Charles Boisverd 1750-1833

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Charles Boisverd, our direct ancestor, was born on November 4, 1750, and baptised November 5, 1750, in Grondines, Quebec. He was the son of Alexis Joubin dit Boisvert and Catherine- Charlotte Hamelin, both from Grondines, Quebec. 

Spouse: Marie-Anne Hamel

Charles Boisverd, 24, marries Marie-Anne Hamel on April 11, 1774 in Ste. Croix de Lotbiniere. She was the daughter of Joseph-Jean Hamel and Marie-Anne Grenier. Marie-Anne Hamel, 20, was born November 25, 1756 in Ste. Croix de Lotbiniere.

Lotbiniere, Quebec

During this time, Charles migrated away from the family homesteads which were located in Grondines and Deshallions. Even though Charles is shown to have been born in Grondines, he wed his wife in the church at Ste-Croix-de-Lotbiniere, which is roughly three miles east and south of the St. Lawrence River. All but one of his children were born and baptised within that church.

The simplest explanation for his move, was that his new wife, Marie-Anne Hamels family had land and lived around Lotbiniere. Marie-Annes family has been recorded living on the St. Lawrence river, in the 1666 census. As a tradition of the times, its possible that Marie-Anne had a dowry promised to her upon marriage which included land on the south side of the St. Lawrence River.

Currently, Lotbiniere is a small picturesque village, full of ancestral homes, located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence river about 100 km east of Quebec City.  It is nestled on cliffs overlooking the river and Deschambault on the northern shore.

This seigneury grew and ultimately was 10 miles of riverfront and 18 miles in depth (around 180-90 square miles). The first pioneers to be given land concessions here on October 31, 1673 were Michel LeMay and his son, Michel.

In year 1814 when Charles as 40 and Marie-Anne 36, the Seignueries fourth lord, Eustache Gaspard-Alain Chartier de Lotbinière, gave this account:

In the words of the Lord, in 1814, there were about five hundred and eighty (580) land, four hundred and five (405) in good crops. The population of this place can be 1,750 men and 1,650 women for a total of 3,400 souls … He adds that there are six (6) saw mills belonging to individuals and six (6) “potash.” 

The flour mill Portage will emerge and even then, there were large-scale production of maple products. Under this reign of settlers arrive begin clearing among other ranks St. Charles River and Bois Clair.

The first stone church was built on land located on a plain by the river at the eastern end of Lotbinière.  It was built between 1717-1724 of field stones.  It resembled the small church at Cap de la Madeleine, which still stands today.  This building did not withstand the elements well. Twenty five years after it was built it was falling into ruins.  It was decided that it was badly situated and that a new one should be constructed further west and closer to the cliffs, further away from the river.  Today, in front of the Seigneurial flour mill built in the 18th century, there stands a metal cross in a field.  It stands on the stone foundations, marking the site of this original church.

The Battle of Quebec 1775

During the first few years of Charles and Marie-Annes marriage, there was constant turmoil between England, France, the Native Americans and emerging 13 colonies of America. Most of the American Revolution did not involve Canada, except for British troop movement.

Most French Canadians wanted no part of an British family squabble.  Most refused to take up arms; no more than 600 French Canadians in all of Quebec were prepared to support the British English from the American English.

The one exception of conflict was in 1775. When the American army tried to threaten British control of Canada by attacking Quebec. While General Washington with the Continental Army was blockading Boston, Brigadier Richard Montgomery led an attack up the Lake Champlain route into Canada while Major General Benedict Arnold took his force across country through Maine. The purpose of the invasion of Canada was in part to bring the Canadian population into the war on the American side

Fort St John and Montreal were captured by the Americans. In late October 1775 Arnold arrived on Point Levis across the St Lawrence from Quebec, having lost a substantial part of his force on the punishing journey from New England. On November 13, General Montgomery brought 300 men up the St. Lawrence, past the town of Lotbiniere where Charles and his family farmed. British Colonel Allen Maclean, hearing of Arnold’s arrival, force marched his recruits from Sorel to Quebec, being joined later by Carleton.

Sorel to Quebec is about a 120 mile journey up the St. Lawrence River. Colonel Allen MacLeans 1,200 men would have traveled by Alexis, now 60 and his family. Charles would have been 25 and more apt to join the battle. Question is, what side did our ancestors favour, if any?

