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GODEFROY DE TONNANCOUR, LÉONARD, politician; b. 7 Nov. 1793 at Saint-Michel-d’Yamaska, Lower Canada, fifth child of Marie-Joseph Godefroy de Tonnancour and Catherine Pélissier, dit La Feuillade; d. 29 Jan. 1867 at Saint-Michel-d’Yamaska.

Léonard Godefroy de Tonnancour belonged to the sixth generation of one of the oldest seigneurial families in Lower Canada. His father gained fame through his part in the resistance to the American invasions of 1775–76 and 1812. He was a representative in the first House of Assembly of Lower Canada, and he instilled in his children a respect for the old seigneurial traditions, in a setting where the interests of the military aristocracy and the requirements of an active public life were combined.

In 1806, at 13, Léonard entered the Séminaire de Nicolet. When he finished his studies in 1812, he decided to work as administrator and farmer on the family estates. In early 1832 his father was feeling the burden of age and decided to make his will. The Labadie seigneury went to the eldest son, Marie-Joseph. The other children were to receive equal shares in the Yamaska seigneury and a part of the Saint-François seigneury, with entail of the estate to their children. Joseph Godefroy de Tonnancour further bequeathed to each of his children 100 acres of land in the township of Acton, given to him by the government for services rendered.

In the same year, Léonard Godefroy de Tonnancour was elected to represent the county of Yamaska in the assembly. The atmosphere was tense in Lower Canada at that time. The quarrel over government finances, the 1822 plan of union, bad harvests, and scarcity of land hardened the attitudes of a number of leading French Canadians, and the Patriote party set up local organizations to rally the country people. But Godefroy de Tonnancour, whose interests were tied to those of his social group, was more inclined to support the government. In 1837 he refused to follow the Patriotes of his parish. At Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu, where he had gone to visit his mother-in-law, they treated him to a “charivari.” A popular celebration in the 18th century, the charivari acquired a distinctly political significance during the disturbances. Indeed, opponents of the Papineau party were not infrequently threatened by Patriote gatherings.

After the disturbances the Patriotes of the Saint-Michel-d’Yamaska region became more moderate and did not oppose Godefroy de Tonnancour so strongly. In 1838 he abandoned public life, and was content to lead a peaceful existence with his family, enjoying the income from his estates. He was well regarded by his parish priest and the people of his district; he died quietly at Saint-Michel-d’Yamaska in the year of confederation. On 14 Sept 1835 he had married Marguerite Cherrier, and they had nine children.

Richard Chabot

ANQ-Q, QBC 25, Événements de 1837–1838, nos.2816, 2833. Le Populaire (Montréal), 2 oct. 1837. F.-J. Audet, Les députés des Trois-Rivières, 1808–1838 (Trois-Rivières, 1934), 14–21. F.-J. Audet et Édouard Fabre Surveyer, Les députés de Saint-Maurice et de Buckinghamshire, 1792–1808 (Trois-Rivières, 1934), 41–46; Les députés au premier parlement du Bas-Canada, [1792–1796] . . . (Montréal, 1946), 67. J.-A.-I. Douville, Histoire du collège-séminaire de Nicolet, 1803–1903, avec les listes complètes des directeurs, professeurs et élèves de l’institution (2v., Montréal, 1903), II, 129. Alexandre Dugré, La Pointe-du-Lac (Trois-Rivières, 1934), 14–21. P.-G. Roy, La famille Godefroy de Tonnancour (Lévis, Qué., 1904).

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Richard Chabot, “GODEFROY DE TONNANCOUR, LÉONARD,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 9, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed December 3, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/godefroy_de_tonnancour_leonard_9E.html.

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Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/godefroy_de_tonnancour_leonard_9E.html
Author of Article:   Richard Chabot
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 9
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1976
Year of revision:   1976
Access Date:   December 3, 2023