André Auclair and Marie Bédard

ndré Auclairís story is inseparable from his brotherís. Together they crossed the Atlantic when they were young and together they lived the remarriage of their mother with a man who could not afford to have them educated and was not loved by them. When the time came for them to emancipate themselves, they did not reside close to their mother, but rather in Charlesbourg. 

Pierre settled in the rural district of Saint-Bernard in 1678 and André bought a land there the following year, also. This purchase made him his brotherís fourth neighbor. At the age of 17, he claimed that he was a Québec resident. We do not know whether he immediately went to his farm to resume the clearing of the land. What we know is that twenty months later, he married a young widow, Marie Bédard, who lived at Petite-Auvergne, south of Charlesbourg. 

Marie Bédard was the girl of Isaac Bédard and Marie Girard, from La Rochelle. She had two brothers : Jacques and Louis. She married Nicolas Huppé. On February 2, 1681, she gave birth to a boy, baptized under the name of Charles, but at that moment her husband had passed away five months and a half before. 

Two weeks after having given birth, the young widow signed a marriage contract with André Auclair. He was only 19 years old. That was exceptional, because normally a farmer must have established himself before getting married. What permitted him to depart from custom was that his wife was a widow and was already established. When Nicolas Huppé died, three arpents of land had already been cleared.

The marriage contract was signed at the mill on the seigniory of Notre-Dame-des-Anges. It was not the present-day Moulin des Jésuites du Trait-Carré (square) in Charlesbourg, because that mill was not built until forty years later. It was rather a windmill on the south shore of the Saint-Charles river. The contract provided for the upkeep of Charles Huppé, then only 15 days old, by the new couple.

The wedding took place the next day, Monday February 17, 1681, in Québec rather than in Charlesbourg. It is likely, as on the previous day, that it was the Jesuits rather than the spouseís family that acted as hosts at the wedding festivities.

Once married, André Auclair took over his wifeís possessions. There were scant personal property and heavy debts. One bill in the amount of 19 pounds was to be paid to líHôtel-Dieu, which leads us to believe that Nicolas Huppé spent some time in hospital before he passed away. On the other hand, Michel Huppé, the father-in-law, still owed Marie Bédard 153 pounds, the remainder of 300 pounds he had promised her to pay when his son signed his marriage contract. When the father-in-law attempted not to honor his obligations, André Auclair forced him by submitting the case to a court of arbitration.

André Auclair was a Charlesbourg parishioner. In the wooden chapel covered with straw, he occupied the seventh bench on the epistle side, that is, the right side. To be exact, there were only nine benches on that side. When his first two children were baptized, he declared himself a resident of Saint-Bernard, but when his third child was baptized, he claimed he lived in Petite-Auvergne. One is led to believe that he had a hard time making up his mind as to where lived.

In January 1689, his father-in-law Isaac Bédard passed away. His possessions in France that he bequeathed to his children had to be recovered. Instead of his sons Jacques and Louis, his son-in-law André Auclair had to go. Not able to leave his wife alone with five children, he asked Louis Bédard to live with her. Louis replaced him as ferryman on the Saint-Charles river.

One must realize that at least between 1689 and 1692, André Auclair did not live on his farm at Petite-Auvergne, but on the land associated with the ferry, at the far end of the road which leads from Charlesbourg to Québec. That land belonged to the Jesuits, who ran a ferry service. They rented the service, the farm and the house to a farmer. The farmer provided the rowboats, the cables, the oars, and paid himself with the rights of passage. During the absence of André Auclair, Louis Bédard would do the job. On days when the latter would be occupied by some other work, Marie would substitute. All that was specified in a contract. 

The voyage to France did not take much time. Having left in the spring of 1690, André Auclair returned in the month of August. Two months later, on October 16, at sunrise, a fleet of thirty-four anglo-american boats appeared, under the command of Admiral Phips. The four largest boats anchored in front of Québec, whereas the others, that carried the troups, anchored near Beauport. The plan of the aggressor was to disembark at la Canardière and then proceed toward the city by crossing the Saint-Charles river. This crossing could only be made through fording the river, because the army was too large to use the rowboats.

Three times, on October 18, 20 and 21, in the afternoon, the British disembarked at la Canardière. Each time, a group of two hundred militiamen, trappers and American Indians barred their way. The farthest they could reach was André Auclairís third neighbor. Finally, on October 23, the cold having become threatening, the fleet withdrew. The Québécois escaped frightened.

In August 1695, Marie Bédard gave birth to a seventh son, in addition to two girls. Looking forward to establishing these boys, André Auclair increased his domain. In Saint-Bernard, he acquired a new land next to those already owned there. In 1698, he was the churchwarden in charge in his parish. Suddenly, the following year, death prevented him from realizing his many projects.

On Thursday May 14, 1699, in the Charlesbourg cemetery, André Auclair, at the age of 37, was buried. Four years later, Marie Bédard joined him at the age of 38, a victim of the smallpox epidemic that also claimed eighty-five lives in Charlesbourg. 

The death of the widow left nine orphans, all younger than 22 years old. They are, from the first marriage : Charles Huppé. From the second marriage : Étienne, Paul, André, François, Marie, Pierre, Louis and Marie-Catherine. A family meeting designated the guardians. For Charles Huppé, it will be Jacques Huppé, his uncle on the fatherís side. For the Auclair children, it will be Pierre Auclair, their uncle on the fatherís side. 

At Petite-Auvergne, the inventory after death describes a house 32 feet long and wide. The walls are made of squared trunks, one part of which is about to fall. The roof is covered with straw, and is about to fall also. As for Saint-Bernard, the inventory does not mention the existence of a house but only a shed. The inventory reveals quite an important agricultural enterprise, but the buildings do not reflect being well off. In fact, the financial situation was deplorable. When she died, the widow left behind seventeen accounts in the red, totaling 225 pounds, that is, the value of a farm.

We do not know how the sharing of the assets amoung the children took place when they had attained their majority. Finally, the land in Petite-Auvergne would be occupied by Charles Huppé. Today, this land is situated near the Bédard monument, at the corner of Isaac-Bédard Street and First Avenue in Charlesbourg. The three lands of Saint-Bernard would be occupied by the three boys who married, that is, François, Pierre and Louis. These lands are found today in the center of Saint-André de Neufchâtel, near Village des Hurons.

Only two of the sons who get married had children and their descendants are not numerous. That is why, today, only 20% of the Auclairs of America descend from André Auclair, whereas 80% descend from his brother Pierre.

© Association des Auclair d'Amérique