BOUCHER, PIERRE-JÉRÔME, draftsman, cartographer, engineer; b. in Normandy, France, about 1688; d. 3 July 1753 at Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island).
After three years’ apprenticeship at Rochefort, France (1709–12), Pierre-Jérôme Boucher, an ensign, served as draftsman and cartographer aboard the Vénus in East Indian waters. Following his return to France, he was sent to Louisbourg in 1717 as a draftsman for Jean-François de Verville*, the director of fortifications. He helped to build a relief model of Louisbourg. In 1720 he became an assistant-engineer and in 1721 a lieutenant. During Verville’s tenure Boucher conducted parts of the construction work and from November until the opening of the construction season each year worked with Jean-Baptists de Couagne* on plans and preparations. Under Étienne Verrier, the engineer-in-chief, his planning, measuring, and cost-estimating responsibilities developed; in addition he did extensive mapping of the coasts and interior of Île Royale and instructed Verrier’s son, Claude-Étienne*, in that art. For the governor and financial commissary, he prepared estimates for road and bridge construction. In 1740, on the death of Couagne, Boucher was promoted half-pay captain. First recommended for the cross of Saint-Louis in 1741, he was finally granted it in 1747.
Boucher was present at the siege of Louisbourg in 1745, during which he was slightly wounded, and was a member of the council of war which decided on capitulation to the Anglo-American forces. After some 18 months as a prisoner of war in England, he was repatriated to Rochefort, where he assisted in winding up the Louisbourg fortification accounts and signed them as the responsible engineer. Instead of sending Boucher to Canada to work under Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry, in 1748 Maurepas, the minister of Marine, placed him in charge of works being done at Sables-d’Olonne on the Poitou coast, and then at the port of Croix-de-Vie (both in the dept. of Vendée). After a few months it was decided that Boucher would join the group repossessing Louisbourg in 1749, since he was the available engineer most competent to assess the works required to restore Louisbourg to a state of defensive readiness. For a year, as engineer in charge, he prepared extensive reports on the state of the fortifications and public buildings, including those the Anglo-American troops had constructed or altered during their four years’ occupation, and he drew up detailed estimates on the works required. In 1750, Louis Franquet was sent out as his superior and for the next three years Boucher worked under his direction, though with a considerable degree of autonomy, especially during Franquet’s several absences in France and in Canada.
Boucher was allowed to return to France a few times during his 32 years at Louisbourg in order to attend to family matters. After 1749, his concern was primarily with his wife and children who had not returned to Louisbourg with him. During the winter of 1732–33, when he was about 45, he had married at Port-Dauphin (Englishtown, N.S.) Marguerite-Madeleine de Goutin (daughter of Mathieu* and sister of François-Marie de Goutin), said to be a lady of merit but of little fortune. She brought him two town lots in Louisbourg, which he combined with his own adjoining lots. He also had a concession at Petit Lorembec (Little Lorraine), scene of a small battle during the siege of 1745. Following his wife’s death (apparently in France after 1750), Boucher had to arrange for the future of his four children, since his own health was failing. After being confined to his bed for four months by gout and a painful back ailment, he made his will on 8 June 1753. Paralysis developed, and he died less than a month later. Guardians were named, and in accordance with his will his movable goods were sold for the benefit of his heirs. They had little value: the largest item was a quantity of flour valued at 97 livres. Provision was also made for the disposal of his real property.
Boucher was the engineer with the longest continuous service at Louisbourg. Of all his superiors, only Saint-Ovide [Monbeton] wrote anything against him; that he was a “creature of Verville,” continuing his former director’s policies after the latter’s departure. Verrier could not think of a better teacher of cartography for his son and recommended Boucher highly for the cross of Saint-Louis. Léry was delighted that he might have him in Canada. Jacques Prévost* de La Croix, the financial commissary, wrote that Boucher would be difficult to replace, to which Franquet added that there were few engineers who could survey and prepare plans with such accuracy.
Boucher was not only the author of excellent maps of Île Royale, and of plans and technical papers concerning fortifications, roads, bridges, and public buildings, but also the draftsman of others which bear the signatures of Verville, Verrier, and Franquet. To him goes a substantial share of the credit for planning and executing the public works of Louisbourg and the development of Cape Breton Island during the French régime.
AN, Col., B, 52, 53, 54, 57, 65, 66, 68, 74, 91, 95, 97; C11A, 126, pièce 62; C11B, 6–23; C11C, 13, 16; D2C, 222/1; D2D, 1; E 43; F1A, 19, 20, 28, 30; F3, 50, ff.321–22; Marine, C7, 39; Section Outre-Mer, Dépôt des fortifications des colonies, Am. sept., nos.208, 223, 224; G1, 406; 407; 408; 466, no.69; G2, 181, f.522; 202, dossier 287; G3, 2039, 2047. CTG, Bibliothèque, mss in fol., 205b, ff.19, 134. BN, Cartes et plans, Portefeuille 131, div.6, no.6; div.7, no.5. PAC, Map div., H3/201, H3/239, M/210, M/310; MG 11, Nova Scotia A, 34, pp.156–65. Inv. des papiers de Léry (P.-G. Roy), II, 75–82, Louisbourg in 1745 (Wrong), 52.