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CHENNEQUE, MARTIN (he also signed Dechennequi or de Chennequi, Chennequy, and Chineque), mariner, militiaman, trader, and shipowner; b. c. 1734, possibly in the parish of Saint-Pierre-d’Irube, France, son of Martin d’Echenic, carpenter, and Marie d’Urcudoy; m. first 24 June 1760 Susanne Rollete (d. 1764) at Quebec; m. there secondly 8 Feb. 1768 Marie-Louise Grenete (d. 1773), and they had a daughter and a son, Martin Chinic*; m. there thirdly 9 May 1774 Élizabeth Pelerin; he had other children, but by which marriage is uncertain; d. 11 Nov. 1825 in L’Ancienne-Lorette, Lower Canada.

Martin Chenneque, who was almost certainly not the “fearless Spanish sailor” portrayed by his grandson Charles-Paschal-Télesphore Chiniquy*, may have come to New France as a child. He mastered early the difficulties of navigating the lower St Lawrence River, where tides, strong currents, shifting shoals, and ice could be treacherous. By the late 1750s he was operating as a pilot there and in the Gulf of St Lawrence.

In September 1758, in the Baie de Gaspé, Chenneque was taken into service in the British squadron under Sir Charles Hardy*. The following year Chenneque, Augustin Raby*, and other pilots guided the fleet of Charles Saunders* to Quebec. Over the course of the next four years Chenneque piloted numerous naval vessels to and from the new British colony. Unlike Raby and Théodose-Matthieu Denys* de Vitré, Chenneque “declined,” he later claimed, a pension for these services, “being then young and able to gain a Livelyhood by his Industry.”

During the 1760s Chenneque also piloted British merchantmen, and he was attached for several years to Samuel Johannes Holland*, surveying the gulf region. He did further service on naval vessels between 1774 and 1778, during the American revolution; in 1775 he was a member of the Canadian militia at Quebec. After 1778 he continued to be employed as a navigator, pilot, and captain “in the Service of His Majesty and the Trade.” Since about 1769, when pilotage was first regulated by provincial ordinance, Chenneque had been an examiner of seamen seeking qualification as pilots. In 1786–87, at the request of the committee of the Legislative Council on commerce and police, Chenneque, James Frost*, and two others formulated detailed regulations for pilotage which would become the basis of an important regulatory ordinance in 1788. Chenneque also periodically sold goods and owned at least one vessel.

Chenneque appears to have worked as a pilot until some time after 1812. In 1803 he petitioned for land; he and his family received a grant of 2,000 acres in Acton Township two years later. A list of pilots in 1805 showed him to be the senior among 49 pilots licensed to work the St Lawrence between Quebec and the outermost piloting station at Île du Bic; of these, 14 lived at Quebec. On 12 June 1805 he was appointed assistant examiner of pilots at Trinity House of Quebec [see François Boucher*]. Seven years later he applied to its board for remuneration, but the board resolved that “his Services . . . have been but seldom necessary or required,” that he had already received a grant, and that “should he be unable to exercise his profession as a Pilot, and his circumstances require assistance he will be entitled to an allowance from the Decayed Pilot funds.” On 21 June 1822 he became a warden of Trinity House.

In 1823 Chenneque claimed to have lost to British warships two commercial vessels and cargoes, with which he had planned to outfit fur-trading and fishing operations. This and other misfortunes compelled him in April of that year to run up, once again, his petition of service to the crown, which included a long-forgotten promise of Major-General James Wolfe* to compensate him. He appears to have obtained some recompense, for at about the time of his death a contemporary affirmed that he “held a small government pension in reward of his past services in piloting the fleet that conveyed Wolfe’s army to Quebec. “The statement describes him as “a little sturdy old man.”

Given the practical experience of Chenneque and other veteran mariners, criticism by Governor Lord Dalhousie [Ramsay*] two years later of the piloting community as unseamanlike was unjust, but his comments did come close to the mark in one respect: pilotage “might be an excellent depot or retreat for old British seamen, and several have attempted, but they have constantly been driven off by the Canadians, who consider it a field of their own, in which no stranger must enter.”

David Roberts

ANQ-Q, CE1-1, 24 juin 1760, 8 févr. 1768, 9 mai 1774; CE1-2, 14 nov. 1825; CN1-207, 6 févr. 1768, 8 mai 1774; CN1-251, 23 juin 1760. Arch. du monastère de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, Reg. des malades, 1740–51: 22. Arch. municipales, Saint-Pierre-d’Irube (France), certificat de naissance de Jean d’Echenic, 1720; certificat de sépulture de Martin Etchenique, 1764. PAC, RG 1, L3L: 16292, 29979–89; RG 8, I (C ser.), 600: 144–49; 1714: 14, 121; RG 42, ser.1, 183: 12; RG 68, General index, 1651–1841: 5, 698. Ports Canada Arch. (Quebec), Trinity House, Quebec, minute-books, 1: 15–21; 2: 130–31; sér. pilotage, certificat de pilotage de Martin Chinique, 25 juill. 1761; “List of pilots for and below the harbour of Quebec agreeable to seniority,” [1811]. PRO, CO 42/50: 168, 179, 232–40 (mfm. at PAC). “Les dénombrements de Québec” (Plessis), ANQ Rapport, 1948–49: 28, 78, 126, 178. John Knox, An historical journal of the campaigns in North America for the years 1757, 1758, 1759, and 1760 . . . , ed. A. G. Doughty (3v., Toronto, 1914–16; repr. New York, 1968). “Ordinances made for the province of Quebec by the governor and Council of the said province, from 1768 until 1791 . . . ,” PAC Report, 1914–15: 10–14, 212–15, 233–34. Ramsay, Dalhousie journals (Whitelaw), 3: 162, 207–8. Quebec Gazette, 24 Aug. 1769, 17 July 1777, 1 Oct. 1789, 28 Jan. 1790, 31 March 1791, 21 March 1799, 14 June 1804, 27 June 1805, 2 July 1807, 16 Feb. 1815. Mariages de N.-D. de Québec (1621–1980), B. Pontbriand, compil. (7v., Quebec, 1963–81), 1: 156. Quebec almanac, 1788: 56. P.-G. Roy, Inventaire des contrats de mariage du Régime français conservés aux Archives judiciaires de Québec (6v., Québec, 1937–38), 2: 35. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, 3: 52. International Maritime Pilots Assoc., Canadian pilotage: a profile (Quebec, 1982). [C.-P.-T.] Chiniquy, Fifty years in the Church of Rome (6th ed., Toronto, 1886), 12. Wilbrod Leclerc, “Canadian pilotage – past and present” (working paper, Univ. of Ottawa, 1982). P.-G. Roy, La ville de Quebec sous le Regime français (2v., Quebec, 1930), 2: 317–18; “La famille Chinic,” BRH, 45 (1939): 207; “Les traitres de 1759,” Cahiers des Dix, 1 (1936): 48.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

David Roberts, “CHENNEQUE, MARTIN,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 6, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed October 21, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/chenneque_martin_6E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/chenneque_martin_6E.html
Author of Article: David Roberts
Title of Article: CHENNEQUE, MARTIN
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 6
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1987
Year of revision: 1987
Access Date: October 21, 2014