Original title:  Pierre-Paul Démaray, vers 1850 – Archives des Oblats de Marie-Immaculée, fonds père Damase Dandurand

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DÉMARAY, PIERRE-PAUL, notary, office holder, justice of the peace, militia officer, Patriote, and politician; b. 8 Oct. 1798 in Trois-Rivières, Lower Canada, son of Pierre Démarest, a carpenter, and Louise Patrie; m. 15 June 1825 Marie-Jovite Descombes-Porcheron, widow of notary Roger-François Dandurand, in Laprairie (La Prairie), Lower Canada, and they had one son; d. 17 Sept. 1854 in Saint-Jean (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu), Lower Canada.

Nothing is known of Pierre-Paul Démaray’s early years. After studying for a while he decided to become a notary, and from 1819 to 1824 worked as a clerk under Pierre Lanctôt and Laurent Archambault at Sainte-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie (L’Acadie), and Jean-Emmanuel Dumoulin at Trois-Rivières. He was admitted to the notarial profession on 17 April 1824 and began his career at Dorchester (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu). He soon built up a substantial practice, which eventually included landowners and local merchants such as Gabriel, Louis, and François Marchand.

Closely associated with the founding of the parish of Saint-Jean-l’Évangéliste, Démaray acted as first secretary-treasurer of the fabrique from 16 Nov. 1828 until his resignation on 4 May 1834. On 25 Dec. 1829 he was elected churchwarden of the parish and, although 1832, when he held the post of chief warden, was the last year of his term, he did not render his accounts until 2 June 1833. In this period Démaray also obtained other public offices, such as those of commissioner for the construction of the high road between Dorchester and Laprairie (1831), commissioner for the trial of small causes (1832), and justice of the peace (1833). He also carried out the duties of postmaster in Dorchester and served as a lieutenant in the 3rd Militia Battalion of Chambly County.

In 1837 Démaray attracted attention by his zeal for the Patriotes’ cause. After attending the Assemblée des Six Comtés at Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu on 23 October, he took part on 5 November in the meeting at Saint-Athanase (Iberville), where he moved a resolution calling for the abolition of seigneurial tenure. The next day he resigned as justice of the peace and as militia lieutenant in protest against the “tyrannical” administration of Governor Lord Gosford [Acheson*]. Then on 10 November, with Joseph-François Davignon, a doctor from Dorchester, he led a group of Patriotes which attacked a cavalry troop returning from a reconnaissance to Saint-Athanase.

On the eve of the rebellion, Démaray, who was considered the leader of the Patriotes at Dorchester, was among those against whom a warrant of arrest for high treason was issued. During the night of 16–1 7 November a detachment of the Royal Montreal Cavalry under Charles Oakes Ermatinger Jr burst into the homes of Démaray and Davignon and took them prisoner. Learning that they were being taken to the Montreal prison, Bonaventure Viger* ambushed the detachment on the Chambly road several hours later with a handful of men and managed to free the two prisoners. Shortly after, Démaray and Davignon fled to the United States. On 29 November Lord Gosford issued new warrants for the two Patriotes and offered a reward of £100 each for their capture. When the new governor, Lord Durham [Lambton*], proclaimed an amnesty on 8 June 1838, he specifically excluded Démaray. During his exile Démaray lived at St Albans, Vt, and then at Keeseville, N.Y., and for his livelihood opened a grocery store at Plattsburgh in partnership with his compatriot, Médard Hébert, a notary from Laprairie.

Taking advantage of a subsequent amnesty, Démaray returned to Lower Canada and resumed notarial practice in Dorchester on 9 May 1841. There he began to create difficulties for his parish priest, Charles La Rocque*. He criticized the clergy for the attitude they had adopted at the time of the rebellion and subjected La Rocque to numerous trials.

Démaray took up municipal politics in 1845. On 28 July he was elected the first mayor of Saint-Jean-l’Évangéliste and he retained this office until the parish municipality was abolished in 1847. During his term the inhabitants of the village of Dorchester presented him with a plan to seek municipal incorporation for their community. However, Démaray did not deign to take action. On 1 Sept. 1847 the government of the Province of Canada decided to abolish parish municipalities and replace them by county municipalities. Under the new law the parish of Saint-Jean-l’Évangéliste, incorporated into Chambly County, was entitled to two representatives on the county council. Démaray did not run in the elections for these new posts, which were held on 14 September at Dorchester, but with Pierre-Moïse Moreau he apparently carried out the duties of election agent for Samuel Vaughan and Louis Marchand. In this capacity Démaray and Moreau unsuccessfully contested the election of James Bissett and Henry Larocque as councillors.

