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Jacques Simoneau - colonist of the Sable Island, Nova Scotia, Canada


Henri IV, King of France, appoints on January 15, 1598 Troilus de la Roche of Mesgouez " general lieutenant in the countries of Canada, Hochelaga, Newfoundland, Labrador, river of Grande-Baie of Norembègue and grounds adjacent of the aforesaid provinces and rivers. "

Letters patent emitted on this occasion gives him the right to pick up men of war to conquer by the force if it is needed, the cities, the castle-forts and the dwellings located on the lands which are conceded to him. It is allowed to him to choose in the kingdom " the number of people that it is necessary for him for the voyage, as long as one that the other sex ". The future colonists, whose Jacques Simoneau, are recruited among the gueux ones and the beggars.

Fortified of its capacities, the marquis de la Roche solved to leave the same year for lands of which it had just been made up general lieutenant. He chartered on March 16, 1598, the Catherine of Thomas Chefdhostel. The Norman captain obliged to leave on the first favorable occasion the port the Hune (hougue) where the marquis de la Roche was to embark with his people. The tonnage of the Catherine is approximately 180 barrels.

A ship was not enough to transport all the implements of the marquis and of the future colonists of the island, it took 2 days after, the Françoise, of 90 barrels, whose Jehan Girot was the captain.

The marquis was still present at Honfleur on April 14, 1598 and he gave tthe authorization in front the notaries, in Gac, sieur de Collespel, of Saint-Malo, to sell his goods "a remere". The departure of the flotilla of thus being done after April 14, 1598.

The personal of the two ships, could be about sixty people, not included the crew. These people were of various conditions, in majority, so that one says, not very good to constitute the core of a healthy colonization.

The history does not bring any detail to us on the crossing of the ocean. The first land where was done the unloading was on the northern side of the Sable Island, off Nova Scotia, close to a small river forming narrow part which de la Roche named Boncoeur. After construction, under the monitoring of the commander Querbonyer, the residences and a store, the marquis deposited there 40 of his passengers with cattle and the instruments of agriculture, then he continued its road in order to find elsewhere a place more favorable to the establishment of its small colony.

After explored the coasts of Acadie, he turns back and wanted to approach the Sable Island. The wind pushed it towards the east with a violence such, that in less than 12 days he reached the coasts of France.

The 40 French remained on the Sable Island, abandoned with their sad fate, waiting until Providence came to their help. They remained 7 years according to Champlain and Charlevoix, 5 according to Lescarbot.

The food not being missing , because the island was abundantly populated of cattle. More a-half century before, the baron de Lévi had deposited there cows and horses which, during this long period, had multiplied in great number. Fishing had to be an excellent resource for their subsistence. They made their clothing with the skins of the animals which were used to feed them.

Entered to France, the marquis of de la Roche again thought of taking again the road of Canada. He undergoes several failures and could not repatriate itself his companions of the Sable Island. However, he informed the king of his misfortunes and the abandonment of its 40 french companions.

It was only into 1603 that the court of the Parliament of Rouen gave the command to the pilot Thomas Chesdhostel to search and bring them back in their country. To reward it for his disorder, one granted the permission to him to deduct with his personal benefit half of the useful objects that these unhappy could have manufactured during their long absence, as well as leathers, the skins of harbour seal and foxes and oils. The pilot discharged his mission well and brought back with him the survivors of this tragedy ventures. The history preserved us their names. It was: Jacques SIMONEAU, Jacques SIMON dit LARIVIERE, Olivier DELIN, Michel HEULIN, Robert PIQUET, Mathurin SAINT-GILLES, Gilles LE BULTEL, François PROVOSTEL, Loys DESCHAMPS, Geoffroy VIRET and François DELESTRE.

Henri IV wanted to see them in the curious getup which they carried when Chesdhostel them had found after 5 years, very covered of harbour seal. They had let push their hair and their barb. The disorder of their person had made them, with the statement of Charlevoix, rather similar to the alleged gods of the rivers. Sully accepted the command to count 50 ecus to each one of them and return them with the forgiveness of the faults of which they had been able to be made guilty before their passage to the new lands.

The shares fur skins and leathers gave place to a lawsuit between Chefdhostel and the repatriates of the Sable Island. The pilot had wanted to monopolize with his profit the products of the industry of the others, in spite of the conditions which granted only half to him. This lawsuit was not long duration; the parts were arranged with the friendly one.

Source :
Titre: La Nouvelle-France de Cartier à Champlain, 1540-1603 Auteur: Dionne, N.-E. (Narcisse-Eutrope) Éditeur: Québec, Quebec: Typographie de C. Darveau, 1891 Jacques Simoneau : Chapitre XII, LE MARQUIS DE LA ROCHE, page 175 et 176.

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