LUPIEN, dit Baron, PIERRE (often referred to as Sieur Baron, or Barron), master carpenter, timber supplier to the royal shipyards; baptized 10 Oct. 1683 at Montreal, son of Nicolas Lupien, dit Baron, and Marie-Marthe Chauvin; d. 1744 in New France.
Until he was 50 years old Pierre Lupien, dit Baron, followed the trade of carpenter. His father raised animals and farmed at Montreal and later at Longue-Pointe; he also was a butcher and dabbled in the lumber trade. No doubt the latter activity later led Pierre into house-building. In 1734 while living in Montreal Pierre received a grant of three acres from Governor Charles de Beauharnois in the seigneury of Villechauve. Soon afterwards he expanded his activities from house carpentry to supplying timber to the small shipbuilding industry in the colony.
In the fall of 1736 or the following spring he agreed to supply timber and masts for a 300-ton merchantman to be built at Quebec. In 1738 the ship was completed, christened the Fier, and sailed to Bordeaux, France. At that time Baron was cutting ship timber along the Richelieu River around Sorel where he had gathered 22,000 running feet of oak boards. He already had sent a similar quantity of pine to Quebec. Clearly he was in a position to attract the notice of Gilles Hocquart* when the intendant began to search for individuals to supply timber to the newly established royal shipyards. In 1738 Baron and Clément de Sabrevois de Bleury jointly signed an agreement with Hocquart to cut timber and ship it to Quebec.
On 18 Nov. 1705 at Montreal Pierre had married Angélique Courault, dit La Coste, who gave him ten children. His two eldest sons, Antoine and Jean-Marie, worked with their father as timber suppliers to the government.
From 1738 until his death in 1744 Baron and his sons searched the forests of southwestern New France for suitable ship timber, as far west along the St Lawrence as Châteauguay and Long Sault and south along the shores of Lake Champlain. During that period he supplied material for the first three naval vessels to be built at Quebec, the flutes Canada and Caribou and the frigate Castor. He was unable to find any large stands of big trees, however, an indication of the major difficulty in building naval vessels in New France. Canadian forests simply were not able to supply easily the material needed for large warships. This fallacy in the government’s policy may well have been known to contemporary merchants of greater experience. It appears significant that wealthier men in the colony, who frequently obtained government contracts and possessed influential connections with colonial officials, did not enter the ship timber business. In 1742 Hocquart referred to Baron as the “sole timber entrepreneur” in New France, and drew attention to his age and lack of financial resources. Apparently the intendant was counting on Baron’s sons to do better, but meanwhile Hocquart was desperate. Widely dispersed resources and increased costs made the timber enterprise unattractive and later forced the government to carry out its own exploitation.
Sometime in 1744, while searching for more timber, Baron died, whether by accident is unknown. His estate was probably paltry. Hocquart agreed to pay his widow at the rate of 26 sols per board foot, 2 sols more than the agreed price, but the intendant reported that the poor woman was nevertheless reduced to beggary. His sons Antoine and Jean-Marie apparently continued in the timber trade, and in June 1744 his widow apprenticed a younger son to a sculptor-joiner. Baron might be considered an entrepreneur although the severe limitations on exploiting the forest resources of Canada for large ship construction ruined him. A self-made craftsman, his lack of experience and his ambition had led him into a highly dubious business venture.
AN, Col., C11A, 74, pp.206–11; 75, pp.351–52, 353–60; 79, pp.357–65; 80, pp.85–88, 91–93; 82/2, pp.383–84; 83, pp.332–34; 84/2, pp.21–24; 114, p.129 (PAC transcripts). ANQ-M, Greffe de Michel Lepailleur, 15 nov. 1705. “Recensement du Canada, 1681” (Sulte). Godbout, “Nos ancêtres,” APQ Rapport, 1953–55, 489. P.-G. Roy, Inv. coll. pièces jud. et not., I, 97; Inv. ord. int., II, 230, 231, 301; III, 37, 47. Tanguay, Dictionnaire. J.-N. Fauteux, Essai sur l’industrie, I, 213–14. Mathieu, La construction navale, 33, 36, 47–51.