Life in New France Was Fraught with Danger

Montreal,  originally known as Ville Marie was founded in 1642 by Paul Chomedy Sieur de Maisonneuve. At the time there were very few inhabitants. Within the next several years ships arrived and the population grew.

In 1663 the company of Saint Sulpice became the owner of the Montreal Island. They built their Seminary in 1684 and starting in 1685 Montreal became more and more of a military stronghold surrounded by a wooden palisade

In 1665 my 7th great Grandfather Claude Jodouin, born in Poitiers, France,  arrived in Ville Marie,  New France. He was a master carpenter and worked for the Sulpicians. Shortly after his arrival1 on March 22,1666 in Notre Dame Church he married Anne Thomas, a King’s daughter. Over the years they had ten children.

Saint-Henri  des Tanneries  was an non-populated wooded area far removed from the walled section of the settlement which is now referred to as Old Montreal. There the workers would tan hides. The odor from the tasks was most unpleasant, to the point of being quite unbearable. This was the reason for establishing the tanneries far from the population. The area today still bears the name Saint Henri.

While working at the tannery Claude Jodouin’s life came to a fateful end. He was fifty years old.

In the Bulletin des Recherches Historiques2 the following describes his death.

“Le sudit document nous apprend encore que, le 16 octobre 1686, un charpentier nomme Claude Jaudouin employe a la tannerie fut inopinement tue par un autre ouvrier. Nicolas Martin dit Jolycoeur. Celui-ci, ignorant que son compagnon etait au bois entendant un froisement de branches imagina qu’un ours venait a lui. Pris de peur, il dechargea son fusil dans la direction de bruit avec le regrettable resultat que l’on sait.”

Translation:        It was in a wooded section outside the tannery, that a fellow worker thought he heard a bear rustling in the bushes, took aim and shot. So ended the life of Claude Jodouin, the master carpenter.

In the Dictionnaires de genealogies des familles du Quebec3  it indicates that Claude Jodouin was killed accidentally. Little did I know that my first trip to La societe de genealogie canadienne francaise in the east end of Montreal would reveal the manner in which he died.

Anne, Claude’s wife was still a young woman with the responsibility of their ten children.  From all accounts she was sought after by many eligible bachelors. Within a short period of time she remarried.4


1      POULIN, JOSEPH-PHILIPPE. “Premiers colons du debut de la colonie jusqu’en 1700.” In Programme Souvenir, Sixieme Congres de la Societe Genealogique Canadienne Francaise, Quebec (Oct. 8-10, 1960), pp. 13-22.  Arrival


1      L’Abbe D Tanguay, ADS, Dictionnaire Genealogique des Familles Canadiennes Depuis la Fondation de la Colonie Jusqu’a Nos Jours, Cinquieme Volume, Depuis 1608 jusqu’a 1700, Eusebe Senecal, 1888.

2       Bulletin des Recherches Historiques Vol 41: p 39

3      Dictionnaire degenealogie des familles du Quebec, Jette

4       Ibid › accessibleQA


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