LA MARCHE, DOMINIQUE DE (baptized François), priest, Recollet, missionary, superior of the Recollets in Acadia, provincial commissioner; b. c. 1677 in France; d. 14 Nov. 1738 at Montargis (Loiret).
In 1701 La Marche was ordained a priest at Rouen, and upon being appointed lecturer in philosophy at the convent in Quebec he arrived in Canada in 1702. He returned to France in 1703 or 1704, then finally came back to Canada in 1705. He left Montreal in June 1706 to go to Detroit with Cadillac [Laumet]; the register of baptisms shows that he was there on 16 Aug. 1706; he remained there until 29 July 1708. In 1709 he was vicar of the convent and professor of philosophy at Quebec. He was then appointed superior of the Recollets on Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), where he arrived 27 Aug. 1713. There he was a member of a committee which had been created to choose a port for a French settlement. The following persons: L’Hermitte, Saint-Ovide de Brouillan [Monbeton*], Jean-Baptiste de Couagne, Péan* de Livaudière, Eury de La Perelle, Jacques d’Espiet de Pensens, Louis Denys* de La Ronde, and Father Dominique de La Marche, chose Havre à L’Anglois, which was to be called Louisbourg.
After the treaty of Utrecht in 1713, it was on Île Royale, which remained a French possession, that Father La Marche made his mark because of the numerous reports that he sent to the civil and religious authorities. He visited the principal French posts in Acadia, which had become an English possession, including Port-Toulouse (St Peters, N.S.) and Minas, where he met the leading families of the area. Following these meetings, and in his capacity as superior of the Recollets and vicar general to the bishop of Quebec, on 7 Sept. 1715 he sent to Pastour de Costebelle, governor of Île Royale, a report in which he spoke of the Acadians’ loyalty to France and their transfer to Île Royale. Afterwards he belonged to a commission of envoys which was responsible for presenting the Acadians’ interests to the English and the French authorities. His attempts did not obtain the results that he hoped for. Although the voluntary emigration of the Acadians to Île Royale had been authorized by letter by Queen Anne of England, the authorities on both sides did not lend their cooperation to this project. According to Father La Marche, the Acadians were not to blame for failing to go to Île Royale; it was in good measure the fault of Governor Costebelle, who had decided that the Acadians would remain where they were.
On 2 Jan. 1716 La Marche arrived at Port-Dauphin (Englishtown, N.S.) as chaplain, and he lost no time in building a chapel there. From 1721 to 1,726 he was provincial commissioner of the Recollets in Canada. In 1728 he returned to France, where he lived at Montargis, as certain documents mention. It was there that he died on 14 Nov. 1738. The financial commissary, Soubras, had praised him as follows: “A man of genius, active, adroit, and fitted to direct and manage minds.”
Archives des Franciscains de Québec, Dossier Dominique de La Marche. AN, Col., B, 39, ff.298v, 302v; C11A, 106, ff.276–84; C11B, 1. ff.259, 415; 2, ff.30, 36–42, 96; C11D, 8, f.40; F3, 50, f.8. L.-M. Le Jeune, Tableaux synoptiques de l’histoire de l’Acadie . . . (Québec, 1918). McLennan, Louisbourg.
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