by Jean-­Pierre Fortin (0008)

on November 26, 1619, at Notre-Dame-de Vair Church, Julien Fortin, son of Simon Fortin and Marie Dodier married Marie Lavye, daughter of Gervais Lavye, then owner of the Cheval Blanc Hotel. Julian works as a butcher at his father-in-law’s hotel.

At that time, St-Cosme-de-Vair commune includes two parishes: St-Cosme and Notre-Dame. However, Notre-Dame extends beyond the boundaries of Perche province and part of it is in Maine.

The Fortin-Lavye union didn’t last long as Marie Lavye passed away on November 25, 1628 after giving birth to three children:               Julien (1621), Hélène (1622) and Mathurin (1627); Hélène unfortunately died at the age of three and a half. Julien Fortin, father, remarried in 1630 to Julienne Guillemin who will give him eight more children.

Born on February 9, 1621, Julien was raised by his stepmother. Young teenager boys worked as apprentices to develop their skills for a manual job or a profession. Will Julien be a butcher just like his father ? No official document says so but the 1666 census refers to him as a butcher. Based on what we know he accomplished during his life, we are prone to think that his apprenticeship was done in the business sector. We also think he had a certain amount of money as when he emigrated to Nouvelle-France, he had no contract, he came on his own money.

Location of Perche province in the north of France.

Robert Giffard, born in 1587 in Mortagne capital of Perche, did his apprenticeship as a doctorapothecary. His first trip to Nouvelle-France occurred around 1622 and the second in 1634 as a surgeon officer on one of the vessel administered by the Compagnie des cent Associés.

Julien Fortin’s birth certificate registered at Notre-dame-de-Vair reads as follows: « Le 9 février 1621 fut baptisé Julian fils de Julian Fortin Et de Marie Lavye sa mère et fut le parrain Françoys Loriot et la marraine Denise Fouet veuve Fortin par nous curé ».

In 1634, he was granted the Beauport seigniory and he must recruit workers to develop his land. That same year, he brought his family and many settlers. In 1650, he went back to France and continued giving conferences about the Nouveau-Monde, specially in Perche, place he knew well. He managed to convince young men among whom was Julien Fortin to come to Nouvelle-France for a better life. At the time, to cross the Atlantic on a sailing ship took four to twelve weeks depending on fair wind. It must have been a very difficult decision to take because they set off in search of unknown and had to leave behind a family that they may never see again, which is what happened to a lot of those immigrants.

In Nouvelle-France

Ship used to transport people and merchandises to the “Nouveau-Monde”.

They most probably left France at the end of the spring to avoid the ice on the St. Lawrence River and to take advantage of the windy weather hopefully without storm. We do not know on which ship Julien crossed the Atlantic but he must have been accompanied by a few fellow citizens: Simon Rocheron, Antoine Rouillard, Claude Bouchard, Martin Boullard, Pierre Maufay and Simon Lereau whose presence were noted in Nouvelle-France shortly after.

The first document showing that our ancestor was in Nouvelle-France is dated December 1650 when a five acres land at Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré, then called Ste-Anne-du-Petit-Cap, is granted to Julien Fortin. He received the official titles from Olivier Letardif, Compagnie de Beaupré public prosecutor, at the same time as Etienne Racine, Claude Poulin, Etienne de Lessart, Robert Giguère, Julien Mercier, Louis Gasnier, Pierre Picard and Claude Bouchard. He sold off this concession to Robert Caron on March 27, 1654 for the amount of 500 livres.

Why is Julien Fortin called « dit Bellefontaine » or « de Bellefontaine » or just «Bellefontaine »? Did he decide to add this handle himself or did somebody do it? There was a lot being said on the subject but no document was found explaining the situation. 

On November 11, 1652, Julien unites his destiny to Geneviève Gamache, daughter of Nicolas Gamache and Jacqueline Cadot. The ceremony is held in Cap-Tourmente, most probably at the Ferme-du-Milieu where the « Habitation de Toussaincts » is and the missionary who presides the ceremony registered the document at the Notre-Dame-de-Québec parish. Geneviève Gamache was born in Bréval, Chartres diocese in the province of Ile-de-France. She arrived here that same year with her father and her brother Nicolas. Their wedding contract was signed on October 23 in front of Claude Auber, notary. Were present : Claude Bouchard, Louis Gasnier, Pierre Picard, Florent Buisson, Abel Benoist and Nicolas Gamache, father.

Julien shows his talent of businessman when on August 23, 1657, he bought the share of Charles de Lauzon , one of the eight associates of the Compagnie de Beaupré, for the amount of 700 livres « in kind of beaver ».

Plaque inside the St-Cosme-en-Vairais Church identifying families whose children contributed to increase the population of Nouvelle-France.

Julien Fortin and Geneviève Gamache’s wedding celebrated at Cap-Tourmente on November 11, 1652, in the presence of Nicolas Gamache, the bride’s father, sieur LeTardif, Louys Gaigner and Claude Auber. The document was registered in Notre-Dame de Quebec parish.

He then became lord of 1/8 of the Beaupré and Isle d’Orléans seigniories. He sold off this share to Mgr de Laval on February 11, 1662 for 750 livres. During the rest of his life, we count about thirty duly noted contracts concerning purchases, sales, discharges, gifts of land or other goods.The 1667 census shows a prosperous family where in addition of the family members, we count 15 livestock, 20 acres of developed land and 2 employees.

