Provencher and Manchon.

Sébastien Provencher.

Evidence of Sébastien Provencher in the New World may be found in a document dated 6 June 1661 by the notary Claude Herlin in which he promised to pay Pierre Boucher for goods he received for the lands he farmed on Île Saint-Joseph near the Saint-Maurice River. Three installments of 49 livres, 6 sols, 10 deniers would be tendered in the form of grain and beaver pelts. Within a year he acquired a concession of land that had two arpents of river frontage and was 40 arpents deep from the Jesuits in Le Cap (Cap-de-la-Madeleine) adjacent to Trois-Rivières. He was required to build a home and received the right to hunt and fish on the land. His rent of two bushels of wheat, 2 deniers and a capon (a castrated rooster) was due on the Fête de Saint-Martin (11 November), a day which marked the traditional end of the harvest. It was a day of celebration, likely especially so for landowners since payments were collected.

Marriage to Marguerite Manchon.

Women were scarce in the colony forcing young men wishing to marry to present an attractive package. A well-built home to keep a family snug in the cold winters, a viable farm to feed them and perhaps a trade skill would help them stay in the running when young women arrived from France.

Their marriage record has been lost, but an inventory in 1691 sets the date as 22 January 1663 in ville de Québec. His betrothed was Marguerite Manchon who was born in 1637.

They had barely settled into their home when an earthquake hit on February 5th. Its effect was felt as far away as New England. On the home front the shaking nearly levelled a waterfall along the Saint-Maurice River. Several landslides kept the Saint-Lawrence River muddied for weeks afterward. Jesuit priests who recorded the event were gratified that no lives were lost.


Our ancestor Marie-Madeleine was born about 1663. the family was living in a house that was 25 feet long by 16 feet wide. It was covered in straw and sported a mansard style roof which allowed for a spacious loft upstairs. By June of the following year they leased a home from Lefebrvre. A cow and a male calf came in the bargain, for which they paid 20 minots of French wheat, 5 minots of Indian corn and 19 pounds of butter.

He received a concession the following year for two sites totally 4 arpents wide by 40 arpents deep. His obligation there was for a bushel of French wheat, 2 capons and 4 deniers. He was expected to build a home and to use the neighboring mill to grind his grain. Twelve terres en valeur, land under cultivation, were reported in 1667 census. He, (as Bastien) was 33, Marguerite, 30. They had two daughters including our ancestor Madeleine, age 4 and Marguerite, age 2. François Mesier worked for the family.

The Provenchers were somewhat mobile. They sold their property and leased for a while. In 1676 they moved across the Saint-Lawrence River. The south side was somewhat less populated as most settled on the north bank between Québec and Montréal. Their new home, with four arpents along the river, was in the seigneury of Charles Legardeur de Villiers next to Aubin Maudou and Michel Rochereau (the brother of our ancestor Vivien Rochereau). It was not long before another arrangement was made and Aubin Maudou, 30, married their 13 year old daughter Madeleine later that year.

Another census was taken in 1681 with the family at Cap-de-la-Madeleine. Sébastien, 53, owned a fusil (flintlock) and had three horned beasts. Sixteen arpens of land were being cultivated. Marguerite, 44, and four of their children were mentioned: Madeleine 17, Marguerite 15, Louis 13 and Sebastien 11. Aubin Maudou was said to be a domestique (worker). Missing in this account is a mention of Aubin's marriage to Madeleine, their child, and Sébastien and Marguerite's two youngest children.

Rope Maker.


In the 1681 census Sébastien declared he was a cordier. Cordage includes lines, ropes and cords. Using natural fibers such as hemp, sisal or flax he would twist the material to bind it together. Formed by braiding or twisting the strands, a cordier worked in bundles of fiber to increase the length of the finished product. Later simple machines were devised to aid in the process, but in his time they were built by hand. A long ropewalk (lane or covered pathway) was sometimes set up to build longer length ropes. Colonists used the cordage to secure their livestock, rig their boats and hoist materials.


Marguerite Manchon died 28 January 1688 and was buried in the cemetery of the church of Sainte-Madeleine at Cap-de-la-Madeleine.

Marie-Catherine Guillet lost her husband Jacques Massé in November 1687, her minor children were placed in guardianship the following May.

In an inventory taken by the notaire Jean Cusson on 26 April 1691 her property included "...20 arpents under cultivation fronting on the Saint-Lawrence River, a framed house covered with straw and 'boarded with planks from top to bottom,' with partitions of the same material, two bedrooms, two inside doors hung with iron hinges." Her home was 25 feet by 16 feet and the site included a barn and bakehouse. Other possessions included tablecloths and linen napkins, a fry pan and tin plates, a chimney hook, beds and blankets. Her stock was comprised of several cows and bulls, chickens and turkeys. And a plow for the fields.

Sébastien and Marie-Catherine were married on 14 May 1691, the same day his son Louis married her daughter Simoné. Two more weddings were celebrated to further tie the families: son Sébastien married Marie-Anne Massé in 1694 and Catherine married Louis Massé in 1702.

They would have more children together, and departed this world around the same time in 1710. Louis Provencher took in the three youngsters they left behind.