DUMOUCHELLE (Dumouchel), JEAN-BAPTISTE, merchant, militia officer, jp, and Patriote; b. 5 April 1784 in Sandwich (Windsor, Ont.), son of Louis-Vital Dumouchelle and Magdeleine Goyau; d. 29 March 1844 in Saint-Benoît (Mirabel), Lower Canada.
Jean-Baptiste Dumouchelle came to Lower Canada in 1795. It is thought that he then did classical studies at the Collège Saint-Raphaël in Montreal and that on completing his course in 1803 he went to work as a clerk for Alexis Berthelot, a merchant in Sainte-Geneviève (Sainte-Geneviève and Pierrefonds). He seems to have gone into business in 1808 as a general merchant at Saint-Benoit, and he soon became one of the leading figures in the village. On 13 Feb. 1809 he married Victoire Félix, who was the sister of Maurice-Joseph Félix, parish priest of Saint-Benoît, and later the sister-in-law of notary Jean-Joseph Girouard*; they had four children. In 1812 he apparently obtained the rank of captain in the Rivière-du-Chêne battalion of militia and he served in the War of 1812 in that capacity.
At the end of the war, in 1815, Dumouchelle returned to Saint-Benoît and resumed his business. Like Girouard, his friend and relation by marriage, he took an interest in politics. During the electoral campaign of 1827 factions emerged in York riding [see Jacques Labrie*] and Dumouchelle took an active part in meetings held by the Patriotes. Governor Lord Dalhousie [Ramsay] considered such meetings outrageous and through a general order for the militia dated 12 July he had Dumouchelle’s commission withdrawn because of his role in them. He was reinstated, probably after Dalhousie left in 1828, and two years later he was serving as a major in the Deux-Montagnes battalion of militia.
Dumouchelle was again a target for the hostility of the authorities on the eve of the 1837 rebellion. At that time he was dismissed from his duties as a militia officer and justice of the peace because of his participation in revolutionary gatherings. At those held in Sainte-Scholastique (Mirabel) on 1 and 15 Oct. 1837 for people from Saint-Benoît and the Saint-Joachim concession respectively, the Patriotes decided, as a sign of protest, to put Dumouchelle and several colleagues dismissed with him back in office by election. The Patriotes also decided to refuse to recognize militia officers and justices of the peace appointed by the governor.
In November 1837 Dumouchelle organized the distribution of ammunition in Deux-Montagnes County and encouraged the habitants to bring him lead to be melted down for bullets. He owned a mould and made rounds of ammunition in his cellar with the help of his two sons, Hercule and Camille. Consequently, when Sir John Colborne* and his troops reached Saint-Benoît on 15 Dec. 1837, the day after the battle at Saint-Eustache, they first hunted out the Dumouchelles, who were considered the main instigators of the revolt at Saint-Benoît. Dumouchelle was imprisoned along with his sons on 17 December and was not released until 8 July 1838, on bail of £1,000.
Upon his release Dumouchelle went back to Saint-Benoît. He discovered that his home and warehouses had been burned in the pillaging by Colborne’s troops in 1837. He never succeeded in re-establishing his business and died, a ruined man, on 29 March 1844, only a few weeks after the auction of his belongings.
Had he taken no part in the 1837 rebellion, Jean-Baptiste Dumouchelle would have been remembered as a well-to-do general merchant, a militia officer, and a magistrate, indeed, a leading figure in Saint-Benoît. The part he took in the revolutionary assemblies and the fact that he made munitions which he distributed to rebels from his own village and others near by place him among the most active and aggressive Patriotes in Deux-Montagnes County.
ANQ-M, CE6-9, 13 févr. 1809, 29 mars 1844. ANQ-Q, E17/13, no.742; E17/14, nos.805, 824–26, 845; P-92. PAC, MG 24, A27, 34; RG 68, General index, 1651–1841. “Documents inédits,” P.-A. Linteau, édit., RHAF, 21 (1967–68): 281–311. Alfred Dumouchel, “Notes d’Alfred Dumouchel sur la rébellion de 1837–38 à Saint-Benoît,” BRH, 35 (1929): 31–51. Amury Girod, “Journal kept by the late Amury Girod, translated from the German and the Italian,” PAC Report, 1923: 370–80. “Lettre de M. Girouard à M. Morin, sur les troubles de 37 dans le comté des Deux Montagnes,” L’Opinion publique, 2 août 1877: 361–62. La Minerve, 9, 16, 23 oct. 1837; 1er avril 1844. Quebec Gazette, 14 June 1827. Fauteux, Patriotes, 231–33. Officers of British forces in Canada (Irving). Quebec almanac, 1813–37. G.-F. Baillairgé, Notices biographiques et généalogiques, famille Baillairgé . . . (11 fascicules, Joliette, Qué., 1891–94), 6: 100–10, 135, 157–60. J. D. Borthwick, History of the Montreal prison from A.D. 1784 to A.D. 1886 . . . (Montreal, 1886), 63. Béatrice Chassé, “Le notaire Girouard, patriote et rebelle” (thèse de d. ès l., univ. Laval, Québec, 1974). L.-O. David, Les gerbes canadiennes (Montréal, 1921), 165–66; Patriotes, 90–93. Émile Dubois, Le feu de la Rivière-du-Chêne; étude historique sur le mouvement insurrectionnel de 1837 au nord de Montréal (Saint-Jérôme, Qué., 1937), 120. Filteau, Hist. des patriotes (1975). [C.-A.-M. Globensky], La rébellion de 1837 à Saint-Eustache avec un exposé préliminaire de la situation politique du Bas-Canada depuis la cession (Québec, 1883; réimpr. Montréal, 1974). Laurin, Girouard & les patriotes, 55–56. Maurault, Le collège de Montréal (Dansereau; 1967). R.-L. Séguin, Le mouvement insurrectionnel dans la presqu’île de Vaudreuil, 1837–1838 (Montréal, 1955), 122–23. L.-O. David, “Les hommes de 37–38: Jean-Baptiste Dumouchel, père,” L’Opinion publique, 8 mars 1877: 109–10. Madeleine Dufour-Dumouchel, “Jean-Baptiste Dumouchel, le patriote; ses antécédents et sa descendance,” SGCF Mémoires, 29 (1978): 94–107.