MARGANE DE LAVALTRIE, FRANÇOIS, seigneur, trader, priest; b. 9 Sept. 1685 at Lavaltrie (Que.) on the north shore of the St Lawrence, son of Séraphin Margane de Lavaltrie and Louise Bissot; m. on 9 May 1712 Angélique Guyon Després at Beauport; d. 6 March 1750 at the Hôtel Dieu of Quebec.
François Margane de Lavaltrie belonged to a family of soldiers. His father had come to New France with the Régiment de Carignan, and his brother, François-Marie Margane* de Batilly, died in the raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts, in February 1704 (10 March N.S.). François probably acquired a taste for adventure from them, and early began trading on the Labrador coast. It is difficult to tell when he first went there, but it seems that from 1701 on he took part in the earliest expeditions to Labrador, organized by Augustin Le Gardeur* de Courtemanche and his wife, Marie-Charlotte Charest. Later Margane served under Le Gardeur at Fort Pontchartrain, built in 1705 on Baie de Phélypeaux (Baie de Brador).
On 13 Aug. 1711 Margane de Lavaltrie was ordered by Le Gardeur to deliver to Governor Philippe de Rigaud* de Vaudreuil in Quebec a message he had received from the minister of Marine, Pontchartrain, warning the governor that an English fleet was preparing to sail up the river to attack Quebec. His mission completed, Margane left Quebec on 18 September for Fort Pontchartrain, having received instructions from Vaudreuil to return to Quebec if he encountered the enemy. Margane reached he aux Oeufs on 1 October and discovered the wreckage of part of Admiral Hovenden Walker*’s fleet which had been shipwrecked during the night of 22–23 August. Margane returned to Quebec with news of the shipwreck, and on 17 October declared before the admiralty court that Vital Caron, a sea captain, and his men had pillaged the wreckage and that he himself, “giving up the profits that he could have made, like the others,” had immediately returned to Quebec to make his declaration and to lay claim to “the rights which belong to the denunciator.”
Margane de Lavaltrie returned to Fort Pontchartrain to assist Le Gardeur de Courtemanche. But the latter died in 1717 and was replaced by his stepson, François Martel de Brouague. Then began a conflict over trade with the Indians and Eskimos between Margane and the new commandant of Labrador, who was backed by his mother, Le Gardeur’s widow. If we are to judge by the declarations of the antagonists, it seems that Mme Le Gardeur wanted to retain a certain monopoly for herself and her son; yet the former commandant, Le Gardeur, had allowed Margane to carry on trade, although he did not have a concession on the coast. The dispute was ended by Governor Vaudreuil’s mediation, Margane obtaining the concession to the post of the Rivière Saint-Augustin on 26 May 1720.
In the years that followed Margane, by himself or in partnership, operated this concession, which allowed him to engage in cod fishing, seal hunting, and fur trading with the Indians and Eskimos “without obligation to pay His Majesty . . . any money or compensation.” In 1737 he leased his concession for three years to Michel Pétrimoulx, Charles Chéron, and Nicolas Caron for an annual rent of 250 livres. Margane had decided to retire to Beauport, where he had settled his family. Two years later, on 29 Dec. 1739, his wife died. From then on he lived alone; his only son, Louis-François, had been married on 22 January of that year.
On 9 Dec. 1741 Margane de Lavaltrie leased his concession to Jean-Baptiste Pommereau for ten years. Shortly before or after he was admitted into the seminary of Quebec and on 22 Sept. 1742 was ordained a priest. He remained at the seminary for some years, and from January 1746 to September 1747 he was parish priest of Cap Saint-Ignace. Upon his return to Quebec he was appointed chaplain of the Hôtel-Dieu; he died there on 6 March 1750 and was buried the next day in the hospital cemetery. For a man of his stamp, the end of his life was a peaceful one, in marked contrast with the adventurous beginning of his career.
In his will, drawn up on 28 Feb. 1750 when he was very ill, François Margane de Lavaltrie left all his property to his grandchildren, since his son had died in 1743. The heirs had only the post of the Rivière Saint-Augustin to divide; Margane had given up his rights to the family seigneury of Lavaltrie in 1735. But in fact the heirs were not able to enjoy this inheritance, for in accordance with the deed of concession the post of Saint Augustin became the property of the crown on Margane de Lavaltrie’s death.
AN, Col., B, 44, f.506v; 61/2, f.525; 68, f.46; C11B, 4; E, 262 (dossier Lavaltrie). ANQ, Greffe de J.-R. Duparc, 8 mai 1712; Greffe de P.-A.-F. Lanoullier Des Granges, 28 févr., 16 juin 1750. Inv. de pièces du Labrador (P.-G. Roy), I, 33, 45, 278–80; II, 3. Juchereau, Annales (Jamet), 365. Le Jeune, Dictionnaire. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, I, 39; II, 245; Inv. ord. int., III, 46. Tanguay, Dictionnaire; Répertoire. P.-G. Roy, “La famille Margane de Lavaltrie,” BRH, XXIII (1917), 33–53, 65–69. “Saint-Ignace du cap Saint-Ignace,” BRH, VI (1900), 293.