The Governor, the Merchant, the Soldier, the Nun, and their Slaves

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Authors
Loucks, Alanna
Keyword
Household Composition , Family Formation , Slavery , Colonial Montréal , Built Environment , French-Indigenous Relations
Abstract
From 1650 onward, the city of Montréal became a crossroads that connected colonial French, Indigenous, and African worlds. A study of the geo-cultural landscapes of Montréal presents an opportunity to analyze the commercial, social, and familial networks of diverse peoples in a space defined by mobility, fluidity, and growing stability. The purpose of this research project is to illustrate how French households in Montréal between 1650 and 1750, which included Indigenous and African descent slaves and other labourers who are generally not considered as a part of family formation, contributes to our understanding of the interconnected nature of the French colonial world. There are different ways to explore the commercial, social, and familial connections that shaped Montréal into a crossroads. This project explores spatial, demographic, and household composition as three interrelated dimensions of Montréal’s networks. I utilize the idea of concentric circles of connection, moving from a macro- to a micro-historical level of analysis. I begin by considering Montréal’s geographic position in North America; next I examine the physical layout of the built environment in Montréal and follow with an analysis of Montréal’s demographic development. The thesis concludes with the reconstruction of the commercial, social, and familial networks that developed in Montréal society and within individual households. I use four different examples of household units to provide a deeper understanding of the types of interaction that contributed to the interconnected colonial world of French Canada. These include a consideration of the households of Governor Charles LeMoyne de Longueuil; prominent Montréal merchant Ignace Gamelin Jr.; decorated soldier Luc de La Corne St. Luc; and nun Marie-Marguerite Dufrost de Lajemmerais. These four families can be understood as microcosms of some of the broader fluid and highly mobile commercial, social, intimate, and familial interactions that characterized Montréal and the French colonial world.
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