HAZEUR, FRANÇOIS, prominent Quebec merchant and entrepreneur, seigneur, member of the Compagnie du Nord and the Compagnie de la Colonie, councillor in the Conseil Supérieur; b. in France, c. 1638; d. in Quebec, 28 June 1708.
The son of François Hazeur, a bourgeois of Brouage, and Marie Proust, he immigrated to Canada in the late 1660s with two brothers, Jean-François, Sieur de Petit-Marais, and Léonard, Sieur Des Ormeaux, and two sisters, Madeleine and Marie-Anne. They were joined by their mother and younger sister, Jeanne-Louise, following the death of their father about 1672. Jean-François and Léonard went into commerce. Of the three sisters, Jeanne-Louise and Madeleine became nuns at the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec, and Marie-Anne married Jean Sébille, a Quebec merchant.
François took up residence in Quebec where, on 21 Nov. 1672, he married Anne Soumande, daughter of the merchant Pierre Soumande and Simonne Côté. His business relations included the La Rochelle merchants Jean Gitton and Jean Grignon, Philippe Gaultier* de Comporté, and his father-in-law. It may have been with their support that he opened a store in Quebec, which soon became a flourishing enterprise, and that he began to engage in the fur trade. By the early 1680s, Hazeur had become a prominent member of the Canadian business community. He was particularly active in the fur trade, equipping numerous canoes for the west and purchasing fur-trading licences (congés) from the original grantees. When the Compagnie du Nord was formed in 1682 for the purpose of exploiting the Hudson Bay trade, Hazeur lost no time in joining its ranks. His investment of 17,521 livres in 1691 was the fourth in importance, after those of the Compagnie de la Ferme, Charles Aubert de La Chesnaye, and Jacques Le Ber.
In 1688 and 1689, Hazeur began to diversify his economic activities. He formed a partnership with Soumande and Grignon which acquired control of the seigneury of Malbaie, a thickly wooded area containing many types of timber suitable for naval construction. Under the management of the three partners, the seigneury soon became the chief Canadian centre of the lumber industry. Two sawmills were built on the site, sheds and buildings put up, roads opened, and 25 to 30 workers employed in the enterprise. In 1689 Hazeur reported that the seigneury could produce annually 30,000 feet of plank, 2,000 feet of sheathing, and up to 100 masts.
Unfortunately the enterprise did not prosper, although two carpenters sent from France in 1687 had pronounced the wood to be of good quality. In 1692, Hazeur stated that he and his partners had spent 85,000 livres to date and recovered only a small part of their investment. Many factors had caused this state of affairs. In the spring of 1690 flooding had severely damaged the installations, and further destruction had been wrought in the fall of that year by the English expedition which was on its way to attack Quebec. The greatest handicap of all, however, appears to have been a lack of adequate transportation facilities, which prevented the partners from making sizable shipments to France. As a result, wood which had been cut for three years was still in storage and wasting away for want of a market. To correct the situation, Hazeur asked the king to place one or two of his large flutes at the partners’ disposal every year; failure to do this, he warned, would probably compel them to abandon the venture.
By the late 1690s, Hazeur’s interests had shifted from lumbering to other areas of the economy. On 20 Sept. 1697, he and Denis Riverin were granted the seigneury of Anse-de-l’Étang, in the lower St Lawrence, where they planned to exploit a slate quarry. Neither man, however, took an active interest in the development of this seigneury; they had become too involved in other projects. On 16 Feb. 1701, Hazeur had formed a partnership with Charles Denys de Vitré and Pierre Peire to engage in the porpoise fisheries in the section of the St Lawrence facing Rivière Ouelle and Kamouraska. The crown granted them a five-year monopoly as well as an annual gratuity of 550 livres. Following the death of Vitré on 9 Jan. 1703, the two surviving partners received additional support in the form of fishing equipment and in 1705 their monopoly was renewed for 15 years. This enterprise, however, met with the same ill fortune as Hazeur’s venture into lumbering. By 1704, he and Peire had incurred expenses of 50,000 livres, and two years later their debts had risen to 60,000 livres. In 1707, they were in serious difficulty. Production was down to 40 barrels of oil and the minister informed Hazeur that the product was defective and overpriced.
From 1705, Hazeur also had fishing interests in Newfoundland. In that year he was granted the seigneury of Portachoix on the northwestern shore of the island and he entered into a partnership with a habitant named Pierre Constantin* who agreed to settle there to hunt and fish. How this enterprise fared financially is not known but it appears never to have been more than a minor operation.
