GENEALOGY RESEARCH

LaPrairie

Once in Canada we were on a genealogical mission. Barbara's ancestors on the LaPlante side came to Canada (New France) in the seventeenth century. Clement Lerige, Sieur de La Plante, a member of the Troupes de la Marine, was twenty-three when he arrived near Montreal in 1685. On August 6, 1689 he fought against the Iroquois at Fort Remy the day after a massacre at Lachine. He was captured by the Iroquois and held captive until 1692. In 1693 he was promoted to the rank of ensign. By July of 1700 he had acquired 150 acres of land across the St. Lawrence River in LaPrairie. A few months later he married Marie Roy whose mother had been a Fille du Roi (literally daughter of the king: one of the women sent from France to marry and populate New France). By 1720 Clement was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. He enlarged his land holdings when the Jesuits granted him three concessions of land. By the time he died in December 1742 he had fathered thirteen children: eleven sons and two daughters. See more detail at: http://semperaltius.com/laplante_roots_16851865.htm

Clement's oldest son, Louis, became the commandant of the fort of LaPrairie achieving the rank of captain. The LaPlante clan lived in LaPrairie until about 1864 when Gedeon La Plant left Canada for Sodus, Michigan.

Since the LaPlante clan had such strong roots in LaPrairie our first Canadian stop would be the Historical Society of LaPrairie de la Magdeleine. Our gps took us directly there.

When we entered the Historical Society we weren't sure what we would encounter. Most of the staff spoke French and struggled to communicate with us. Then we met Stephane Tremblay who spoke better English and was excited that a descendant of Clement Lerige from California had come so far to do research. Soon he was showing us around the museum and pulling out books of interest. We purchased his book, 1691: La bataille de La Prairie, which he autographed. Unfortunately (or fortunately for him), Clement missed that battle because he was still being held captive by the Iroquois. The biggest find was a copy of the book: Histoire et genealogie de la descendance de Clement Leriger de Laplante, by Alain Panneton. See page from book below:

The Historical Society had only one copy, so we are searching for our own copy through Stephane. Sensing our disappointment, Stephane showed us charts and miniature reconstructions of the LaPrairie fort, then he took us outside where he pointed out the outline of the fort's walls in the pavement and various historical buildings in the town. This part of LaPrairie was quaint and well preserved. Surrounding the old town was a run down suburb of lower end homes and businesses. Grave markers of Barbara's ancestors no longer exist or we didn't have time to find them.

 

From Wikipedia: French Jesuits were the first Europeans to occupy the area, which was named La Prairie de la Magdelaine but was also called François-Xavier-des-Prés. The land was given to the Jesuits by Jacques de La Ferté and the Company of One Hundred Associates in 1647. It is in La Prairie that the story Kateri Tekakwitha took place. In 1668, the site was named Kentaké, the Iroquois name for "at the prairie". In the beginning of modern Quebec history, the territory of La Prairie would be visited on numerous occasions by Iroquois and English settlers from New York, among others at the time of the Anglo-Iroquois expedition of Pieter Schuyler in 1691, who commanded two battles on August 11, 1691.

Shrine of Blessed Kateri

By 3:00 we were listening to the gps lady for directions to the Kahnawake reservation where Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha is buried. After fleeing Fonda, New York (site of National shrine to Blessed Kateri: http://www.katerishrine.com/), she arrived at LaPrairie in 1676, about ten years before Clement arrived there. She died in Kahnawake in 1680. The church was closed, but we took pictures of it, the pedestal with a missing statue of Blessed Kateri, and a few other items.

Pedestal with poor reservation neighborhood in background.

FORT REMY: LACHINE

Our next genealogical quest was to find the site of Clement's fight with and capture by the Iroquois in 1689. Our research led us to a small city park, "parc des Sts. Anges" which was located across the St. Lawrence River from Kahnawake. The gps wasn't much help because we didn't have an exact address. The park was located at the foot of Rue St. Maria, so we used that on the gps. We ended up in a rough neighborhood. Sure enough, the park was at the end of a cul de sac and extended nearly down to the river. We found a small replica of the chapel that was built within the walls of Fort Remy. This was very close to the spot where Clement was captured.

Fort Remy was a site of special importance to the fur trade. It was known as the fort of Lachine, but it was renamed in honor of Father Remy, priest of the parish of Saints-Anges of Lachine. The fort was built between 1672 and 1673. The first building comprised a ground floor, two stages, a forging mill and a bakery. A well was situated in the courtyard. The fort was destroyed when the Montreal aqueduct was built in 1873.

LAPLANTE STREET

Not far from the site of Fort Remy we found a street sign in Montreal recognizing the LaPlante name (Rue Laplante) as well as Clement's name (Rue Clement).

LACHINE

Lachine, apparently from French la Chine (China), is often said to have been named in 1669, in mockery of its then owner Robert Cavelier de LaSalle, who explored the interior of North America, trying to find a passage to Asia. When he returned unsuccessful, he and his men were derisively named les Chinois (Chinese). The name was then adopted when the parish of Saints-Anges-de-la-Chine was created in 1678. On August 5, 1689, more that 1200 Mohawk warriors raided the small village and burned it to the ground in retaliation for the ravaging of the Seneca lands by governor Denonville and his men. The Lachine massacre left 80 dead. In retaliation for this, Clement and other French marines fought the Indians on the next day. It was then that Clement was captured by the Indians.

The Lachine rapids are nearby. These rapids prevented early explorers from proceeding on the St. Lawrence River in search of China via the illusive Northwest Passage. The rapids are another link to Clement and other LaPlante Canadian ancestors. Today they are the destination for thrill seekers on rafts and jet boats.

Museum Pointe-a-Calliere

Another genealogical must was Museum Pointe-a-Calliere. We wandered through archaeological digs which uncovered Montreal in its earliest days when Clement was fighting Indians, enslaved by them, and later settling across the St. Lawrence River at LaPrairie. It offered a fort with better protection from the Iroquois than the Montreal settlement did at the time.

Where Montréal Was Born