COLIN, MICHEL, a Frenchman buried at Quebec, in 1616.
In his Histoire du Canada Brother Sagard records the death of Michel Colin, whom Father Jean Dolbeau “had entombed” at Quebec on 24 March 1616 “with the ceremonies customary in the Holy Roman Church,” and who was “the first person in the country to receive that grace.”
The Recollet adds a few lines later that on 15 July following Father Dolbeau “for the first time gave extreme unction to a woman named Marguerite Vienne, who had arrived that same year in Canada with her husband, thinking that she would get used to it, but who fell ill soon after she landed, who died during the night of the nineteenth and was buried towards the next evening with the ceremonies of the Holy Church.”
It has often been stated, following the example of N.-E. Dionne and of P.-G. Roy, that Marguerite Vienne was Michel Colin’s wife. However, nothing in the two texts of Sagard warrants such a correlation. Quite the contrary. “A Frenchman named Michel Colin” was buried at Quebec on 24 March 1616. Now by that date the gulf and the river were not yet open to shipping. Colin had therefore been in the colony at least since 1615. As for Marguerite Vienne, who died on 19 July 1616, she “had arrived the same year . . . with her husband.” Consequently she could not have been the wife of Colin, who had wintered in Canada.
Colin was probably a bachelor or had been married in France, and must have been a clerk employed in the fur trade. For their part, Marguerite Vienne and her unnamed husband are the first French couple mentioned at Quebec. Admittedly, it has been claimed that the families of Abraham Martin, Pierre Desportes, and Nicolas Pivert had preceded them to the colony. This assertion, however, while not totally improbable, rests on no documentary proof.