SCHINDLER, JOSEPH (Jonas), “engineer” of mathematical instruments, silversmith, and merchant; b. in the parish of Saint-Nicolas, Glarus, Switzerland, son of Joseph Schindler and Marguerite Gaspar; d. 19 Nov. 1792 in Montreal (Que.).
Joseph Schindler sailed on the Dauphin from London and arrived at Quebec in 1763 with someone named Meyer. Early in November Schindler and Jeann (?) George Meyer, “both engineers of mathematical instruments,” took lodgings with Jean Roy, an innkeeper and restaurateur on Rue Saint-Pierre. A few months later, in March 1764, the two tenants had debts of 864 livres 16 sous, which the seigneur of Beauport, Antoine Juchereau* Duchesnay, discharged. On 17 May Joseph Schindler married Geneviève Maranda at Quebec and they apparently went to live with her parents.
In November 1766, when his son Frédéric was baptized, Schindler was described as a “mathematician.” But it was as a silversmith that he took on three apprentices soon afterward: Louis-Alexandre Huguet, dit Latour, and Joseph Lucas in December, and Jean-Nicolas Amiot in February. His abrupt switch to the silversmith’s trade is easier to understand when one realizes that the training and equipment needed for making mathematical instruments are somewhat similar to those required by the silversmith. Schindler’s extensive involvement in this craft must, however, have stemmed from a large order for trade silver. Jewellery and trinkets, in fact, constituted his basic stock, although as early as 1767 he was making the occasional piece of church silver. Schindler soon opened a large workshop on Rue de la Montague and was living there in 1769.
In March 1775 he made plans with a merchant-voyageur named Monforton, who was in Montreal, to go to Michilimackinac (Mackinaw City, Mich.) towards the end of April. As Monforton’s agent, Schindler hired four workers, and he took along his own apprentice, Michel Forton*. In 1776 he was brought before Philippe Dejean*, a justice of the peace in Detroit, for having produced substandard silver hollowware. In his defence he explained that having never served an apprenticeship he was a poor judge of the quality of metal, a problem compounded by his use of old silver brought in to him. Michel Forton testified in his favour. Although he was acquitted by the jury, Lieutenant Governor Henry Hamilton and Dejean drummed him out of the settlement. Schindler was living in Montreal in 1777 and, in spite of his humiliating exit, he carried on business with the fur-traders at Detroit.
Schindler was primarily a trader who engaged apprentices to make commissioned pieces, as did Robert Cruickshank* and Pierre Huguet*, dit La Tour. His stamp – IS in a rectangle (which must not be confused with the one Joseph Sasseville used) – was, like theirs, more the mark of a workshop than of a single craftsman. His commercial ventures were certainly not confined to silverware. On 21 May 1784, in the presence of notary Edward William Gray*, Schindler and Christy Cramer, “Merchants of Montreal” with premises on Rue Saint-Paul, acknowledged their debt to Isaac Todd* and James McGill* “for divers Goods, Wares and Merchandises” which the latter had received from “the late Partnership of Cramer and Lymes.”
On the same day, in Quebec, Schindler’s mother-in-law relinquished tenure of her assets, which consisted primarily of a property there already deeded to him in 1781. She had been widowed ten days earlier and now, too old to look after herself, she came to live with her daughter in Montreal. The property, on Rue de la Montagne at the corner of L’Escalier, was put up for sale a week later through John Justus Diehl.
Schindler evidently remained active as a silversmith until his death in 1792, for in 1791 he took on Joseph Normandeau as an apprentice for five years. The suggestion has been made that his widow made silver articles herself, but this seems doubtful. She was obliged to liquidate the assets of her husband’s workshop and to fulfil the contract with Normandeau. Various payments for trade silver were made to her in 1797 and 1798 by the McGill brothers, and at the time of her death on 11 Jan. 1803 she owed these traders £10 3s. 8d. for goods not yet delivered.
ANQ-M, État civil, Anglicans, Christ Church (Montréal), 21 Nov. 1792; Catholiques, Notre-Dame de Montréal, 21 août 1778, 13 janv. 1803; Greffe de J. G. Beek, 30 juill. 1781, 19 févr. 1783; Greffe de Louis Chaboillez, 29 sept. 1791; Greffe d’E. W. Gray, 21 mai 1784. ANQ-Q, État civil, Anglicans, Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (Québec), 5 Dec. 1774; Catholiques, Notre-Dame de Québec, 17 mai 1764, 17 nov. 1766, 3 avril, 27 mai 1769, 14 juill. 1770, 25 janv., 26 juill. 1773, 21 mai 1774; Greffe de C.-H. Du Laurent, 20 sept. 1752; Greffe de Claude Louet, 12 nov. 1763, 20 mars 1764, 20, 22 déc. 1766, 9 févr. 1767; Greffe de J.-A. Panet, 21, 23, 25 mars 1775; Greffe de F.-D. Rousseau, 17 août 1781, 21 mai 1784. AUM, P 58, Doc. divers, Q1, 3 juill. 1763. IBC, Centre de documentation, Fonds Morisset, Dossier Joseph Schindler. Quebec Gazette, 27 May 1784. Detroit Institute of Arts, The French in America, 1520–1880 (Detroit, 1951), 199. Tanguay, Dictionnaire. Robert Derome, “Delezenne, les orfèvres, l’orfèvrerie, 1740–1790” (thèse de ma, université de Montréal, 1974). Langdon, Canadian silversmiths, 126. Gérard Morisset, Evolution d’une pièce d’argenterie (Québec, 1943), 12–13, planches VI-VII. Traquair, Old silver of Que. F.-J. Audet, “Les habitants de la ville de Québec en 1769–1770,” BRH, XXVII (1921), 124. F. W. Robinson, “Silversmiths of early Detroit,” Detroit Hist. Soc., Bull., IX (1952–53), no.2, 5–8.