Since my 10th great-grandparents Mathurin Meunier and Françoise Fafard were the first European couple to have been married in Montreal, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they also had the first European child born and baptized in Montreal!
The birth of their first child, Barbe, must have brought great hope to the leaders of Ville-Marie (Montreal). Here was the beginning of colonializing they had hoped and prayed for. It wasn’t the plan for the Société Notre-Dame de Montréal to just supply men for the mission Ville-Marie – they also wanted to populate the area around it with families who would farm and be reliant on themselves, not the yearly supply shipments from France sent by the Société.
I know of Barbe’s birth from her baptismal record in the Parish of Notre-Dame-de-Montreal. The Priest Jean Dequen baptized her the same day she was born, 24 Nov 1648. Her Godfather was none other than Paul Chomeday, the Governor of Montreal. Her Godmother was Jeanne Mance, a nurse, who founded the Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal, the first hospital in Montreal, built in 1645 and the likely location of birth and baptism since the surgeon Jean Poppe was present at the baptism.
The baptism and birth occurring on the same day is often indicative that the health of the newborn was poor. They baptized them quickly back then when they believed there was a chance the newborn would die without a proper baptism. Barbe held on for 9 days, but on 3 December 1648, she passed away and was buried in the consecrated grounds of the parish church. This is also recorded in the register of Notre-Dame de Montréal. I’ve attached images of both records.
The life of Barbe Meunier was short, but not insignificant. No life ever is. Like the disappointment her parents felt from losing her, the community of Ville-Marie must have felt the same. What a blow to the gut this was for all. The mission and town of Montreal would grow, but it would be a tough row to hoe for many decades (actually there would be little hoeing – that is another story however). This setback was yet another in a long list that no prayer seemed to prevent. But the leaders of little Ville-Marie believed in hope and faith, in life and death. They believed that their mission in Montreal was to bring God to the Natives, and they believed it was a Divine mission. Surely God would provide in his own time.
Mathurin and Françoise obviously had other children, or I wouldn’t be here today writing this. Neither would some of you who are reading this. The couple would eventually bring nine children into the world, of which, only six would survive into adulthood. Those six though, would help fulfil the dreams and prayers of Société Notre-Dame de Montréal and the Meuniers. God does answer prayer!
- More about Mathurin Meunier and Francoise Fafard
Québec, registres paroissiaux catholiques, 1621-1979,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G99W-6S9Z?cc=1321742&wc=HZZW-929%3A16470801%2C23492102%2C27657001 : 16 July 2014), Montréal > Notre-Dame > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1642-1694 > image 22 of 598; Archives Nationales du Quebec (National Archives of Quebec), Montreal.
Institut généalogique Drouin, Le LAFRANCE, acte 48678, citing image d1p_11000172.jpg; last accessed 24 Nov 2020. Burial, 1648-12-03, Montréal (Notre-Dame-de-Montréal); Barbe Lemonnier, age 9 days, female; father, Lemonnier; mother, Francoise Fafart; pretre, Jean Dequen. https://www.prdh-igd.com/Membership/en/PRDH/Acte/48678; database with images, Généalogie Québec (https://www.genealogiequebec.com/en/lafrance).