GUY, PIERRE, merchant, militia officer at Montreal; b. 5 May 1701 in Paris, France, son of Nicolas Guy and Élisabeth Leduc; d. 14 April 1748 in Montreal.
The date of Pierre Guy’s arrival in New France is not known. In 1725 he was in Montreal, where on 18 November he married Élisabeth Garreau, the widow of Jean Lalande. The aveu et dénombrement of Montreal in 1731 mentions one “S. Guy” who owned a two-storey stone house in Rue Saint-Joseph. This was perhaps Pierre Guy; in any case it seems certain that it was he who in 1730 received the commission as ensign in the militia granted to “Sieur Guy, a merchant.” The following year Guy became a lieutenant in the militia, and in 1738 he received a commission as second captain.
On 29 Sept. 1734, some months after the death of his wife, by whom he had had eight children in nine years of marriage, Pierre Guy remarried, this time with Jeanne Truillier, dit Lacombe. Of this second marriage were born five children, including Pierre*, who played an important role in Montreal after the conquest.
Pierre Guy may well have been known as a merchant in Montreal even in 1730, but it is only with the 1740s that one discovers useful information about his business career. He had, however, already become reasonably well-off, for in 1741 he owned four pieces of land at Montreal, the last of which had been bought for 1,600 livres. His accounts, which are still available though incomplete, indicate a fairly high level of business. Guy imported general merchandise, wine, and spirits, and he exported peltries to France through the agency of François Havy and Jean Lefebvre, his principal correspondents in Quebec. Guy sometimes had recourse to other merchants in that town and occasionally was directly in touch with his suppliers in the mother country, but the bulk of his trade was done with Havy and Lefebvre, from whom he sometimes bought for considerable amounts. For example, a current account dated 18 Oct. 1743 lists numerous shipments of cloth, lead, wine, and paper, the total of which amounted to 19,857 livres 5 sols 7 deniers. Guy paid his suppliers fairly promptly with furs or bills of exchange and sometimes raised difficulties about the quality of the merchandise he received.
Trade was not always an easy matter for Pierre Guy. At times he made errors of judgement which caused Havy and Lefebvre to step in. In 1745, when war was hindering transportation between the colony and the mother country and imports were becoming scarcer, Havy and Lefebvre wrote to Guy: “We see that you are selling as much as you can; we cannot say that you are acting entirely wisely, you are selling for small profit and to all appearances you will pay very dearly for your purchases.”
In August 1745, when it was feared that New France would be invaded by British troops, Guy came down to Quebec with militia officers from Montreal to repulse a possible attack. He was soon back in Montreal, but one may believe that the fear of an English invasion continued to be a preoccupation, for in 1745 and 1746 he transferred to France considerable funds which he did not intend to use in his business until peace had returned. It may be supposed that he anticipated returning to France if the colony came into the hands of the English, for certain Canadians already had a presentiment of the colony’s fall.
AN, Col., B, 46, f.101; 47, f.1219; C11A, 85, ff.72–81. ANQ-M, Greffe de F.-M. Lepailleur, 28 sept. 1734; Greffe de Michel Lepailleur, 18 nov. 1725; Registre d’état civil, Notre-Dame de Montréal, 18 nov. 1725, 29 sept. 1734, 15 avril 1748. PAC, MG 8, C3, 38, 15 juin 1748; MG 18, H28, III, Liste des habitants de Montréal, 1640–1800; MG 23, GIII, 25, Pierre Guy, Grand Livre no.4, 1735–1740, Livre de comptes, 1742–1745 [These two account books contain retail sales and did not provide any important information for this biography. j.i.]; 28, Pierre Guy, 1739–1749; MG 24, L3, 2, pp.543–55, 558–63, 566–79, 582–89, 592–633, 637–63, 670–71, 677–718, 722–26, 730–75, 776–1130, 1131–35, 1139–50; 28, pp.17756–61; 35, pp.22417–35, 22469–76; 39, p.25147; 40, pp.25537–46; 43, pp.28127–29; 46, pp.29617–20, 29622–23. “Aveu et dénombrement pour l’île de Montréal,” APQ Rapport, 1941–42, 25–26. Bonnault, “Le Canada militaire,” APQ Rapport, 1949–51, 441. Tanguay, Dictionnaire.