CHARLY SAINT-ANGE, LOUIS, merchant, fur-trader, entrepreneur, seigneur, syndic of Montreal merchants; b. 28 Feb. 1703, in Montreal, son of Jean-Baptiste Charly* Saint-Ange and Marie-Charlotte Le Conte Dupré; d. probably late 1767 or early 1768 in Saumur, France.
Louis Charly Saint-Ange and his older brother Jacques continued their father’s Montreal merchandising and fur trade business after his death in 1728. They were soon in a legal dispute with their stepmother, Louise-Catherine d’Ailleboust de Manthet, who was acting for their infant half-brother Jean-Baptiste-François, over their father’s estate of almost 74,000 livres, excluding real estate. Louise-Catherine claimed that capital invested in the western trade was part of her communauté de biens, and should belong to her son. In 1730–31 a preliminary agreement divided the assets equally among the three brothers. It took Louis and Jacques four years to sort out their accounts and propose an equitable sharing of the assets. Louise-Catherine’s new husband, Pierre-Jacques Payen* de Noyan, disputed the division of interest charges, but the Montreal court generally upheld the fairness of the brothers’ accounts.
Louis and Jacques separated in 1732 when both married into the colonial nobility. Louis Charly married Ursule, daughter of René Godefroy* de Tonnancour, on 22 Jan. 1732 at Trois-Rivières. The following year he lent 18,178 livres 4 sols to his brother-in-law, Jean-Baptiste-Nicolas-Roch de Ramezay*, commander at Chagouamigon (near Ashland, Wis.) on Lake Superior, one of the more lucrative trading posts in the west. The same year, 1733, Charly invested more than 25,000 livres in the copper mining venture on Lake Superior of Louis Denys de La Ronde, successor to Ramezay as commander at Chagouamigon. This, the most substantial investment of Charly’s life, attached him for 17 years to the fortunes of La Ronde and his inheritors.
Denys de La Ronde had been granted the fur trade monopoly at Chagouamigon in 1733 as a means of financing the copper mine. But after six years of optimistic reports the mother lode remained undiscovered and the scattered ore samples were impractical to exploit; in 1740 Maurepas, the minister of Marine, withdrew support. Charly’s unredeemed investment stood at 30,000 livres in 1743. At the beginning he had doubtless hoped the venture would succeed, but had relied upon La Ronde’s trade monopoly at Chagouamigon to cover his investment. Whether Charly lost heavily on the venture is not clear, but La Ronde’s widow, Marie-Louise Chartier de Lotbinière, and son were granted an extension of their trade monopoly (this time paying for the privilege) until 1749 for the purpose of paying their debts. Charly’s part in this new venture seems to have been that of financier. He continually lent money to the La Rondes during the 1730s and 1740s, and reaped interest regularly. If they had nothing to show for their efforts, Charly likely emerged unscathed.
On 27 Dec. 1734 Charly was elected churchwarden of the parish of Montreal. He refused to accept what was then an obligatory, burdensome honour on the grounds that he had too many pressing business affairs. After a year during which he failed to perform his duties the parish obtained a court order compelling him to do so. He had refused a similar nomination in 1729, and the parish priest and the Montreal judge must have felt that his excuses were no longer valid.
Until 1755, the year of his last recorded involvement in the western trade, Charly concentrated on the northern posts of Michilimackinac, Chagouamigon, Sault Ste Marie, Nipigon (near the mouth of the Nipigon River), and occasionally Kaministiquia (Thunder Bay, Ont.) and Michipicoton. Beginning in 1747, however, he also invested in the trade at Detroit, Rivière Blanche, and the Miami post (at or near Fort Wayne, Ind.). Initially, he may have done so to fulfil the trade obligations which his brother Jacques had assumed at these posts. Jacques had died in 1746 and Charly was executor of his estate and guardian of his two children. The colonial authorities, confronting an Indian uprising at Detroit aggravated by a shortage of trade goods, were anxious to find traders willing to exploit that post.
As syndic of the Montreal merchants in 1744 Charly signed a petition, along with the syndic of Quebec, Pierre Trottier Desauniers, complaining about the poor protection afforded Canadian maritime commerce by the French navy. In 1749–50 he was captain of militia in Montreal.
Louis Charly Saint-Ange, never having left the colony before, took his family to France after the conquest. Before departing in 1764 he sold his entire Canadian estate to William Grant for 100,000 livres, payable in four equal annual instalments. The estate included his house on Rue Saint-Paul, a garden plot outside Montreal, some land on Île Sainte-Thérèse, the small seigneury of Îles Bourdon (purchased in 1751), and Île aux Canards, all the islands being located near Montreal. Hard pressed financially, William Grant was late in some of his payments. In 1768 when he had paid only about two-thirds, Charly’s widow, living in Saumur where Charly had died shortly before, launched a suit against him in the Court of Common Pleas in Montreal. The case quickly bogged down in the confusion enveloping the court system of Quebec in the 1760s. Grant defended himself by reneging on the contract, claiming that at the time of sale he was a minor under French law (under 25 years). Charly’s widow retorted that he was of age under English law (21 years) and therefore the contract was valid. Grant also apparently accused Charly of falsely representing the Île aux Canards as a seigneury, rather than as a simple roturial concession, and the case was held up in court over procedural technicalities. In 1772 Charly’s widow implored the Duc d’Aiguillon, French minister of foreign affairs, to make official representations in London. As a result the Earl of Dartmouth requested Lieutenant Governor Hector-Théophilus Cramahé* in Quebec to investigate the affair. Cramahé was aware of the case but was pessimistic, and thought a settlement out of court would be the most practical resolution. This probably occurred as there is no further record of the case.
AN, Col., B, 64, ff.439v–40; 65, ff.424v–25; 68, ff.298, 303v; 70, ff.361v–62; 72, f.385; 81, ff.308–9; C11A, 61, ff.75–78; 63, f.464v; 67, ff.66, 125v; 79, ff.92–93; 82, ff.338–43; C11E, 13, pp.277–84 (PAC transcripts). ANQ, Greffe de Jacques Barbel, 30 oct. 1736; Greffe de C.-H. Du Laurent, 14 mai 1744, 26 jan. 1751, 27 août 1757; Greffe de J.-N. Pinguet de Vaucour, 21 oct. 1734; NF, Documents de la juridiction de Montréal, VI, 60f., 67v–69, 160–61; X, 16v–18; NF, Coll. de pièces jud. et not., 1437, 1481, 2442, 3619, 3866, 3909. PRO, CO 42/32, f.1; 42/35, f.157. Bonnault, “Le Canada militaire,” APQ Rapport, 1949–51, 443–44. “Les congés de traite sous le regime français au Canada,” APQ Rapport, 1922–23, 222, 224. Massicotte, “Répertoire des engagements pour l’Ouest,” APQ Rapport, 1929–30; 1930–31; 1931–32. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, II, 119, 265; Inv. jug. et délib., 1717–1760. Tanguay, Dictionnaire. J.-N. Fauteux, Essai sur l’industrie, I, 11, 33–34. P.-G. Roy, La famille Charly Saint-Ange (Lévis, Qué., 1945).