Joseph LeRoux"The Patriot"
This text was graciously given to the webmaster by André and Raymonde Noël and also Mrs. Henriette Gauthier, related to this man, and who is the storyteller about the above mentioned dignified and proud man’s history.
Often in the past, Dad proudly told us that an ancestor of the Perreault family to wit Joseph LeRoux, father of Adèle his grandmother, has been an active member within the patriots’ group of 1837-1838 rebellions. In order to understand the motives of these rebellions, one must go back to September 13th 1759, the day of the battle of les Plaines d’Abraham (Quebec city) with General Wolfe. The French troops are defeated and the British take possession of Quebec City.
The British themselves are somewhat surprised by their very fast victory. They want to conquer Montreal and Trois-Rivières afterward. They face more opposition fighting at these places. Pending this period of battle in Nouvelle-France, The mother country of France is at war with England since many years. France is then impoverished; thus France neglects to help the Nouvelle-France. France does not send anymore either money and or men.
In 1763, Parish treaty sign by Louis XV bring the seven years war between France and England to a close. Within this treaty, France concedes to England all its possessions in North America, excepted for Saint-Pierre and Miquelon Islands. Later on, many different decisions and social events by the new British government did provoke the rebellions. This is but a brief look at the history that I write here. Many authors have described in a very interesting and detailed fashion on this eventful era. As most of conquerors, the British wants to assimilate all the French-Canadians on all and every stages, social, religious and cultural life.
French Canadians did outnumbered the English Canadians and were supported by Roman Catholic clergymen to preserve their religion and their language. The British never enjoyed this very victory. From 1760 to 1837, French Canadians did express to the government through many attempts in different fashions their will to obtain more democratic powers. Popular meetings and secret regroupings became frequent. Even if French Canadians did express criticisms and petition to the government, English Canadians were more and more favored economically and politically. French Canadians were even more repressed. Authorities were accusing unjustly French Canadians of high treason and did imprison as soon as an influential French Canadian was creating a group or shown a gesture of disagreement. English Canadians (as so) could do the same and government ignore such or minimized that altogether. In 1834. The legislative assembly is in majority composed of French Canadians and Louis-Joseph Papineau is their parliamentary leader. The assembly did vote 92 resolutions presented by a committee of radical members. These 92 resolutions were to the advantage of French Canadians and were prepared with the objective to be used to create a new popular political party. During three years, French Canadians put on a ferocious energy in order to organize this party. On March 2nd 1837, Both Commissioners Grey and Gipps, after being in Canada, presented a report on the political situation of the New-France to the British parliament. Following this report, the British house of parliament hurry in formulating and present through the Minister of Interior Lord John Russell, 10 resolutions which nullify the 95 Canadian resolutions and withdraw from the assembly its only power to wit: the power to refuse the budget. Following this decision and in spite of the effort of the clergymen to appease and invite the patriots to submit, secret meetings are taking place all over Lower Canada (Quebec). Louis-Joseph Papineau informs farmers and all the people of the government decisions, mostly around Montreal and within the Richelieu Valley. French Canadians get their mind over-heated. Secret groups are born and they organize themselves to fight the English Canadians.
In Montreal, 500 young persons creates a political society bearing the name of "Les Fills de la liberté" (namely: The sons of freedom) with André Ouimet being their chief. This group is in opposition to the "Doric Club" (a group of young English, Scottish and Irish Canadians. It will be at the autumn 1837 that that the most roughly demonstrations begins, on November 23rd at Saint-Denis. The English Canadians walks onto Saint-Denis. The French Canadians walks to meet them. A few shots are fired. There are a few deads and wounded on both sides. Even if the English Canadians are better armed, their leaders more experimented and are in a greater number, the patriots grab the victory. The English Canadians goes back to Montreal. Loyalists come and unite with English Canadians. They go back to Saint-Denis and then go to Saint-Charles and Saint-Eustache. The English Canadians grab the victory. They burn farms, French Canadians loose men and become more and more impoverished. On December 14th 1837, English Canadians in Saint-Eustache kill Dr Chénier. During this period, many French Canadians are killed, others are put under arrest and incarcerated without any warrant or trial. Eight leaders are expatriated to Bermuda, 107 will be liberated under the conditions of a bail of $5,000.00 to $20,000.00
Within spring and summer 1838, confrontations in between patriots and English Canadians become more and more rare, there is a calm period. The British government, acknowledging the problems that Lower Canada had to live through and replace the Governor-general Gosford by Lord Durham. It is a smart way to diminish tension in the public mind. When the situation of the country becomes more explosive, the British government changes the governor-general. The new governor-general comes in more relax, more conciliating for a short time, he inspire necessary confidence up to the next confrontation. Lord Durham nevertheless as been the most appreciated British governor-general by French Canadians.
Autumn 1838, in the area of Beauharnois Qc; people revolt against Lord Ellice. As of always, he aims more the wealth than settling. Lord Ellice refuse farmland to the French Canadians where as he grant them to English Canadians, because it is more profitable. He raises the rent (to be paid by tenant of a piece of land to feudal superior) so much to the point that many tenants loose their farmland. He take away the farm land of some for any trivial reason or purely invented ones, without compensation, such a farmer has no claim whatsoever to defend himself. One would have assist to an uprising most everywhere in the region. François-Xavier Prieur, merchant of Saint-Thimothée Qc become the leader of the insurrection of the patriots in Beauharnois Qc. He was the founder of a secret society to which he gives the name of "les frères Chasseurs". He becomes their chief (or Castor). It is mostly within this period that our ancestor Joseph LeRoux did actively participate to the uprising as a patriot.
