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Seigneurs of Rouville Fonds (P107)

Excerpt from a lease by which Thomas Edmund Campbell rents a sugar bush to Théophile Racicot (detail), March 11, 1846. Gift of Mr. John L. Russell, Seigneurs of Rouville Fonds P107, M22089.4 © McCord Museum

A sweet reward for one's efforts

"[Thomas Edmund Campbell, Esquire, seigneur and owner of the seigneury of Rouville], hereby voluntarily agrees to lease [...] a sugar bush of one hundred and fifty maples located on his land [...] to Théophile Racicot, carpenter, farmer, and resident of St. Hilaire [...], so that said lessee may make a single notch, two inches long and one inch wide, with an axe or chisel, in each of the aforementioned maples, tapping each tree only once, without causing any damage whatsoever [...]."

Though many Quebecers and tourists enjoy satisfying their sweet tooth every spring at a sugar shack with either family or friends, the lease granted by the seigneur of Rouville to Théophile Racicot demonstrates that collecting maple water to produce syrup involves hard work, too. European settlers, captivated by the taste of liquid gold upon their arrival in Canada, quickly adopted Aboriginal techniques for collecting and processing maple tree sap. Since then, methods have continued to evolve. Wooden buckets and spouts for collecting maple water have given way to metal containers, and now plastic tubing, while metal pots for boiling maple water have been replaced by evaporators. While transporting the sap used to require snowshoes, and then horses, today it is done with motor vehicles.

Although many maple syrup producers still insist on using old traditions, harvesting sap and making syrup now more closely resemble industrial processes. Running a sugar bush can be a demanding job, but it certainly does offer a sweet reward, in the end.

P107 Seigneurs of Rouville Fonds. - 1695-[ca 1963], mostly 1822-1860. - 25 cm of textual records. - 1 photograph. - 1 cartographic material.

Biographical Sketch

Born in Trois-Rivières, JOSEPH-FRANÇOIS HERTEL DE LA FRESNIÈRE (1642-1722) was an officer, interpreter and commander. In 1664, in Montreal, he married Marguerite de Thavenet (1646-1708), with whom he had 15 children. Over the years, he carried out numerous military exploits, many in the company of his sons, with whom he shared his war tactics. Governor Louis de Buade de Frontenac recognized his bravery and service record with letters of nobility in 1716. Through his wife, Joseph-François inherited the seigneury of Chambly in 1694, which he subsequently subdivided for several of his sons.

Born in Trois-Rivières, JEAN-BAPTISTE HERTEL DE ROUVILLE (1668-1722) was the third son of Joseph-François Hertel de la Fresnière and Marguerite de Thavenet. Like other members of his family, he took up arms at an early age. During his career, he became an ensign, a lieutenant and a captain on Isle Royale (Cape Breton Island), the commander of Port Dauphin (Englishtown, NS), and a knight of the Order of St. Louis. To reward him for services rendered in defence of the colony, on January 18, 1694, Governor Frontenac and Intendant Bochart de Champigny gave Jean-Baptiste a seigneury adjoining that of his father. This seigneury, which he never inhabited but henceforth bore his name, was crossed by the Huron River (Richelieu Valley) and bordered by the seigneury of Chambly to the west, that of Saint-Charles-d'Yamaska to the east, and that of Saint-Hyacinthe to the south; his domain covered the present-day municipalities of Mont St. Hilaire (including the mountain), Otterburn Park and Saint-Jean-Baptiste.

In 1698, he married Jeanne Dubois, who died less than two years later. In 1708, he married Marie-Anne Baudouin (1685-1745), the eldest daughter of Dr. Gervais Baudouin. Following his death, in 1724 she rendered fealty and homage to the governor for the seigneury of Rouville, which she shared with her children.

JEAN-BAPTISTE-FRANÇOIS HERTEL DE ROUVILLE (1709-1773) was the son of Jean-Baptiste Hertel de Rouville and Marie-Anne Baudouin. A military man like his father, he was named the commander of Fort Chambly, and then a knight of the Order of St. Louis in 1762. In Montreal in 1733, he married Marie-Anne Legras (1696-1776), the daughter of merchant-tanner Jean Legras and Geneviève Mallet. Since he had little time to devote to the seigneury, his wife became his legal representative and ran the family's affairs. The couple had three daughters, all of whom died young. With no direct heir, Jean-Baptiste-François sold his share of the seigneury of Rouville and all his inheritance rights to his brother René-Ovide in 1772.

Born in Port Toulouse (St. Peter's, NS), RENÉ-OVIDE HERTEL DE ROUVILLE (1720-1792) was the son of Jean-Baptiste Hertel de Rouville and Marie-Anne Baudouin. Unlike his father and brothers, he chose to study law rather than enter the military. In 1741, he married Louise-Catherine André de Leigne (1709-1766), the daughter of Pierre André de Leigne and Claude Fredin. The couple had five children and lived in Trois-Rivières.

