Pierre Auclair and Marie-Madeleine Sédilot

n the marriage contract that Suzanne Aubineau signed with Mathias Campagna, it is specified that her sons Pierre and André will be fed and kept until both have reached the age of 15. At that time, Pierre was 12 years old and André 5. During the following winter, when the census taker showed up on l’île d’Orléans, Pierre was not with his family. His name appears nowhere. He finally appeared at the age of 19, when he established himself.

During the summer of 1674, he bought a land in Petite-Auvergne, south of Charlesbourg. He dedicated himself to farming, but not enough to be able to reimburse the loan on a short term basis that he had contracted. He sold his farm the following year. Two years later, he was conceded a grant at Saint-François de l’île d’Orléans, next door to his family. He remained there for only one year.

In the spring of 1678, he bought a land in Saint-Bernard, seigniory Saint-Ignace, west of Charlesbourg. This time he was satisfied and got married. The spouse he chose was Marie-Madeleine Sédilot, the oldest of a family of four children, from Sainte-Foy. 

Although her parents were poor, Marie-Madeleine had the privilege of boarding twice with the Ursulines of Québec. totaling 240 days. Not only did she learn how to read and write, but she also became a good wife. She was an exceptional mother, not only for the number of children she gave birth to, but also for the christian values she taught them.

When she got married she was only 14 and Pierre was 24. The signature on the contract took place in Québec, at one of her uncle’s homes. The bride and groom-to-be signed their contract in March, but it is highly probable that they were married in April, when Lent was over, although no one knows where and when the marriage took place.

After their wedding, it is probable that Pierre carried on with his work on the farm and the building of a temporary house. However, one is not certain that Marie-Madeleine lived there. In the fall of 1680, when the census was taken, she was at her parent’s home in Sainte-Foy. Pierre’s name did not appear anywhere. However, in the following May, in Québec, he received the sacrement of confirmation from the hands of Mgr. de Laval, bishop. Although the couple claimed to live in Charlesbourg, it is in Québec that their first two children were baptized. From 1684, their other children were baptized in Charlesbourg. This tallies with the belief that the ancestral house must have been built that year.

In 1683, Pierre Auclair bought a farm next to his, on the west side. The owner, Pierre Meunier, who was to become a rich flour grower in Québec, intended to build there. Was it possible that the plans to build an immense stone house came from him, likewise the wood that would have been used for the first stage of the construction? On this farm, the Sisters of l’Hôtel-Dieu intended to build the communal mill. The delay in the building of this mill, that was not be built until 1695, may have led Meunier to leave. The house built by Pierre Auclair still exists.

One could have believed that with two lands to bring into cultivation, Pierre would put an end to his business transactions, but not at all. Ten new contracts reveal that he continued to buy, sell, trade and rent lands. His main revenue did not come from agriculture, but from wood. He sold cedar shingles and perch fences. He made charcoal. He also made firewood and timber. 

The Auclair-Sédilot couple gave birth to seventeen children. This is not uncommon, for during the French regime no less than thirty-eight families number as many as seventeen children by the same couple. What is exceptional with the Pierre Auclair family is the number of children who dedicated their lives to the Church. Two boys became priests and five girls joined the Sisterhood, four in l’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec and one in l’Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal.

As seminarists, the two Auclair’s often met with Mgr. de Laval. Father Pierre Auclair, pastor of Saint-Augustin church, inherited a skullcap having belonged to the holy bishop. At the death of the pastor, his personnal belongings returned to the family estate in Charlesbourg.The skullcap was stored in the attic. In 1877, Father Joseph Auclair, pastor of the Québec Basilica, while on a visit to the ancestral house, learned of the existence of the relic. He obtained it and donated it to the Seminary. As a souvenir of this donation, two photographs of the skullcap were taken at the Livernois studio. These photos are kept at the Auclair-L’Heureux mansion. As for the skullcap, it is now preserved at Musée de la Civilisation in Québec.

Three of the children died at a very young age in 1703, during a smallpox epidemic. Three girls married and lived close to their parents. Two boys married. Charles settled not far from his parents and had many descendants. The parents lived a long life. All of their children left the house, except for Jean-Baptiste, the fifteenth, who inherited the paternal estate. Having married in 1733, he brought to the household a young wife who enlivened it with many children. 

Pierre Auclair died in 1741, at the age of 86. Marie-Madeleine Sédilot died in 1745, at the age of 79. Due to their longevity, we have concluded that they were endowed with exceptional vitality.

© Association des Auclair d'Amérique