CANADA'S  FORGOTTEN  SLAVES


from  the  book  of  the  same  name




Owners at All Levels of Society 



Colonial Canada's population of legal slaves was made up of native Amerindians and blacks bought and sold in private transactions or auctioned off to the highest bidder in a public market. We should examine whether slave ownership was restricted to the most powerful members of society, and whether any particular group of society, such as the clergy, refused on principle to enslave other human beings.


French-speaking Slave Owners


In reviewing historical records, it is clear that not all Amerindians and blacks who lived in slavery in Quebec were actually slaves at the time the documents record their presence: some had regained their liberty some time after entering the country as slaves, and the documents do not always tell us who their owners were. Even in cases where documents identified individuals as slaves at the time of writing, the names of owners were not always indicated.


It is therefore impossible to make an exhaustive study of slave ownership, and we can only come up with approximations, both of owners and of slaves themselves. Of the approximately 4200 slaves in our Dictionnaire, 3200 (or 76.2%) had clearly identified owners. It has not always proven straight-forward to identify these owners, given that the first and last names of just 1137 owners are recorded. Moreover, it should be noted that ownership was not always confined to individuals: the state, religious communities and merchant associations could hold slaves in collective ownership. We will leave aside collective owners for the moment, to focus on individual owners.


Our history of slavery can conveniently be divided into two traditional periods, the French regime and the British regime. In this respect, the influential nineteenth-century nationalist historian Francois-Xavier Garneau claimed that slavery in Quebec was largely a British institution. Was this really the case? Were slave owners of French or of British origin? Before 1760, they were necessarily all or almost all of French origin, whereas after the Conquest a certain number of British slave owners settled in Quebec. Actually, of 1535 individual owners, we found that 1312 (85.5%) were of French origin, whereas 223 (just 14.5%) were of British origin.


Our study of Quebec slavery from 1632 to 1834 has enabled us to establish that owners of French origin were the leading slave owners, given that they accounted for 2858 or 86.8% of all known owners. Even more significant is the fact that these slave owners of French origin owned 79.1% of all Amerindian slaves. Evidently, once the British settled in Quebec following the Conquest, it was much harder for them to acquire Amerindian slaves than it had been for the French prior to 1760, given the rapid decline of the fur trade.


During the colonial period, French-speaking owners held almost all the Amerindian slaves we have identified in official records, and they even held 596 black slaves, far outnumbering the 301 black slaves held by English-speaking owners.


Officials Under the French regime


Slave ownership in our society was not something like great wealth or honours - it was not restricted to a handful of people. We have only identified about 4200 slaves in Quebec, but since owners tended to hold a few slaves, the number of slave owners was proportionately greater as a result. We have identified 1574 slave owners. One of the most interesting aspects of the history of slavery here is that 965 surnames turn up among slave owners, and only 197 of these surnames were British. Readers who would find it intriguing ... or horrifying ... to find out whether they are descended from slave owners should consult the Dictionnaire.


This list of surnames does not give an idea of the relative importance of these families in terms of slave ownership. Some families had more slaves than others, and the same family name was shared by several distinct slave-owning families, such as the Bourassa, Campeau, Cote, Cardinal, Hubert-Lacroix and Leduc families, each of which owned several slaves.


What social standing did slave owners enjoy, and how could they afford the luxury of slave ownership? Historical records are incomplete, and we cannot determine the profession or occupation for 690 (or 43.8%) of the 1574 known slave owners.


Slavery was a formally established institution, and as such the highest authorities in the colony, both secular and religious, owned slaves. Under the French regime, at least four governors .general owned slaves. In 1679, Buade de Frontenac entrusted the Convent of the Ursulines of Quebec with the education of an Amerindian girl considered a slave, and in 1674 he seems to have been the recipient of a young slave boy that Louis Jolliet brought back from the Mississippi and who drowned before arriving. In 1671, Remy de Courcelle received two Potawatomi slaves from the Iroquois.


