PICOTTE, LOUIS, fur trader, farmer, businessman, and politician; baptized 4 May 1780 at Rivière du-Loup (Louiseville), Que., son of Jean-Baptiste Picotte, a farmer, and Hélène Jarlais (Desjarlais); m. there 25 Sept. 1810 Archange Déjarlais; d. there 7 May 1827.
The son of an Acadian refugee, Louis Picotte seems to have received a good education, judging by his excellent penmanship. On 26 Jan. 1802 he signed on as a voyageur with McTavish, Frobisher and Company. On returning from the northwest in 1806 or shortly before, Picotte settled down in the village where he was born, and for 1,000 livres (600 of it in cash) bought a piece of land 3 arpents by 40. He also had help from his father, who on 4 June 1807 “out of kindness” gave him a property at Rivière-du-Loup measuring 80 feet by 130. Two years later the sale of this land brought him a little more than 5,000 livres.
Being in a financially sound position, Picotte was able on several occasions to lend small sums of money to habitants in his community. In November 1809, branching out beyond agriculture, he hired a number of people to work in the lumber camps on the Cataraqui River in Upper Canada. That month he rented out his land for a year. In late 1813 or early 1814 he moved to Trois-Rivières, where he concentrated on setting up a butcher’s shop: On 18 Aug. 1814 butcher Joseph Chauret made an agreement to slaughter and dress for market all the animals Picotte sent him. On 27 August Joseph Pagé undertook to melt the fat, deliver it in cakes, and reduce the residue to soap. On 2 Feb. 1815 François Morel, a Nicolet farmer, agreed to deliver between 13,000 and 15,000 pounds of beef to him. Picotte also acted for the Quebec wholesale butchers Anthony Anderson and Charles Smith.
Picotte returned to Rivière-du-Loup in the spring of 1815. He continued to lend money and to hire men for lumbering. He also saw to the production of several thousand planks for George Kerr, a Quebec merchant, and at the same time attended to a retail business and his lands.
On 11 April 1820 Picotte was sworn in as member of the Lower Canadian House of Assembly for Saint-Maurice; he represented this riding until 6 July 1824, working on many committees. In 1822 he opposed the projected union of the two Canadas. He did not seek a second term, probably for health reasons.
Picotte apparently was not without a sense of humour. Historian Benjamin Sulte* recounts that one day in the assembly, when speaker Joseph-Rémi Vallières* de Saint-Réal was presiding, Picotte asked a question on which he had to render a decision. Given to irony and fluent in several languages, Vallières de Saint-Réal tried to ridicule Picotte by a string of quotations in Spanish, Greek, and Latin. Picotte was not impressed and replied sharply in Inuktitut, Cree, and Algonkin, to the great amusement of those present, who were unaccustomed to such linguistic virtuosity.
Picotte died in 1827 at the age of 47. His personal estate was small: he left no cash and had no debts owing to him. But he did own two properties and three pieces of land at or near Rivière-du-Loup. On the other hand he owed 9,426 livres, including 8,048 to Anderson and Smith.
Born in the country, Louis Picotte had always stayed in close touch with his origins. Farming had remained a constant interest, as his ownership of various pieces of land and the award of a first prize to him by the Trois-Rivières agricultural society in 1821 show. The parish priest of Rivière-du-Loup made no mistake when he tersely noted on Picotte’s death certificate, “during his lifetime a farmer in this parish.”
ANQ-M, CN1-74, 26 janv. 1802. ANQ-MBF, CE1-15, 4 mai 1780, 25 sept. 1810, 8 mai 1827; CN1-6, 2 mars 1815; CN1-8, 18 août 1818, 19 mars 1819, 20 oct. 1821, 20 juill. 1827; CN1-32, 18, 27 août 1814; 2 févr. 1815; 28 oct. 1818; CN1-38, 27 sept. 1806; 3 mars, 4 juin 1807; 27 avril, 1er juin, 25 juill., 16 sept., 14, 18, 20 nov. 1809; 25 juin, 21 sept. 1810; 3 déc. 1811; 14 mai 1813; CN1-77, 5 nov. 1811; 8 sept., 10 oct. 1812; 29 mai, 20 juin, 10 juill. 1815; 8 janv., 30 mars, 31 mai 1816. Quebec Gazette, 16 March, 13 April, 26 June 1820; 1 March 1821; 5 Dec. 1822; 22 Jan. 1824. F.-J. Audet, Les députés de Saint-Maurice (1808–1838) et de Champlain (1830–1838) (Trois-Rivières, Qué., 1934). Germain Lesage, Histoire de Louiseville, 1665–1960 (Louiseville, Qué., 1961).