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Gervais Buisson

It was during 1650 that Gervais made, alone, his FIRST voyage to New France. On september 19, 1650, he is a witness at the baptism of Étienne Gagnon, son of Jean Gagnon and of Marguerite Cochon, a fellow citizen from his native home. At that time he was employed as a domestic servant to Jean Cochon. However, he was back in Saint-Cosme-de-Vair the following autumn for the baptism of his own son, Jean, on October 1, 1651. Gervais must have been sufficiently impressed by the opportunities that he saw in New France because in July of 1652 he returns to New France, along with his wife Marie L'Hérault (Lereau), his brother Florent and wife Jeanne Yvon. They arrived at Québec City aboard the ship commanded by Captains Jean Pointel or Poulet. Gervais and Marie had two children at that time; René-Gervais, 10 years old, and six year old Antoine... Jean having probably died in the crib; Florent and Jeanne were the parents of fourteen year old Mathurine and of Michel, born in 1640.
Inspired by the speeches of Robert Giffard at the Hôtel du Cheval Blanc (White Horse Inn) in Saint-Cosme-de-Vair, Simon L'Hérault, Marie's brother, and the Bisson families had dreamed for a long time of leaving for New France. Several of their friends and fellow countrymen had been recruited and joined contingents which Robert Giffard had established on his lands at Beauport.


One document proves beyond any doubt that Florent Bisson was already in Québec in 1652. On October 23, he was a witness at the marriage contract of a fellow Percheron, Julien Fortin dit Bellefontaine, who agreed to marry Geneviève, daughter of Nicolas Gamache, one of the more notable colonists of this period.
As for Gervais and his family, their presence was noted at Québec on December 30, 1654, when they had their daughter Simone-Barbe baptized. On March 1st of the following year, Jean Bourdon ceded to this ancestor a piece of land in the seigneurie of Saint-François in the côte Saint-Jean locality, near Sillery. This lot measured one arpent in frontage by eight in depth. At that time Bourdon had been living at Québec for more than twenty years where he acted as General Prosecutor and Chief Engineer for the colony. It was he who, as a surveyor in 1641, had drawn the first map of French Canada. Widower of Jacqueline Potel, he married Anne Gasnier in the year 1655. She was the same lady who welcomed and chaperoned the "filles du roi", or King's Daughters, on their arrival in New France in the years between 1663 and 1673.
On August 10, 1659, Gervais Bisson, father and son, both received the sacrament of Confirmation from the hands of Mgr de Laval, himself only in Québec since the preceeding June 16. "The Canada of 1659 was, wrote the historian André Vachon, to tell the truth, not very impressive. The population had not yet reached 2,000 Frenchmen, living in three widely seperated centers, in an area more than 60 leagues long. The Québec region, formed by the actual town of Québec and the seigneuries of Beauport, Beaupré, l'Ange-Gardien and Lauson, presented the strongest concentration of about 1,200 inhabitants; a few hundred colonists were settled at Trois-Rivières, or in the nearby seigneuries of Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Sainte-Anne and Champlain, which had barely begun to develop; and that outpost of civilisation, Ville-Marie on the island of Montréal, was the last center of habitation".
Our ancestor Gervais lived his whole life at Saint-François in the côte Saint-Jean locality. However, he owned at least two other pieces of land, one at côte Sainte-Geneviève, the other at côte Saint-Michel, in the seigneurie of Sillery.
His holding at côte Sainte-Geneviève was sold to Romain Duval on July 8, 1663: It had an area of 50 arpents square and was situated between the properties of Jean Leclerc dit Le Bouteleux and Pierre Pinguet. He received the property at côte Saint-Michel on February 18, 1663, by a grant from the Rev. Father Jérôme Lallemant, the Jesuit Superior at Québec at that time. It measured two arpents in frontage by 30 in depth. This land was purchased from his join heirs by Gervais Bisson son, on February 10, 1689, for the price of 600 livres. It was then bounded by the properties of Gervais Buisson, father, to the NE, Mathurin Moreau to the SW, and of the Jesuits at each end.
Gervais Bisson and his family were enumerated in the censuses of 1666 and 1667. At that time our colonist, master carpenter, is about 65 years old and he owned four head of cattle and 12 arpents under cultivation. He had a domestic servant named Jacques Senson. Later on, he employed other "jack-of-all trades", notably Manuel Rodrigue and Pierre Brannelet.
Gervais must have been more than 70 years old when the Master beckoned. His mortal remains were buried on August 1, 1674 in the cemetery of Saint-Joseph, nearby the Cathedral of Québec. His widow survived him for 13 years. She died September 13, 1687, and was buried the next day at Québec. They had six children.