JÉRÉMIE, dit Lamontagne, CATHERINE (Aubuchon; Lepailleur de Laferté), midwife, botanizer; baptized 22 Sept. 1664 at Quebec, daughter of Noël Jérémie*, dit Lamontagne, a trader, and Jeanne Pelletier; buried 1 July 1744 at Montreal.
There are few documents that enable us to retrace Catherine Jérémie’s life. On 28 Jan. 1681, at 16 years of age, she was married near Trois-Rivières, at Champlain, to Jacques Aubuchon, by whom she had a daughter. On 3 Nov. 1688 she was married again, this time to Michel Lepailleur* de Laferté, at Batiscan; they were to have 10 or 11 children. In 1690 the Lepailleurs were living in Quebec, and in the autumn of 1702 they settled in Montreal, where Lepailleur received a commission as a royal notary. It was at Montreal particularly that Catherine Jérémie practised her profession as a midwife and established her reputation as a botanizer.
In the 18th century French naturalists, supported by the intendants of New France, were trying to discover the medicinal and practical properties of the flora of Canada. Every year the intendants encouraged plant collecting and the dispatch of living or dried specimens to France on the king’s vessels. Catherine Jérémie was not as important as someone like Pehr Kalm* or even Jean-François Gaultier and Michel Sarrazin*, who played a great role in making the flora of Canada known, but she has her place among amateur botanists such as Jean-Baptiste Gosselin, Hubert-Joseph de La Croix, Joseph-François Lafitau, and Pierre-François-Xavier de Charlevoix. She distinguished herself not only in collecting plants but particularly in attaching to her shipments notes explaining the properties and effects of the medicinal herbs. According to the testimony of Intendant Hocquart* in 1740, Mme Lepailleur, who had been widowed in 1733, had “long striven to discover the secrets of Indian medicine.”
Catherine Jérémie died in 1744 at Montreal. We know nothing of the nature, scope, and interest of the notes which accompanied her shipments and which should be in the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris.
AN, Col., C11A, 65, f.140; 70, ff.113, 129; 72, f.63; 80, f.69. PAC Report, 1905, I, pt.vi 20, 59. “Recensement de Montréal, 1741” (Massicotte). Tanguay, Dictionnaire. Gosselin, L’Église du Canada jusqu’à la conquête, II, 384.