This Week in History


From Trois-Rivières to Boucherville

For the week of Monday April 16, 2007

On April 19, 1717, Pierre Boucher died at his seigneury in Boucherville, Québec, at the age of 95. He had come to Canada from France as a mere 12-year-old with his parents and 11 siblings back in 1634.  Along with several other families from La Perche, was recruited by Robert Giffard to join in the colonization of New France.

Pierre Boucher
Pierre Boucher
© Library and Archives Canada / C-001889
Boucher was first employed by the Jesuits. He then travelled for four years in Huronia with the missionaries, who provided him with some schooling. He also learned about the traditions and languages of the First Nations. Governor Montmagny considered his knowledge extremely valuable and in 1641 appointed Boucher as an interpreter. As a result, Boucher travelled extensively between Québec, Trois-Rivières and the new outpost of Ville-Marie, and he distinguished himself in battles with the Iroquois and through his involvement in negotiations.

His first official posting was in 1649 when he became Commissary General for Governor Ailleboust. The Iroquois posed a constant threat for the young village of Trois-Rivières, which needed a leader to defend it. Boucher was given the responsibility of fortifying the town, which came under siege in 1653 by some 600 Iroquois.  He had only about 40 men at his disposal. Nevertheless, he led an effective defence of the town and was promoted to Commander in Chief. Boucher was appointed Governor of Trois-Rivières in 1654.

La villa La Broquerie à Boucherville que l
The villa La Broquerie in Boucherville, which was once attributed to Pierre Boucher
© Vieux Manoirs Vieilles Maisons / Library and Archives Canada / C-011311
Boucher was chosen to travel to France to plead the cause of the colony and obtain needed reinforcements. He was received by Louis XIV, who he persuaded to help New France. This sparked renewed interest in the colony by the most influential figures in the home country. Upon his return to the colony, Boucher wrote Histoire véritable et naturelle de la Nouvelle-France vulgairement dite le Canada, which was published in Paris and dedicated to Colbert, founder of the French West Indies Company. This rosy portrayal of life in Canada led among other things to the arrival of Intendant Jean Talon and troops from the Carignan-Salières Regiment, which would prove to have a significant impact on the colony’s development.

Boucher resumed his duties as governor until 1667, when he retired to his Boucherville seigneury with his family. His wish was to provide a good quality of life to the colonists and his 15 children. In recognition of his service to the budding colony, Pierre Boucher was designated a National Historic Person in 1978.

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