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GANET, FRANÇOIS, contractor of fortifications and public buildings; b. c. 1675 in Burgundy, France; d. 14 Oct. 1747 at Paris.

In 1724 the Comte de Maurepas, minister of Marine, decided to implement plans for building the Royal battery and the Island battery at Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island). Bidders for the construction contract included Jean-Baptiste Maillou, dit Desmoulins (backed by Gédéon de Catalogne*) and Jean-Baptiste Boucher, dit Belleville, both of Quebec; but in France, Jacques Raudot*, former intendant of New France, and Jean-François de Verville *, the director of fortifications for Île Royale, recommended François Ganet, a successful builder with European experience in fortifications, whose rates were well below those of the previous contractor, Michel-Philippe Isabeau*. The contract was signed on 24 Feb. 1725. On 10 March, Gratien d’Arrigrand, a nephew of Daniel d’Auger* de Subercase, became Ganet’s business partner, without being a signatory to the contract with the king. D’Arrigrand came to Louisbourg in 1725 and spent two years with Ganet.

Isabeau’s death had created an emergency: the masonry of the King’s bastion and its garrison quarters had to be finished in order to protect it from the climate, and most of the officers and troops had to be housed in a central citadel. Ganet, fancying that this additional work would be profitable, persuaded Arnoud Isabeau, his predecessor’s father and chief heir, to let him assume all risks and profits. After arriving at Louisbourg in June, Ganet made an agreement to that effect with Antoinette Isabeau Planton, the late contractor’s widowed sister. Within a few months he regretted it. He complained that the younger Isabeau had realized large profits in the coarse work of the early stages, and that his own responsibility comprised the slow, fine, expensive work of finishing. On a legal technicality, Ganet cancelled his agreement with Isabeau’s heirs; he was to be paid by them for the work he had already done.

During his stay at Louisbourg from 1725 to 1737 Ganet built, in addition to the two batteries, the Dauphin demi-bastion, the main storehouse, the careening wharf, the hospital, and the lighthouse; he helped to finish the garrison quarters of the King’s bastion; and he carried out a number of repairs. In general there was little cause for dissatisfaction with the quality of his work (the value of which was estimated at some 1,700,000 livres), but he himself frequently complained of delayed payments, unforeseen expenses, shortages of building materials, and low valuations by the chief engineer, Étienne Verrier. His relations with Verrier, and with most of the other officials, were nevertheless harmonious.

There is no reason to believe that Ganet suffered any losses in the long run. Those due to “acts of God” were assumed by the king, and the minister made some effort to facilitate Ganet’s work. The settling of accounts between Ganet and Isabeau’s heirs took several years. It proved necessary first to finish work on the citadel in order to measure the total contribution in labour and materials of each party, then to adjust these figures in accordance with their earlier bilateral transactions. Mme Planton died in 1729, but it was 1731 before the final accounting was made.

A dispute between Ganet and d’Arrigrand lasted about 20 years. In 1728 the latter failed to send Ganet certain building materials for which public funds had been ear-marked in France. Two years later Ganet refused to provide his partner with a first statement of profits and losses for their firm, in which d’Arrigrand had a 60 per cent share, whereupon the latter obtained a court order obliging him to do so. Before the work under his first contract was finished, Ganet won his second in 1731, underbidding an associate of d’Arrigrand, and ending his own partnership with the latter. D’Arrigrand wished to draw lots for the equipment and materials which they jointly owned, but Ganet declined, although he had offered d’Arrigrand a judicial estimate of their assets, or an inventory, which he had refused. Ganet continued to use the equipment as his own.

In 1735 d’Arrigrand sent David-Bernard Muiron to Louisbourg, ostensibly to work on a private project, but really to challenge Ganet’s monopoly. Upon the expiration of the second contract, Muiron in 1737 underbid Ganet. The latter wound up his work at Louisbourg during that year, still refusing to share the equipment and supplies. D’Arrigrand began an action in Paris in 1739 seeking to oblige Ganet to render a full accounting of all the assets and liabilities of the former partnership, and to make a substantial interim payment. After a long series of motions by both parties, the matter was taken to the royal council in 1740. That body decreed in February that three experts in fortifications and construction should examine the thousands of documents in the case and render a decision. Because of difficulties among the arbiters, the council decided in May to rely on one of them alone: Jacques Gabriel, first architect to the king. D’Arrigrand was not convinced of the impartiality either of Gabriel or of his son who succeeded him as arbiter in 1742. The judgement, three years later, apparently favoured Ganet in the long run, but he lived only two years to enjoy his profits.

F. J. Thorpe

AN, Col., B, 48, ff.398, 925, 929, 950; 49, ff.697–97v, 703, 707–11; 50, ff.570, 577, 594v–99; 52, ff.588–93, 602v; 53, ff.66v, 67v, 587v–88v, 593v–95v, 602v–6, 607v–8, 617–17v; 54, ff.27, 496, 499v, 501–3; 57, f.755; 59, ff.534v, 540, 551v–58; 61, ff.614v, 616; 63, ff.537v–39v, 543v, 548v, 550; 64, ff.486, 490v; 65, ff.49v, 477–79, 481; 71, ff.193–96v, 198; C11B, 7, ff.185–90, 194–97v, 261–66v, 324, 328–32, 342, 348–51, 352–55v, 357–60, 363, 366–72; 8, ff.111–21v, 157–59v, 161–74, 215, 219, 221–22, 225–28v; 9, ff.93–99, 127–32, 141–47v, 153–79v, 193–206, 210–50v; 10, ff.81–84, 104–8, 166–73; 242–45; 11, ff.45–49, 55–57, 83, 90; 12, ff.122–43, 145, 166–69v; 13, ff.206, 261, 298–309, 310–17v, 329, 408–11 v; 15, ff.72–74, 149–52, 180–80v; 16, ff.182–93, 221–22; 17, ff.94–96, 154; 18, ff.85–87, 133–36, 145–48, 271–87, 301–2; 19, ff.232–40; 21, ff.290–91v, 293; 23, ff.213–17v; 27, ff.315–18; E, 9 (dossier d’Arrigrand), ff.2, 4, 6–8, 11, 17; Section Outre-Mer, G1, 466, no.69. Archives Maritimes, Port de Rochefort, 1E, 105, f.531. Robert Le Blant, “Un entrepreneur à l’île Royale, Gratien d’Arrigrand, 1684–1754,” La Revue des questions historiques (Paris), LXIV (1936) (offprint at PAC). Pierre Mayrand, “La renaissance de Louisbourg,” Vie des arts (Montréal), XLVI (1967), 32–35.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

F. J. Thorpe, “GANET, FRANÇOIS,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed April 16, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/ganet_francois_3E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/ganet_francois_3E.html
Author of Article: F. J. Thorpe
Title of Article: GANET, FRANÇOIS
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1974
Year of revision: 1974
Access Date: April 16, 2014