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Michel Messier

His way of live and his properties

His way from Montreal to Varennes


It is said above that Michel has bought land from Charles Lemoyne in Montreal. He settled on it from his marriage to Anne Lemoyne. He is the fifth owner of this land. At first, it is granted in 1648 to James Bourguignon, master gunner of Ville-Marie. He sells his land on March 10, 1652 in Lambert Closse who does not keep very long. Less than three months later, on June 6, 1652, it was sold to Charles de Lauzon. Finally, on January 5, 1656, it was sold to Charles Lemoyne which resells the following year to Michel.


Michel wealth becomes important. In 1665, there were five Montreal barns to store crops. Michel was the owner of one of them. In a remote location as Ville-Marie, it was an important asset for the population to have food reserves.


 On November 5, 1669 in Cap-St-Michel, Michel leases land for five years to Pierre Villeneuve and  Jean Gruet. The following year, he leased them another portion of 12 arable acres ploughable with pickaxes. On his land, there are buildings whose nature is not specified and a barn that the lessor must build. Rent seems to have been made ​​in preparation for futur removal so that he can live quite properly upon arrival at Varennes.


On July 21, 1670, in Montreal, he rented for a year, a house from François Chartier and Jean Magnan; However, he reserves a room for his needs during his visits to Montreal. On July 24, 1671, Michel hires for a year, Adrien Laforest. Commitment begins on August 1, 1671. Everything suggests that during this period, this man helped him to move in Varennes. On September 11, 1672, he sells "La Provençale" to Jean Morel. However, he keeps half an acre of his land. Ten days after the sale, he bought land, rue St. Paul, he sold on October 4, 1678 to Simon Guillory. All these acts shows clearly that Michel moved to Varennes. Michel permanently moved to Varennes between September 1, 1678 and Easter of the following year. He rents his house to Michel Lecourt, however remains the owner of "La Provençale". He reserved a room in his house in Montreal, as temporary lodging for business.


For some unknown reasons, the sale of September 11, 1672 is canceled. No document mentioned. However, past acts later state that "La Provençale" is still owned by Michel. Transactions involving the land we learn that in addition to his house and barn, there were also a cellar, a bakery and a stable.


During the lease of his house, he would be at Varennes. No birth is mentioned in the Messier family. Did Michel return to Montreal at the end of the lease? On May 2, 1672, in Montreal, is the birth of his daughter Gabrielle. After the sale of "La Provençale", the child follows, Jean-Michel, born on May 31, 1674 and was baptized in Boucherville. Then, the following two are born in Montreal: Margaret, on May 24, 1676 and a still-born child on August 28, 1678. This is a period of suspense about his place of residence during this decade.


Another information is revealed to us in an act of July 24, 1676. Michel leases to Nicolas Choquet for three years at Cap-St. Michel, a land of 7 acres wide on full depth of the lordship. It is partly cleared; more a bakery will serve as housing tenant. It also mentions a barn, a stable and a house with loft that belongs to him. Rental includes animals, a plow, a cart, etc.. The lease of Pierre Villeneuve and Jean Gruet was completed in late 1674. Due to the birth of his children in Montreal, did Michel make ​​a verbal agreement with them to extend the lease until the year 1676? One thing is certain. We had to take care of animals.


Four documents give us information about the house: those of the July 21, 1670, September 11, 1672, September 1, 1678 and June 10, 1709. On its exterior aspect, the contract  of 1672 mentions that it was sand and stone of lime. The one of 1678 states that is the same composition. Does this reference relate the inside of the house? The one of 1709 mentions a house piece by piece. Two contracts mention its size. The one of 1672 indicates that it has 42.7 feet in length and 17 to 19 feet high. The notary does not mention the width. This of 1709 gives the measurement as 36.3 feet forehead, 21.4 feet deep by 10.8 feet high. It is stated that it had a fire-place. According to interior features, I think the height is closer to 17 to 19 feet.


The interior is partially described in two contracts. In the 1670, it is mentioned that there are two bedrooms on the ground floor and two upstairs in addition to an attic. In 1678, adding that the house had a cellar.


When the military authorities remake the fortifications of Montreal in 1718, they will be in stone and much more imposing than the old. They cross in the western part of the land of Michel. The Seminary of St. Sulpice, lord of the place, must buy the portion where will be the future wall of protection.


The section of "La Provençale", located between St Paul and Notre Dame, has four acres in area. In this section are included buildings owned by Michel. What happens to these acres? If I take the section from left to right, a band of one acre wide at the back of a land belonging to Marguerite LeSueur is sold on August 2, 1695 to Pierre Lamoureux. This part touches the Notre Dame North. I did not find any deed for the portion belonging to the daughter of Michel.