Rigaud de Vaudreull, governor from 1703 to 1725, had eleven slaves, including four blacks. The Marquis La Boische de Beauharnois, governor from 1726 to 1746, had twenty-seven slaves; Vaudreuil-Cavagnial, son of the first Vaudreuil, governor from 1755 to 1760, had sixteen slaves, thirteen of whom were blacks and three more were Amerindians, including the Panis Marie-Louise whom he had received from his father.


At least two intendants, Hocquart and Francois Bigot, had slaves - Bigot only had three, whereas Hocquart, New France's longest-serving intendant, had six.

In addition to these governors general and intendants, we also find governors of Trois-Rivieres and Montreal among slave owners: Charles Lemoyne de Longueuil and his sons Charles and Paul-Joseph Le Moyne de Longueuil, Jean Bouillet de Lachassaigne, Boisberthelot . de Beaucour, Vaudreuil-Cavagnial and his brother Francois-Pierre Rigaud de Vaudreuil, and Claude de Ramezay. We should also mention two king's lieutenants (serving as deputies to a particular governor): Francois Galliffet and Louis Laporte de Louvigny.


The Conseil superieur was the highest Court of Justice in New France. Sixteen of its members, including six judges and four procureurs du roi (Crown attorneys) owned a total of forty-three slaves. Senior officials of the colonial administration also held slaves: a commissary (alternate intendant in Montreal), a treasurer of the Marine, a director of the Compagnie des Indes, an assistant commissary of provisions, a port captain, and three storekeepers. In other words, a total of forty-seven of the most senior administrative officials in New France owned 260 slaves.


Senior British Officials


Senior British officials also held slaves. Governor General Murray had at least one black woman slave whom he transferred to the tavern keeper Miles Prenties in 1766; he seems to have been the only governor of the British regime who owned a slave. In November 1768, Lieutenant Governor Hector-Theophilus Cramahe bought a fifteen-year-old mulatto girl, selling her off again the following April. A lieutenant governor of Detroit (from the time when Detroit was part of Quebec), and husband of Marie-Julie Reaume, had a few slaves.


Twenty-three members of the Executive and Legislative Councils were slaveholders, and of these twenty-three, ten were francophones although they owned more slaves than the other thirteen anglophone members of these councils. This confirms what we already knew, namely that even after the Conquest, French Canadians had more slaves than the British of Canada did.

Among other senior officials under the British regime who owned slaves, we may note eight judges (including two francophones) and a solicitor general: this group held seventeen slaves.


Seventeen members of the House of Assembly, including ten francophones, owned a total of forty-two slaves. In 1792 alone, the year of an abortive parliamentary attempt to abolish slavery (we will return to this subject later), thirteen of fifty-one members of the House of Assembly were slave owners. In addition, the Receiver of Customs, Thomas Ainslie, owned three black slaves.


Merchants Were Leading Slave Owners It cost an average of 900 livres to buy a black slave, and 400 livres to buy an Amerindian one. Merchants engaging in trade in the pays d'en haut around the Great Lakes could acquire Amerindian slaves at better prices. In any case, merchants had ready cash, they traded with the Amerindians, or they maintained commercial relations (sometimes secretly) with the Thirteen Colonies: they were thus the best-placed people to acquire slaves.


Merchants were leading slave owners as a result. We identified 316 slave owners in historical records who were described as merchants, traders, entrepreneurs or bourgeois. They represented the colony's leading commercial interests, whether under the French or British regimes. This group included the merchant-bourgeois Pierre Guy, with eight slaves; the merchant Dominique Gaudet, who had seventeen; and the Chaboillez, Courault dit Lacoste, Cuillerier, Decouagne, Douaire de Bondy, Gamelin, Hubert-Lacroix, Lestage,


Lecompte-Dupre, and Trottier-Desaulniers merchant families, -all of whom had several slaves. A total of 314 merchants, traders and bourgeois owned 832 slaves.


To this group should be added thirty-six slave owners described simply as trading families, such as the Blot, Campeau, Gouin, Trutaut and You d'Youville families. The single most prominent of the slave-owning traders was Jacques-Francois Lacelle, who is known to have held sixteen slaves.


