FORESTIER, ANTOINE, surgeon at the Hôtel-Dieu of Ville-Marie, medico-legal expert; b. 1646, son of Jean Forestier and Françoise Ricard, both from Sévérac-le-Château, in Rouergue; buried 7 Nov. 1717 at Montreal.
Antoine Forestier was considered, according to Ahern, “one of the most prominent doctors of Montreal.” By a contract signed before the notary Claude Maugue*, he entered the service of the Hôtel-Dieu of Ville-Marie on 20 Aug. 1681, at the same time as the surgeon Jean Martinet de Fonblanche. The agreement stipulated, among other things, that for three-month periods and at an annual salary of 75 livres each surgeon in turn was to tend the patients in the hospital. Throughout his long career – he died in his seventy – second year-Antoine Forestier, often in conjunction with Jean Martinet, acted as a medico-legal expert. Hence his signature is to be found at the end of several documents and certificates of various kinds.
In those far-off days, despite or perhaps because of the fact that New France was sparsely populated, quarrels were numerous, and often were only settled finally before the Conseil Souverain. Consequently the medico-legal expert was frequently called in to conduct a physical and medical examination of the persons who complained of having been struck and beaten. The Jugements et délibérations du Conseil souverain report in particular a series of lawsuits resulting from charges laid by women against other women. One of the worst insults that could be levelled against a woman was to accuse her of bearing the marks of the lash and the fleur-de-lis. On many occasions, at the request of the court, Forestier had to carry out examinations to verify whether libel had occurred. His signature also appeared on a medico-legal appraisal – believed to be the first of its kind – following an accident involving a vehicle.
At that period surgeons were required to give free treatment to military officers; on 24 April 1 711 Forestier brought about the abolition of this practice by having the courts decree that except during their stay in hospital officers should pay fees as the other patients did.
On 25 Nov. 1670, at Montreal, Antoine Forestier had married Marie-Madeleine Le Cavelier, aged 14, the daughter of Robert Le Cavelier, dit Deslauriers, armourer, and Adrienne Duvivier, both of Montreal. They had 18 children, one of whom was Antoine-Bertrand Forestier*, who became in his turn “the leading surgeon of his time at Montreal.”
AJM, Greffe de Bénigne Basset, 3 nov. 1670; Greffe de Claude Maugue, 20 août 1681. Jug. et délib., III, 567f.; IV, 830, 893, 900. A. Roy, Inv. greffes not., IX, 15, 30. É.-Z. Massicotte, “Les chirurgiens de Montréal au XVIIe siècle,” BRH, XX (1914), 255; XXVII (1921), 42; “Les chirurgiens, médecins, etc., de Montréal sous le régime français,” APQ Rapport, 1922–23, 135, 148, 149f. Abbott, History of medicine, 19f. Ahern, Notes pour l’histoire de la médecine, 226–30.