COUAGNE, CHARLES DE, maître d’hôtel, fur trader, land owner, merchant, and entrepreneur; b. in 1651 in the parish of Clion, archdiocese of Bourges, son of Charles de Couagne and Renée Greffière; d. in Montreal in 1706.
Couagne first appears in the documents of New France as an employee of Buade* de Frontenac. Benjamin Sulte wrongly calls him a valet. His position as the governor’s maître d’hôtel indicates that he held a high status within Frontenac’s entourage. Shortly after his marriage Couagne established himself in the Montreal area. His commercial activities, like those of other prominent merchants, were varied: he speculated in real estate in Sorel, Boucherville, and Montreal; he took an active part in the trade of the pays d’en haut as a direct employer of coureurs de bois, and also extended significant sums in credit to others engaged in the fur trade – in some years he lent as much as 20,000 livres. He engaged in wholesale and retail merchandising in Montreal from 1683 until his death. He also bought and leased cattle and wood lots, and was concerned with supplying the food staple, bread.
Couagne was married twice: to Anne Mars in 1680, and in 1685 to Marie Gaudé. The latter, after the death of Couagne, married Derivon de Budemon. Couagne had 11 children; his daughter Thérèse* married François Poulin de Francheville. His sons, particularly René*, played an active role in the commercial life in the colony till the conquest; Jean-Baptiste was a military engineer who served in Canada and Île Royale (Cape Breton Island). After 1760 his descendants tried to claim that they were of the nobility.
Couagne’s health began deteriorating in 1704 and, after an illness of two years, he died between 22 and 28 Aug. 1706. He left a surprisingly large estate: the net assets – which included, however, many due bills and obligations – totalled 226,547 livres 17 sols. His succession involved litigation over a long period of time. The sons accused the mother of concerning herself, especially after her remarriage, with only the assets of the estate and not the liabilities.
AJM, Greffe d’Antoine Adhémar, 23 juillet 1701, 22, 28 août 1706. AJQ, Greffe de Pierre Duquet, 19 nov. 1680; Greffe de Florent de La Cetière, 3 mai 1704. AQ, NF, Coll. de pièces jud. et. not., 284, 323, 352. PAC, FM 24, Collection Baby, L 3, pp.25, 128–25, 136.