Some historical documents specify the business activity of these slave owners: among them were nine butchers including the celebrated Joseph-Michel Cadet; eleven tavern keepers, innkeepers or publicans, the merchant and goldsmith Ignace-Francois Delzenne; and voyageurs who were not just employed paddling canoes but were actually fur traders in their own right. This group of 419 slave-owning business people can be broken down as follows:



Merchants, traders, bourgeois

Owners 314

Slaves 832


Fur traders

Owners 35

Slaves 112


Starchmakers, gunsmiths

Owners 5

Slaves 8


Butchers

Owners 9

Slaves 13


Bakers

Owners 6

Slaves 11


Hotel keepers, tavern keepers, publicans

Owners 11

Slaves 18


Goldsmith

Owners 1

Slaves 1


"Voyageurs"

Owners 38

Slaves 73


Total

Owners 419

Slaves 1068


Four hundred nine of these merchants were slaveholders, or fully 51.2% of owners whose occupation was recorded. This group owned a quarter (1068 individuals) of all slaves. Since members of this merchant class included both francophones and anglophones, the question naturally arises which group held the most slaves under British rule. Of 157 slave-owning merchants after 1760, eighty-seven were francophones, holding 234 slaves, while seventy were anglophones holding just 168 slaves. In other words, 55.4% of merchants after 1760 were French and they owned 58.2% of the slaves in this period.


Among Professionals


Merchants formed the largest group here, but other professions were also well represented among slave owners.


Coming immediately after merchants were military officers, who also played a key role in the fur trade: they controlled trading posts and forts, which also served in the fur trade. We already mentioned several governors and king's lieutenants who owned slaves. In addition, 164 other military officers (20% of owners whose profession was recorded) owned a total of 431 slaves. In this group of officers, we should note General de Levis who had a black slave in 1759; Bissot de Vincennes (father and son) with eight slaves; the Celoron de BlainviUe, Chaussegros de Lery and Coulon de Vffliers (including the celebrated Coulon de Jumonville) families; the various Dailleboust families (Argenteuil, Cuisy, Cerry,PerignyandManthet),theDenys deLaronde and Duplessis-Fabert families; the Fleurimont de Noyelle (father and son); the Hertel (Beaubassm de Lafresniere, de Rouvflle) families; the Jarret de Vercheres, Joncaire de Chabert, Juchereau-Duchesnay, Leber de Senneville, and the Legardeur families (Repentigny, Courtemanche, de Saint-Pierre, de Croisille, de Montesson, de Beauvais); the Marin (de Laperriere, de Lamalgue), Pean de Livaudiere, Pecaudy de Contre-coeur and Picote de Belestre families.


Three names stand out among military families owning slaves: Laverendrye, Lacorne and Laperade.


We already noted that the explorer Pierre Gaultierde Laverendrye counted as one of three major advantages of explorations "the slaves procured thereby for the country," but it seems he only had three slaves. His sons had at least six: for example, in 1749 Chevalier Louis-Joseph de Laverendrye gave an Amerindian boy about six years old to. the Jesuit mission of Michilimackinac.


The five Lacorne brothers had a total of forty-four slaves: Antoine Lacorne de Lacolombiere had just one black woman and Francois-Josue Lacorne-Dubreuil just four Amerindians, but Louis Lacorne the elder and Chevalier Louis-Francois Lacorne each had eight slaves, while Luc Lacorne Saint-Luc had twenty-four.


The Tarieu de Laperade family were among the wealthiest slave owners. Pierre-Thomas Tarieu de Lanaudiere de Laperade, husband of Madeleine Vercheres, had thirteen slaves, all of them Amerindians, whereas his son and grandson each owned four slaves.


In addition to these well-known officers, some lesser known military men turn up in historical records, such as a sergeant by the name of Sansquartier, who had a fourteen-year-old Amerindian girl slave. Actually, all ranks profited from slavery.


Twenty-two 'physicians and surgeons (only five of whom were anglophones) counted a total of forty-six slaves among their personal property. The surgeon Ferdinand Feltz led this group with a stunning ten slaves.


