LENOIR, dit Rolland, FRANÇOIS, soldier, businessman, builder of Fort Rolland at Lachine; b. c. 1642, son of Rolland Lenoir, a bourgeois of Moras in the province of Dauphiné, and Claudine (Claude) Moulin; d. 5 May 1717 in Montreal and was buried there the next day.
As a soldier in the company commanded by Henri de Chastelard de Salières, Lenoir left La Rochelle at the end of May 1665 with some of the troops of the Carignan-Salières regiment, and, after a stormy crossing, landed at Quebec on about 18 August.
When he received his discharge from the army, Lenoir launched into the fur trade. In 1669 he asked the Sulpicians of Montreal to grant him, for business reasons, a piece of land situated above the Sault Saint-Louis rapids, on the present site of Lachine. His request was granted, but the official transfer was not made until 6 May 1675. As early as 1669, however, he had had a factory built there, which was protected by a stockade. This post, called “Fort Rolland,” subsequently became a very thriving business location. Frequent contacts gave Lenoir thorough knowledge of indigenous peoples; that is perhaps one of the reasons why Buade* de Frontenac took him along on his 1673 expedition to the pays d’en haut. Later, in 1686, Lenoir was to take part in another official expedition, that led by the Chevalier de Troyes* to Hudson Bay.
Lenoir owned several properties in the region around Montreal. On 1 Jan. 1675 he received from Gabriel de Berthé, Sieur de La Joubardière, a grant of land in the Bellevue fief (island of Montreal). Shortly afterwards, Lenoir took legal action against Berthé in connection with a piece of land and a road. The lawsuit was concluded only on 30 Aug. 1683; it ended with Lenoir having to pay 400 livres to Berthé. The following year, on 15 Feb. 1684, François-Marie Perrot* granted him the island called “le petit pain” (one of the Îles aux Pins, near Île Perrot); he then received, among other things, another grant of land in 1686.
Lenoir is chiefly known for his clashes with several of his fellow citizens and for his numerous lawsuits. In 1676, for example, he was excommunicated by the Sulpician Étienne Guyotte, the parish priest of Lachine, for having traded spirits to indigenous people. On 19 December of that year, Lenoir addressed a petition to Intendant Duchesneau*, asserting his right as a settler to trade with indigenous people; he also asked permission to take legal action against those who, at Guyotte’s request, had expelled him from the church on 29 November. Having received the intendant’s authorization, Lenoir brought the matter before the courts. In 1677 a judgement was finally rendered in his favour: the Conseil Souverain forbade the parish priest Guyotte or any other ecclesiastic to read or cause to be read outside or inside churches “any text other than those concerned with ecclesiastical matters.”
In 1681 Lenoir had five servants in his employ, and owned 45 acres under cultivation, 6 muskets, and 2 oxen. But despite his business and his trips to the west, he did not become wealthy. Perhaps his many lawsuits involved a heavy loss of time and money. In any event, he found himself obliged in 1698 to assign Fort Rolland, its outbuildings, and all his accounts receivable as security for a loan made to him by Charles de Couagne. For more than ten years Lenoir tried in vain to recover his assets; he unable to re-establish himself financially and died penniless in 1717.
Lenoir and his wife, Marie-Madeleine Charbonnier, whom he had married on 2 Jan. 1673 in Montreal, had six children.
AJM, Greffe d’Antoine Adhémar; Greffe de Bénigne Basset; Greffe de Claude Maugue; Registres d’état civil de Notre-Dame de Montréal, 2 janv. 1673. Jug. et délib. Recensement du Canada, 1681 (Sulte). Gagnon, “Noms propres au Canada français,” 121. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, I, 381. Sulte, Mélanges historiques (Malchelosse), VIII.
Revisions based on:
Bibliothèque et Arch. Nationales du Québec, Centre d’arch. de Montréal, CE601-S8, 6 août 1683, 20 juill. 1688; CE601-S51, 29 oct. 1673, 9 févr. 1675, 30 déc. 1676, 19 sept. 1682, 6 mai 1717; CN601-S17, 26 déc. 1672. Michel Langlois, Carignan-Salière, 1665–1668 (Drummondville, Québec, 2004).