To the right of the field Marguerite LeSueur, on June 10, 1709, a piece of half an acre by one acre is sold to William Tartre with a house piece by piece. This would be the house of Michel between 1658 and 1678. Its façade is St. Paul Street. Behind is a similar piece belonging to our ancestor. Then it is a half acre section of two acres sold to Sulpiciens. On this part, are located the barn, stable and cellar, which were destroyed for the construction of fortifications in 1718. Today, it is located in the McGill Street. Some small pieces were sold to the Recollects at the East of the land sold to the Sulpician. Finally, on August 7, 1683, a small piece of one eighth of an acre located on the right front with St. Paul Street is sold to Mary Pacro. This site was sold to the Sulpician for the construction of fortifications. Finally, the piece of three acres sold March 26, 1708 to Francis Hazeur is located North of Notre-Dame. In 1709, Michel gives to Paul Bouchard all the unsold portion located in this section of "La Provençale".


 The Recollects were adjacent owners to the Sulpician part. In addition, there were a few small pieces of land. This section was located within the fortifications. They decide to make an exchange with Michel. He spends twice at the notary for transactions with them. In 1712, he sold them a piece of land. Then at the age of 83, he again on July 24, 1723, made a trip in canoe from Varennes to Montreal for a second transaction with the Recollects. He exchange another field with them. The same day, he sold his new acquisition to Mr. St. Dizier. On March 16, 1725, then 85 years old and ill, he comes back to Montreal one last time to see this city that he has so ardently defended to sign a receipt to the buyer.


How long the home of Michel on "La Provençale" is it remained standing? It is difficult to accurately answer this question. On the next page, an artist drawing reproduced any part of Montreal in 1684. Buildings listed on the land a few years later are still present. Certainty: they have withstood time, they could not exceed the cap of 1765. Nothing indicates that they were still standing at that time. The fire destroyed about a quarter of homes in Montreal.


A Mr. Livingstone kept the ashes of his home in his house. The inevitable happened. The embers set fire to his house to communicate to other buildings. The entire western part of Montreal is passed. The fire was so violent that buildings located outside the fortifications, as the home of Michel, were also destroyed.


La Provençale


His lordship


In 1676, Michel officially became lord of Cap-St-Michel in Varennes. How this son of a journeyman is he able to be appointed lord? No mention is made ​​to justify this fact. I still believe that several factors have influenced the authorities in place. Michel arrived at the age of nine. It is well known by the Directors of Montreal because of the small number of residents. It has been noticed for the courage he has certainly made ​​as a militiaman. Finally two catches by the Iroquois helped in the decision of the authorities. As brother-in-law of Charles Lemoyne, Jacques Lemoyne and Jacques Leber, very influential men, they have certainly recommended.


A regulation draft made ​​by Mr. Tracy and Jean Talon of January 24, 1667 is perhaps the reason that favored Michel. They wanted to help new settlers to establish on their land. Fixing people with experience in the clearing in the middle of newcomers, we thought we had found the best way to help them. The decision of Mr. Tracy and Jean Talon came to the attention of Charles Lemoyne. He has always sought to establish his family and saw a great opportunity to advocate for his brother-in-law. The expertise of Michel since his arrival in addition to the reasons named above justify this choice.


 In 1665, following what appears to be a verbal promise from the administration, Michel built a fort in Varennes on what is called the Cap-St-Michel. This place was an ideal site to build a fort. It was a high point of land extending into the St. Lawrence River. We had beautiful views from the river and observing the Rivière des Prairies a good point. After this first gesture, he began clearing his future lordship. I do not know how long the fort withstood the weather. However, an act of 1737 states that it is still standing. Today, the place of his lordship is located in the eastern part of Varennes. The island Deslauriers who faced and he is partly lord, is visible on modern maps.


Michel still has no title to his lordship. But this is a man who rushes without looking back. He bought, in 1668, the fief of la Guillaudière adjacent of his future lordship must still be shared with his brother-in-law Jacques LeMoyne. The part of Michel become the Cap-St-Michel and the one of Jacques Lemoyne bear the name of Notre Dame. Michel has already cleared part without knowing what piece will return him. They appealed to the governor of Trois-Rivières, René Gauthier, Sieur de Varennes, to serve as arbitrator. He makes his decision on May 12, 1668. Two days later, the governor De Courcelle made the concession to the interested party. It is confirmed by Intendant Jean Talon on May 3, 1672. Surveying is made on February 27, 1673 to delimite what belongs to each and other. It should be expected that in 1676 the share is formalized. The following year, the admission of sharing and state enumeration of the lordship complete the formalities. Therefore, Michel can go develop his lordship freely.


