COUTURIER, dit Le Bourguignon, PIERRE, architect; b. c. 1665 at Arc-en-Barrois, diocese of Langres, son of Michel Couturier and Marie Guillier (?); buried 8 Jan. 1715 at Montreal.
Couturier probably came to Canada in 1697. On his arrival he entered into partnership with the masons Gilbert Maillet and Jean Deslandes, to build houses for Jean-Baptiste d’Ailleboust Des Muceaux and Jean Boudor. In 1700, alone this time, he built a house for Étienne Rocbert* de La Morandière and put up for Paul Le Moyne de Maricourt, according to his design, “the masonry foundations for a house, outbuildings, and outhouse . . . at Pres de Ville.” The absence of any mention in the archives leads us to think that Couturier’s activity was then probably limited for three or four years to works of minor importance (foundations and chimneys).
The year 1705 was marked by two important undertakings: the building of the Château de Ramezay and of the first Recollet convent in stone. In connection with the latter, Couturier was sued for bad workmanship and failure to complete it. Apparently, absorbed by the building of the Ramezay house, he neglected the work on the convent and thus, in view of his slowness, the Recollets had it continued by other masons. The difference was settled out of court.
In 1707 Couturier won the contract over two competitors for the ground floor of the new prison in Montreal. This building, the plans for which had been prepared by Dubois* Berthelot de Beaucours, was to be completed later; the first part of the undertaking comprised only the foundations, a lodge for the keeper, two cells, and latrines. The work, which was carefully done, extended over two years. At the end of 1708 Couturier entered into an agreement with the parish council of Notre-Dame to cut all the stone necessary for joining the frontispiece of the bell-tower to the façade of the parish church. He had also received that year a commission as surveyor, but he does not seem to have exercised that profession.
In 1709 and 1710 Couturier took on large-scale repair work on the half-timbered field-stone houses of Jean-Marie Bouat and Pierre Biron. The following year he built for Pierre You de La Découverte, on the Place d’Armes, a house with two storeys, a cellar, and an attic. In 1712 he built the church at Boucherville. His last work, a bridge, is known to us only through the mention made of it in the repertory of the notary Antoine Adhémar on 8 June 1712.
Although he was a master mason and stonecutter, Couturier is most often called an architect, which means that he was a master mason who was capable of preparing a plan and, merely by a simple estimate, of giving correct proportions to buildings and their outline. The various contracts that he entered into contain interesting details concerning building methods in use at the beginning of the 18th century; in another connection, his contracts of partnership with other masons and for the hiring of masons, hodmen, apprentices, and labourers (in 1713 for example he agreed to teach stone-cutting to two masons), furnish us with valuable information about the organization of labour at that time.
On 11 Jan. 1700 Couturier married Marguerite Payet of Pointe-aux-Trembles (near Montreal). They had 13 children. Two daughters married into the Janson dynasty: Charlotte, who married Louis, a stone-cutter, and Marie-Joseph, wife of Louis’ brother Dominique*, who was a king’s architect when he died.
AJM, Greffe d’Antoine Adhémar; Greffe de Michel Lepailleur de Laferté; Greffe de Pierre Raimbault; Registres des audiences (1702–1706), V, 755ff. ANDM, Registres des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures. Jug. et délib., IV, 308, 338. É.-Z. Massicotte, “Les arpenteurs de Montréal,” BRH, XXV (1919), 223; “Maçons, entrepreneurs, architectes,” BRH, XXXV (1929), 137f. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, I, 148; III, 190f.