On June 4, 1659, Pierre LeVoyer d’Argenson, the king counsellor, lieutenant general on behalf of his Majesty in Nouvelle-France and Compagnie de Beaupré public prosecutor, grants to Julien Fortin a piece of land measuring six acres on the St. Lawrence river by one and a half leagues depth. The land is limited on one side by the Grande-Ferme and on the other side by the Ferme-du-Milieu which is rented to Abel Benoist. He has the right to fish and hunt on the river in front of his land. He must pay rent to the Seigneurs de Beaupré and conform to the rules established for this seigniory. Later one, when the Ferme-du-Milieu is joined to the Petite-Ferme, there will be only Julien Fortin’s land between the two farms.

The family

On Julien and Geneviève wedding contract, Geneviève’s father agreed to give them room and board for two years. Then, Julien and his family most probably settled on a land in Cap-Tourmente. At that time, the Compagnie de Beaupré had no public persecutor, so it was a verbal agreement. As noted previously, this was confirmed in 1659.

Life was not always easy in Cap-Tourmente. After the birth of their first four children : Barbe (1654), Charles (1656), Eustache (1658) and Jacques (1660), the family must move to Château-Richer in 1660 because the Iroquois made
more and more frequent incursions. The year 1661 was the most difficult as after they attacked Tadoussac, the Iroquois made great damages in Cap-Tourmente and Isle d’Orléans, killing about thirty people and wrecking buildings and harvests. Julien bought from Urbain Beaudry for 370 livres, a land in Château-Richer about 1/2 mile east of the church

Later on, he bought the house built by the surgeon François Fortin but owned by Nicolas Huot for 600 livres. This is where the couple Fortin-Gamache’s other children were born: Geneviève (1662) whose godfather is François Fortin, surgeon, on behalf of Nicolas Gamache and the godmother Geneviève Auber, daughter of Claude Auber, notary, Joseph (1664), Marie-Anne (1666), Julien (1667) and Pierre (1669). The family moved back to Cap-Tourmente around 1670 where the last three children were born : Louis (1671), Jean (1674) and Marguerite (1677). Louis and Jean were baptized in Ste-Anne-de Beaupré while Marguerite was baptized at the Cap-Tourmente chapel.
In the meantime, Barbe, the oldest child, married Pierre Gagnon in 1669 in Château-Richer and in 1671, Julien and Geneviève became grandparents for the first time when Marie-Madeleine Gagnon was born. In 1686, Marie-Madeleine married René Lepage, later Seigneur de Rimouski.
Many weddings took place after that:

Type of church which was probably built in St-Joachim in 1684 based on the results of the archeology dig and also the style used at the time.

Charles and Xainte Cloutier (1681),
Marie-Anne and Jean Picard (1683),
Geneviève and Noël Gagnon (1683),
Jacques and Catherine Biville (1689),
Joseph and Agnès Cloutier (1691),
Eustache and Louise Cloutier (1693),
Pierre and Gertrude Hudon (1697)
and then Marguerite and Pierre-François Fromage (1699).


Life not being always joyful, the Fortin-Gamache couple lost three children: Julien (20 years old ), Louis (18 years old) and Jean (around 20 years old). They all died during epidemics.


The last years

Champlain explored the land of Cap-Tourmente in 1623 and had houses built in 1626 including a chapel taken care of by the Récollets. It burned down in 1628. When Mgr de Laval became the owner of the Beaupré seigniory, he had a second chapel built at Cap-Tourmente in 1667 this time taken care of by the missionaries for the use of the farms’ workers; a first parish priest was named in 1668. Mgr de Laval built the first stone church in 1684 at the Grande-
Ferme. The first registered documents found are dated 1687 but those from 1689 to 1727 cannot be traced which means that important information concerning Julien and Geneviève’s family are missing.

On June 18,1689, in Château-Richer Church, was baptized Marie Gagnon, born on the 16th, daughter of Noël Gagnon and Geneviève Fortin. The godfather was Julien Fortin, the child’s grandfather and the godmother was Vincente
Devarieux, Pierre Gagnon’s wife. This is the last documentary evidence of the presence of Julien. A note found in the account book of Ste-Anne-du-Petit-Cap Church reads as follow: « Payé à la veuve Bellefontaine pour un baril de lard par elle fourny pour les travaux de l’Église en 1689. » This statement makes us think that Julien passed away between June 1689 and July 1690.

Once married, the boys left St-Joachim except Joseph who remained on the family land. Jacques went to Petite-Rivière-St-François and the three others to the south shore of the St.Lawrence. Eustache settled in Cap-St-Ignace, next to his uncle Nicolas Gamache, seigneur of the Gamache seigniory, Charles and Pierre in L’Islet. After her second marriage, Barbe joined them in L’Islet. When their mother Geneviève was through settling Julien’s estate and the one of her son Joseph who prematurely died, she went to live with her daughter Barbe in L’Islet where she died in 1709.

Schematic plan of the St-Joachim area: 1-The existing St-Joachim Church (1779), 2-The presbytery (1766), 3-The Grande-Ferme (around 1650), 4-The first St-Joachim Church (1684-85), 5-Julien Fortin’s land (1659), 6-La Ferme du

Milieu (1650), 7-The Château Bellevue (1778), 8-The Petite-Ferme (1626).



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