On 13th November 1775, Arnold took his force across the St Lawrence, climbed onto the Plains of Abraham and summoned the garrison to surrender or come out and fight. The garrison did neither. Arnold launched a night attack that was beaten back.

On 31st December 1775, with the addition of Montgomery’s troops, Arnold launched night attacks at either end of the city in a snowstorm. The garrison alerted by premature feint attacks on other parts of the city perimeter. Montgomery’s assault was repelled with heavy grapeshot and Montgomery was killed. Arnold’s attack penetrated the city wall but he was wounded. Maclean arrived from dealing with Montgomery’s assault and led the counter attack. The American troops who had penetrated the walls were captured and the assault was driven off.

The American army at Quebec suffered extremely as the winter was one of great severity. The English, having received reinforcements, on May 5th, 1776, the disastrous retreat began. The British pursued and burned homes of all the French who were even suspected of being rebels

May 17th, the weary American army wandered back down the St. Lawrence, arriving back at Sorel. At this time, Charles and other French farmers would have heard the results and rumors of the attack on Quebec, from the retreating American army and attacking British.

Local influences

In 1791, the Constitutional Act of 1791 split the Province of Quebec into two new provinces, Lower Canada and Upper Canada. By this time, relations between English speakers in the west and French speakers in the east were strained to the breaking point. This partition of land was in truth a partition  on ethnic and religious lines. The majority of Lower Canada inhabitants were French Catholic were as the Upper Canada iinhabitants were English speaking and of anglican faith.

In addition to political upheavel, economic changes were happening along the St. Lawrence River and the rest of Lower Canada.

Charles Boisverd was a farmer and fisherman as was his father and grandfather. There is no indication that he changed his trade when marrying Marie-Anne and moving across the river. 90% of Canada were still sustenance farming, this is defined as a type of farming in which most of the produce is consumed by the farmer and his family, leaving little or nothing to be marketed

Be it as it may, new trade and material demands were being put upon the Canadian colony. The Napoleonic wars created a tremendous need for timber to build British warships; however, a blockade of French ships prevented England from buying wood from the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania). As a result, England turned to Canada, where a seemingly inexhaustible supply of wood was available.

The fur trade went into a steep decline. In 1770, over 75% of Quebec’s exports to Great Britain were furs. By 1810, furs accounted for only 9% of the exports of Upper and Lower Canada. Timber, helped by preferential British tariffs,  accounted for over 70 % of the exports to Great Britain.

In 1812, the United States declared war on Great Britain. For the next three years, British, Native American and Canadian forces battled Americans along the borders of America and Canada. Just like the American Revolution, French Canadians remained neutral.

The conflicts remained west of Charles Boisverd and family, in the region west of Montreal. The only excitement for our relatives was watching the troop movement up and down the St. Lawrence River

At the end of Charles life there were many immigrants coming from the British Isles (Britain, Scotland, Ireland), to work in the timber industry or to build the canals. Between 1815 and 1850 close to one million immigrants arrived in British North America. The majority settled in Upper Canada, however large numbers also came to Lower Canada.

French Canadians saw the immigrants as a threat since they brought disease, competed for jobs and increased the hated English population in Lower Canada.

The Cholera Epidemic

In the single season of 1831, fifty thousand men, women and children had arrived in the ports of Quebec and Montreal. Most were famine-ridden, destitute Irish immigrants and the poor from the slums of English cities. With them came the threat of Asiatic cholera that was on the rise in India and sweeping across Europe.  There was fear it would strike Canada.

In 1832, a quarantine station was set up on Grosse Ile.  On June 13, 1832 it was publicly announced in Quebec City that there had been 94 cases of cholera in the past 24 hours and that 23 had died.  On June 15, there were 1,204 cases and 230 dead.

The disease was in Montreal within one day of the outbreak in Quebec City. On the 26 of June, 1832, 3,384 cases were reported with 947 deaths. By August, of the 52,000 arrivals at Grosse Ile, 24,000 had landed sick.  The ascertained deaths from cholera in 1832 were about 3,800 in Quebec City and about 4,000 in Montreal.  It was to return two years later in 1834.

Both in growing cities and in smaller rural communities, lacked of knowledge made matters worse. Cities cities drew water from lakes and rivers where human sewage was dumped. Even well water was often contaminated from contamination from nearby outhouses.

