35, rue Saint-Pierre
Pierre Miville, maître menuisier, est né vers 1602 dans le canton de Fribourg, en Suisse. Mais il habitait à Brouage, en France, avec sa femme, Charlotte Maugis, et ses six enfants. En 1649, il passa en Nouvelle-France et reçut une terre dans la seigneurie de Lauzon en face de Québec. Il obtint, en 1656, la concession d'un lot dans la basse-ville, rue Saint-Pierre, au coin de la ruelle menant à la place Royale. Il y bâtit une petite maison à un étage, consistant en cave, chambre à feu et grenier, qui fut détruite dans l'incendie de la basse-ville, en 1682.
Pierre Miville tenta d'attirer d'autres Suisses au Canada et obtint à La Pocatière une concession qu'on appela le Canton des Suisses fribourgeois : l'entreprise échoua. Miville est mort en 1669 et fut inhumé dans le premier cimetière de Québec, côte de la Montagne.
The Miville in Nouvelle-France
Pierre Miville reached Nouv elle-France around the end of August 1649. He has six children whose ages range between 9 and 17 years old: four daughters and two sons: Marie, François, Aimée, Madeleine, Jacques and Suzanne. His family is said to be one of the largest families to settle in Nouvelle-France. His first son Gabriel was buried on November 11, 1635 at Notre-Dame de Brouage, France at approximately 5 years old.
In October 1649, Pierre Miville is given a land measuring some 26 acres in Quebec City (near what is known today as Bois-de-Coulonge), a land of 570 feet wide by 7600 feet long on the seigniory of Lauzon and another parcel of land on the same domain for his son François. Pierre Miville keeps the Quebec City land for one year only, giving it to his son-in-law Mathieu Amyot/Villeneuve in October 1650. Let's mention that Miville's four daughters got married before they reached 18 years of age :
Marie, baptized on December 13, 1632 at Notre-Dame de Brouage, France, marries Mathieu Amyot/Villeneuve on November 22, 1650 at Notre-Dame of Quebec, dies on September 5, 1702 at Hôtel-Dieu Hospital in Quebec.
Aimée, baptized on August 12, 1635 at Notre-Dame of Brouage, France, marries Robert Giguère on July 2, 1652 at Notre-Dame of Quebec, she dies on December 9, 1713 at Beaupré.
Madeleine, baptized on November 18, 1636 at Notre-Dame of Brouage, France, marries Jean Cauchon/Laverdière on November 20,1652 at Notre-Dame of Quebec, she dies on September 16, 1708 at Château-Richer.
Suzanne, baptized on January 24, 1640 at Notre-Dame of Brouage, France, marries Antoine Paulet on April 12, 1655 at Notre-Dame of Quebec, she dies on August 30, 1675 at Isle d'Orléans.
However, his sons got married later :
François, baptized on May 16, 1634 at Notre-Dame of Brouage, France, first marries Marie Langlois on August 10, 1660 at Notre-Dame of Quebec and then Jeanne Savonnet on November 7, 1692 at Rivière-Ouelle, he dies on November 23, 1711 at Rivière-Ouelle.
Jacques, baptized on May 2, 1639 at St-Hilaire d'Hiers, France, marries Catherine De Baillon on November 12, 1669 at Notre-Dame of Quebec, he dies on January 27, 1688 at Rivière-Ouelle.
Farmers or tradesmen?
But were the Miville essentially farmers? Pierre is identified as a woodworker and Jacques is sometimes identified as a carpenter. In 1667, 18 years after being granted the land in Lauzon, Pierre Miville still owns only some 30 acres of land which is not much considering the usual rate at which land was then being cleared. One tends to believe that Pierre probably had other occupations. Between 1651 and 1654, he buys a parcel of land on Saint-Louis street in Quebec City and sells it in 1654 at which time he is said to live in Lauzon. In 1656, he acquires from Jean Lauzon a site on Saint-Pierre street where he will then have a house built which he will keep until his death.
In 1665, Pierre Miville, his two sons and four other Swiss are granted a land in what is today known as La Pocatière. There are several particular characteristics concerning this concession. It was Tracy who granted them a domain of approximately 3990 feet wide by 7600 feet long that he called Canton des Suisses bribourgeois (Township of the Swiss from Fribourg). This eliminates all doubts pertaining to the country of origin of the Miville, even more so since the concession act identifies them as "Swiss".
This peculiar attempt of community settlement seems without any consequence. There is no sign of the four other Swiss involved with the Miville. What are they doing in that region when nobody had settled further than Cap Saint-Ignace at the time? Why, if Pierre Miville only wants to attract settlers, does he try it in a deserted region when he could get land in the Quebec City area, particularly since his son François is fiscal attorney for the Lord of Lauzon and he himself is captain of the militia.
Pierre Miville's succession
Pierre Miville dies in Lauzon on October 14th1669 and is buried the following day. Shortly after, the Miville widow and her two sons start a fur trade company. However, the next summer, they had to break up the company and come to terms with their creditors. The Miville had bought goods on credit but, due to high mortality rate and sickness among the "savages" together with the lack of snow, the fur business was horrendous that winter. This is the first of a long series of mishaps for the family. In 1670, debts start to pile up. In 1672, a bailiff seizes the Lauzon and Quebec City properties. However, François Miville intervenes and demands that the children's share, that is half of the goods seized, be excluded from the garnishment. He obtains justice before the Sovereign Council in May 1673.
To add to the family's hardship, in 1674, the creditors asked that the Miville widow be put under guardianship, "whereas she experiences mental disorder". François Miville becomes his mother's guardian. This latter dies on October 10th, 1676 and the four Miville sisters immediately liquidate the goods inherited from their father to Alexandre Petit, a La Rochelle merchant whereas François and Jacques settled their accounts later.
Many uncertainties, questions and blank areas still remain to be cleared on Pierre Miville. One day, we may be able to fill some gaps and shed some light on certain obscure passages in our ancestor's biography.
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