Notaries also practiced slavery. We know of twenty such notaries, all of them francophones. Leading this group was Jean-Baptiste Campeau of the famous fur-trading family, who owned seven slaves. However, care should be taken not to count some notaries twice if they practised two professions: the notaries Francois-Pierre Cherrier and Robert Navarre were also merchants; Marien Tailhandier was both notary and surgeon, and Pierre Meziere arid Simon Sanguinet practised both as notaries and lawyers. Even so, twenty notaries appear in our catalogue, and they owned a total of thirty-eight slaves.


Other professions were less well represented. We found just two surveyors, Claude Gouin with eleven slaves and Paul-Francois Lemaitre-Lamorille with five. The master sculptor Dominique Jourdain-Labrosse was comfortable enough to own a Panis woman, and when she gave birth to a son, he ended up owning two slaves. In 1784, a "master of languages" in Sorel, Alexander Bissett, paid 960 livres for a black girl twelve years of age, but this was only a way of recovering a loan he had made, and once his debtor paid up, Bissett was to give the slave back. Five interpreters had one slave each.


Printers also owned slaves. The first printers operating in Quebec were William Brown and Thomas Gilmore, who printed the Quebec Gazette: they owned black slaves, at least from 1767. Their partnership was dissolved in 1773, after which Brown owned the blacks working in the printing shop, the most notorious of whom was assuredly Joe, whose escapes and mischief were well known. When John Neilson took over the publication from Brown, he had a black woman and a mulatto man in his service. Fleury Mesplet had at least one black slave when he published the Gazette de Montreal (now the Montreal Gazette). When Edward Edwards took over this publication, he had two black women and a mulatto man. Finally, William Moore, printer of the Quebec Herald, had a black man.


Three entrepreneurs had two slaves each. Twenty-five navigators had a combined total of thirty-one slaves. These navigators - all francophones - included ten ship captains, among them Michel de Salaberry, ancestor of the celebrated Salaberry family.


Finally, tradesmen also had slaves. The master carpenter Nicolas Morand had six Panis; the carpenter Charles Payan had a black woman in 1792. Nine blacksmiths had a combined total of twenty-five mostly black slaves: the most important of these blacksmiths was Louis Cureux dit St-Germain of Quebec City, who bought five black slaves in 1743 - two of them men, and three women. Four masons owned five slaves each. A woodworker, an anglophone saddler and a toolmaker held one slave each. Three tanners had six slaves working for them. Eight tailors, two of them anglophones, owned a combined total often slaves.


Many of these slave owners, whether tradesmen, businessmen, professionals or senior officials, had one thing in common: they were seigneurs. Indeed, 146 owned a seigneurie as well as a combined total of 467 slaves:


Number


French-speaking seigneurs

136

Slaves

442


English-speaking seigneurs

10

Slaves

25



Given that there were about 300 seigneuries in what is'now Quebec, and even though some slave owners succeeded one another as seigneurs, we can. say conclusively that half of all seigneurs owned slaves. The Lemoyne. de Longueuil, Tarieu de Laperade and Rigaud de Vaudreuil families owned several slaves at a time; other seigneurial families consistently owned one or two slaves: for example, the Aubert de Lachesnaie, Boucher de Niverville, Juchereau-Duchesnay, Rimbault de Simblin, Ramezay and Trottier-Desruisseauxfamilies. This means that many seigneurial manors had just a single slave working for them (if the seigneur lived modestly), whereas several slaves could be found in the larger seigneuries of Longueuil or Sainte-Anne-de-la-Perade.


