PAILLARD (Paillart, Paillé, dit Paillard, Paillet), LÉONARD, known as Le Poitevin, master carpenter and millwright; b. 1647, son of André Paillard and Catherine Geoffroy of Bersac parish (department of Haute-Vienne); m. in 1678 at Beauport Louise-Marie Vachon, by whom he had nine children; buried 6 Jan. 1729 at the Hôpital Général of Montreal.
Léonard Paillard possessed the very Canadian traits of ambition, versatility, and mobility. As a millwright, he met one of the most urgent needs of the colony. He probably came to Canada about 1670 as an indentured worker. In October 1672 he became the apprentice of Jean Lemire*, a carpenter living on Grande Allée near Quebec. It is likely that he learned the millwright’s craft from Lemire. He completed his apprenticeship in carpentry in 1675 under Pierre Mercereau, who had purchased Paillard’s indenture for 60 livres. Paillard subsequently became Mercereau’s journeyman.
Paillard married a notary’s daughter in 1678 and settled at Petite-Auvergne in Beauport seigneury “about a league” from Quebec. On his farm he tilled the soil and worked at his trade. In 1684 he took up residence on Rue du Sault-au-Matelot in Lower Town, Quebec. He still did carpentry outside the city.
In May 1686 Paillard contracted to build a windmill near Boucherville. The opportunities in the Montreal region evidently pleased him for he wound up his affairs at Quebec and moved his family to Ville-Marie the following year. He also bought a farm at côte Saint-Jean, which he leased out for a small rental. At Ville-Marie, Paillard and his family occupied rented lodgings until the completion of their new home near Notre-Dame de Bonsecours chapel in 1692.
The mass of notarized building contracts entered into by Paillard testifies to his prodigious activity. In the Quebec area he occasionally took on more projects than he could complete and was forced to transfer the surplus to other carpenters. Paillard constructed houses, roof frames, and barns. His specialization in mills evolved slowly and it was in the Montreal region that this skill came to the fore. This part of the colony was destined to be the lumbering and grain-growing centre of New France and the existence of sawmills and grist-mills was essential if the colony was to feed itself and to export timber and flour. The millwright’s knowledge of wooden cogged mechanisms was invaluable in a country with many technological deficiencies.
Léonard branched out into other activities like the grain trade and water transport. He bought a half interest in a small merchant vessel in 1692 and acted as agent for one or two mills.
Paillard did not work alone. He was assisted by a servant on his Beauport farm and when he built mills he concentrated on the fine details while other hands performed the heavier work. He worked with other carpenters and in 1698, for example, he and Jean La Croix of Montreal went into formal partnership for one year. Help came from the odd apprentice and, at times, from his son-in-law and sons. In this way Charles and Gabriel Paillard learned their father’s craft.
Even at the age of 74, this energetic millwright went off to distant Detroit by canoe to repair a windmill and to do miscellaneous bits of carpentry. Small wonder that on his deathbed he looked like an ancient of ninety.
AJM, Greffe d’Antoine Adhémar, 28 août 1688, 17 janv. 1700, 15 déc. 1712; Greffe d’Hilaire Bourgine, 28 juillet 1686; Greffe de Jacques David, 7 août 1721; Greffe de Michel Lepallieur de Laferté; Greffe de Claude Maugue, 4 janv. 1688, 28 mars 1689, 3 juillet 1692; Greffe de Michel Moreau, 14 oct. 1686; Greffe de J.-B. Pottier, 10 avril 1690; Greffe de Pierre Raimbault, 13 nov. 1698; Greffe de Nicolas Senet, 11 juin 1719; Greffe de Marien Tailhandier, 12 févr. 1705. AJQ, Greffe de Claude Auber, 26 juin 1678; Greffe de Pierre Duquet, 14 sept. 1675; Greffe de Michel Fillion, 12 avril 1684; Greffe de Gilles Rageot, 26 oct. 1672, 14 oct. 1674, 24 mai 1686, 13 mars 1687. AQ, NF, Coll. de pièces jud. et not., 3308. ASQ, Polygraphie, I, 88. Jug. et délib., II, 375, 988–89, 1029–30, 1040; III, 10, 127–28, 171–73, 407, 799, 878–79, 1041–42; IV, 766–67; VI, 960. Recensement du Canada, 1681 (Sulte), 83.