CARON, CHARLES (oddly enough he signed Charle Caront), farmer and politician; b. 3 Jan. 1768 in Saint-Roch-des-Aulnaies, Que., son of Michel Caron and Marie-Josephte Parent; d. 30 Jan. 1853 in Yamachiche, Lower Canada.
Charles Caron was still a youth when his father went to the seigneurial manor-house at Yamachiche to request 800 acres of land from Elizabeth Wilkinson, who would later be the usufructuary heiress of Conrad Gugy*, seigneur of Grandpré, Grosbois-Ouest, and Dumontier. The transaction was completed on 21 July 1783 for £22,000; Michel Caron paid this sum in less than four years, making the final instalment on 19 Feb. 1787. The lots he obtained were in the parish of Sainte-Anne, at Yamachiche, to the west of Des Vide-Poche concession, in what would soon be the village of the Carons. Here Charles Caron settled, as did eight of his brothers, and he devoted the early years of his life to clearing and developing the family estate.
Not much is known, however, of Caron’s activity as a farmer, except that when he married Marie-Françoise Rivard at Yamachiche on 24 Feb. 1794 he owned 100 acres. In the 1831 census he declared that he owned about 232 acres which he apparently worked with his son Barthélemy, who held 43 acres near by. Together they produced 426 minots of wheat and 600 of oats, and raised 22 cattle, 49 sheep, 18 pigs, and 5 horses; they were among the largest producers in the county. Some 10 or 15 years later Caron gave up farming and handed over his operations to Barthélemy and to François Ferron, the son of a neighbour.
Like several members of his family, Caron allowed himself to be tempted into politics. For him, however, the venture came late and was short-lived. No doubt spurred by the example of his father-in-law, Augustin Rivard (Rivard-Dufresne), who in 1792 became one of the first two representatives of Saint-Maurice in the House of Assembly, as well as by that of his two brothers, Michel and François, members for the same constituency from 1804 to 1814 and from 1810 to 1814 respectively, he decided at age 56 to stand as a candidate. He was successful in the general elections held in the summer of 1824, running with Pierre Bureau*, a merchant from Trois-Rivières, but was defeated in the October 1830 elections by notary Valère Guillet of Trois-Rivières. As a member of the assembly, Caron had experienced one of the worst political crises of the time, connected with the abuses of the administration of Lord Dalhousie [Ramsay*]. His stance during the rebellion of 1837–38 in Lower Canada is not known; perhaps he confined himself to attending the county meeting held on 26 July 1837 under the chairmanship of his brother François. Whatever the case, he apparently retired from all political activity that year.
In addition to Barthélemy, Caron and his wife had seven children. Charles-François (1795–1862) was ordained priest in 1822 and later became chaplain to the Ursulines of Trois-Rivières; Marie-Françoise (1810–88) joined that order in 1833 and was twice elected superior general; Victoire married André Gérin-Lajoie, and their son Charles Gérin-Lajoie became a member of parliament at Quebec from 1863 to 1867 and then at Ottawa from 1874 to 1878.
Charles Caron had received some training in music at the school run by Charles Ecuier*, the parish priest of Sainte-Anne in Yamachiche from 1802 to 1820, and for nearly 50 years he belonged to the “Chantres de Machiche.” Beloved and widely respected, he died on 30 Jan. 1853 after suffering briefly. He was interred four days later in the parish church, and was the subject of a long and moving obituary in La Minerve.
ANQ-MBF, CE1-52, 24 févr. 1794, 3 févr. 1853; CN1-60, 21 juill. 1783, 14 févr. 1794. AP, Saint-Roch-des-Aulnaies, Reg. des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures, 4 janv. 1768. La Minerve, 8 févr. 1853. F.-J. Audet, Les députés de Saint-Maurice (1808–1838) et de Champlain (1830–1838) (Trois-Rivières, Qué., 1934). Raphaël Bellemare, Les bases de l’histoire d’Yamachiche, 1703–1903 . . . (Montréal, 1901). F.-L. Desaulniers, Les vieilles familles d’Yamachiche (4v., Montréal, 1898–1908).