LESSARD, ÉTIENNE DE, pioneer of the Beaupré shore, seigneur of Île-aux-Coudres and co-seigneur of Lanoraie, donor of the land on which the first three churches of Sainte-Anne de Beaupré were built; b. 1623 at Chambois, in the province of Normandy; d. 19 April 1703.
He arrived in New France before 16 June 1646, and on 10 Feb. 1651 obtained the title to his domain, called Saint-Étienne, which was at Petit-Cap on the Beaupré shore (now Sainte-Anne de Beaupré). On 8 April 1652 he married Marguerite Sevestre, daughter of Charles Sevestre*, procurator-syndic of the Communauté des Habitants. Twelve children were born of this marriage.
On 8 March 1658, according to a deed of gift, “because of the desire and the pious wish that the settlers of Beaupré have long had for a church or chapel in which they can share in divine service and participate in the sacraments of our Holy Mother Church, [he] gives to the parish priests who will be appointed a piece of land with a frontage of two arpents and a depth of one and a half leagues. The said gift is made on condition that in the present year 1658 the settlers . . . will begin without delay and will continue the building of a church or chapel on the said land.” This church, the site of which was blessed on 13 March 1658 by Abbé Guillaume Vignal* in the presence of the acting governor Louis d’Ailleboust*, was serving as a parish church in 1660. But in 1661 the damage wrought by high tides forced Bishop Laval to build a second church, in half-timbered field-stone, on new ground farther from the shore, to the east, at the foot of the great slope; this ground was also given by Étienne de Lessard. On the same ground, in 1676, Bishop Laval was to build a third church, of stone. Étienne de Lizard’s house served as a boarding-house for pilgrims.
On 4 March 1677 Buade* de Frontenac granted him Île-aux-Coudres as a fief and seigneury. As Étienne de Lessard did not intend to establish settlers there, he sold it for 100 livres to the seminary of Quebec on 19 Oct. 1687. He became co-seigneur of Lanoraie on 27 April 1688, but on 12 March 1698 he sold his share to Louis de Niort. He died on 19 April 1703 at Sainte-Anne de Beaupré.
Archives de la Basilique de Sainte-Anne de Beaupré, Cartulaires, PA-19: L-1; PA-33: LE (E), D-5; Registres, 19 avril 1703. ANDQ, Registres des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures, 8 avril 1652. ASQ, Documents Faribault, 78; Paroisses diverses, 72, 73, 75; Procure, carton Ste-Anne, 15; Seigneurie. JJ (Laverdière et Casgrain), 89, 100, 232–33. Provost, Le Séminaire de Québec: documents et biographies, 97–99. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, I, 162–63; III, 54; IV, 23–25. P.-G. et A. Roy, Inv. greffes not., I, 71, 149. Alphonse Lessard, “Le berceau de la famille de Lessard,” BRH, XXXV (1929), 75–78. Gustave Ouimet, “La dévotion à sainte Anne au Canada,” BRH, VIII (1902), 218f. M. de Ste-A., “La première chapelle de Sainte-Anne de Beaupré,” BRH, IX (1903), 210–13. Lucien Serre, “L’ancêtre des Lessard,” BRH, XXXIII (1927), 549–53.