The following year, the first concessions are given to Ignace and Léger Hebert. However, most of these parts is given in fief to his children. In the marriage contract of his daughter Marguerite with Pierre Lesueur, she received a dowry the fief of La Guillaudière. He gives many concessions until his death in 1725. Lordship then passed to his eldest son, Francois-Michel.


Against the Iroquois, have the citizens of Varennes benefited from the wisdom of Michel? During the resumption of war between 1689 and 1695, we see French around Varennes to be attacked and killed, without them being able to attack themselves. It was not their number (sixteen inhabitants in 1683) which moved back the enemy. The fort built on a high point of land jutting into the St. Lawrence may be doing them to think. The element of surprise, so dear to the Iroquois, was impractical in Varennes. Michel could ask citizens to cut brush and avoid the cutting of trees to provide suitable locations for enemies to surprise the settlers. His experience in Montreal has certainly helped him in Varennes.


In July 1688, the Iroquois attacked settlers in Contrecoeur and Boucherville. On November 13, 1689, it is in Lachenaie and Jesus Island they make great havoc and in 1690, in Pointe-aux-Trembles and Vercheres. Frontenac must put soldiers to monitor the settlers in their seeds. In May 1691, Pointe-aux-Trembles still receives their visit. On June 7, 1691, a battle took place in Repentigny where a son of Charles Lemoyne dies. In August 1691, three French were taken prisoners.

After the capture of Michael on the Lake of Two Mountains, on July 15, 1692, 14 French are caught in Lachenaie and two in St. Francis of Jesus Island. The Iroquois did not give up, they return to Vercheres on October 22, 1692. However a young 14 year old girl holds controls the place.

Frontenac decided to attack the Iroquois. On 25 January 1693, he left Montreal with 400 militiamen. It almost destroyed the tribe of the Mohawks responsible for several attacks. Then comes the escape Michel in July 1693.


The Iroquois did not let go. In Spring 1695, two other French are caught in Lachenaie followed by French killed in Rivière-des-Prairies. On August 29, 1695, Christophe Fevrier was killed in Boucherville.


If Varennes is saved, three men from Cap-St-Michel are captured in Vercheres. As we see, experience and prudence of Michel probably saved many people from Varennes.


Lands of Michel and Jacques Messier in Varennes


The seigneurial home


On November 5, 1669, Michel rented for five years  to Pierre Villeneuve and Jean Gruel, inhabitants of the lordship of Jacques Lemoyne, fifteen acres of land on his lordship to clearing. In the document, it is mentioned that also rents a house and a barn. This is the first evidence that a house is built in Cap-St-Michel. It is possible that buildings are located inside the fort built a few years earlier. With arbitration De Courcelle made ​​in 1668, the limits of his lordship were known. Michel could therefore build a house for to receive his family.


I have not found a construction contract, fittings or masonry. A contract could determine the date and certain characteristics of the buildings. There is currently in Varennes a house owned by the company Hoechst. Some argue that it is the home of Michel Messier. The origin of this belief comes from a former priest of Varennes, Elisée Choquet, who has made some researches from current owners. He got back until 1842, up to the first owner has been recorded with our current system of cadastre. As the owner at the time was Jean-Baptiste Messier, he came to the conclusion that he was the heir to the house of his ancestor. I think the truth is quite different.


Looking the confession and the census of 1736, there was only stone house existed at that time in Cap-St-Michel and does not belong to our ancestor. Rather, it indicates that a wooden house was erected on the land inhabited by Michel.

According to my research, the home of Michel was built around the Gulf current home, now owned by NL Chemical, which is located a few tens of meters west of facilities used for navigation on the St. Lawrence River. They seem to have been built on the site where the fort was.


The manor house has received on July 11, 1681 the grand special visitor. Bishop de Laval has confirmed some children. He stayed there one night before leaving the next day towards Lanoraie. The house, which also served as a place for baptisms, disappeared long time ago.


These children are confirmed by Bishop de Laval.

             Pierre Charron, 9 years
             Gilles Léger/Deneau, 13 years
             Jeoffrion André, 10 years
             Anne Messier, 12 years
             Gabrielle Messier, 8 years
             Francois Picart, 8 years
             Marie Picart, 12 years



Text comes from the volume of Gilles Messier:  Les Messier et leurs ancêtres, 700 ans d'histoire.

Last update : 

August 8, 2014

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