniory of La Pocatière. Mathurin was the first tenant farmer and one of the first settlers to inhabit this sector of Notre-Dame-de-Liesse (Rivière-Ouelle), a very large parish at the time.
1- Tenant Farmer of the Seigniorial Domain
François-Madeleine-Fortuné Ruette, sieur d'Auteuil, probably informed of Mathurin Dubé’s farming skills by his grandmother Anne Gasnier, granted our ancestor a farming lease for the property owned by Marie-Anne Juchereau de la Pocatière. The grantor was then acting as manager for a property owned by his wife, the widow of François Pollet de la Combe Pocatière. Thus, fifteen days before the sale of his farm on Orléans Island, Mathurin accepted on Thursday, September 26, 1686, before notary Gilles Rageot, to operate under lease “from next May 1, for a period of seven consecutive years (…) the land and seigniorial manor of the La Pocatiere seigniory in Grande Ansse … which runs from Monsieur de Sainct Denis’ land on one side to Guillaume Lisot’s land and buildings on the other side, and extends from the St.Lawrence River up to the end and the depth of the said land,” (3) along with the house and other existing buildings. The seignior also undertook to provide the animals, tools and “all seed grains required to sow the said lands,” (4) half of which the tenants had to reimburse from the crop to come. Mathurin and Marie agreed to “deliver and load in the row boat” (5) sent every year by seignior Ruette d’Auteuil “sixteen pounds of salted butter” (6) in the pots or tubs provided by the seignior, and this for every cow in the herd, as well as to share with the seignior “half of the growth” (7), in this instance half of the calves and other products yielded by the land. The tenants were to prevent the hunting of any animal or bird, but partridges. The witnesses were Nicolas Huot St-Laurent, a tenant of La Bouteillerie seigniory, and Pierre Mourier, a former neighbour of Mathurin’s on Orléans Island. Both this last man and Mathurin Dubé “declared being unable to write and sign.” (8) However, Mathurin put his mark. Marie tried to sign the contract but succeeded only partially, writing her initials MA...'C. Notary Rageot confirmed the signature by indicating under it: Signature de Marie Campion.
2- Exploitation of the Domain
Even though Mathurin was not constrained by a regime of strict serfdom as were European peasants at the time, he still had certain obligations to fulfill. Indeed, he had to pay his seignior an annual rent for the farm; to provide him three or four days of work, generally spent stocking the crops in the barn; to have his wheat milled in his seignior’s grain mill; and to pay his seignior a fee which was usually equivalent to four per cent of the crops. Mathurin most likely grew mainly wheat, as did other farmers at the time, in order to produce sufficient revenues. He probably grew other crops as well, such as rye, barley, buckwheat, oat, lentils, cabbage, millet, beans, linseed and hemp, these crops being well-adapted to the soil of the region. In less than two years, our farming ancestor obtained two farm tenancy contracts from high-ranking persons as well as the privilege to raise his family on the seigniorial domain. These contracts and the concession obtained from the bishop, for whom Mathurin worked a period of time, appear to indicate that Mathurin was a good worker and that he mastered agricultural practices. Unfortunately, the absence of documents prevents us from evaluating and quantifying the results of Mathurin’s work on this seigniorial domain.
We do not know the exact location of Mathurin’s living quarters on the large seigniorial domain. The manor does not exist anymore, even though nowadays one can see on the hill a very large house that would have been suitable for the La Pocatière manor. Louis Dubé, a retired teacher from Université Laval and one of the early pillars of the Association des Dubé d’Amérique, wrote in issue 16 of our newsletter Le Bé (December 16, 2000): “When one considers Guillaume Lizot’s land on the east side and the limit of St-Denys’ seigniory on the west side, the place where Mathurin and his family were sent can only be this part (26 arpents) of Pollet fiefdom designated as the domain on the cadastral map drawn by Léon Roy.” (9) This site is known as le Grand Ruisseau (or Large Brook); in fact, the seignior built his communal mill along that brook. According to Léon Roy (Les Terres de la Grande-Anse des Aulnaies et du Port-Joly, p. 147), Jean LeRouge surveyed the seigniory in 1692 and he described the seigniorial domain as follows:
“starting from a boundary marker I planted in this place to separate the said seigniory from Mr. de St Denis’ seigniory, and from the said marker I measured 14 arpents up to the river on which is built the mill, and from the said river up to Guillaume Lissot’s house there are 9 arpents 9 perches, and at the end of these I drew a line running from northwest to southeast up to the hill, the said line separating the domain of the said seigniory owned by Mr. Dauteuille from Guillaume Lissot’s house, and on the said line I planted two stone markers over pieces of broken brick buried in the ground.” (10)
Léon Roy added that the surveyor should have counted 12 arpents instead of 9 arpents and 9 perches between Grand Ruisseau and Guillaume Lizot’s land as the domain extended over 26 arpents on the riverfront.
3- The Heroes of Rivière-Ouelle
The Dubé family played a role, albeit very modest, in our national history while it lived on the La Pocatière domain. When a fleet of 34 British vessels sailing from Boston under Sir William Phipps arrived in 1690, parish priest Pierre Terrier de Francheville gathered 38 citizens and young men to fight the invaders. Because of intermarriages between the families in this area, many of these fighters were our ancestors. The priest, wearing a long coat and armed with a musket, lead his parishioners during the night and set up an ambush by placing them behind shrubs. Mathurin was among them, very probably accompanied by his sons Mathurin and Louis, aged 18 and 14 respectively. The resupply detachment sent onto shore by Phipps at high tide was met with a musket burst and retreated in panic. Local tradition still refers to the fighting companions as the Héros de Rivière-Ouelle and has associated them to the safeguarding of New France. This brief skirmish has been immortalized in Rivière-Ouelle with a commemorative plaque celebrating the glory of these unlikely fighters. Erected in 1946 under the initiative of Reverend Armand Dubé (1906-1987), historian in Rivière-Ouelle, this monument provides actual generations with a reminder of the courageous act accomplished by these pioneers under the direction of a humble rural parish priest. Phipps’ fleet received a similar “welcome” everywhere it tried to land along the river. Short of supplies and feeling powerless in front of the troops assembled by Governor Frontenac, Phipps was unable to maintain his siege of Quebec City and returned to Boston.
