SAINT-OURS, PIERRE DE, seigneur of L’Échaillon in Dauphiné in France, of Saint-Ours, Assomption, and Saint-Jean Deschaillons in New France, chevalier, captain in the Carignan-Salières regiment and in the colonial regular troops; b. October 1640 and baptized at Grenoble; d. October 1724 on his manor of Saint-Ours and buried in the parish church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint-Ours, New France.
Pierre de Saint-Ours was the son of Henri de Saint-Ours and Jeanne de Calignon. The line descended from Pierre de Saint-Ours (Petrus de Sancto Orso), first of the name, who flourished about 1330.
From 1658 he was a cadet in the Carignan-Salières regiment and the next year was appointed ensign. In January 1664 he took possession of his father’s lands. He received his commission as captain in the Carignan-Salières regiment on 7 Feb. 1665 and embarked for Canada at the end of May, arriving at Quebec with his company on 12 September. Intendant Talon* travelled with them. Saint-Ours spent the winter in the newly built fort at Sorel. He appears to have gone with Prouville* de Tracy’s expedition against the Iroquois in 1666.
On 8 Jan. 1668 Saint-Ours married Marie Mullois, daughter of Thomas Mullois, at Champlain; eleven children were born of this union. About the time of his marriage he was invested with the seigneury of Saint-Ours, extending from the St Lawrence River south to the Yamaska River and lying between the lands of his brother officers M. de Saurel* and M. Pécaudy* de Contrecœur; title was granted Saint-Ours on 29 Oct. 1672. Shortly afterwards he received another seigneury on the Assomption River. In 1687 he inherited the seigneury of Saint-Jean Deschaillons, near the River Duchesne. Saint-Ours built a manor-house of timber on the St Lawrence and some of his soldiers settled around him. Saint-Ours-sur-Richelieu and its neighbours were devastated by the Iroquois in 1691. The development of the seigneury was very slow; a bannal mill was not erected until 1703.
Saint-Ours commanded a detachment in Louis Buade* de Frontenac’s expedition to Lake Ontario in 1673, when Fort Cataracoui (Frontenac) was built. He sometimes engaged in trade: there is a record dated 1678 of his having a booth at the annual fair in Montreal which welcomed the fur flotilla of the Ottawas. That year he figured among the notables of the colony, being summoned to Montreal or Quebec to serve on advisory committees to the governor or intendant. In 1679 he was sent by Frontenac to command at Chambly in an attempt to inhibit trade in alcoholic liquors with New England. While there he was himself admonished for trading.
At the end of 1686 the governor general, Jacques-René de Brisay de Denonville, reported that many families, even noble ones, were living in extreme poverty. He stated that the Saint-Ours, with ten children, had lacked wheat for eight months of the year. Saint-Ours planned to go to France to take up military service; after receiving a grant of 100 écus, however, he stayed in the colony. In 1687 he was given the rank of captain and command of a company of colonial regular troops. Since most of these were quartered in Montreal, he decided to move there. Nuns of the Hôtel-Dieu granted him a lot on Rue Notre- Dame, where a one-storey timber house was erected for 1,000 livres. A stone residence appears to have been built later.
During Phips*’ siege of Quebec in 1690 Frontenac entrusted Saint-Ours with the command of a battalion, and from 1693 he was senior captain of the colonial regular troops. The next year he obtained leave and went to France to rebuild his health by taking the waters. On his return in 1695 he was sent by Callière to the head of Lac des Deux-Montagnes to ambush an Iroquois party; however, it evaded him. Saint-Ours, at the head of his company, led the funeral procession of Kondiaronk, great leader of the Michilimackinac Hurons, in August 1701. The king, on 14 June 1704, named Saint-Ours knight of the order of Saint-Louis. When he retired from military service on 9 June 1708 with a pension of 600 livres, his son Jean-Baptiste* took over his company.
Saint-Ours’ first wife died in 1705. Having been thwarted in a wish to marry a 17-year-old girl, he married Marguerite Legardeur, daughter of Charles Legardeur* de Tilly and widow of an army captain, on 29 July 1708 at Batiscan. In 1710 he rented his house in Montreal and retired to the seigneury. At this time the War of the Spanish Succession was raging and his pension often fell into arrears. He sold his Montreal house in 1716 for 4,500 livres. The following year he was included in the list of recipients of trading permits, obtaining one jointly with Madame de Saurel. As was the custom, this was sold; each received 1,000 livres.
In May 1723, he sent Chaussegros* de Léry, the husband of one of his grand-daughters, to the Château Saint-Louis to swear fealty and homage on his behalf for the seigneury of l’Assomption, stating that he himself could not come because of illness and age. He died in October 1724 on his manor of Saint-Ours.
Pierre de Saint-Ours abandoned a military career and hereditary estates in France to seek his fortune in the New World. His reward was meagre. On at least three occasions, in 1679, 1706, and 1708, he sought preferment or public office in vain; and his colonization efforts did not prosper. Nonetheless, he established his family name in New France and created one manor in that chain of about a hundred that the Carignan-Salières officers built in the new land. There is a bust of Saint-Ours, by Elzéar Soucy, in the village of Saint-Ours, Quebec. The bust was unveiled in 1922; the likeness is probably imaginary.
Two sons of his union with Marie Mullois made a name for themselves: Jean-Baptiste*, known as Saint-Ours Deschaillons, and his brother Pierre both entered military service. Three of the daughters made good marriages: Jeanne with François-Antoine Pécaudy* de Contrecoeur; Marie-Anne with Jean de Mine; and Élisabeth with Claude-Charles Le Roy de La Potherie.
AN, Col., C11A, 8, f.144; 13, f.379; D2C, 222, f.128. PAC, FM 8, F 80, 1. “Correspondance de Frontenac,” APQ Rapport, 1926–27, 108f., 126f., 136; 1927–28, 192. “Correspondance de Vaudreuil,” APQ Rapport, 1938–39, 15, 18, 27, 32, 96, 99; 1939–40, 420, 434; 1942–43, 436. Jug. et délib., I, 777–79, 943, 1002; III, 1020f.; V, 114f., 138, 308. P.-G. Roy, “Ce que Callières pensait de nos officiers,” 331; Inv. concessions, I, 171–73, 175; II, 171; III, 14f., 122, 175f. Royal Fort Frontenac (Preston et Lamontagne), 482. Azarie Couillard-Després, Histoire de la seigneurie de St-Ours (2v., Montréal, 1915), I. Claude de Bonnault, “Généalogie de la famille de Saint-Ours, Dauphiné et Canada,” BRH, LV (1949), 27–43, 97–110, 168–72. Germain Lesage, “L’arrivée du régiment de Carignan,” Revue de l’Université d’Ottawa, XXXV (1965), 11–34. É.-Z. Massicotte, “La foire des pelleteries à Montréal au XVIIe siècle,” BRH, XXVIII (1922), 376. J.-E. Roy, “Le patronage dans l’armée,” BRH, II (1896), 116.
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