Démaray began campaigning as a candidate in a by-election for Chambly in December 1847, but was defeated in January 1848 by Dr Pierre Beaubien*. He returned to the municipal scene two years later and on 9 July 1850 managed to get himself elected councillor for the village of Saint-Jean (incorporated in July 1848). He succeeded Benjamin Burland as its third mayor on 11 Aug. 1851. Under his administration the village’s first police corps was created. On 11 July 1853 Démaray gave up the mayoralty and again became a councillor. Then on 22 August he was appointed one of the two delegates to represent the parish of Saint-Jean-l’Évangéliste at the Anti-Seigniorial Tenure Convention called in the Montreal district; he was elected to represent Chambly County on the central committee of this large gathering, which was held at Montreal on 1 September.

Pierre-Paul Démaray remained a councillor until the end of his term of office in July 1854. He died at Saint-Jean that September at age 55, after a month’s illness. One of the most active public figures of his day in that community, he was still serving at the time of his death as a notary and a justice of the peace. His passing was deeply regretted by his fellow-citizens, who had always seen him “in the forefront of those who had at heart the progress of the little town of which he was one of the most outstanding members.” He was mourned by his widow and his son, Pierre-Octave, who pursued a career as a lawyer in Saint-Jean and Montreal.

Lionel Fortin

Pierre-Paul Démaray’s minute-book, containing instruments notarized between 1824 and 1854, is held at ANQ-M, CN4-16.

ANQ-M, CE1-2, 15 juin 1825; CE4-10, 20 sept. 1854; CN1-12, 10 mai 1822; CN4-15, 26 mars 1819. ANQ-MBF, CE1-48, 8 oct. 1798; CN1-6, 17 janv. 1824. ANQ-Q, E17/6, nos.50–70; E17/7, nos.131–32, 134; E17/8, no.262; E17/15, nos.853–54; E17/34, nos.2755a, 2756; E17/37, no.3035. AP, Saint-Jean-l’Évangéliste, livres des délibérations de la fabrique, 16 nov. 1828, 25 déc. 1829, 25 déc. 1832, 2 juin 1833, 4 mai 1834. Arch. de la ville de Longueuil (Longueuil, Qué.), Fonds Brais, “Retour de l’élection de James Bissett et Henri Larocque, écuiers, comme conseillers de la paroisse Saint-Jean l’Évangéliste dans la municipalité du comté de Chambly (13 et 14 septembre 1847).” Arch. de la ville de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, livres des délibérations du conseil municipal, 7 sept., 8 nov. 1846; 30 juin, 13 déc. 1847; 13 mars, 12 juin 1848. PAC, MG 30, D1, 10: 302–8; RG 4, B8, 6: 1985–2005; RG 68, General index, 1651–1841: 206–7, 257, 376. La Minerve, 6, 9 nov. 1837; 23 déc. 1847; 17 janv. 1848; 25 août, 3 sept. 1853; 19 sept. 1854. Le Patriote canadien (Burlington, Vt.), 21 août 1839. Le Populaire (Montréal), 22, 29 nov. 1837. Fauteux, Patriotes, 204–5. Les maires et les conseillers de Saint-Jean, – Qué. août 1848 à février 1956 ([s.l.], 1956), 21, 28. J.-D. Brosseau, Saint-Jean-de-Québec; origine et développements (Saint-Jean[-sur-Richelieu], 1937), 213–15. Christie, Hist. of L.C. (1866), 4: 443, 451–54. Filteau, Hist. des Patriotes (1975), 312–15. Lionel Fortin, Le maire Nelson Mott et l’histoire de Saint-Jean ([Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu], 1976), 31–38, 50–51, 57, 103. [Jean Foisy-Marquis], “Arrêtés, Davignon et Démaray sont délivrés par les patriotes,” Le Canada français (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu), 17 févr. 1971: 23. Lionel Fortin, “Le notaire Pierre-Paul Démaray,” “Pierre-Paul Démaray, notaire et patriote enterré avec ses chaînes,” and “Démaray fut le premier maire de la paroisse Saint-Jean-l’Évangéliste” in Le Canada français, 23 déc. 1974: 28–30; 31 oct. 1979: 68–69; and 18 juin 1980: 12. J.-J. Lefebvre, “Les De Couagne (Decoigne),” SGCF Mémoires, 25 (1974): 214–27. Victor Morin, “La ‘République canadienne’ de 1838,” RHAF, 2 (1948–49): 505.

Cite This Article

Lionel Fortin, “DÉMARAY, PIERRE-PAUL,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 8, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed July 25, 2024, https://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/demaray_pierre_paul_8E.html.

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Permalink:   https://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/demaray_pierre_paul_8E.html
Author of Article:   Lionel Fortin
Title of Article:   DÉMARAY, PIERRE-PAUL
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 8
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1985
Year of revision:   1985
Access Date:   July 25, 2024