GILL, IGNACE, businessman and politician; b. 15 March 1808 at Saint-François-du-Lac, Lower Canada, son of Thomas Gill, a farmer, and Catherine Bazin, and greatgrandson of Samuel Gill who as a child was kidnapped by the Abenakis of Saint-François at Salisbury (Mass.) in 1697; d. 1 Sept. 1865 at Saint-Thomas-de-Pierreville (Pierreville, Que.).
Ignace Gill worked as a clerk in the store of Michel Lemaître, then in that of the Mackenzies at Baie-du-Febvre (Baieville, Que.), where he learned English. He opened his own store around 1830 in a former presbytery of the Abenaki mission of Saint-François-de-Sales (Odanak). The Gill family had always been considered part of the tribe; however in 1833 the Abenakis, “tired of the authority of the Gills over the tribe,” requested the government to strike the family off the list of tribe members drawn up by the Indian Department. When Gill ceased to run his store in 1850, he engaged in various activities: the timber trade, the building of barges, and the administration, as agent, of the Pierreville seigneury owned by François-Xavier Biron.
Ignace Gill was active in the public life of his village. He was appointed justice of the peace in 1835. On 18 June 1837, at a meeting protesting Lord John Russell’s resolutions, he was named a member of a committee responsible for obtaining signatures to a petition to the American Congress requesting free trade with the United States; many people desired this rapprochement after London refused to accept the Ninety-Two Resolutions. After the suppression of the rebellion, however, he was recommended to Sir John Colborne as the person most suited to hold the office of stipendiary magistrate in his region. Later, in 1850, he fought against the éteignoirs of the county of Yamaska, whose members, like those of Saint-Grégoire-le-Grand in the county of Nicolet (Larochelle), set fire to the schools in protest against the 1846 law that had re-established the school tax [see Jean-Baptiste Meilleur*]. For years he was president of the Yamaska County Agricultural Society, and he was mayor of the parish of Saint-Thomas-de-Pierreville in 1862 and 1863.
Gill, a Conservative, was a successful candidate for the county of Yamaska in the 1854 election. His re-election in 1857, however, was difficult: the enfant terrible Jean-Baptiste-Éric Dorion came to assist the Liberal candidate, Dr Roch-Moïse-Samuel Mignault. The malcontents claimed that the Abenaki women had been dressed in greatcoats and made to vote for “cousin” Gill. Gill was defeated in the 1861 elections. He died on 1 Sept. 1865, remembered as a profoundly religious and eminently charitable man.
On 30 Jan. 1832, at Baie-du-Febvre, Ignace Gill had married Elizabeth, daughter of Allen McDougald and Marie McPherson; then in September 1850, at Drummondville, he took as his second wife Jane Henrietta, daughter of William Robins and Margaret Anderson. By his first wife he had a son, Charles-Ignace, later a judge of the Superior Court and father of Charles-Ignace-Adélard*, painter and poet. The financier Louis-Adélard Sénécal* bought Gill’s estate and in 1866 founded the Pierreville Steam Mills Company for the exploitation of timber. Family souvenirs are still preserved in the brick house built by Gill at Odanak in 1854.
Le Journal des Trois-Rivières, 12 sept. 1865. T.-M. Charland, Histoire de Saint-François-du-Lac (Ottawa, 1942); Histoire des Abénakis d’Odanak (1675–1937) (Montréal, 1964). C. [-I.] Gill, Notes historiques sur l’origine de la famine Gill et histoire de ma propre famille (Montréal, 1887).