RAYMOND, JEAN-BAPTISTE, businessman, seigneur, politician, jp, office holder, and militia officer; b. 6 Dec. 1757 in Saint-Roch-des-Aulnaies (Que.), only surviving child of Jean-Baptiste-Moyse de Rémond and Marie-Françoise Damours de Louvières; d. 19 March 1825 in La Prairie, Lower Canada.
Jean-Baptiste Raymond’s parents may have been Huguenots, but Jean-Baptiste was necessarily baptized Roman Catholic, Protestantism being officially banned in New France. Raymond evidently received some education, since he was literate; he was probably unilingual. Possibly at the age of 12, he left for the upper country, where, according to a descendant, Henri Masson, “he had to endure great suffering and was riddled with injuries.”
Raymond came back east in 1783, and on 6 Sept. 1784 he married Marie-Clotilde Girardin, daughter of the Montreal merchant Charles-François Girardin. By then Raymond was established as a merchant at La Tortue (Saint-Mathieu), a settlement he had founded in the parish of Saint-Philippe-de-Laprairie. His commercial activities seem to have been diversified. Initially, he was involved in a dry-goods business, selling manufactured and household wares in return for payment in specie or in kind, probably wheat. In 1785 he owed £400 to the firm of King and McCord [see Thomas McCord] and 11,500 livres to a merchant and personal friend, Charles Larrivé, both of Montreal, for goods purchased on credit; the debts took six years to repaet, by the mid 1790s, Raymond was extending substantial credit in the La Prairie-La Tortue region. In 1796 he participated in a speculative venture envisaging the sale of gunpowder in the United States. He appears, however, to have over-extended himself. In June 1796 he sold the seigneury of Lac-Matapédia (left to him, along with a lot in Quebec, by his mother) to Patrick Langan for £700, of which £250 was to be paid to John McKindlay, a Montreal merchant, for liquidation of a debt. Yet in early 1797 McKindlay obtained judgement against Raymond for non-payment. The sale to Langan was annulled and the seigneury seized by the sheriff of Quebec and offered at auction on 26 September; Langan repurchased it, and McKindlay acquired one undivided third of the property from Langan, probably as payment of Raymond’s debt.
Raymond seems to have bounced back quickly. In 1801 he purchased a lot in La Prairie, and soon after, perhaps because of actual or expected growth in his commercial interests, he moved his family from La Tortue to the town. Between 1805 and 1810 he took his son Jean-Moïse* into partnership in the dry-goods business, and Jean-Baptiste Raymond et Fils became one of the most prosperous commercial establishments of the region. By this time Raymond was crippled and chronically ill, possibly as a result of the injuries he had sustained as a fur trader, and he began to depend heavily on his son to run the business. The firm became involved in sawmills and potash processing in the first decades of the 19th century and probably dealt widely in wheat. Complementing Raymond’s mercantile activities were extensive real-estate acquisitions; from 1810 he concentrated his property holdings in and around La Prairie, where he eventually rivalled the notary Edme Henry* as the largest property owner. In 1814 he was able to give Jean-Moïse, as an advance on his inheritance, a house, store, and warehouse in La Prairie, all of stone and valued at £750. Three years later his daughter Clotilde and her husband, Paul-Théophile Pinsonaut, received in a similar manner land and also two potasheries worth 12,000 livres. In 1818, when another daughter, Marie-Geneviève-Sophie, married the young and ambitious merchant Joseph Masson*, Masson was congratulated by his Scottish associate, Hugh Robertson: “On the whole I feel convinced that you could not have found a more prudent connection, as Mr Raymond is a good worthy man and highly respectable; it therefore meets my warmest approbation.”
Raymond had already achieved local prominence by 1800, when he was elected along with Joseph-François Perrault* to the House of Assembly for Huntingdon County, replacing Joseph Périnault*. Four years later he was re-elected, his fellow deputy being Sir Alexander Mackenzie*. His attendance in the assembly was sporadic, however; his participation on committees related to trade reflected his expertise and interest, but it seems that personal business affairs remained his preoccupation. Indicative of his local prominence were his commission of the peace, received in August 1803 and renewed in November 1812, and his appointment to a commission for the improvement of internal communications for Huntingdon in 1817. In 1812 he was made a captain in Boucherville’s 1st Militia Battalion. When in 1822 opposition to a planned union of Lower and Upper Canada was organized in the lower province by the Canadian party, Raymond was elected chairman, and Jean-Moïse secretary, of a meeting held in Huntingdon to protest the project.
Of the 17 children born to Raymond and his wife only seven – a boy and six girls – survived into adolescence. Marriage into the colonial élite, Canadian and British, was the rule: all the daughters married professionals or merchants. Raymond died in 1825 and, as befitted a man of his standing in La Prairie, he was buried in the parish church. His widow married Edme Henry three years later.
Jean-Baptiste Raymond’s business activities, family connections, and public roles, which place him among the petite bourgeoisie of Lower Canada, follow patterns common to local, pre-industrial élites everywhere. Studies of other members of this class may reveal a good deal of the social and economic history of the colony and indeed of pre-industrial Canada generally.
ANQ-M, CE1-51, 6 sept. 1784; CE1-54, 22 mars 1825; CN1-47, 1791–94; CN1-74, 1796; CN1-107, 1811–17; CN1-128, 1785; CN1-134, 1821–28; CN1-200, 1795–1800; CN1-327, 1805–21. AP, Saint-Roch-des-Aulnaies, reg. des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures, 7 déc. 1757. PAC, RG 68, General index, 1651–1841: 196, 633. L.C., House of Assembly, Journals, 1801–8. Can., Prov. of, Legislative Assembly, App. to the journals, 1843, app.F. Quebec Gazette, 23 March 1797; 24 July 1800; 27 Dec. 1804; 26 March, 8 Oct., 12 Nov. 1812; 22 May, 3 July 1817; 10 Sept., 22 Oct. 1818; 7 Jan., 1 July, 23 Dec. 1819; 3 Oct. 1822; 9, 16 Jan. 1823. Desjardins, Guide parl., 130. Inventaire des actes notariés du village de Laprairie, 1670–1860, Michel Aubin, compil. (s.l., 1975). Mariages de Laprairie (N.-D.-de-la Prairie-de-la Madeleine), 1670–1968, Irénée Jetté et Benoît Pontbriand, compil. (Québec, 1970), 232–34. Officers of British forces in Canada (Irving), 190. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, 4: 85–86. Henri Masson, Joseph Masson, dernier seigneur de Terrebonne, 1791–1847 (Montréal, 1972). J.-D. Michaud, Notes historiques sur la vallée de la Matapédia (Val-Brillant, Qué., 1922), 137. L.-P. Desrosiers, “Montréal soulève la province,” Cahiers des Dix, 8 (1943): 85. Hare, “L’Assemblée législative du Bas-Canada,” RHAF, 27: 376, 379. J.-J. Lefebvre, “Jean-Baptiste Raymond (1757–1825), député de Huntingdon (Laprairie), 1800–1808,” BRH, 58 (1952): 59–72.