Named a civil and criminal lieutenant general (judge) at the age of 24, he also took on the administration of the St. Maurice ironworks in 1750. After his first wife died, he married Charlotte-Gabrielle Jarret de Verchères (1735-1808), the widow of Pierre-Marie-Joseph Raimbault de Saint-Blaint, in Montreal in 1767. Under the British regime, he was appointed surveyor of highways for the district of Montreal in 1765, and then a conservator of the peace and commissioner for the district of Montreal in 1775, much to the displeasure of his compatriots. After the American rebels abandoned Montreal in 1776, René-Ovide returned to his duties as a magistrate, becoming a judge of the Court of Common Pleas. Upon his death in Montreal, the seigneury of Rouville was handed down to his son Jean-Baptiste-Melchior.

Born in Trois-Rivières, JEAN-BAPTISTE-MELCHIOR HERTEL DE ROUVILLE (1748-1817) was the son of René-Ovide Hertel de Rouville and Louise-Catherine André de Leigne. An army and militia officer, he defended the British crown when American troops invaded Canada in 1775. Appointed justice of the peace for the district of Montreal in 1783, the following year he married Marie-Anne Hervieux (1750?-1819), the daughter of Jean-Baptiste Hervieux, a Montreal merchant. The couple had at least eight children.

Owner of half a league of frontage in the seigneury of Chambly, Jean-Baptiste-Melchior received an advance on his inheritance from his father of half a league of frontage in Chambly with a flour mill and purchased an additional half a league in the same location. He settled there in 1789 and obtained a commission as militia colonel the following year. Upon his father's death in 1792, under the rules of primogeniture, he inherited half of the seigneury of Rouville and part of the seigneury of Chambly. A supporter of the British regime, like his father, that same year he became a member in the first parliament and, in 1812, was appointed to the Legislative Council. He was also made commander of the Chambly 2nd Militia Battalion. In 1813, he was named justice of the peace for the districts of Quebec City, Montreal and Trois-Rivières. Buried in Chambly, he bequeathed the entire seigneury of Rouville (having purchased the other half in 1797) and his share of the seigneury of Chambly to his son Jean-Baptiste-René.

Born in Montreal, JEAN-BAPTISTE-RENÉ HERTEL DE ROUVILLE (1789-1859) was the son of Jean-Baptiste-Melchior Hertel de Rouville and Marie-Anne Hervieux. He pursued a military career and became a militia officer. Among his exploits, he took part in the Battle of Châteauguay in 1813 with his brother-in-law Charles-Michel d'Irumberry de Salaberry, who was married to his sister Marie-Anne-Julie Hertel de Rouville. In 1815, he was made lieutenant colonel of the Chambly battalion, assuming command in 1816. The same year, he married Anne Charlotte de Labroquerie (Boucher de La Broquerie) (1796-1852), with whom he had at least five children.

Under the terms of his father's will, drawn up in 1814, Jean-Baptiste-René inherited the seigneury of Rouville and part of the seigneury of Chambly. However, the will further stipulated that he could not take possession of this property until the death of his mother; she died January 25, 1819. He became the first seigneur in his family to take up residence in the seigneury of Rouville. The construction of his manor house in St. Hilaire began in 1819 and, approximately two years later, he drew up his terrier (property register). Elected a member of the Legislative Assembly of Quebec at the age of 35, he then served on the Legislative Council between 1837 and 1838. The target of much criticism, notably with regard to his loyalty during the Patriot Rebellions, Jean-Baptiste-René found that his reputation suffered in the years following. Ailing and in financial difficulty, he left his manor house and asked his son-in-law, Dr. Jean-Baptiste Brousseau, to sell the seigneury of Rouville. On April 16, 1844, the seigneury was sold to military officer and politician Thomas Edmund Campbell. He died in Boucherville.

Born in London, THOMAS EDMUND CAMPBELL (1811-1872) arrived in Canada in 1837 after serving in the British Army. He was quickly promoted to commander following the Rebellions of 1837-1838 and was made a colonel several years later. In 1841, he married Henriette-Julie Juchereau Duchesnay (1813-1873), the daughter of seigneur Michel-Louis Juchereau Duchesnay and Charlotte-Hermione-Louise-Catherine d'Irumberry de Salaberry. Three years later, he purchased the seigneury of Rouville and, in 1846, moved to St. Hilaire where he devoted himself to developing his land. Among other things, he erected the dam on Lake Hertel, rebuilt the seigneurial mill, promoted water-powered industry, and constructed the first school in the region. From 1847 to 1849, he held the positions of civil secretary for the governor of Canada and superintendent of Indian affairs. From 1858 to 1861, he sat as the member of parliament for Rouville and also became a director of the Bank of Montreal and the Grand Trunk Railway. He died in St. Hilaire.

