PASCAUD (Pacaud), ANTOINE, prominent merchant of Montreal and La Rochelle; b. at La Prade in Angoumois, c. 1665; d. at La Rochelle in January 1717.
The son of Guillaume Pascaud and Catherine Berteau, Antoine Pascaud arrived in Canada in the early 1680s and took up residence in Montreal. In 1688 Catherine Thierry, the widow of Charles Le Moyne* de Longueuil et de Châteauguay, formed a partnership with him for a period of three years. The understanding was that Pascaud, for one-third of all the profits, would help the widow manage the business of her late husband, valued at 58,215 livres. Quite possibly, Pascaud used the money he realized during those years to begin a business of his own, for he was a prominent member of the Canadian mercantile community by the 1690s. He then supplied merchandise to the Compagnie du Nord and to such leading fur traders as Pierre Le Sueur, Antoine Laumet, dit de Lamothe Cadillac, and the Tonty brothers, Henri and Alphonse.
Pascaud played a very important role in the foundation of the Compagnie de la Colonie in 1700, which placed control of the fur trade in Canadian hands for the first time since the demise of the Compagnie des Habitants in the 1650s. In 1699 the Canadians, rather than accept the reduced price scale for beaver suggested by the farmers of the Domaine d’Occident, who held a monopoly on the purchase of the pelts, sent Pascaud and Charles Juchereau de Saint-Denys to France to obtain for the colony the right to dispose freely of its skins on the metropolitan market. Pascaud, however, did not limit himself to carrying out these instructions. To prevent a market glut he also purchased the Domaine d’Occident’s stock of unsold pelts for 350,000 livres, a sum which he borrowed from the Paris bankers Pasquier, Bourlet, et Gayot (Goy). The minister of Marine then decided that the ownership of these pelts and control of the beaver trade should be placed in the hands of a Canadian company that would issue low cost shares to enable as many settlers as possible to join it. The minister’s proposal and Pascaud’s transactions were ratified in October 1700 by an assembly of some 90 leading Canadians summoned by the governor and the intendant. Thus the Compagnie de la Colonie came into being. According to the minister, this experiment might have enabled Canada to secure the internal autonomy of a French pays d’état but it was unfortunately doomed to failure by the unfavourable economic conditions of the early 18th century. In 1704 Pascaud was again sent to France, this time by Governor Rigaud de Vaudreuil and Intendant Beauharnois* de La Chaussaye, to explain the company’s plight to the minister, but his mission was in vain. The Compagnie de la Colonie was liquidated in 1706 and the beaver monopoly was transferred to the French firm of Aubert, Néret, et Gayot.
In addition to the fur trade and his Montreal store Pascaud took an interest in lumbering and the growing of hemp, but he owned no seigneuries and does not appear to have made cash loans to the settlers. Unlike Charles Aubert de La Chesnaye, he preferred to invest in France the money he earned in Canada. Towards 1710 he moved his base of operations to La Rochelle where he took up residence with his wife and family. A partner, Pierre de Lestage*, remained in Canada to manage his affairs.
In La Rochelle Pascaud further expanded his role in the French North American trade. He obtained government contracts to supply wheat and peas to Plaisance and Acadia and, with an associate named Jacques Le Clerc, discounted at 10 per cent bills of exchange drawn on Néret and Gayot, the surviving members of the partnership formed in 1706. In 1715, this firm discovered that it lacked the funds to redeem 150,000 livres of bills of exchange held by Pascaud and Le Clerc. It therefore agreed to let the two men seize beaver shipments arriving from Canada and, in the future, to honour their bills of exchange before dealing with those held by others. News of this transaction caused a storm of protest in Canada. Merchants from Montreal and Quebec claimed that “M. Pascaud is seeking only to ruin all the businessmen of this country . . . he hopes to reduce all the merchants of this country to the necessity of directing to no others but himself the bills of exchange for the goods which they need for their trade.”
Pascaud died in La Rochelle in January 1717. He was survived by his wife, Marguerite Bouat, daughter of Abraham Bouat, an innkeeper, and Marguerite de Névellet, whom he had married in Montreal on 21 Jan. 1697, and by five of eight children. Under the very able management of the widow and the two sons, Antoine and Joseph-Marie, the affairs of the family firm continued to prosper. In 1741 it was estimated that Canadians owed approximately 450,000 livres to French merchants, of which 300,000 livres were owed to the Compagnie des Indes and the widow Pascaud. The two sons, for a time, held the monopoly of the Îles de la Madeleine (Magdalen Islands) seal fisheries and frequently acted as carriers of state supplies between France and Canada. They used part of their profits to purchase positions in the government and thus entered the ranks of the nobility of the robe. Antoine was successively a judge of the royal mint and a judge-treasurer; his brother was a judge-treasurer of the generality of La Rochelle, mayor of the city of La Rochelle from 1749 to 1750, and a secretary of the king in 1758.
AJM, Greffe d’Antoine Adhémar; Greffe de Bénigne Basset; Greffe de J.-B. Pottier. AJQ, Greffe de Louis Chambalon; Greffe de François Genaple; Greffe de Gilles Rageot. AN, Col., B, 22, ff.102v, 141–43v, 144, 145–47; 74, ff.426, 482, 483; 76, ff.389, 389v; 78, ff.303, 303v, 320, 320v; C11A, 12, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 31, 36, 76, 77, 78, 80, 125. Documents relating to Canadian currency during the French period (Shortt). Jug. et délib., III, IV, V.
F. M. Hammang, The Marquis de Vaudreuil, New France at the beginning of the eighteenth century (Bruges, 1938). Aegidius Fauteux, “La famille Pascaud,” BRH, XXXIII (1927), 84–88. Guy Frégault, “La Compagnie de la colonie,” Revue de l’université d’Ottawa, XXX (1960), 5–29, 127–49. É.-Z. Massicotte, “La famille Bouat,” BRH, XXX (1924), 10–13. P.-G. Roy, “La famille Guillimin,” BRH, XXIII (1917), 97–116. Régis Roy, “Pacaud, secrétaire du roi,” BRH, XXXIII (1927), 17–18.