Bishops, Priests, Nuns ... and Slaves


We already mentioned the nineteenth-century historian Francois-XavierGarneau, who flattered his Church with the following statement (perhaps as a way of excusing himself for his previous attacks): "the government and Canadian clergy should be honoured for consistently opposing the introduction of Blacks into Canada." Actually, we could not find any single instance where the clergy opposed introducing blacks into Canada. Individual clergymen may have stood against slavery, for example during a 1740 trial involving a Panis slave, when Chevalier Dormicourt testified he was "astonished to see priests and monks secretly arming against him without prior warning, in order to snatch away his slave, and to see clergymen groundlessly attacking the reputation of an honest man, while treating a rascally wench and a libertine gently and with all consideration." But were these priests and monks intervening on behalf of the Panis because she was treated as a slave, or were they defending an Amerindian woman who claimed to be the daughter of a Canadian officer? And even if it turned out that these clergy "secretly armed against" Dormicourt because they were opposed to slavery, that does not change the fact that bishops, priests and religious communities all owned slaves. In a society where slavery was sanctioned by law, practiced by the most prominent people, and widely accepted as a social fact, we do not see why the clergy would have acted differently from the rest of society: the Church, after all, had the same property rights. Four bishops were slave owners: in 1690, Bishop Saint-Vallier sought treatment at the Hotel-Dieu de Quebec for the young Amerindian Bernard, who belonged to him; in 1734, Bishop Dosquet arrived in Quebec with a black man in his sendee; in April 1754, Bishop Pontbriand owned the Panis Joseph who was admitted to the Hotel-Dieu de Quebec; during his European travels in 1819-1820, Bishop Plessis was accompanied by a black slave.


Two Sulpicians feature in our catalogue of slave owners: in 1753, Francois Picquet who went to France with his black Charles; and on September 28,1760, Pierre-Paul-Francois Delagarde buried his eleven-year-old Panis Anselme in Montreal.


Four other secular priests also feature in the catalogue. In 1751, Gaspard Duniere, priest of St-Augustin, had a black slave, Daniel-Telemaque, who was admitted to the Hotel-Dieu de Quebec. On July 28,1779, Henri-Nicolas Catin, priest of St-Cuthbert, baptized his seventeen-year-old black Pierre-Antoine in Montreal. On June 13,1794, Pierre Frechette, a priest of Detroit (which was still part of Quebec), baptized his Panis Marianne. But the most famous priest to own slaves was Louis Payet, a priest of Detroit, and subsequently of Saint-Antoine-sur-Richeheu, who owned a total of five slaves: an Amerindian boy twelve years old; two black males, ten and thirty-one years old; two black women, one twenty years old who lived with him in Detroit and the other thirty-one years old whom he bought once he became priest of Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu and whom he sold again in September 1796.


Indeed Father Payet seems always to have had one or two slaves in his presbytery from at least 1785 onwards. He lost his black slave Francois, so he took on another ten-year-old black slave, Jean-Baptiste-Pompee, on a temporary basis; in January 1-787, he bought this latter slave; in Saint-Antoine on September 13, 1789, Payet baptized his two slaves in style - the black as Jean-Baptiste-Pompee and the Amerindian Antoine dit Cesar. In March 1785 he bought the thirty-one-year old black woman Rose, at a time of rising agitation against slavery; but in September 1796, when Payet's bishop ruled it unsuitable for this slave woman to cohabit with him in the presbytery, the priest sold her off by proxy. In fact, this slave sale undertaken by Father Payet was among the latest slave transactions in Quebec. All of which means that his contemporary, the historian Garneau, was completely misinformed.


The Seminaire de Quebec was a community of secular priests, and owned slaves the same way individual secular priests did. Not in Quebec, it seems, but in the far-distant mission of Sainte-Famille, at Kaskaskia on the Mississippi. We know from a deed of sale from ' 1763 that the seminary owned thirty black and Amerindian slaves there. Once France ceded Canada to Great Britain, Father Forget du Verger, member of the Seminary and vicar general of the bishop of Quebec, decided to return to France in November that year: he sold a dozen black slaves for 20,000 livres, gave two slaves to the Recollet Father Luc Collet and freed the rest.114.