Following the death of Thomas Edmund Campbell, the seigneury was handed down to his eldest son, EDMUND ALEXANDER CHARLES CAMPBELL (1843-1902), who subsequently left it to his brothers in 1884. They soon ran into financial difficulties, leading them to subdivide the seigneury in 1892. The mountain was sold off in 1908 and the farm in 1942. The manor house remained the property of the Campbell family until the 1955 death of Mabel Allen, daughter of Sir Hugh Allan and the widow of Colin Campbell.

Scope and Content

This fonds focusses on the history of the seigneurs of Rouville and their management of the domains of Rouville and Chambly, primarily from the late 17th century until the seigneurial regime was abolished in the mid-19th century. It chronicles the administration of the censives (landholdings), the collection of feudal revenues, and the construction of flour mills for the use of the censitaires (tenant farmers).

There is an original 1695 certificate (and three copies) signed by Governor Frontenac and Intendant Champigny, granting the seigneury to Jean-Baptiste Hertel de Rouville. Several land grants and deeds of sale, survey reports, a map dated 1844, terriers and leases illustrate how the land in the seigneury of Rouville was distributed, what it was used for, and the revenues it generated.

A photocopy of an account book, apparently kept by Jean-Baptiste-Melchior Hertel de Rouville in the early 19th century, provides a record of all the expenses and revenues of the seigneury of Rouville, along with several poems, a recipe for a natural medicine, and personal notes on his ancestors. An estimate of the rents received by the domain of Rouville, a lease for a sugar bush located on the land of Thomas Edmund Campbell in St. Hilaire, and lists of the inhabitants of the domain of Chambly document the management and accounts of the seigneuries.

In addition, the fonds includes contracts of association regarding the seigneurial mills of Chambly and Rouville. The first, dated 1705, is signed by Joseph-François Hertel de la Fresnière and the governor of Montreal, Claude de Ramezay, while the second, dated 1745, is signed by Marie-Anne Legras and Louise de Ramezay. Legal documents chronicle the dispute between the seigneurs of Rouville and Charlotte Denys de La Ronde, the widow of Claude de Ramezay, with regard to the operation of the mill located on the Huron River and a claim for unpaid seigneurial rents. Account books kept by Joseph Rousseau from 1848 to 1860 and J. Lahaise from 1888 to 1896 document the quantities and types of grains milled and sold at the seigneury of Rouville.

Finally, the fonds is completed by a typewritten text by Armand Cardinal that traces the history and genealogy of the seigneurs of Rouville, accompanied by a photograph of the author and the owners of the Rouville Campbell Manor, circa 1963.

Variations in title: Formerly known as the Rouville Fonds and the Seigneurie de Rouville Fonds.

Source of title proper: Based on the creators of the fonds.

Physical condition: Several documents are damaged and fragile.

Immediate source of acquisition: While the majority of the documents were donated by Mr. John L. Russell in 1963, the fonds is comprised of a variety of records donated between 1917 and 2005.

Language: The documents are in French.

Finding aids: List of individual documents available.

Associated material:

BAnQ (Old Montreal): Fonds seigneurie de Rouville-Campbell (P265)

Société d'histoire de la seigneurie de Chambly: Collection Paroisse Saint-Mathias-sur-Richelieu (P061)
General note: The McCord Museum's collection of Paintings, Prints and Drawings includes several portraits of the seigneurs of Rouville painted in the 18th and 19thcenturies.

The fonds is divided into the following series, subseries, and files:

  • P107/A Genealogy

  • P107/B Domain of Rouville
    • P107/B1 Censives (landholdings)
    • P107/B2 Feudal expenses and revenues
    • P107/B3 Seigneurial mill
      • P107/B3,1 Contract of association
      • P107/B3,2 Account books
        • M22089.1 Revenue ledger for grains and flours sold. - 1848-1852. - 1 textual record ; 33 × 21 cm.
        • Digitized document
        • Scope and Content: Kept by Joseph Rousseau, this revenue ledger for the mill recorded the grains milled from 1848 to 1852 and the flours sold from 1848 to 1850. It documents the quantities and types of grains milled and sold: wheat, corn, barley, buckwheat, oats and "gabourage," a mixture of grains used as animal feed. The book lists the date of purchase along with the client's name and residence. The document also contains a few observations about things such as the mill being stopped for repairs.

          Source of title proper: Based on the title of the document.

          Language: The document is in French.

  • P107/C Domain of Chambly

  • P107/D Photograph


Last update: June 5, 2018