Pierre Boucher

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Pierre Boucher
Alfred Laliberté's Pierre Boucher sculpture in front of Parliament Building (Quebec)

Pierre Boucher and later Pierre Boucher de Boucherville, born and baptized 1 August 1622 in Mortagne-au-Perche, died 19 April 1717 at the age of 95 at Boucherville, came to Canada from France in 1634 with his father, Gaspard Boucher. At the age of 18, he entered the services of the Jesuits and spent four years with the Huron missions at Georgian Bay (see Sainte-Marie among the Hurons).

In 1641, Governor Huault de Montmagny took him into his service as a soldier in the garrison of Quebec city, but especially as an interpreter and agent to the Indian tribes due to his familiarity with the Huron dialects. In this capacity he took part in all the parleys of the authorities with the Indians.

In 1645 Boucher was appointed official interpreter of Indian languages at Trois-Rivières. He was appointed commissary-general of the trading post in 1648 and elected captain of the militia in 1651. While in this capacity he distinguished himself against an attack by the Iroquois in 1653 and concluded a peace treaty with them on favorable terms. The next year, owing to this success he was named governor of the settlement. In 1661 he was sent to France to represent the colonies. He returned with soldiers, supplies, additional settlers and a commitment of support to the New France colony by the French Monarch, Louis XIV. Re-appointed governor in 1662 he continued this position until his resignation in 1667. His "L'histoire veritable et naturelle des moeurs et productions du pays de la Nouvelle-France, vulgairement dite le Canada", a description of the flora, fauna and native societies in the region (and a significant, pioneering documentation of North American natural history) was published in Paris in 1664. He was succeeded in the governorship by his son-in-law, René Gaultier de Varennes.

Pierre Boucher had 15 children. His first wife, Marie Madeliene Chretienne, was a Huron girl who had been educated by the Ursuline order of nuns; she died in childbirth. He was survived by his second wife, Jeanne Crevier. The family is still in existence today. Surnames in the Boucher line include Grosbois, or de Grosbois, LaCoursiere, and Saucier. Descendents have spread beyond Canada including the United States, Mauritius, France and the West Indies.

He withdrew from public office to establish his seigneurial parish at Boucherville on the south shore of the St Lawrence River near Montreal.

Pierre Boucher was the first Canadian settler to be ennobled by King Louis XIV. He died at his seigneury at Boucherville, which was named in his honour.

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