What do the following people have in common?
Hillary Rodham Clinton, Justin Trudeau, Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles, Justin Bieber, Angelina Jolie, Madonna, Ryan Gosling, Celine Dion, and me.
This year (2021) is the 400th Anniversary of the baptism of our common ancestor. Julien Fortin saw the first light of day on February 9th, 1621 in the village of Saint Cosme-de-Vairais in the old province of Perche. Julien’s parents were Marie Lavye and Julien his father, a butcher by trade. 1. & 2.
At the age of seven young Julien’s mother died. The young fellow had a good relationship with his grandfather, Gervais Lavye, the owner of L’Auberge du Cheval Blanc. In 1634 at that inn, Julien, now a lad of thirteen first heard Robert Giffard speak at the request of the French King Louis XIV. Giffard’s mission was to recruit settlers, in particular tradesmen and their families to join him in developing a colony in New France.
It was at this point that maybe a seed was planted in his memory as he listened to the adventures of Giffard, that he too, would someday be able to participate in this endeavour?
Robert Giffard, proprietor of the Seigneurie of Beaupré went back to New France with a small number of settlers and later, around 1650 he returned to Saint Cosme-de-Vairais with the same mission, to recruit more settlers. Julien, now an adult with a bright future ahead, chose to join the group taking on the challenge of an adventure into the unknown. What lay ahead? Could they possibly imagine?
The enthusiastic families made their way perhaps with a certain degree of skepticism to Dieppe where they boarded a ship for a long three-month arduous, perilous voyage, arriving in Quebec City in late August of 1650.
Young Julien had worked as a butcher and would appear to have saved some money. When he arrived in New France, his savings were sufficient that his first notarial act took place on December 26, 1650 when he purchased a prime lot of waterfront property along the Saint Lawrence River in Ste-Anne de Beaupré. It was the first notarial transaction of more than 85 notarial records prepared during his lifetime.
Over the years he became an astute businessman buying and selling land, often using beaver pelts as payments for these transactions. He soon became known as Julien ‘de Bellefontaine”, a name given when he bought his first property which had a source of fresh spring water.
Marriage contract of Julien and Genevieve
Julien, now in his thirties, settled in his new environment and the time came for him to consider marriage. He chose his bride to be, a young seventeen-year-old, Genevieve Gamache, a ’fille a marier’, a marriageable young woman, who had arrived in New France with the hope of finding a suitable husband. At the time many young women were sponsored. She arrived before King Louis XIVs program of “les filles du roi” or King’s daughters who arrived during the years 1663-1673. These young women sponsored by the King came with the intention of marrying and developing the new colony.
Genevieve came to New France accompanied by her brother, Nicolas Gamache dit Lamarre. A marriage contract was drawn up by Claude Auber and signed on the 22nd of August 1652 in the future home of Toussaint while the celebration of the marriage and blessing took place in the chapel of Saint Joachim de Montmorency in Cape Tourmente on the 11th of November 1652. A festive gathering followed at the home of Louis Gagné, whose name appears on the notarial contract, a friend of Julien’s. Both men came from the same village in France.3. & 6.
It was not long before there was a family celebration, one of great joy. Julien and Genevieve had given birth to a daughter, Barbe. She was the first of twelve children, eight boys and four girls from their union.4. Over the years there were many occasions for family festivities. The twelve children were all healthy at birth.
The fate of six of Julien Fortin and Genevieve Gamache’s children.
The above chart indicates the devastation that the epidemics of 1687 and 1703 brought on the Fortin family. Some of the younger children contracted scarlet fever, measles and later in 1703 others were taken by smallpox. Julien, the son, died at the age of 20 in 1687, as did Louis at 16. Around 1681 Jean had also succumbed to an epidemic and in 1703 when another outbreak of smallpox occurred Marguerite, Genevieve, Marie-Anne, and Joseph also lost their battles with these devastating diseases. Along the way Barbe lost her first husband, Pierre also due to an epidemic.
On a positive note, it shows the progeny of Julien and Genevieve. They had a total of 75 grandchildren. Julien certainly upheld his part of the bargain in developing and populating New France.
Despite trials, tribulations and the loss of family members and the constant attacks by the Iroquois, life in the new colony continued to thrive. By 1668, Cape Tourmente with its fertile plains along the St. Lawrence River had become an agricultural hub that provided the settlers with plenty of food.
Julien was a generous, prosperous, and deeply religious man with a strong devotion to Saint Anne. He gave to the churches of Chateau Richer and Sainte Anne. He bestowed a house near the church, and a bake house to be used by the two churches. He donated a monetary gift of 20 sous and 2.1 bushels of wheat to the church. He owned several guns, several beasts and twenty acres of land.
The exact death of Julien Fortin is unknown. Archivists have concluded that he was not present at the second marriage of his daughter, Barbe on the 16th of April 1690. The date of his death appears in a document and that the death occurred at Hotel-Dieu hospital in Quebec City August 10, 1692.
Julien Fortin de Bellefontaine faced the unknown, undaunted by the challenges and adventures that lay before him as he set sail for New France in 1650. He was a man of honour and integrity. As he and his wife were among the early pioneers that survived hardships’ They worked diligently and produced a long prolific line of Fortin descendants in North America. Approximately 90% of the Fortins are related to Julien and Genevieve Fortin.5.
Are you a descendant of Julien Fortin dit Bellefontaine?”
I am a proud to be a descendant of this honorable man and his family.
Louisa Seraphina Fortin, my mother’s mother, my grandmother was a direct descendant of Julien Fortin, my 7th great grandfather.
There is a distinction between ‘dit’ names and ‘de’ names. “dit” names were given to people by giving them an additional second name to distinguish them from others with the same family name.
- 1997-2018 Ancestry.com , Bibliotheques et Archives nationales de Quebec
- http://www.afgs.org/jeme3.pdf page 21
- Suite de Julien Fortin | Association des Fortin d’Amérique (afafortin.com)
- http://www.afgs.org/jeme3.pdf page 21
Sources for reference: