LEMOINE, dit Monière, ALEXIS (Jean-Alexis), merchant; b. 14 April 1680 at Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, son of Jean Lemoine and Madeleine de Chavigny de Berchereau; d. 23 June 1754 at Montreal.
The career of Alexis Lemoine, dit Monière, is fairly representative of that of the average Canadian “merchant-outfitter” in the first half of the 18th century. His father, a shareholder in the Compagnie de la Colonie, was a small trader in the region of Trois-Rivières. The family had few means, and when the sons reached manhood the trading networks formerly about Lac Saint-Pierre had shifted towards the interior; trade had become more structured and less easy of access. Like his older brother, René-Alexandre, dit Despain, Alexis had to leave for Montreal, whence the convoys for the west set off. He spent his entire youth as a voyageur and fur-trader on behalf of others, particularly for Cadillac [Laumet*]. Towards 1712 he began financing his own voyages to Michilimackinac and those of some “voyageur-associates.”
At this time Alexis adopted the name “Monière,” perhaps devised from an anagram of Lemoine. In doing so he followed the custom of the voyageurs, which in turn was copied from a peculiarity of the military, and this name became better known than his patronymic.
He was almost 35 years old when he married Marie-Louise Zemballe in Quebec on 22 March 1715 and opened a shop in Montreal. It took him several years more to establish a credit rating capable of sustaining large annual loans, to acquire and keep a regular clientele of voyageurs and officers garrisoned in the posts, and, finally, to expand his small local trade so that he could stabilize receipts. Except for a few rare occasions when he was a supplier to the troops, he is not known to have engaged in any activities other than this trade in furs, which he seems to have conducted successfully until an advanced age. It is true that he carried out certain property deals, in particular the acquisition of a piece of land on the côte Notre-Dame-des-Vertus, the management of which he oversaw attentively; but these are interests which go with growing old, which indicate stabilization and then recession of capital assets in business undertakings. Rare were the young indentured employees (engagés) in the fur trade who succeeded in climbing to the rank of “merchant-outfitter.” Monière had talent, a prudence which enabled him to save part of his wages, and above all influential friends. Through his mother, daughter of François de Chavigny de Berchereau, one of the members of the Conseil Souverain [see Éléonore de Grandmaison*], he was related to people in high business and administrative offices. His sisters married “merchant-voyageurs,” and this family circle supplied the initial nucleus of his clientele. Monière’s first marriage, with an Englishwoman, had perhaps not furthered his establishment in business, but the second one, in 1726, with Marie-Josephte, daughter of Charles de Couagne*, who was in his lifetime an important Montreal merchant and who was related to several officers, could only have helped in putting his business on a sound footing. Monière’s children married into the same privileged circle, and his son, Pierre-Alexis, carried on his father’s business undertaking even after 1760.
An annual turnover of 10–15,000 livres was not enough to build up a fortune, but it ensured a comfortable living and in the most favourable conditions enabled the saving of some 30–50,000 livres. In a sector which had reached its ceiling and was dangerously competitive, Monière is an example of respectable success.
ANQ-M, Greffe de J.-B. Adhémar; Greffe de Jacques David; Greffe de F.-M. Lepailleur; Greffe de J.-C. Raimbault; Greffe de Nicolas Senet; Registre d’état civil, Notre-Dame de Montréal, 12 août 1726. PAC, MG 23, GIII, 25, A. “Correspondance de Mme Bégon” (Bonnault), APQ Rapport, 1934-35, 9. Bonnault, “Le Canada militaire,” APQ Rapport, 1949-51, 444. Massicotte, “Répertoire des engagements pour l’Ouest,” APQ Rapport, 1930-31; 1931–32. Tanguay, Dictionnaire. Nish, Les bourgeois-gentilshommes.