RIVERIN, JOSEPH (baptized Jean-Joseph), merchant, militia officer; b. 5 Aug. 1699 in Quebec, son of Joseph Riverin, a merchant, and of Michelle Mars; d. 23 Oct. 1756 in Quebec.
Jean-Joseph Riverin came from a prominent merchant family and consequently had every advantage in going into business. He profited not only from the fortune left him by his father, who had died around 1716, but also from the prestige enjoyed by his uncle, Denis Riverin*, the representative in France of the Compagnie de la Colonie from 1702 until his death in 1717. In addition, his maternal grandfather, Simon Mars, had been a merchant in La Rochelle, France, and then in Quebec.
Like many other merchants of the time, Jean-Joseph Riverin had a varied business. In a store located in Lower Town, Quebec, at the end of Rue Sault-au-Matelot he sold silver plate, fabrics, and other dry goods. He also dealt in wood, hay, animals, and food supplies such as beef, pork, mutton, milk, butter, flour, and eggs. The dry goods came from France, but the other items were amply supplied by his farms at Ancienne-Lorette, on Île d’Orléans, and on Île aux Grues. A number of clerks, tenant farmers, and servants were in his employ.
Firmly established in the business world through family ties, Riverin chose a wife from the same milieu. On 20 June 1724, in Quebec, he married Marie-Joseph Perthuis, daughter of the merchant Charles Perthuis*. Widowed, on 27 July 1740 he married Marie-Charlotte Guillimin, daughter of another rich merchant, Charles Guillimin*. Riverin had by his two wives at least 17 children, of whom only four outlived him.
Riverin was a dedicated and highly esteemed citizen as well as a prosperous merchant. In 1737 he is mentioned as a churchwarden of Notre-Dame de Québec. In 1746, at a meeting in the Château Saint-Louis to decide on “the advisability or not of continuing [the construction of the] fortifications” of Quebec, Riverin, along with a score of other merchants of the town, sided with the minister of Marine, Maurepas, in considering these works useless. Some years later, with the English threatening, Riverin did not hesitate to enrol in the Canadian militia for the better defence of his town; he became a colonel in the militia of the government of Quebec.
On his death at Quebec in 1756, Jean-Joseph Riverin left more than 45,000 livres in assets, including 18,000 livres in bills of exchange, nearly 3,000 livres in playing-card money, and as much in cash. In his Quebec house, on the corner of Rue Notre-Dame and Rue Sous-le-Fort, he had among other things a great number of pieces of silver and silver cutlery bearing Parisian stamps, and a library consisting of 32 works, most of them religious. The sum of 45,000 livres did not include the real estate in his succession – the property on Rue Notre-Dame, the store and warehouse in Lower Town, the houses and lands at Ancienne-Lorette and Île aux Grues – nor his cattle and other such possessions.
Joseph Riverin had acquired a small fortune during his lifetime, and, although he did not play a prominent role in New France, his multiple activities contributed to its economic growth at the end of the French régime.
AJQ, Registre d’état civil, Notre-Dame de Québec, 6 août 1699, 20 juin 1724, 27 juill. 1740, 25 oct. 1756. ANQ, Greffe de J.-É. Dubreuil, 21 févr., 17 mars 1725; Greffe de Florent de La Cetière, 18 janv. 1724; Greffe de J.-N. Pinguet de Vaucour, 23 juill. 1740; Greffe de J.-A. Saillant, 28, 29 nov. 1756; AP, Famille Riverin. PAC Report, 1899, supp., 156. “Recensement de Québec, 1744” (APQ Rapport), 133. Bonnault, “Le Canada militaire,” APQ Rapport, 1949–51, 286, 301. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, I, 106, 169; Inv. jug. et délib., 1717–1760, III, 88, 239; V, 108, 189, 194; Inv. ord. int., II, 226. Tanguay, Dictionnaire.