Joseph Bouchette

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Lt. Colonel
Joseph Bouchette
Joseph Bouchette.jpg
Surveyor-General of British North America
In office
Preceded by Samuel Holland
Succeeded by Joseph Bouchette (1800-1881)
Personal details
Born (1774-05-14)May 14, 1774
Quebec City
Died April 8, 1841(1841-04-08) (aged 66)
Montreal, Quebec

Lt.-Colonel Joseph Bouchette (May 14, 1774 – April 8, 1841) was the Canadian Surveyor-General of British North America. His book, Topographical Description of the Province of Lower Canada was published at London in 1815 and also translated into French. It contained the sum knowledge of the territory at that time. The township of Bouchette, Quebec, was named for him. During the War of 1812 he raised and commanded the Quebec Volunteers. In 1813, he was gazetted Lt. Colonel on the Staff of Governor-General Sir George Prévost.


Born at Quebec City in 1774, he was the son of Colonel Jean-Baptiste Bouchette, a topographer, and Marie Angelique Duhamel, daughter of Captain Julien Duhamel (1723-1778), of Quebec City.[1] In 1775, his father rescued General Guy Carleton, Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces in North America, by navigating him and his family along the Saint Lawrence River from Montreal, through the American lines, and up to Quebec. This bold move reversed the outcome of the Battle of Quebec (1775), and for his part Joseph's father was handsomely rewarded with nearly 6,000 acres of land and considerable military advancements by the grateful Governor, Sir John Graves Simcoe. Like his father, Joseph Bouchette's career would be marked by a tradition of loyalty and devoted service to his country.[2]

Early career[edit]

Bouchette studied art and architecture under François Baillairgé. In 1790, he entered the service of his uncle Samuel Holland, the first Surveyor-General of British North America. The following year he joined his father with the Royal Navy's Provincial Marine on the Great Lakes. In 1793, while serving on Lake Ontario, he came into contact with Governor John Graves Simcoe who commissioned him to make the first survey of the York Harbour, that included making maps of the Toronto Islands.[2] Bouchette, a member of the Royal Canadian Volunteers, remained in York for sometime assisting Augustus Jones with surveying the new provincial capital. Bouchette's proposals for fortifying York as at Quebec City were not heeded, much to his dismay after the Battle of York.[2]

In Autumn, 1793, HMS Onondaga was run aground by a young Lieutenant outside Toronto Harbour and it was feared it could not be salvaged until after winter. After it had been abandoned, Bouchette assumed command and distinguished himself by managing to get it afloat and sailing it back to Niagara-on-the-Lake. For this exploit, the twenty-year-old Bouchette was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in May, 1794.[2] In 1799, Bouchette was at Halifax studying military tactics under orders from the Duke of Kent, with whom he had become a friend. He returned to Quebec City in 1801 to take up in the offices (which he found in a state of great disorder) of his elderly uncle, Samuel Holland, Surveyor General of The Canadas. Bouchette reorganised the offices and Governor Robert Shore Milnes reported in 1802 that, "Mr. Bouchette has responded perfectly to the opinion which we had formed of him". Following the death of his uncle, Bouchette officially replaced him in August, 1803.[2]

Surveyor General[edit]

He served during the War of 1812.[3] He reviewed the territory of Lower Canada for the Government. In 1815, he published his great book Topographical Description of the province of Lower Canada, which was the sum of knowledge of the territory for that day. The book, complete with some essential maps, was published in London in English and French, and was updated in English only in 1831–1832.[4] His regional maps and two topographical descriptions of Lower Canada are still considered an essential reference for knowledge of the territory.[5]

Bouchette returned to Montreal to become Surveyor General of Lower Canada, replacing his uncle Samuel Holland.[5]

The Township of Bouchette in Quebec was named in his honour,[4] as well as Bouchette Street in Toronto[6]


Lady Louisa Shea in the costume worn by her when presented at court by Elliott & Fry

In 1797, at Notre-Dame, Montreal, Joseph Bouchette married Adélaïde Chaboillez (1781-1847), daughter of Charles Chaboillez. Colonel de Longueuil represented the groom's father at the wedding.[2] Through this marriage he became a brother-in-law of Simon McTavish and Roderick Mackenzie of Terrebonne. They were the parents of six children,


  1. ^ A Historical Sketch Archived 2007-07-23 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Colonel Joseph Bouchette by The Rev. Brother Alfred F.S.C., LL.D.
  3. ^ Bouchette, Joseph
  4. ^ a b "Bouchette (Municipalité)" (in French). Commission de toponymie du Québec. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  5. ^ a b "Bouchette (canton)" (in French). Commission de toponymie du Québec. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Simon Fraser of Ste. Annes
  8. ^ Morgan, Henry James Types of Canadian women and of women who are or have been connected with Canada : (Toronto, 1903) [1]

External links[edit]

To his most Excellent Majesty, King William IV. This topographical map of the district of Montreal, Lower Canada, by Joseph Bouchette, 1831