CIRIER, ANTOINE (although Cirié, Cirrié, Cyrier, Sirier, and Syrier are found, he signed Cirier), cabinet-maker and wood-carver; b. 10 Aug. 1718 in Montreal, son of Martin Cirier, cabinet-maker and wood-carver, and of Made-Anne Beaune (Bône); m. 10 Oct. 1740 at Longue-Pointe (Montreal) to Marie-Joseph Lenoir, granddaughter of cabinet-maker Vincent Lenoir; m. secondly 19 May 1774 Marguerite Desroches at Pointe-aux-Trembles, Montreal Island; d. 2 Sept. 1798 at Pointe-aux-Trembles.
Antoine Cirier probably apprenticed with his father. In 1738 the latter withdrew from his contract with the churchwardens of the parish of Saint-François-d’Assise, Longue-Pointe, in favour of his son, who completed the decoration of the church retable around 1743. He was to work there again from 1767 to 1770. Between 1737 and 1758 Antoine did much of the interior decoration of the church of La Purification at Repentigny; after 1756, however, he had to deal with lawsuits for having failed to complete the contracts within the periods stipulated. The woodwork and carving for the church of L’Enfant-Jésus at Pointe-aux-Trembles kept him busy for several years from 1743 on, and here perhaps his principal work was accomplished. Nevertheless the central retable and cornice of the church of Saint-Laurent on Montreal Island, begun in late 1756, are also among his more important creations. He had some commissions from the sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame of Montreal, and in 1756 he undertook to prepare wainscoting for the Château de Ramezay in Montreal, which belonged to the Compagnie des Indes. Since his craft required him to travel, he stayed in several places near Montreal: Lachenaie, L’Assomption, Longueuil, Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rivière-des-Prairies, Saint-Denis on the Richelieu, Saint-François-de-Sales (Laval), Saint-Sulpice, Varennes, and Verchères.
Cirier lived in Montreal until 1740 and then spent three or four years at Longue-Pointe before finally settling at Pointe-aux-Trembles. In all three towns he made a large number of property deals. These transactions and the fact that he was a militia captain clearly indicate that he had been successful professionally and socially. Cirier had at least seven apprentices, including a nephew, Joseph Bachand, dit Vertefeuille. He had contacts with the leading wood-carvers of the Montreal region, and in 1761 he became the cousin by marriage of Philippe Liébert*, whom he had known for at least ten years. In 1771 he and wood-carver Jean-Louis Foureur*, dit Champagne, were given the task of examining three retables made by Liébert in the church of Saint-Louis, Terrebonne. It is also possible that Cirier, Liébert, and wood-carver François Guernon*, dit Belleville, collaborated on the church of Pointe-aux-Trembles in 1773–74 and that Cirier and Guernon continued to work together the following year for the mission of Lac-des-Deux-Montagnes.
Demolition and fire having relentlessly taken their toll, little remains of Cirier’s abundant and varied work as a wood-carver and cabinetmaker. The loss is all the more regrettable since Cirier had obviously played a leading role in the Montreal region in his time and had created works of great value. Writing in 1742 of Cirier’s work for the church of Longue-Pointe, Bishop Pontbriand [Dubreil] urged upon the parishioners all the precautions needed “to secure the retable which lends such grace to your altars and sanctuary [so as not] to render useless so many works made with so much courage and success for the house of the Lord.”
ANQ-M, Doc. jud., Registres des audiences pour la juridiction de Montréal, 22, f.447; 25, f.82v; 26, ff.58v, 163, 171, 268; 28A, ff.36, 40v, 44, 94, 357; 28B, ff.15v, 19v, 34, 148v; État civil, Catholiques, Notre-Dame de Montréal, 10 août 1718; Saint-Enfant-Jésus (Pointe-aux-Trembles), 5 janv. 1765, 19 mai 1774, 4 sept. 1798; Greffe de J.-B. Adhémar, 14 juin 1744, 2 janv. 1749; Greffe de Louis Chaboillez, 14 sept. 1797; Greffe de François Comparet, 4 oct. 1740, 8, 11 mars 1744, 3 oct. 1745, 18 juill. 1749, 30 juin, 7 sept. 1751, 21 mai, 28 déc. 1754, 8 janv., 4 avril, 6 sept. 1755; Greffe de C.-F. Coron, 12 nov. 1747, 11 oct. 1756, 13 mars 1764; Greffe de L.-C. Danré de Blanzy, 1er mars 1741, 4 août 1744, ler août 1746, 14 févr. 1749, 19 janv. 1755, 24 avril, 27 sept. 1756; Greffe de J.-C. Duvernay, 30 juin, 28 août 1751; Greffe d’Antoine Foucher, 16 nov. 1771; Greffe d’Antoine Loiseau, 26 févr. 1746, 13 mars 1748; Greffe de P.-F. Mézière, 17 janv. 1766; Greffe de Pierre Panet, 13 nov. 1773, 27 juin 1774; Greffe de François Racicot, 17 nov. 1779, 10, 26 janv. 1780; Greffe de Francois Simonnet, 15 oct. 1745, 30 mars, 11 juin 1751. Archives paroissiales, Saint-Enfant-Jésus (Pointe-aux-Trembles, Qué.), Livre de comptes, 1726–1865. IBC, Centre de documentation, Fonds Morisset, Dossier Antoine Cirier. Quebec Gazette, 28 Oct. 1779. Tanguay, Dictionnaire. Émile Falardeau, Artistes et artisans du Canada (5 sér., Montréal, 1940–46), 4e sér., 49–81. Gowans, Church architecture in New France, 85, 132, 143–44. Gérard Morisset, Coup d’œil sur les arts, 18, 32–33; Les églises et le trésor de Varennes (Québec, 1943), 12. Jean Palardy, Les meubles anciens du Canada français (Paris, 1963), 390. J. R. Porter et Jean Trudel, Le calvaire d’Oka (Ottawa, 1974), 93, 101. Ramsay Traquair, The old architecture of Quebec (Toronto, 1947), 249, 292. A. Bellay, “L’église de Saint-François d’Assise de la Longue-Pointe,” Revue canadienne (Montréal), XXIX (1893), 420–28. É.-Z. Massicotte, “Maçons, entrepreneurs, architectes,” BRH, XXXV (1929), 132–42. Gérard Morisset, “Martin et Antoine Cirier,” La Patrie (Montréal), 12 nov. 1950, 26–27, 50.