CONDO, FRANCIS (the name sometimes appears as François Est, dit Condeau), Micmac chief; b. c. 1761, the son and grandson of chiefs; d. 24 July 1837 in Lower Canada or New Brunswick.
Francis Condo was third chief at the Restigouche Indian Reserve, Que., in 1786 when chief Joseph Claude* negotiated about fishing rights and land claims with Nicholas Cox*, lieutenant governor of Gaspé. In 1812 Condo was named first chief in succession to Jacques (Joseph) Gagnon on the recommendation of missionary Charles-François Painchaud.
Condo was responsible for maintaining the land claims of the Restigouche Indians against white intruders, a matter that became extremely complex because of faulty surveys. The general vagueness of land titles in the region led to a law being passed in 1819 “to secure the inhabitants of the Inferior District of Gaspé in the possession and enjoyment of their lands,” and claims commissioners were appointed. Their findings in the Restigouche area drew a protest from Condo in July 1820: the Indians had not been aware that Edward Isaac Mann still claimed the lands that had been the subject of negotiation in 1786. The protest was printed in the Quebec Gazette in June 1823 and went to formal adjudication in April of the following year. The board awarded the Restigouche Indians some 680 acres that lay between Mann’s claims and those of another white, Robert Ferguson*. Visiting Restigouche in the summer of 1826, Governor Lord Dalhousie [Ramsay] invited Condo to meet him at Quebec in the autumn. What Condo received for his journey, however, was the governor’s handwritten statement that the board’s decision was “now their legal title” to the land and must be considered final. The Indians continued to press for full satisfaction of their claim, petitioning Lord Durham [Lambton] in 1838 and sending Joseph Malie, Pierre Basquet*, and François Labauve to London in 1841.
The Restigouche Micmacs were in an anomalous position in Lower Canada. Their kin ties lay in New Brunswick where they spent much of their time; they used their village more as a base of operations than as a residence the year round, and this village just happened to be on the north bank of the river that marked the boundary line. Lower Canada did not consider itself under the usual obligations to these Indians, who did not receive the annual presents given to other native people in the Canadas. To mark the occasion of Condo’s visit to Quebec, Dalhousie ordered the distribution of some supplies, but he was careful to point out that his action was not to constitute a precedent. To a large extent, the Restigouche Micmacs fell between two governments, and the position of a chief in such a situation was particularly difficult.
In 1823 Painchaud, who was in touch with the Indians even after he moved from the reserve, had urged Condo’s dismissal, describing him as a drunk who had lost the respect of his people and who no longer lived at Restigouche. Condo eventually regained the confidence of the church, however. In 1836, a little stooped under the weight of his 75 years and wearing two silver medals on his chest, he came at the head of his people to greet Bishop Pierre-Flavien Turgeon*, who visited the Restigouche area that year. After his death he was succeeded by Thomas Barnaby.
Can., Prov. of, Legislative Assembly, App. to the journals, 1847, 1: app. T, no. 96. Ramsay, Dalhousie journals (Whitelaw), 3: 65–66, 71. Père Pacifique [de Valigny] [H.-J.-L. Buisson], “Ristigouche, métropole des Micmacs, théâtre du ‘dernier effort de la France au Canada,’” Soc. de géographie de Québec, Bull. (Québec), 20 (1926): 171–85.