Joseph LEROUX (dit ROUSSON)
Joseph LeRoux was born at Les Cèdres Qc on April 9th 1804, from the marriage of Charles LeRoux and Genevieve Ravary(married on February 16th 1795. He is the 5th child of the family: Genevieve, Josephte, Pierre,and Marie-Charlotte deceased on July 27th 1803 at the age of 9 months old. Already within the month that follows his birth, Joseph must face a hard affliction; his mother deceased on May 17th 1804. So young, Joseph will live or not at an uncle’s place or is it his godfather and his godmother Joseph Montpetit and Josephte Lalonde who will take care of him? The Leroux’ are very close to the Lalonde’s. One could find them often as godfather, godmother or witness of marriage. Two years later, in 1806 Charles LeRoux (Joseph’s father) will remarry to Marguerite Lalande from La Nouvelle-Longueuil; this second marriage bring out three children, Charles (son) born on August 6th 1808, Benoît born on October 6th 1809 and Toussaint bornMay 1 Th 1811 six months after his father was deceased. At the age of 38 years old, Marguerite becomes a widow and is left with 4 children issued of the first marriage of her deceased husband, and 3 children born of her own marriage with the same man.
The beginning of Joseph’s life was not made easy with all these tragic events. We did not find any writing to inform us just how Joseph’s early years went on. Joseph did not go to school, as he did not know how to write. His marriage certificate and baptism certificate shows it to us. On all and every official document, it is written that he could not sign. The hardships did not take Joseph down, on the contrary, from what we could learn about him, difficulties produce for him a greater determination in his life. He did react with a lot of courage in front of the difficult events all along his life. He let see the impression of a serious minded man who would react positively to the ambiguous events. On the farm. Joseph must have played as much as the children of his era. He must have (very soon in life) participate to the working duties of the farm and when older to the logging industry and even to driving the logs on rivers. Adèle,his daughter. Also Dad’s grandmother did like to make narration just how her father did live. When time came for him, Dad did mostly speak about Joseph le draveur (Joseph the log driver on rivers). He did present him to us as a wonderful man. He describes him as being nimble, tall, hefty and strong. "He was quite a man, he always was head of line" (did he say to us). It is probably this trade that did permit to Joseph to earn a living for his family. In this era, all the farmers would become lumbermen to cut trees during winter. When spring would come, it was mostly through waterways that they would transport the logs to the sawmill or furthermore to Montreal harbor to be exported to England. The LeRoux family. Living on the north shore of the St-Lawrence River, a few kilometers from Montreal were favored. Dad was saying that all the LeRoux were log drivers on the river(faisaient la drave). These days when they were driving logs, they wouldn’t speak to each other’s, they would communicate through signs.
On August 24th 1824, Joseph did wed Euphrosine Malboeuf of Les Cèdres, Qc (parish Saint-Joseph of Soulanges). Étienne Ravary was acting as being his tutor. Théodore Lalonde and Pierre Montpetit were the witnesses for the couple. After the marriage, The couple went to Saint-Timothée, Qc to settle. Joseph is not afraid of challenges. He is an ambitious and hard worker young man. Saint-Timothée Qc near Grande Ile which is located on the south shore of the St-Lawrence river, just across of Les Cèdres Qc. Grande Isle is located nearby Beauharnois Qc.
The village was a part of seigniory domain of Beauharnois which was underLord Ellice seigniorial feudal rights and powers. On december 1825, a son is born to Joseph and Euphrosine, the newborn will be called Joseph the son. In the year 1830, another son is born who will be called Béloni. Adèle is born January 18th 1832, François is born on February 11th 1836, Charles is born on March 25th 1838, Pierre is born August 10th 1840, Julie is born on February 27th 1843 and Napoléon is born in 1846.
In Canada, during these years, agriculture was going through an uneasy time, and the selling of furs market was declining. The sales of wood lumber was more lucrative. France and Russia had increase their prices, thus it was more advantageous for England to buy the wood lumber from Canada. Joseph must have been kept busy and then would not worry to find jobs in the lumber works.
One day, in the automn 1838, as Joseph was attending to a patriot meeting at Les Cèdres, a man from Sainte-Scolastique summons him saying:"Take care Joseph LEROUX, you could loose your blood and in future become as poor as us," This summons did not slow down the eagerness of this brave inhabitant. It is within this era that (as many other inhabitants of this region) Dad told us that Joseph walked through fields and forests to go either to the village or to Mr Prieur’s general store, or to Mr Provost’s hotel to talk with others on latest developments regarding the confrontations with the canadian english. He (Joseph) would also make bullets, melting plates or utensils made out of pewter. Joseph have been very active all automn 1838 at activity of the patriots, mostly in October and November. November 3th and 4th , meeting were held and camps are set up mostly in Beauharnois, Chateauguay, Sainte-Martine (camp Baker), Pointe-Olivier, Saint-Constant and Napierville.
On November 7th and 9th , armed confrontation take place in Lacolle and Odeltown. In Odeltwon, the patriots are convinced to (at last) win and create (with Doctor Robert Nelson being their leader) the future canadian republic.
They are attacking the Loyalists who just came to join canadian english army under John Colborne ("Le vieux brûlot") command who counted on 2000 men. Being confronted by such a numerous army, patriots come to the decision to withdraw. The french canadians split up far and wide rapidly. Many of them are captured while some other successfully hide or go through american border. The second Colborne repression is of the most vicious and cruelly inhuman. The canadian english make arrests and imprisonments without warrant and/or trial.
If one could compare the ratio of prisonners versus the population in 1838, to this of the amount of prisonners versus the population in 1970 at the time of the F.L.Q. bombing, the proportion of the 851 prisonners of 1838 would amount to 40,000 prisonners in 1970…!