BOUCHER DE LA PERRIÈRE, RENÉ, officer in the colonial regular troops, seigneur; b. 18 June 1668 in Montreal, tenth child of Pierre Boucher* and Jeanne Crevier; d. 12 Aug. 1742 in Boucherville (Que.).
René Boucher de La Perrière had learnt the languages and warfare of the Indians in his youth. On 2 Jan. 1694, with several years’ military experience to his credit, he was commissioned ensign in the colonial regular troops. Two years later he went with a detachment of Canadians to assist Pierre Le Moyne* d’Iberville in his attack on the English settlements on the Newfoundland coast. With the fall of St John’s on 30 Nov. 1696 Iberville instructed Jacques Testard* de Montigny and his Canadians to attack every village and hamlet on the island shores. La Perrière was prominent in these forays, operating as the leader of a small party of men that reduced settlements to ashes and invariably returned with both booty and captives.
La Perrière was wounded in 1704 while leading the Indian contingent in Jean-Baptiste Hertel* de Rouville’s raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts. In 1708 he served as commandant at Sault-Saint-Louis (Caughnawaga), and two years later, recommended by Philippe de Rigaud* de Vaudreuil, Jacques Raudot*, and Claude de Ramezay*, he received a lieutenancy.
In 1712, when relations among the Indians in the west were tense and war broke out between the Foxes and the French allies, Vaudreuil sent small detachments of men to key points in the hinterland. It is probable that La Perrière went with Constant Le Marchand* de Lignery to Michilimackinac, for in 1715, after a campaign to defeat the Foxes had failed, La Perrière returned to the colony with Lignery’s letters. A second campaign was planned for 1716. This time Louis de La Porte* de Louvigny, with La Perrière as second-in-command, led an army of 800 coureurs de bois and Indians to Baie-des-Puants (Green Bay, Wis.) and forced the Foxes to sue for peace.
Ten years later, while Lignery and one de Liette [see Pierre-Charles de Liette*] were negotiating an end to hostilities among the French, Foxes, Sauks, Winnebagos, and Sioux in the west, the king of France gave approval to the establishment of a post among the Sioux, as Charlevoix had recommended. On 6 June 1727 the Compagnie des Sioux was formed for the organization of commerce in the area, and La Perrière, promoted captain the previous year, was chosen to command an expedition to build a fort, mission house, and chapel. He and his party, which included his nephew Pierre Boucher de Boucherville and Jesuit fathers Nicolas Degonnor and Michel Guignas, left Montreal on 16 June. Following a brief stop at Michilimackinac, the party – accompanied for a time by the Jesuit Jean-Baptiste Chardon – moved out on l August and by the Fox, Wisconsin, and Mississippi rivers entered Lake Pepin on 17 Sept. 1727. Within four days La Perrière had built a small fort, named Beauharnois in honour of the new governor of Canada, Charles de Beauharnois. In the early summer of 1728 La Perrière was obliged to return to Montreal because of illness, and in September Fort Beauharnois was abandoned as a result of Lignery’s unsuccessful campaign against the Foxes. La Perrière was appointed commandant of Fort Saint-Frédéric (Crown Point, N.Y.) in 1732, but gave it up after a year, again because of illness. His services did not pass unnoticed, however – on 26 April 1736 he was awarded the coveted cross of Saint-Louis.
On several occasions Pierre Boucher made land grants in the Boucherville seigneury to his son, which La Perrière subsequently sold. The one royal grant he received, in 1734 – six square leagues on Lake Champlain – reverted to the crown seven years later because it had been left undeveloped.
La Perrière died in Boucherville on 12 Aug. 1742. He had married Françoise Malhiot, sister of Jean-François Malhiot, in Montreal on 15 Dec. 1705. Françoise bore La Perrière two children, Marie-Madeleine, who married in 1729 Claude-Pierre Pécaudy* de Contrecœur, and François-Clément who, like his father, entered military service. He received a captaincy in 1756 and distinguished himself in the western campaigns of the Seven Years’ War.
AN, Col., C11A, 24, p.61; 28, p.17; 30, pp.69–70; 35, pp.37–38 (PAC transcripts). ANQ-M, Greffe d’Antoine Adhémar, 2 juill. 1693, 15 déc. 1705; Greffe de Michel Moreau, 23 juill. 1693; Greffe de Marien Tailhandier, dit La Beaume, 4 août, 30 oct. 1703, 8 févr. 1706, 14 déc. 1709, 7 déc. 1710, 3 févr. 1711, 5 oct. 1712, 10 janv. 1715. Découvertes et établissements des Français (Margry), VI, 537–63. Fauteux, Les chevaliers de Saint-Louis, 131. Le Jeune, Dictionnaire. Tanguay, Dictionnaire. Champagne, Les La Vérendrye, 89, 109. Martin Kavanagh, La Vérendrye, his life and times, with many illustrations and maps; a biography and a social study of a folklore figure, soldier, fur trader, explorer (Brandon, Man., 1967). Kellogg, French régime, 308–12. P.-G. Roy, Hommes et choses du fort Saint-Frédéric, 160–61, 340–41. Y. F. Zoltvany, “The frontier policy of Philippe de Rigaud de Vaudreuil, 1713–1725,” CHR, XLVIII (1967), 227–50; “New France and the west, 1701–1713,” CHR, XLVI (1965), 301–22.