CANAC, dit Marquis, PIERRE (baptized Pierre Canac, at his marriage he signed Pierre Canac dit Marquis and in the 1810s P. C. Marquis, but towards the end of his life he was referred to as Canac Marquis), merchant, landowner, jp, office holder, militia officer, and politician; b. 8 Oct. 1780 in Sainte-Famille, Île d’Orléans, Que., son of Jean Canac (Canac, dit Marquis) and Angélique (Judith) Pepin (Pepin, dit Lachance); d. 25 Nov. 1850 in Saint-André, near Kamouraska, Lower Canada.
Pierre Canac, dit Marquis, started his business career at Quebec, remaining there until he became acquainted with Marie-Salomé Michaud; still a minor, she was a daughter of Saint-André farmer Alexandre Michaud and Elisabeth Ouellet. Their meeting would make a major difference in his life. They were married in Saint-André on 15 Jan. 1810, and Canac, dit Marquis, then chose to live in that parish. The inhabitants of the area came to him as the leading local merchant to get supplies or sometimes to borrow money. He became the owner of a great deal of land, which he leased or sold for a good price to people eager to settle in Saint-André. In 1824 he also bought a house in the faubourg Saint-Roch at Quebec, which he subsequently rented to various persons.
In November 1821 Canac, dit Marquis, was commissioned to try minor cases in the rural parishes. He was a justice of the peace for the district of Quebec from 1821 to 1828 and thereafter for Saint-André, holding the office until it was abolished in the mid 1840s. At the time of the 1831 census Canac, dit Marquis, headed a family of 19, including his children and grandchildren, all Catholic, living on 785 arpents of land, a third of which was used to grow cereals and raise livestock. Some of the family probably attended the small private school he had established on his property. His store served as a public house. In 1831 he was appointed commissioner to receive affidavits in the seigneury of L’Islet-du-Portage, along with his friend Hypolite Sirois, dit Duplessis. By then he was clearly establishing himself as one of the most eminent figures in Saint-André. In 1833 he was a captain in the 1st battalion of Kamouraska militia. Promotions followed, and he rose to the rank of colonel according to his burial certificate.
He also took an interest in politics. In 1830 he was defeated in the elections for the House of Assembly, but in 1834 he was elected along with Amable Dionne* for Kamouraska. At first he played an unobtrusive part in the house, joining the Patriote majority led by Louis-Joseph Papineau*. Despite his desire to see the assembly in control of supplies, he was opposed to constitutional change, and particularly to reform of the Legislative Council. In 1836 he began to distance himself from the radicals, and the following year he voted against sending an address to the governor, Lord Gosford [Acheson], in response to the Russell Resolutions. His loyalty to colonial institutions led to his appointment as commissioner to administer oaths after the constitution was suspended on 10 Feb. 1838. During the rebellions of 1837–38 and in the early days of the United Province of Canada Marquis retained the esteem of his fellow citizens and he became mayor of Saint-André when it was incorporated in 1845. He was still active in business and remained one of the most influential figures in his region. In 1848 he was elected to the Legislative Assembly for Kamouraska. During this second term he played a bigger part in the assembly’s work, in particular chairing some committees of the whole. In 1849 he voted for the controversial Rebellion Losses Bill to compensate Lower Canadians for damages suffered in 1837–38 [see James Bruce*]. He went to Toronto for the 1850 session and died in November of that year at Saint-André.
ANQ-Q, CE1-11, 9 oct. 1780; CE3-11, 15 janv. 1810, 26 nov. 1850; CN1-104, 1832–49; CN1-178, 6 oct. 1827; CN1-262, 4 juin 1805; CN3-8, 1819–29. PAC, RG 31, C1, 1831, Saint-André, Que. (mfm. at ANQ-Q); RG 68, General index, 1651–1841. Can., Prov. of, Legislative Assembly, Journals, 1848–50. Debates of the Legislative Assembly of United Canada (Abbott Gibbs et al.), vols.7–9. L.C., House of Assembly, Journals, 1835–37. F.-J. Audet, “Les législateurs du Bas-Canada.” Desjardins, Guide parl. Quebec almanac, 1821–41. Répertoire des mariages de Saint-André de Kamouraska, 1791–1968, Armand Proulx, compil. (La Pocatière, Qué., ). P.-H. Hudon, Rivière-Ouelle de la Bouteillerie; 3 siècles de vie (Ottawa, 1972), 338–40. Labarrère-Paulé, Les instituteurs laïques, 18, 21, 96.