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Friday, January 1, 2010

Pierre Barbarin dit Grandmaison comes to Quebec

My direct ancestors left Europe for the New World in the 17th century. Some landed in America, while others settled in Quebec. My earliest ancestor in the New World was Pierre Barbary (Barbarin) dit Grandmaison, my 8th great grandfather. He was a member of the Carignan-Salières regiment from France, a regiment of 1200 men who arrived in Quebec in the summer of 1665, under the orders of King Louis XIV. A nun living in Quebec, Marie de L'Incarnation, described the arrival:

"The ships have all arrived, bringing us the rest of the army, along with the most eminent persons whom the king has sent to the aid of the country," she wrote." They feared they would all perish in the storms they braved on their voyage...we are helping them to understand that this is a holy war, where the only things that matter are the glory of God and the salvation of souls."

Prior to arriving in "New France", his regiment had fought successfully against the Ottomans. Now, their task in New France was to fight the Iroquois and protect the fledgling French colony. Part of that work included building new defences along the Richelieu River. Inadequately clothed for the brutal winter and with few tools, they still succeeded in building 3 forts. After all their hard work, they looked forward to spending the worst of the winter in the shelter of the new forts.

But the Governor had other ideas. He wanted them to launch a campaign against the Iroquois in January. The Marquis de Salieres had this to say:

"When I understood and saw the state our soldiers were in for this enterprise, I saw all things ill disposed, the soldiers having no snowshoes, very few axes, a single blanket, no equipment for the ice and having only one pair of moccasins and stockings. When I saw all this, I said to the captains that it would require one of God's miracles for any good to come of this. Some of them replied that M. le gouverneur did as he pleased and took advice from no one."

During the campaign, they lost 400 men from the cold and never came across a single Iroquois.

Pierre survived this ordeal, and, like many other soldiers from the regiment, decided to stay in Quebec. Years later, when disaster gripped his family, he may have regretted this decision . . .

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