YOU DE LA DÉCOUVERTE, PIERRE (Hiou, Hyou; he signed himself de Ladescouverte), officer, adjutant, merchant; b. 1658 at La Rochelle, parish of Saint-Sauveur; son of Pierre You, a tanner, and of Marie-Renée Turcot; buried 28 Aug. 1718 at Montreal.
The first document which mentions Pierre You in New France is the deed of grant made to the Recollets in 1677 by Cavelier* de La Salle: the land grant in question bordered on that of the Sieur You, a sergeant in the garrison at Fort Frontenac (Cataracoui, now Kingston, Ont.). Pierre You was later to accompany La Salle on his expeditions of discovery; La Salle wrote that “much courage and skill were necessary for these expeditions,” and he considered that his habitual companion was “a very worthy fellow.” When going to find the Chevalier Henri Tonty in 1680, he took with him only the Sieur Bourdon* d’Autray, and two Indians. In March 1682, after the fatigues and perils of this hazardous expedition, Pierre You had the honour of signing the proceedings of the taking over of the Arkansas country. The following year, by virtue of the privileges granted by the king to the discoverers, he adopted the title of Sieur de La Découverte, a title which was subsequently attributed to him in official government records. In 1695 Buade* de Frontenac, in his farewell harangue to the chiefs of the western tribes, named the officers serving at the Michilimackinac post whom the Indians were to obey as they would himself, and he included the Sieur de La Découverte. In 1697 we find him at Montreal, and eight years later he was in possession of a piece of land with a 50-foot frontage on Rue Saint-Paul. His house was so large that it looked like a storehouse. In 1711 he bought another lot on the Place du Marché, and on it he had a two-storey house erected.
In addition to his activities as explorer and merchant, La Découverte went in for fur-trading. In 1703 he obtained a land grant near Fort Senneville, at the western extremity of Montreal Island. From then on he lived on this remote property, which facilitated clandestine fur-trading and allowed his sons to escape into the woods; despite the ordinances, they trafficked in furs even as far as New England. In proof of this, one of them, brought before the court, admitted that he had gone there and had bought a negro and some silverware there.
La Découverte won the confidence of Rigaud de Vaudreuil, who leased to him Île-aux-Tourtres, one of his two fur-trading factories at the juncture of the St Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers. The constant offer of spirits induced the Indians to stop there with their canoes loaded with furs. The Montreal merchants complained, and La Découverte, strong in the governor’s protection, went so far as to display arrogance towards them. In 1709 Rocbert* de La Morandière, the keeper of the king’s stores at Montreal, complained to Jacques Raudot about the insults that La Découverte had directed at him; in the autumn mail, the intendant drew these complaints to the attention of Pontchartrain, but Vaudreuil, on the same occasion, praised his protégé: ‘We has always served,” he said, “with distinction, he is even disabled in one arm, having been wounded in the last war.” The governor did not wait for the minister’s favours: he appointed La Découverte adjutant at Montreal to assist the Sieur de Clérin [Denis d’Estienne Du Bourgué], the regular adjutant. In 1710 La Découverte himself requested a lieutenancy; the minister replied that there was no vacancy, but that he would bear him in mind if the occasion arose, provided he received good reports about him.
Pierre You de La Découverte was buried on 28 Aug. 1718, and the burial certificate called him an officer of a company of the colonial regular troops. From a private he had become an officer. La Découverte’s first wife, whom he had married in April 1693 at Chicago, was an Indian woman of the Miami tribe, named Élisabeth, by whom he had a daughter baptized Marie-Anne; the latter married the interpreter Jean-Baptiste Richard in 1718 at Montreal. On 15 April 1697 he had taken as his second wife Madeleine Just, a native of Brèves in the province of Burgundy and the widow of Jérôme Le Gay de Beaulieu. From this marriage were born five children, two of whom survived their father: François-Madeleine d’Youville, who died in 1730, and Philippe, who died a bachelor six years later.
François-Madeleine d’Youville succeeded his father as tenant-farmer at Île-aux-Tourtres, and he continued the same trade in spirits. Not content with the pelts from the Nipissings, he raided the furs brought by the canoes from the west. He had at his command a sergeant and six soldiers for intercepting the canoes and forcing them to go to trade at the island, to the detriment of Montreal. On 12 Aug. 1722, at Montreal, François-Madeleine d’Youville married Marie-Marguerite Dufrost* de Lajemmerais. They had six children, but only two reached adult age; Joseph-François and Charles-Marie-Madeleine* both became priests. François-Madeleine d’Youville died on 5 July 1730, when he was barely 30 years old. He signed himself Youville without the “de,” as the name was generally written at the time. Abbé Étienne-Michel Faillon did research in France to find out whether a place or a domain of that name existed there. He did not find any, and there was none in Canada at that time. No doubt it was Youville who adopted the “de” for euphony. Without being a noble name, You thus acquired a noble particule.
AJM, Greffe d’Antoine Adhémar; Greffe de J.-C. Raimbault, 27 juin 1729, 24 avril, 16 juin 1731; Greffe de Marien Tailhandier; Registres d’état civil de Notre-Dame de Montréal, 1697, 1698, 1699, 1700, 1702, 1718, 1722, 1730. AN, Col., B, 27; C11A, 22, 24, 30, 45; D2C, 222, f.187. Découvertes et établissements des Français (Margry), II, 117–183; IV, 117. La Poterie, Histoire (1753), IV, 67. Le Tac, Histoire chronologique de la N.-F. (Réveillaud), 191. “Lettres et mémoires de F.-M.-F. Ruette d’Auteuil,” 36–51. [É.-M. Faillon], Vie de Mme d’Youville, fondatrice des sœurs de la Charité de Villemarie dans l’Île Montréal en Canada (Ville-Marie [Montréal], 1852). J.-B.-A. Ferland, Cours d’histoire du Canada (1534–1759) (1re éd., 2v., Québec, 1861–65), II, 145. Désiré Girouard, Lake St. Louis, old and new, and Cavelier de La Salle (Montréal, 1893). Francis Parkman, La Salle and the discovery of the great west (Boston, 1887).
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Cite This Article
Albertine Ferland-Angers, “YOU DE LA DÉCOUVERTE, PIERRE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 2, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed April 1, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/you_de_la_decouverte_pierre_2E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||Albertine Ferland-Angers|
|Title of Article:||YOU DE LA DÉCOUVERTE, PIERRE|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 2|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||1969|
|Year of revision:||1982|
|Access Date:||April 1, 2023|