The Jesuits also owned slaves. At the Michilirnackinac mission, the Jesuits held four slaves, among them a black man; one of the Amerindians had been given to them by Chevalier de Laverendrye. At Pointe-de-Montreal (across from Detroit), they had a Panis slave (described as such in the civil registry). At Sault St-Louis they owned the Panis Alexis, who was buried in Montreal in 1723. Joseph Aubery and Marin-Louis Lefranc, missionaries at Saint-Francois-du-Lac, had a Sioux woman named Francoise serving them (the Sioux were reduced to slavery); according to Franquet, she was "quite pretty, she has a sweet and seductive voice" Jesuits based in Quebec City had a recently-freed Paducah who had been baptized in 1730; one of their Panis and two Illinois Amerindians were admitted to the Hotel-Dieu: these latter three were described as domestic servants, but given that they originated from the Midwest, we believe they were or had been slaves. Finally, the Jesuits had thirty-four black slaves in the Kaskaskia region of the Mississippi mission, where the Seminaire de Quebec also had a mission.115


We should add a Recollet Father to this catalogue of slave owners: the Recollet Bonaventure Leonard, missionary in Detroit, owned three Amerindians, a Paducah, a Fox woman and her son. Since Recollet Fathers could not in principle own property, either individually or collectively, these slaves probably came from donations to the Church's treasures.


The Brothers of Charity, active at Louisbourg, owned the black man Baptiste, but lost him in circumstances unknown to us, although the commissary of lie Royale had the slave returned to them, an action which received the official endorsement of the president of the Conseil de la Marine.116


Did nuns own slaves? The Hopital-General de Quebec had a black slave, a deserter from the Thirteen Colonies, who had been donated to them by the governor general; he was baptized in 1733. Six years later, a Panis sought treatment at the Hotel-Dieu de Quebec. The Hotel-Dieu de Montreal seems to have owned three Amerindian women and one black woman (civil status registries for 1720, 1733,1737 and l798). The Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame had a Fox girl in bondage, Tonton, who died at the Hotel-Dieu de Quebec in April 1733; they also had a black male in bondage, baptized in Montreal in 1771 and buried two years later.


The Hopital-General de Montreal had more slaves than any other women's religious community. In 1763, a female member of the Jarret de Vercheres family who was the widow of a member of the Raimbault de Simblin family, donated a teenaged Panis to the hospital. Before heading back to France the following year, the merchant Andre Grasset de Saint-Sauveur gave the hospital his eleven-year-old Panis girl, who was baptized in 1772. The same institution had a Sioux who was baptized in 1774 in Chateauguay.


Mother d'Youville, superior of this community, accepted gifts , of slaves from Widow Simblin and Monsieur Grasset de Saint-Sauveur. But this was not the community's first experience of slavery. Mother d'Youville personally owned slaves. In 1731, a notary drew up an inventory of the estate of her deceased husband, Francois-Madeleine You d'Youville, noting a Panis slave who became his widow's property. Mother d'Youville had other slaves, for example a Sioux woman baptized in 1739 and buried in 1742; in Lachine in 1766, another Panis woman belonging to Mother d'Youville was baptized without the usual rites. In other words, this founder of the Sisters of Charity practiced slavery the same way as other members of Canadian religious congregations, in particular, and the society of New France in general.


We did not find any documented trace of slaves among the Ursulines of Quebec. Did this community abstain from slave ownership on principle or out of indifference? It would be interesting to consult the memorandum submitted by Intendant Begon to the Regent, although we were not able to track it down. We do not believe it would be fair to assume that the Ursulines decided on principle against slave ownership. Louisiana was after all part of the diocese of Quebec, and therefore subject to the same church discipline: the Ursulines of New Orleans acquired a batch of "twenty-four Negroes" in 1746, at a cost of 30,000 livres.117


The following table summarizes slave ownership by bishops, priests, nuns and religious communities:



Four bishops

slaves  4


Hopital-General de Quebec

Slaves 1


Jesuits

slaves 46


Hotel-Dieu de Quebec

Slaves 1


Recollets

Slaves 4


Hotel-Dieu de Montreal

slaves 4


Seminaire de Quebec

Slaves 31


Congregation de Notre-Dame

Slaves 2


Seminaire de Montreal

Slaves 2


Hopital-General de Montreal

Slaves 3


Four secular priests

Slaves 8


Mother d'Youville

Slaves 3 or 4


Brothers of Charity

Slaves 1


Bishops, priests, nuns and members of religious communities thus owned a hundred slaves - a relatively small number, although what counts in this case is not the overall numbers of slaves but the fact that religious owned slaves at all.