Initially it was thought that cholera was a disease of the “lower classes,” since they were the ones who were always hardest hit by it. Society was shattered to discover, however, that the disease began to occur among the “better sort.” Only then was attention given to the disease by government officials. Boards of Health immediately sprang up and hastened to offer warnings and words of advice.

Citizens were cautioned to avoid over-exertion, anxiety and sudden changes in diet and to keep out of the night air. They were also cautioned to keep clean, wear flannel and have plenty of anti-cholera medicine on hand. The latter was a homemade brew that was a mixture of laudanum (opium) and brandy. Neither the message nor the ‘medicine’ was of any help.

Cholera causes vomiting and massive purging of liquids resulting in dehydration which upsets the body’s chemical balance. Other symptoms include severe spasms and cramps, great thirst, a husky voice, a sunken face, blue coloring and eventually as the body processes collapse kidney failure.

The disease struck suddenly and arbitrarily and depending on the individual, cholera’s effects could range from minor intestinal disturbances to severe illness which was painful and rapidly fatal. A person in good health at daybreak might be dead and buried by nightfall. If one wanted to wish anyone bad luck or ill-will, a common curse of the day was “May cholera catch you.”

On June 8, 1832, the ship Voyageur cleared quarantine on Grosse Isle then dropped off some suddenly sick passengers in Quebec’s port before heading upriver, past the homestead of Charles and Marie Anne on it’s way to Montreal. The largest town near our ancestors, Trois-Riviéres, forbade vessels from entering and remained free of cholera in 1832, thus saving the lives of many riverfront inhabitants.

The Burial of Charles Boisverd and Marie Anne Hamel

Charles died July 19, 1833 and buried two days later in the church of Ste. Croix de Lotbiniere. His wife, Marie Anne Hamel died December of the same year. Charles was 83 years old and Marie Anne was 77.

Both Charles and Marie Anne lived beyond the expected age of their time, but because of their passing occurred during the Cholera Epidemic of 1832-1834, it is possible that their health was affected by the adverse living conditions around them. Official cause of death is currently unknown.

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The Children of Charles and Marie-Anne

Joseph Boisvert

Born on 21 Mar 1782 in Ste Croix, Quebec, Canada. Joseph died in Ste Croix Quebec, Canada on 6 Jan 1842; he was 59. On 29 Sep 1801 when Joseph was 19, he married Marie Theotiste Hamel, in Ste Croix, Quebec, Canada. Born on 20 Jul 1775.

Ignace Boisvert

Ignace died in Ste Croix, Lotbiniere, Quebec, on 7 Nov 1784; he was <1. Born on 2 Feb 1784 in Ste Croix, Lotbiniere, Quebec.

Jean Baptiste Boisvert

Born on 22 Sep 1785 in St Antoine de Tilly, Quebec, Canada. Jean Baptiste died in Ste Croix, Quebec, Canada, on 5 May 1795; he was 9.

Marie Eloise Boisvert
Born on 30 Nov 1787 in Ste Croix, Lotbiniere, Quebec. Marie Eloise died in Ste Croix, Lotbiniere, Quebec, on 7 Jan 1815; she was 27. In 24 juin 1805 when Marie Eloi was 17, she married Louis Duquet, in Ste-Croix, Quebec.

Louis Diudonné Boisvert (Direct Ancest0r)

Louis Diuedonne died in Ste Croix, Quebec, Canada, on 25 Dec 1824; he was 45. Born on 11 Nov 1779 in Ste Croix, Quebec, Canada.

Adeodat Boisvert

Born in 31 mai 1790 in Lotbiniere, Quebec.

Antoine Jobin dit Boisvert 

Born on 26 Sep 1792 in Lotbiniere, Quebec. Antoine died in Ste-Croix, Quebec, in 27 juil 1847; he was 55.

In 27 juil 1812 when Antoine was 20, he married Victoire Rouisse dit Martel, in Ste-Croix, Quebec. Born bef 1795.

Marie Marguerite Boisvert

Born on 15 Mar 1796 in St Antoine de Tilly, Quebec, Canada. Marie Marguerite died in Ste Croix, Quebec, Canada, on 26 Jul 1810; she was 14.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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