Fichier Origine

It was when I came upon “C-l-o-u…” that I hit the motherlode — all 6 mentions of Cloutier matched names and dates in the Long pedigree index provided by my sister. And while the index is literally long, the name comes from my mother, née Rose Marie Long.

Copie d’acte AD-61 for Zacharie Cloutier

The occasion to take this deep dive comes on the heals of a visit to the exhibition on emigration to Canada in the 17th century at the Tour de la Chaine in La Rochelle. We traveled to the Charente-Maritime region for our second beach vacation in the area — this year on the Île de Ré; last year on the Île d’Oléron.

With the index in hand and with the good luck of hitting an early match on a computer terminal at the exhibit, the story presented sprang to life, connecting me to a museum exhibit in a way I’ve never experienced. Since that afternoon, I’ve matched about 80 records with many more to review.

A quick sketch of the Zacharie Cloutier family.

The 6 Cloutiers tell just one story of one family traveling to New France. Zacharie, in his mid-forties , a master carpenter from Mortagne-au-Perche, sailed the Atlantic in 1634 with his then 17-year-old son.

The younger Zacharie also worked as a carpenter. That record notes his marriage to Madeleine Aymara in 1648 back in La Rochelle. If correct, he returned to France* to find a wife. While no mention is made of his travel back, we know he did as his place of death is the same as his father: Château-Richer.

Zacharie’s mother arrived about one year later with his siblings: Jean, Anne, Charles, and Marie-Louise.

A notable story within the exhibit concerned the small numbers of women in those early days of Quebec. Orphaned and other able-bodied women were recruited as Filles du Roi (daughters of the king) to aid France in building its colony in what would become Canada. A number of our family records, as noted in the Fichier Origine and confirmed by my sister, have Fille du Roi listed as their “profession”. Many French Canadians share that same history.

Read more about the Filles du Roi on Wikipedia.

The Fichier Origine is an index for immigrants to Quebec up to 1865.

*It’s interesting to imagine that the later voyage of the younger Zacharie back to La Rochelle meshed well with his work as a carpenter. Ships of that era needed carpenters on board during the voyage.

2023-05-09 Note: I just finished reading The Wager, a harrowing tale of a small 18th c. British armada on a quest for Spanish treasure. The writing paints a picture of shipboard life, including the role of carpenters at sea and, when disaster strikes, the value of that work when a crew is cast ashore.

About Richard Anderson

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