4- The Enigma of the Lease Surrender
In September 1686, Mathurin signed a contract extending over “seven consecutive years.” (11) In issue 16 of our newsletter Le Bé (December 2000, p. 18), Louis Dubé wrote: “How long did Mathurin Dubé remain the first farm tenant of the seigniory located at Grande-Anse? Our belief had always been that he had fulfilled himself his 7-year contract, running from 1686 to 1694.” (12) Louis raised the problem concerning the end of the contract after reading a paragraph in the book La Famille d’Auteuil au Canada published by Thérèse D. Ferland in 1972. She stated: “In the Spring, the attorney [procureur] has to revoke the contract signed one year earlier with Mathurin Dubé relative to the seigniory at Grande-Anse. This tenant has obtained a concession at Rivière-Ouelle and prefers to live there. He proposes his son Mathurin Junior to work on the farm in his place. Ruette d’Auteuil accepts the proposal; therefore, land clearing will continue in La Pocatière with the younger Dubé, at least until 1694.” (13)
We would like to know the sources Mrs. Ferland used to base her statement of a contract surrender. According to Léon Roy, Mathurin Dubé was the farm tenant of seignior d’Auteuil at the time Jean LeRouge surveyed the seigniory in 1692. According to documents left by Raymond Dubé, Mathurin acquired a four-arpent wide tract of land in Rivière-Ouelle on December 5, 1690. Michel Langlois wrote that at the end of his lease contract in 1694 Mathurin “receives from the Sieur de la Bouteillerie a land wide of two arpents on waterfront and long of forty two arpents at l’Anse-aux-Iroquois. This piece of land is adjacent to the land he had previously purchased from Nicolas Cantin.” (14) However, when Léon Roy referred to our ancestor, he did not mention the farms acquired in 1690 and in 1694. We have found documents showing that Michel Langlois made an error when he attributed the 1694 concession to the elder Mathurin rather than to the younger Mathurin. Even though we contest the assertion that the elder Mathurin would have asked for the transfer of the contract to his son in 1687, we agree that the son effectively fulfilled the lease contract. It appears that the elder Mathurin began living on his new farm in Rivière-Ouelle around 1691 and undertook another round of land clearing before his death.
Original French quotations
(1) « habitant de la Grande Hanse ».
(2) « lesd. Partyes (ont) déclaré ne scavoir escrire ny signer ».
(3) « du premier may prochain pour sept ans consécutifs (…) La terre et manoire Seigneurial de la Seigneurie de la Pocatiere en la Grande Ansse … joignant dun costé à Monsieur de Sainct Denis dautre a la terre et habitation de Guillaume Lisot dun bout le fleuve Sainct Laurent d’autre la fin et profondeur de lad. terre ».
(4) « toutes les avances de grains qui leur seront necessaires pour ensemencer lad. terre ».
(5) « livrer et charger dans la Chaloupe ».
(6) « saize livres de boeurre sallé ».
(7) « moytié aux escroix ».
(8) « ont déclaré ne scavoir escrire ny signer ».
(9) «Si on vérifie avec attention où se trouve la terre de Guillaume Lizot à l’est et la limite de la seigneurie St-Denys à l’ouest, l’endroit où furent envoyés Mathurin et sa famille ne peut être que dans cette partie (26 arpents) du fief Pollet qu’on désigne comme étant le domaine sur le cadastre de Léon Roy».
(10) « qui commence a Une Borne que j’ay plantée qui separe la susd. seigneurie de celle de Mr de St Denis et depuis lad. Borne j’ay mesuré 14 arpens jusqu'à la rivierre ou est basty le moulin et depuis dad. Riviere jusqua labitation de guillaume lissot il y a 9 arpens 9 perches et au bout diceux j’ay tiré une ligne du nord ouest au sudest jusqu'au costeau lad. ligne faisant separation du domaine de lad. seigneurie de Mr Dauteuille de l’habitation de guillaume lissot et sur lad. ligne j’ay planté deux bornes de Pierre Sous lesquelles est enterré des morceaux de briques ».
1 arpent = 180 French feet of about 32 centimetres = about 58.47 metres
10 perches = 1 arpent = about 5.847 metres
(11) « pour sept ans consécutifs ».
(12) « Combien de temps Mathurin Dubé a-t-il été le premier fermier à bail de la seigneurie de la Grande-Anse ? Nous avions toujours cru qu’il avait rempli lui-même son contrat de 7 ans, c'est-à-dire de 1686 à 1694. »
(13) « Au printemps, le procureur doit résilier le bail accordé un an plus tôt à Mathurin Dubé dans la seigneurie de la Grande-Anse. Celui-ci a obtenu une concession à Rivière-Ouelle et préfère s’y établir. Il propose son fils Mathurin Junior pour travailler sur la ferme à sa place. Ruette d’Auteuil accepte le marché et le défrichement continuera à la Pocatière avec Dubé fils au moins jusqu’en 1694. »
(14) « reçoit du sieur de la Bouteillerie une terre de deux arpents de front par quarante-deux arpents de profondeur à l’Anse-aux-Iroquois à Rivière-Ouelle.»