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  • Yamachiche
    – Two seigniories for all of the exiles
The Yamachiche River
Mouth of the Yamachiche River on Lake Saint-Pierre (author Dominic Germain, without modification, CC BY-SA 4.0 license)

Located west of Trois-Rivières, on the north shore of Lake Saint-Pierre, the municipality of Yamachiche is part of the Regional County Municipality of Maskinongé in the Mauricie region. It is bounded on the east by the Yamachiche River and on the west by the small Yamachiche River which runs through the urban center …

The history of Yamachiche merges with that of the Grosbois seigneury granted in 1653 to Pierre Boucher, governor of Trois-Rivières. In 1693, Pierre Boucher divided his seigneury in two giving his son the western half (small Yamachiche river), thus each of the two fiefs included the mouth of a river. In 1702, he sold the eastern half of his seigneury (Yamachiche River) to his two nephews Charles and Julien Lesieur, allowing for the colonization of the territory. Much later, in July 1767, a schooner arrived at the mouth of the Yamachiche River carrying a large contingent of Acadians who were originally deported to Massachusetts. The Lesieur family, still the owner of the Grosbois-East seigneury, was ready to welcome them on a concession still to be cleared of trees. But the brand-new lord of Grosbois-West, who was not French, did not share this enthusiasm at all…

Neighbours not too Catholic

Up to 42 Acadian families, or 192 individuals, settled on the Lesieur family’s concession. The French-Canadian villagers of St. Anne of Yamachiche parish, founded in 1722, gave them a warm welcome. How not to welcome generously these good French-speaking Catholics who are brave and supportive, when Canada was now under British rule? The parish priest, Jacques-Maxime Chef from the city of La Garenne, did hasten to validate the marriages and baptisms of all Acadians who could not officially take place in Massachusetts for lack of Catholic priests. For his part, the new lord of Grosbois-West, a certain Conrad Gugy, did not have the same compassion for the Acadians. In 1778, he brought to his seigneury curious neighbours… not too Catholic.

Statue of American Loyalists
Statue of American Loyalists in Hamilton, Ontario (author User:Saforrest, without modification, CC BY-SA 3.0 license)

Of French-speaking Swiss origin, Conrad Gugy had served as a lieutenant in the British army. Being perfectly bilingual, he was hired in October 1763 as administrative secretary to Frederick Haldimand, the new governor of Trois-Rivières. In 1764 he acquired the Grosbois-West seigneury. And, the following year he became a justice of the peace. Remaining strongly faithful to the King of England, he could not welcome the Acadians, even if he tolerated their presence. On the other hand, in 1778 and 1779, he welcomed on his property up to 440 American Loyalists the majority of whom left the place in 1784 to settle elsewhere. Conrad Gugy did succeed in bringing together all these exiles of different cultures and interests, but the Acadians are the ones who remained in Yamachiche and took roots…

Here are some pioneering Acadian families of Yamachiche (source: Bona Arsenault): Joseph Doucet from Chipoudy who was married to Anne Mélanson; Joseph Landry from Grand-Pré who was married to Madeleine Doiron; Pierre Mélanson from Port-Royal who was married to Isabelle Richard; and Joseph Vincent from Pisiguit who was married to Marie-Jeanne Benoît…

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