AMIOT (Amyot), CHARLES, fur-trader and merchant; b. 26 Aug. 1636 at Quebec, son of Philippe Amiot and Anne Convent, buried there on 10 Dec. 1669.
He was educated at the Jesuit college and when he was barely 14 years old he accompanied Father Bressani as a servant on a trip to the Huron country. On 2 May 1660 at Quebec Amiot married Geneviève de Chavigny, by whom he had three children. He opened a store at Quebec, at the foot of the Cap aux Diamants, on a site which his father-in-law had given him. He was then a merchant interested in eel fishing and in the fur trade. It was his travels among the Papinachois that gave him something of a reputation during his lifetime. On those occasions he accompanied Father Henri Nouvel*, a Jesuit who was born in 1621 or 1624 at Pézenas, in the department of Hérault, and who landed at Quebec in the summer of 1662.
A number of historians have confused the dates and routes of Father Nouvel’s and Charles Amiot’s journeys. According to the Relations they made their first voyage from April to June 1663, and a second from November 1663 to April 1664. They left Quebec in November 1663, and presumably went to the Île Verte and the Île aux Basques, then to the Île Saint-Barnabé, finally spending the winter with a band of Algonkins in the neighbourhood of Lake Matapédia or Lake Mitis. Amiot returned to the Île aux Basques in March 1664 and went down to Quebec, where he arrived on 5 April, whilst Father Nouvel remained on the island with his flock.
On 21 April 1664 Father Nouvel crossed to the north shore. He waited near Tadoussac for Father Druillettes, who arrived only on 3 May. The latter decided to go and serve the Indians of the Saguenay. For their part, Father Nouvel and Charles Amiot, the sole Frenchmen to accompany Druillettes, left Tadoussac the same day (3 May) and penetrated overland, with a band of Papinachois, as far as the river Peritibistokou (des Outardes), which they reached on 14 May. The travellers camped there until 2 June, went upstream for a whole day, and made a portage that brought them to the river Manikouaganistikou (Manicouagan). They got to Lake Saint-Barnabé (Manicouagan) on 9 June. A band of Papinachois who had never met a white man was waiting for them there. The missionary preached the gospel and the traders bartered furs. Father Nouvel named the spot the Saint-Barnabé mission. The expedition returned to Quebec on 30 June 1664.
In November Father Nouvel again left Quebec for Tadoussac. This time Amiot apparently stayed at Quebec. Father Nouvel spent the winter of 1664–65 in the Lake St. John region, and returned in the spring. At the end of May 1665 he went back to the Saint-Barnabé mission together with two Frenchmen whom the Relation identifies as Amiot and Couture*. Father Godbout specifies that “for this last voyage among the nations of the north, he [Amiot] had taken Guillaume Couture, Noël Jérémie, and Sébastien Prouvereau, on 28 May 1665.” They had arranged to meet the Papinachois at the mouth of the Manicouagan. But they had to go up the river without a guide, for the Indians did not appear at the rendezvous. They returned to Quebec on 26 July.
Father Nouvel returned to the north shore regularly until 1670, but the Relations make no further mention of Amiot’s being with him. Perhaps the latter preferred to stay at Quebec with his family and attend to his general store. Amiot died on 10 Dec. 1669. “In consideration of the services rendered by the late Amiot in this country,” Talon, on 3 Nov. 1672, made over to his widow the Vincelotte fief, in what is now the parish of Cap-Saint-Ignace. His son Charles-Joseph* inherited the fief and adopted its name. Charles Amiot was the brother of Jean and Mathieu Amiot.
Father Nouvel had a much longer career. In the succeeding years he exercised his ministry between Michilimackinac and Sault Ste. Marie.
JR (Thwaites) is the sole source of information on the expeditions of Nouvel and Amiot. For an exhaustive biography of Amiot see Godbout, “Nos ancêtres,” APQ Rapport, 1951–53, 492. See also P.-G. Roy, “Les Amyot sous le régime français,” BRH, XXIII (1917), 161–68.
Revisions based on:
Bibliothèque et Arch. Nationales du Québec, Centre d’arch. de Québec, CE301-S1, 2 mai 1660.