OLIVIER, dit Le Picard, MARC-ANTOINE, gold- and silversmith and soldier; son of Antoine Olivier, dit Le Picard, and Marguerite Savantain; fl. 1688–98.
A native of the region of Beauvais, Marc-Antoine Olivier probably served his apprenticeship under a master goldsmith in Amiens. In 1688 he enlisted in the company of fusiliers which François de Galiffet* raised in Picardy for service in New France – whence the nickname. Scarcely had they arrived in Canada when Galiffet and his 300 men went to Montreal, the crucial point for the defence of the territory against the indigenous people.
Marc-Antoine Olivier appears to have followed Galiffet’s movements. In 1689 he belonged first to the garrison of Trois-Rivières. At the time of the Lachine massacre (3 Aug. 1689) he was at Pointe-Saint-Charles. On 17 June 1690 he married at Pointe-aux-Trembles (near Montreal) a girl of 13, Françoise Dardaine. In the marriage certificate he is called “a soldier in Galifé’s company.” One of his brothers-in-arms, Michel Senau, dit La Viazère, was present at the ceremony and declared, as did Olivier himself, that he did not know how to sign his name. In a private contract, which has not been found, the parents-in-law gave their daughter Françoise a piece of land at Saint-Sulpice, near Montreal, for her dowry.
For the next three years we have no information about Olivier. Perhaps he went with Galiffet, who had been appointed town-major of Quebec in 1692. Marc-Antoine Olivier, described as a gold- and silversmith, was not present at the baptism of his first child, which took place in Montreal on 3 Jan. 1695. That same year, on 10 October, he gave up his land at Saint-Sulpice, claiming that he was “incapable of farming it.”
At the baptism of Olivier’s second son, Simon, born on 29 Feb. 1696, the officiating priest added a note: “The father did not sign, since he is in France for the time being.” In May 1698 Marc-Antoine Olivier asked to return to France, where his wife and “two of his children” were waiting for him.
Several documents attest to Marc-Antoine’s having been a gold- and silversmith by trade, but no work which can be attributed to him has yet been found.
AJM, Registre des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures, N.-D. de Montréal, 1690, 1694–96. É.-Z. Massicotte, “Orfèvres et bijoutiers du régime français,” BRH, XXXVI (1930), 30–2.
Revisions based on:
Bibliothèque et Arch. Nationales du Québec, Centre d’arch. du Vieux-Montréal, CE601-S5, 17 juin 1690. Library and Arch. Can. (Ottawa), R11577-4-2.