VACHON, PAUL, mason, seigneurial notary, seigneurial attorney, and clerk of court; b. c. 1630 at La Copechagnière (province of Poitou), son of Vincent Vachon and Sapience Vateau; d. 24 June 1703 at Beauport.
Paul Vachon is supposed to have come to Canada around 1650, at the age of 20. According to a family tradition, he arrived with a few gold pieces sewn into the lining of his coat. On 22 Oct. 1653, at Quebec, he married Marguerite Langlois, who was born in 1639 at Beauport; they had 12 children. Vachon was a mason by trade; in 1654, in association with Mathurin Roy, he was entrusted with the building of the chapel and the sick-ward of the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec, the first stone of which was laid on 15 Oct. 1654 by the governor-general, Jean de Lauson*. Vachon was perhaps already living in the small town of Fargy, in the Beauport seigneury, where on 4 June 1655 Joseph Giffard made him a land grant of ten acres, of which he officially took possession on 23 Jan. 1656. These ten acres were doubled by another grant, made in an act dated 29 Dec. 1664.
It has been stated that the first notarial document received by Vachon bears the date of 24 March 1658, but in the archives of the Conscil Souverain there is reference to an act of 23 Oct. 1655, signed by Vachon in his capacity as notary of Notre-Dame-des-Anges. In 1659 Vachon also became notary of Beauport. He was already seigneurial attorney of the Lirec and Île d’Orléans seigneuries. In the same period he acted as secretary to Charles de Lauson* de Charny, taking care of his seigneurial land grants. Vachon was the first notary of the Île d’Orléans, where he practised in 1659 and 1660. About the same time he became, in addition, court clerk of the Beauport and Notre-Dame-des-Anges seigneuries. He certainly appears to have been the one indispensable man east of Quebec.
In 1667 two exceptional commissions were to be entrusted to him in quick succession: on 3 November Marie-Barbe de Boullongne*, Governor General d’Ailleboust*’s widow, appointed him seigneurial attorney and notary in her Argentenay fief on the Île d’Orléans; a week later, on 10 November, Bishop Laval named him to the same offices in his Beauport and Île d’Orléans seigneuries. The appointment which he had received from Bishop Laval was renewed on 25 April 1681 for the Île d’Orléans by François Berthelot, so that Vachon carried on his profession at Beaupré and on the Île d’Orléans, as well as at Beauport and Notre-Dame-des-Anges, until he retired in 1693.
Paul Vachon did not forget, however, that he came from country stock, and never failed to work his land. In 1666 he had an “indentured domestic,” Michel Aubin, 22 years of age, who probably did the farm work; in 1667 Vachon owned 7 head of cattle and 20 acres under cultivation; in 1681 he still had a domestic, Pierre, 61 years old, and owned 2 muskets, 1 pistol, 13 head of cattle, and 35 acres under cultivation. In addition to his land at Beauport, he had another four acres on the Île d’Orléans, which were worked by a farmer. In 1667 this had become eight acres under cultivation. Vachon, who had obtained the land from Charles de Lauson de Charny on 12 Aug. 1660, sold it to Denis Roberge on 14 Sept. 1678.
An exemplary settler, a craftsman, a farmer, and a law officer at one and the same time, Paul Vachon experienced the grief of seeing his family afflicted by the small-pox epidemic of 1702–3. He had been a widower since 24 Sept. 1697, and in six months he lost four of his children, one daughter-in-law, and six grandchildren. He himself succumbed to the scourge on 24 June 1703, only a few hours after his daughter Marguerite, who had married his successor, the notary and clerk of court Jean-Robert Duprac. He was buried the next day at Beauport.
AQ, NF, Coll. de pièces jud. et not., 321/2. ASQ, Documents Faribault, 108, 117a; Polygraphie, III, 131, 131a. Juchereau, Annales (Jamet), 89. Jug. et délib. Recensement du Canada, 1666 (APQ Rapport). Recensements du Canada, 1667, 1681 (Sulte). “Les notaires au Canada,” 272f. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, I, 578. Jean Langevin, Notes sur les archives de N.-D. de Beauport (2v., Québec, 1860–63). J.-E. Roy, Histoire du notariat, I. Vachon, Histoire du notariat, 13, 22. “Le premier notaire de l’Île d’Orléans,” BRH, XXXIV (1928), 272f. Léon Roy, “Les terres de l’Île d’Orléans,” APQ Rapport, 1953–55, 21.