Our discussion of slave ownership would be incomplete were we to leave out the state. In New France, the state received some slaves as gifts from Amerindians attending councils prior to fur trade negotiations. The state also needed slaves to perform certain unpleasant tasks such as public executioner. The king, in other words the state, became a slave owner in various different circumstances.


We identified twenty-eight state-owned slaves in historical records: three blacks and twenty-five Amerindians. The three blacks were from Quebec: Mathieu Leveille was public executioner from at least 1734 until his death in 1743; Angeline-Denise was a twenty-four-year-old black woman brought by authorities from the French West Indies to serve as the executioners wife; in 1752 the black Etienne was assigned to work at the shipyard. Of the twenty-five above-mentioned Amerindians, two Fox slaves were transported to Martinique for sale in 1734, while the remainder served in Montreal - twelve Panis males, eight Panis females and three more Amerindian slaves of unknown origin, all of whom ranged in age from five to forty years.


As owners of more than a quarter of all Canadian slaves, merchants were the leading slave-owning group, while public officials were a distant second, and military officers well behind in third place. The rest of society accounted for only 7.9% of all slave ownership.


There is nothing absolute about these data, since the owners of 600 slaves are unknown to us, and we were only able to identify the profession of 819 of 1574 slave owners overall. It is conceivable that of the 755 slave owners whose profession is unknown to us, some may have been simple habitants — farmers tilling the land. 


Who Were the Leading Owners?


The slave population in colonial Canada was small, compared to what could be found in the Thirteen Colonies and the Caribbean. An analysis of more than 1574 owners indicates that few owners here had many slaves, although the concept "many" is relative, since even the leading slave owners in Canada would have seemed small-scale owners in other countries where slavery existed.


Slave Owner and number of Slaves


Askin, John, merchant

23

Beauharnois, Charles, Governor

27

Beuffait, Louis, merchant

10

Boisberthelot de Beaucour, Josue, Governor

11

Cabassie, Joseph, bourgeois

14

Campbell, John, officer

17

Louis Campeau, fur trader

11

Campeau, Simon

10

Chesne-Labutte, Pierre, shopkeeper

15

Cicotte, Zacharie, bourgeois

16

Duperron-B&by, Jacques, merchant

18

Feltz, Ferdinand, surgeon

10

Fleurimont de Noyes, Nicolas-Joseph, officer

12

Fleury Deschambault de Lagorgendiere, Joseph, merchant

15

Gaudet, Dominique merchant

17

Gouin, Claude, surveyor

11

Grant, Alexander, officer

10

Jesuits

46

Lacelle, Jacques-Francois, fur trader

16

Lacorne Saint-Luc, Luc, officer

24

Lemoyne de Longueuil, Charles, Governor

10

Lemoyne de Longueuil, Paul Joseph, Governor

23

Meloche, Jean-Baptiste

10

Pean de Livaudiere, Michel-Jean-Hugues, officer

10

Pelletier, Jacques

11

Poulin de Francheville, Francois, merchant

10

Rigaud de Vaudreuil, Philippe, Governor

11

Rigaud de Vaudreuil-Cavagnial, Pierre, Governor

16

Seminaire de Quebec

31

Tarieu de Lanaudiere, Pierre-Thomas, officer

13


The previous table provides thirty names of slave owners who held at least ten slaves each.


The list contains only thirty of some 1574 owners, yet only two of the people on this list had more than thirty slaves. Slave ownership in Quebec was not at all on the same scale as slave ownership in colonies to the south...


In fact, slavery in Quebec was not some economic imperative, but rather a form of public extravagance which conferred prestige on to members of high society but also on to all other levels of society indulging in it. Among the second rank of important slave owners and well ahead of the nobility were the "little people"- the Campeau family, engaged in the fur trade.

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