LE POUPET DE LA BOULARDERIE, LOUIS-SIMON, knight of the order of Saint-Louis, commandant at Port d’Orléans, Île Royale (North Bay Ingonish, Cape Breton Island), 1719–1738, naval officer, soldier, and colonizer; b. c. 1674, probably in Paris; d. 6 June 1738 on Île Royale.
La Boularderie was the son of Antoine Le Poupet, Seigneur de Saint-Aubin, king’s secretary, and Jacqueline Arnoulet. In 1702 he married Madeleine Melançon at Port-Royal, Acadia (Annapolis Royal, N.S.); they had two known children, Antoine* and Marie-Madeleine (Mme Jacques Mazière).
He entered the colonial regular troops in 1693 and served as an ensign and later lieutenant to Pastour de Costebelle at Plaisance (Placentia), Newfoundland, taking part in the military operations conducted in that theatre by Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville in 1696–97. Four years later he was serving at Port-Royal where he was appointed captain of a company and attained the naval rank of sub-lieutenant, both on 1 Feb. 1702. In the second of two sieges launched against Port-Royal by Massachusetts forces under John March in 1707, he was wounded while leading a gallant but imprudent sortie and returned to France with his family.
Because of the decay of the French navy following its disastrous defeat at La Hougue (1692), La Boularderie now found employment as a naval officer increasingly difficult and promotion impossible. In 1712 he collected private capital to outfit the king’s ship, the Héros, which carried the intendant, Bégon*, to Canada; this service failed, however, to gain him hoped-for preferment. Thereafter he turned to merchant shipping, but this on occasion involved him in naval operations. At Quebec to pick up cargo in 1713, he was persuaded by Bégon to carry troops and badly needed supplies to Saint-Ovide de Brouillan [Monbeton*], sent by the French court to take possession of Île Royale and to found the port of Louisbourg.
Two years later La Boularderie used another trading vessel to relieve the starving garrison of Port Toulouse (St Peters, N.S.). This earned him the favour of the admiral of France, the Comte de Toulouse, who had ordered the relief action and to whom La Boularderie subsequently proposed the establishing of an agricultural settlement on Île Royale at Île de Verderonne (Boularderie Island) and the adjacent eastern shore of La Petite Brador (St Andrew’s Channel). He also asked for the right to establish a fishery at Port d’Orléans, the harbour of the bay of Niganiche, a cod-drying station some 30 miles north of Île de Verderonne. The fishery would provide return cargoes for ships provisioning Île de Verderonne, which would in time supply Louisbourg. La Boularderie would undertake the necessary transport of fishermen and colonists provided that a naval ship, the Paon, were put at his disposal for two years.
The Comte de Toulouse lent his support to the project, and by a brevet of 15 Feb. 1719 La Boularderie received a concession along La Petite Brador en franc alleu noble. He was granted priority right to beaches sufficient for drying the catch of 100 fishermen at Port d’Orléans and was made commandant there and in his concession. On 27 Feb. 1720 the shore privilege was transferred to the nearby island of Niganiche (Ingonish) because of the overcrowding of the beaches at Port d’Orléans.
After twice failing, La Boularderie succeeded in 1723 in forming a company at Saint-Malo to provide the capital necessary to exploit his concessions. The enterprise began inauspiciously when he and the company’s director, a M. Le Brun, were captured by pirates and set adrift in a small boat 100 miles from Île Royale. In 1726 La Boularderie had the new company evicted from his concessions because he believed, rightly or wrongly, that for three years it had neglected the duty of settlement while exploiting the lucrative fishery. Le Brun defiantly continued operations from Port d’Orléans and was still there in 1729. In that year a new company was formed with eight merchants of Rouen and Le Havre. La Boularderie returned to Île Royale with 100 winterers, both colonists and fishermen.
The population of La Petite Brador was 13 in 1726, 21 in 1734 and 32 in 1737, by which year La Boularderie had built a water-driven mill. Three years previously he had marketed un-milled grain at Louisbourg. At Niganiche stone warehouses and other buildings were erected. The company claimed to have invested 500,000 livres in its establishments and to employ 300 men in shipping, fishing, and cultivation. Unfortunately a managerial crisis in France caused the stoppage of supplies and obliged La Boularderie to return there in 1732 and 1735. The quarrelling associates dissolved their company, and La Boularderie returned to La Petite Brador to establish a shipyard.
This last and most visionary of La Boularderie’s projects, which was to begin with the construction of a 1,200-ton vessel for the king of Spain, was blighted at the outset by La Boularderie’s shipwreck in the St Lawrence with necessary supplies, and by the withdrawal of his associate, the Sieur Gombert. At the time of his death the ever resourceful La Boularderie was soliciting support for a road to be built from La Petite Brador to Louisbourg and had persuaded the local authorities to purchase from him coal and materials for fortifications.
Although denied high naval rank, La Boularderie had the unfailing support of the French government for his colonizing and development plans. Even local officials, sceptical of the utility of seigneurial land grants, defended him against detractors. Like most primary colonizing ventures, La Boularderie’s required an enormous expenditure of money and effort for little result. Yet, the debt-burdened seigneury left by this resilient pioneer was a not inconsiderable monument to his endeavours before it was burned, first by the English, then by the French, in the War of the Austrian Succession.
AN, Col., B, 40–46; C11A, 64; C11B, 1–22; E, 240 (dossier La Boularderie); Marine, C1. BN, MS, Cabinet des titres, dossiers bleus, 541; dossier 14.145. Charlevoix, History (Shea), V, 199. “Correspondance de Vaudreuil,” APQ Rapport, 1947–48, 228, 230. Documents relating to Canadian currency during the French period (Shortt), I, 161. [Samuel Holland], Holland’s description of Cape Breton Island and other documents, ed. D. C. Harvey (Halifax, 1935), 65–66. Le Jeune, Dictionnaire [this biography contains numerous errors, but gives some interesting genealogical material]. J. G. Bourinot, Historical and descriptive account of the island of Cape Breton and of its memorials of the French régime (Montreal, 1892), 92n. McLennan, Louisbourg, 11, 52, 57–58, 58n. Murdoch, History of Nova-Scotia, I, 267, 293.