BROSSARD, URBAIN, master mason, son of Mathurin Brossard and Michelle Bidaut; b. 1633 or 1634 at La Flèche, province of Anjou; buried 10 April 1710 at Montreal.
Brossard came to Ville-Marie with the contingent of 1653. He had been engaged as a mason and settler and applied himself all his life to building and farming.
His first undertaking dates from 30 Nov. 1658, when he agreed to start the following May to build a house for Raphaël-Lambert Closse*. In 1660 François Bailly* took him into partnership for three years. Six years later, in association with Michel Bouvier he built a house for Pierre Chauvin. In 1672, with Gilles Devennes and Bouvier, he erected a vast house at Lachine for Jean Milot, a maker of edge-tools and merchant from Montreal. At the top of the contract a sketch signed by Brossard (his partners could not write) shows the lay-out of this building. It measured 50 feet by 25, had a pavilion roof, and comprised a ground floor and two upper storeys, two chimneys, a forge, a well, and an outside oven. In 1676 Brossard, with the same two partners, built a house for Daniel Greysolon Dulhut, and in 1680, with Bouvier alone, a house for Philippe Dufresnoy Carion.
The next ten years are marked only by works of secondary importance: foundations, half-timbered field-stone gables and attics, chimneys and fireplaces. Then came a series of important works: in 1690, in partnership with Michel Dubuc, a house for the merchant Claude Pothier; in 1692 houses for Pierre Legardeur* de Repentigny and Claude Dudevoir, the first in association with Étienne Campot, the other with Jean Mars; in 1695 an extensive enlargement to Jean-Vincent Philippe de Hautmesnil’s house; finally, in 1704, in collaboration with Jean Deslandes, a mill on the seigneury of Pierre de Saint-Ours.
Brossard was a good mason and knew how to cut stone; on occasion he even acted as the supplier of stone and quarryman. His contracts inform us of the methods of work and the building practices of his time. From them we see that works were generally carried out by masons in partnership, with joint responsibility, and not by a single contractor. These masons generally engaged only “their labour and their tools,” and as there were a score of them in and around Montreal, they felt no need to train apprentices. The use of cut stone was rare; most often people were content with “boulders or field-stones.” Finally, the frequency of half-timbered field-stone construction must be noted, an ancient building method which was to continue in use into the following century.
In 1660 Brossard had married Urbaine, the only daughter of Sébastien Hodiau, who also came originally from La Flèche. Urbaine died in 1681, after bearing him eight children, among them Catherine, who married the mason Jean Sareau, and Madeleine, who married the maker of edge-tools François Campot, the son of the mason Étienne Campot.
AJM, Greffe d’Antoine Adhémar; Greffe de Bénigne Basset; Greffe d’Hilaire Bourgine; Greffe de Claude Maugue; Greffe de Pierre Raimbault. Jug. et délib., II, 734. Recensement du Canada, 1666 (APQ Rapport). Recensements du Canada, 1667, 1681 (Sulte). R.-J. Auger, La grande recrue de 1653 (SGCF pub., I, Montréal, 1955). DCB, I, 78. [Faillon], Histoire de la colonie française, II, 536. Morisset, L’architecture en Nouvelle-France, 129. É.-Z. Massicotte, “Maçons, entrepreneurs, architectes,” BRH, XXXV (1929), 133–34.