LEFEBVRE, dit Laciseraye, MICHEL, master-mason, land-surveyor and builder; born at Trois-Rivières in 1654, son of Pierre Lefebvre and of Jeanne Aunois; married Catherine Trottier of Champlain on 3 Nov. 1683, and had eight children; buried at Trois-Rivières 21 Oct. 1708.
Presumably this typical artisan-builder followed the normal practice of his kind and day, travelling about the colony to work on various buildings as opportunity afforded; occasionally too he surveyed land in the vicinity of Trois-Rivières. His only recorded activity as an artisan, however, is on the second parish church of Trois-Rivières in 1682–83, and on the first parish church of Lachine in 1702–3. A contract for the Trois-Rivières church exists, made between the Recollets under whose aegis it was built, and René Pelletier, carpenter; and there is also a notation in the greffe of Severin Ameau giving Lefebvre the task of sheathing the building with boards and shingles for which the parish council gave him 350 livres plus the materials. Lefebvre being also a master-mason, it is reasonable to assume that he was responsible for the exterior appearance of the Trois-Rivières church. It has vanished without trace, but presumably it was similar to the one Lefebvre built at Lachine, whose appearance (aside from the bell-tower, rebuilt in 1718) is known from a drawing made before its demolition in 1869 (reproduced as Plate xxix in Alan Gowans’ Church architecture in New France).
It would be an error, however, to imagine that Lefebvre was its architect in any modern sense. Lefebvre represented the traditional “form transmitting” folk builder, as contrasted with the modem idea of a “form-giving” architect. He incorporated in his architecture proportions and structure inherited through apprenticeship from a collective folk tradition (presumably that of Normandy, since his father came from Rouen) rather than any expression of personal taste or aesthetic ideas.
A. Roy, Inv. greffes not., XI, 120, 121, 135, 224. É.-Z. Massicotte, “Les arpenteurs de Montréal,” BRH, XXV (1919), 223. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, I, 365; VI, 263. Désiré Girouard, Lake St. Louis, old and new, and Cavelier de La Salle (Montréal, 1893), 45ff. Alan Gowans, Church architecture in New France (Toronto, 1955), 90, 131. Jouve, Les Franciscains et le Canada: aux Trois-Rivières, 32–34.