Hazeur had also retained important interests in the fur trade. On 22 Oct. 1693, he formed an association with La Chesnaye, Charles Macard, Jean Le Picard, François Viennay-Pachot* and Jean Gobin, which acquired the lease of the Tadoussac trade from a Paris bourgeois named Jean-François Chalmette. In 1700, the ownership of the Tadoussac domain passed to the newly formed Compagnie de la Colonie of which Hazeur had become a shareholder. Soon afterwards, the company leased it to Hazeur and Riverin for a period of eight years at 12,700 livres per year. Hazeur made a substantial effort to restore the trade of this region which had been stagnating for many years before. Unfortunately, economic conditions in the early 18th century did not lend themselves to such an operation. The beaver trade was severely depressed, and the hazards facing navigation as a result of the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession were causing a sizable increase in the price of trade goods. By 1708, Hazeur had lost between 40,000 and 50,000 livres in the Tadoussac trade and his sons claimed that this was the principal cause of his financial ruin.
The only enterprise which apparently showed a steady profit during all these years and which probably was the source of capital for most of Hazeur’s other undertakings was his Quebec store. His customers, like those of La Chesnaye, came from every walk of life and were scattered over the whole colony. In May and June 1695, 13 recognizances, representing a total sum of 20,202 livres, to cover important credit transactions were passed before the Montreal notary Bénigne Basset* alone. In February 1708, it had become necessary for Hazeur to appoint a manager, Pierre Normandin, to look after his affairs in Montreal, Trois-Rivières, Batiscan, and Champlain.
Meantime, Hazeur had become a respected and prominent member of Canadian society. His house on the Place Royale in Lower Town was reportedly the finest in Quebec. He was much esteemed by the religious orders for his frequent acts of generosity and also by Governor Frontenac [Buade*] who, on his deathbed, named him and Charles de Monseignat co-executors of his last will and testament. In 1703, Hazeur was appointed to the Conseil Supérieur in place of the deceased La Chesnaye and he acquitted himself very well of his new duties. According to Jacques Raudot, Hazeur had worked hard to familiarize himself with the functions of his office and he soon became the equal of the more experienced councillors.
Hazeur died insolvent on 28 June 1708, “missed by everyone because of his merit, his virtue, and his uprightness,” according to Philippe de Rigaud de Vaudreuil and Raudot. He was survived by his second wife, Élisabeth Barbe, the daughter of Sylvain Barbe, a bailiff of the Châtelet de Paris, and Jeanne Girardin, whom he had married in Quebec on 16 Jan. 1696, four years after the death of his first wife, and by five of 13 children, all of them born of his first marriage. These included Jean-François, lawyer in the parlement of Paris, Joseph-Thierry*, priest of the parish of Saint-François on Île d’Orléans and subsequently a member of the chapter of Quebec, and Pierre, who became known as Canon Hazeur* de L’Orme. He was appointed parish priest of Champlain in 1707 and, like his brother before him, became a member of the chapter of Quebec in 1722. Marie-Anne-Ursule, the sole surviving daughter, married the king’s surgeon Michel Sarrazin.
For over 30 years François Hazeur had been one of New France’s most important and enterprising businessmen and he might have amassed considerable wealth had it not been for his disastrous ventures into lumbering, fishing and the Tadoussac trade. His failure in these areas should not be imputed primarily to any personal shortcomings but to the unfavourable economic conditions of the period.
AJM, Greffe d’Antoine Adhémar; Greffe d’Hilaire Bourgine, Greffe de Claude Maugue. AJQ, Greffe de Romain Becquet; Greffe de Louis Chambalon; Greffe de Pierre Duquet; Greffe de François Genaple; Greffe de Gilles Rageot. AJTR, Greffe de J.-B. Pottier. AN, Col., B, 16, 23, 27, 29, 42; C11A, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 22, 24, 27, 28, 29, 125; C11G, 3; F3, 6, 7, 8, 9. “Correspondance de Frontenac (1689–99),” APQ Rapport, 1927–28. “Correspondance de Vaudreuil,” APQ Rapport, 1938–39; 1939–40; 1946–47; 1947–48. Juchereau, Annales (Jamet). Jug. et délib. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, III, IV; Inv. ord. int., I.
Fauteux, Essai sur l’industrie sous le régime français. P.-G. Roy, La ville de Québec. E. H. Borins, “La Compagnie du Nord, 1682–1700,” unpublished M.A. thesis, McGill University, 1968. N.-E. Dionne, “Les caveaux de la basilique Notre-Dame de Québec,” BRH, IV (1898), 130–34. “La famille Hazeur,” BRH, XLI (1935), 321–49. P.-G. Roy, “Charles Denys de Vitré, conseiller au Conseil souverain,” BRH, XXIV (1918), 225–42; “Notes sur François Hazeur,” BRH, XXXII (1926), 705–11. Victor. Tremblay, “Le moulin de Hazeur,” BRH, LV (1949), 123–25.