LEBLANC, dit Le Maigre, JOSEPH, farmer, trader, and Acadian patriot; b. 12 March 1697 at Les Mines (near Wolfville, N.S.), son of Antoine Leblanc and Marie Bourgeois; m. 13 Feb. 1719 Anne, daughter of Alexandre Bourg*, dit Belle-Humeur, and Marguerite Melanson, dit La Verdure; d. 19 Oct. 1772 at Kervaux, in the parish of Le Palais, Belle-Île, France.
So little is known of Joseph Leblanc’s early life that it is difficult to explain what prompted him to side with successive French efforts to reconquer Acadia in the 1740s. He was one of only a dozen patriots who actively supported the French at this time, and the pattern of his collaboration closely follows that of his contemporary, Joseph-Nicolas Gautier, dit Bellair.
Leblanc made a notable contribution to the expedition led by François Du Pont* Duvivier against Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, in the late summer of 1744. For Leblanc this expedition was primarily a commercial venture: in a petition, drafted some years later, he claimed that it had cost him 4,500 livres though the extant accounts total only 1,200 livres. Leblanc’s figures may well have been inflated to include expenses incurred in carrying Duvivier’s dispatches to Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), during the siege of Annapolis Royal in September. On the 22nd of that month Duvivier ordered him to go to Louisbourg post-haste, “on pain of being handed over to the mercy of the savages.” It was 18 October before Leblanc reported back, and by that time Duvivier was at Beaubassin (near Amherst, N.S.), having lifted the siege. Duvivier’s threat notwithstanding, Leblanc had seized the opportunity to take a number of sheep and black cattle to sell in Louisbourg.
In the aftermath of the expedition, the Nova Scotia authorities sought out those Acadians who had collaborated with the French. Leblanc at first refused to appear before the Nova Scotia Council, “as so many things were falsely Imputed to him which made him afraid.” When he was finally persuaded to come forth he pleaded ignorance of any wrongdoing, “not being enlightened enough to distinguish between a time of war and a time of untroubled peace.” However implausible, his explanations appear to have satisfied the council for he was asked to do nothing more than post £100 as a bond of good behaviour.
Within months, in the summer of 1745, Leblanc was busily engaged in assisting a new French effort led by Paul Marin de La Malgue. He was captured, charged, convicted, and incarcerated for six months at Annapolis Royal “in a frightful dungeon, laden with chains.” In February 1746 he managed to escape, just in time to assist the huge French fleet commanded by the Duc d’Anville [La Rochefoucauld] which had been sent to recapture both Acadia and Île Royale. At Minas Leblanc assembled 230 head of livestock to provision the fleet. By the time his herds arrived at Annapolis Royal, however, the ill-fated expedition had come to its inauspicious end. Having lost 2,000 livres in his abortive speculation, and now at the mercy of the British authorities, Leblanc abandoned his assets at Minas and fled to the remote Beaubassin region.
When Île Royale was restored to France in 1749, Leblanc settled with his family at Port-Toulouse (St Peters). Late in 1750, Jacques Prévost* de La Croix, the financial commissary of the colony, described him as being “reduced to begging.” He was given crown rations for three years; in 1752 he could claim only one small boat, 25 cattle, and 16 fowl.
After the fall of Louisbourg in 1758 Leblanc fled to Miquelon. Shortly after his wife died on 13 July 1766 he moved to Belle-Île-en-Mer (dept. of Morbihan), France, settling with his family among other Acadian refugees in the village of Kervaux. It is likely that he remained in France until his death there in 1772.
AD, Morbihan (Vannes), État civil, Le Palais, 20 oct. 1772. AN, Col., C11B, 29, ff.211–12v, 180v; C11D, 8, ff.109–11v, 283–84; E, 169 (dossier Du Pont Duvivier); Section Outre-Mer, G1, 413/A (4 juill. 1766). PAC, MG 9, B8, 12 (13 févr. 1719). Coll. doc. inédits Canada et Amérique, II, 170, 175. N.S. Archives, IV, 50, 52, 55, 56–60, 62–64, 76, 78. PAC Report, 1905, II, pt.i, 22. Arsenault, Hist. et généal. des Acadiens, 673.