GAMELIN, PIERRE (baptized Pierre-Ambroise), army and militia officer, notary, and office holder; b. 31 May 1789 in Saint-Vincent-de-Paul (Laval), Que., son of Pierre Gamelin and Marianne Lemaître-Lamorille; d. 14 April 1856 in Iberville, Lower Canada.
Pierre Gamelin’s earliest Canadian forebear was surgeon Michel Gamelain* de La Fontaine, who was seigneur of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade in the latter half of the 17th century. Gamelin’s father, a highly respected man, had served against the Americans in 1775 as captain in the Canadian militia under François-Marie Picoté* de Belestre, and had helped defend Fort St Johns (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu). He held the office of justice of the peace in the district of Montreal towards the end of the 18th century.
After receiving his schooling, Pierre Gamelin trained as a notary under Joseph-Bernard Planté* at Quebec in 1804 and 1805, and then under Louis Chaboillez* in Montreal from 1805 to 1811. However, once his studies for the notarial profession were completed, he joined the Canadian Fencibles, obtained the rank of ensign, and saw service in the War of 1812. He married Jane Sophia Walker at Christ Church, the Anglican church in William Henry (Sorel), on 14 May 1813. In 1814 he left the regiment with the rank of lieutenant because of ill health.
On 26 July 1815 Gamelin petitioned Sir Gordon Drummond*, the administrator of Lower Canada, for admission to the notarial profession. His request was granted, and on 25 August he obtained his commission. Unable to settle anywhere for long, over the ensuing 40 years he practised as a notary in many places: Saint-Philippe-de-Laprairie from 1815 to 1817; Sainte-Marie-de-Monnoir (Marieville) in 1817 and 1818; Montreal from 1818 to 1821; La Prairie from 1821 to 1832; Napierville from 1832 to 1841; Dorchester/Saint-Jean (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu) from 1841 to 1852; and finally Christieville (Iberville) from 1852 to 1855.
In 1837, while at Napierville, Gamelin served as captain in the 1st Battalion of L’Acadie militia. During the Patriote uprising in his village in November he remained loyal to the colony’s government, and was forced to hand over his commission as militia captain to the local Patriote leaders. In November 1838, when the rebels gathered at the large camp in Napierville which was under the command of Robert Nelson*, he was arrested by Patriotes and held in the county jail. After the rebellion had failed, Gamelin made four depositions on these events, in particular against Cyrille-Hector-Octave Côté*, who represented L’Acadie in the House of Assembly and was one of the leaders of the Patriote movement at Napierville, and against Charles Huot, a fellow notary of that village who had been the camp quartermaster.
Gamelin had just settled at Dorchester in 1841 when he was appointed clerk of the district municipal council, created by an ordinance of the government in 1840. He served until 1 July 1845, when this first type of municipal institution was abolished. However, on 28 July 1845 he was appointed secretary-treasurer for the municipal council of the parish of Saint-Jean-l’Évangéliste, an office he retained until 1 Sept. 1847. Gamelin was also secretary to the board of health, which that council set up in June 1847 as a result of the raging epidemic of typhus brought in by Irish immigrants.
Pierre Gamelin died on 14 April 1856 in Iberville, at the age of 66. He was buried two days later in the cemetery of the Church of England congregation there, to which he belonged. He had probably become a convert to Anglicanism, but it is not known when. His wife had died on 7 Dec. 1855 and they apparently had had no children.
ANQ-M, CE1-59, 15 sept. 1785, 31 mai 1789; CE3-1, 14 mai 1813; CE4-28, 16 avril 1856; CN1-269, 1er déc. 1805. ANQ-Q, CN1-60, 5 sept. 1804; E17/7, no.122; E17/11, no.512; E17/32, no.2544; E17/33, no.2647. PAC, MG 30, D1, 13: 703–15; RG 4, B8, 4: 1276–87; B36, 5: 1541. Quebec Gazette, 19 March 1812. Lionel Fortin, Le maire Nelson Mott et l’histoire de Saint-Jean ([Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Qué.], 1976), 31–39. J.-J. Lefebvre, “Les De Couagne (Decoigne),” SGCF Mémoires, 25 (1974): 214–27.