BIZARD, JACQUES, town-major of Montreal 1677–92, one-time aide-de-camp to Buade de Frontenac, gave his name to the large island in the Lac des Deux-Montagnes on the northwest side of the island of Montreal; b. Neuchâtel, Switzerland, in 1642, son of David Bizard, a Calvinist minister, and Guillemette Robert; d. 5 Dec. 1692.
He served in Crete as an officer in the Meuron regiment which was fighting with the Venetian forces against the Turks. While there, in 1669, he came to the notice of the Comte de Frontenac who was also serving with the Venetian forces, as a lieutenant-general. Frontenac acquired Bizard as one of his aides-de-camp. This was an unfortunate move for Bizard as shortly afterwards Frontenac was summarily dismissed from the Venetian service, with his aides-de-camp, and obliged to return to the mainland in September 1669. Frontenac later claimed that during the three months that Bizard served with him he succeeded in converting him from the Calvinist to the Roman Catholic faith.
Subsequently, Bizard obtained a commission as ensign with the Swiss mercenary troops serving with the French army but resigned his commission to accompany Frontenac to Canada in 1672 as a lieutenant in the governor’s corps of guards. The following year Frontenac sent Bizard to Montreal to arrest certain coureurs de bois and in carrying out these orders Bizard deliberately provoked the governor of Montreal, François-Marie Perrot, into arresting him. This incident provided Frontenac with an excuse to arrest Perrot and remove him from office, causing considerable furore in the colony.
In 1676, when Zacharie Dupuy, the town-major of Montreal, died, Frontenac obtained the vacant appointment for Bizard who took office on 1 May 1677. His salary was a modest 400 livres a year. On 25 Oct. 1678 Frontenac granted him the seigneury of Île Bonaventure, later named Île Bizard, but he made no attempt to fulfil his obligation to develop the seigneury. On 16 Aug. 1678 Bizard married Jeanne-Cécile Closse, only daughter of Lambert Closse, a former town-major of Montreal who was killed by the Iroquois in 1662. By her, he was to have six children, five of whom survived infancy. The following year Frontenac succeeded in obtaining a 300 livres supplement to Bizard’s salary. This caused the intendant, Jacques Duchesneau, some annoyance and he complained to the minister that far from carrying out his duties and arresting those who broke the king’s edicts, Bizard contravened them himself by sending coureurs de bois to trade illicitly in the Indian villages. It was, in fact, only Frontenac’s continued protection that prevented Bizard being dismissed from office for he had by this time earned a reputation as a drunkard and a bully who practised petty extortion on the tradesmen of Montreal. He also refused to obey orders of the governor of Montreal which required physical effort. The reason for this last was made plain by governor Le Febvre de La Barre, who succeeded Frontenac in 1682 and who informed the minister that Bizard was “a Swiss sunk in wine and drunkenness, useless for all duties because of the sluggishness of his body.” He requested that Bizard be replaced in office by Charles Le Moyne de Longueuil. This request the minister ignored and in 1686 Bizard, perhaps through the continuing influence of Frontenac, was commissioned deputy governor of Montreal during the absence of Louis-Hector de Callière* on the campaign against the Senecas; but Brisay* de Denonville, recently appointed governor of the colony, declined to promulgate the commission on the grounds that Bizard was unfit for the post. The following year Bizard’s request that he be accorded French naturalization papers was granted by the king.
In 1691 Frontenac, after his reappointment to the governor’s post, obtained a new commission for Bizard as deputy governor of Montreal. The intendant, Bochart* de Champigny, however, immediately wrote to the minister to remind him that Denonville had returned a similar commission on a previous occasion because Bizard had been deemed unworthy of the office. “There is more reason than ever now,” wrote Champigny, “to deny him. There is not an officer who has not had trouble with him and in fact, even if he did not drink too much he still would lack the qualities needed for the post.” When the minister queried Frontenac on this point, the governor defended Bizard stoutly, declaring that despite the weakness “his nation was sometimes subject to,” he had more merit than anyone Frontenac knew and he would personally guarantee his fitness to perform his duties.
The question of Bizard’s competence was never definitely settled for three months after Frontenac wrote to defend him, on 5 Dec. 1692, Bizard died, leaving his family penniless. Frontenac now pleaded with the minister that he concur in a settlement he had made in favour of Bizard’s widow lest she be forced to beg in the street. Were this favour not to be granted, Frontenac declared, he would lose face in the colony since everyone knew how much he had always had Bizard’s interests at heart. But Mme Bizard was not unable to care for herself; less than two years after her husband’s death, on 8 Nov. 1694, she was married to Raymond Blaise* Des Bergères de Rigauville.
There are references to Bizard scattered through the official correspondence of the governors and intendants contained in AN, Col., C11A. Correspondance de Frontenac (1672–82), APQ Rapport, 1926–27; (1689–99), APQ Rapport, 1927–28. See also P.G. Roy, “Jacques Bizard, major de Montréal,” BRH, XXII (1916), 293–303.