Hélène Desportes

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Hélène Desportes is often cited as the first white child born in Canada, New France. There is considerable disagreement about when she was born and, in particular, if she was born in Quebec or before she arrived on the continent.[1] Her parents were French habitants Pierre Desportes (1580- after 1629), who was in charge of the warehouse in Quebec as well as the village baker, and his wife Françoise Langlois (c1595- after 1629), who settled in Quebec. Her father was a lawyer in the Parlement de Paris and an investor in the Company of 100 Associates which funded Champlain's colony.

Her godmother was Madame Hélène Boullé, the wife of Samuel de Champlain. In his will, Champlain left her 300 livres (about $15,000 in 1997).[2]

After the fall of Québec City in 1629, Hélène and her parents, along with Champlain were transported to London, and then back to France. Shortly after peace was restored in 1632, Hélène returned to Québec, possibly with Champlain who arrived back in Québec on May 16, 1633.

On the first of October 1634, Hélène married Joseph Guillaume Hébert, son of Louis Hébert and Marie Rollet. Joseph's family had remained in Québec during the occupation and had the first farm there. His father Louis Hébert had been involved in early expeditions to Port Royal with Champlain and others.

After Joseph Hebert died in 1639, Hélène was left with three living children. She then married Noël Morin, a native of the parish of St-Étienne in Brie-Comte-Robert, a village near Paris, on January 9, 1640, in Quebec City. They had 12 children.

Perhaps aided by having personally brought 19 of her own children into the world, Hélène learned the profession of sage femme, which is the French expression for midwife. She passed that profession on to two of her daughters.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bennett, Ethel M. G. Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. 2000. "Hélène Desportes". Accessed August 10, 2007.
  2. ^ Samuel de Champlain, Father of New France. Boston: Little, Brown. 1972. pp. 179, 224. 
  • PRDH, Certificat de mariage No. 66320.
  • Ibid., Certificat de mariage No. 66340.
  • Ibid., Certificat d'union No. 78.
  • Ibid., Certificat de famille No. 78.
  • Email Quebec-Research-Digest, Suzanne Boivin Sommerville, 3 April 2002: "In his entry for Pierre Desportes, Langlois says he was one of the first habitants of the country (1619), that his origins are unknown, that he married in France Françoise Langlois, and that Hélène is the first child of French parents born in the country (I would add documented in some way as born who survived), and he cites _only_ an article by Roy Léon in MSGCF, vol. 2, (1945?) that apparently says a request to the king carries his signature in 1621. He returned to France with his wife in 1629 and did not return. Langlois also says it is important to distinguish him from another Pierre de LA PORTE who drowned 28 April 1639 in the Saint-Charles River." Langlois, Michel. Dictionnaire Biographique des Ancêtres Québécois (1608–1700). Sillery: La Maison des Ancêtres Québécois. Tome 1 (Lettres A à C), 1998; Tome 2 (Lettres D à I), 1999;Tome 3 (Lettres J à M), 2000; Tome 4, Lettres N à Z. Sillery: Les Éditions du Mitan, 2001.
  • Biographical Dictionary for The Jesuit Missions in Acadia and New France: 1602-1654, Lucien Campeau, S.J., translated by William Lonc, S.J. & George Topp, S.J., summer 2001, p. 147.

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