DCB/DBC Mobile beta


New Biographies

Minor Corrections

Biography of the Day

CARSON, WILLIAM – Volume VII (1836-1850)

d. 26 Feb. 1843 in St John’s


Responsible Government

Sir John A. Macdonald

From the Red River Settlement to Manitoba (1812–70)

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sir George-Étienne Cartier


The Fenians

Women in the DCB/DBC

The Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences of 1864

Introductory Essays of the DCB/DBC

The Acadians

For Educators

The War of 1812 

Canada’s Wartime Prime Ministers

The First World War

MAILLOU (Mailloux), dit Desmoulins, JEAN-BAPTISTE, mason, master builder, king’s architect, clerk of the chief road commissioner (grand voyer), land surveyor; b. 21 Sept. 1668 at Quebec, son of Pierre Maillou, dit Desmoulins, a maker of wooden shoes, and Anne Delaunay; buried 18 Sept. 1753 in the crypt of Notre-Dame de Québec church.

Jean-Baptiste Maillou’s success was due in part to his older brother Joseph. Both worked independently as masons, Jean-Baptiste on Saint-Charles church at Charlesbourg (1695), and his brother on the intendant’s palace (1697); about 1697 they became partners in the construction business. The partners were well patronized by merchants and officials in Quebec. Their knowledge of formal architecture and decoration might explain this appeal: their library included Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, Architecture, ou art de bien bastir . . . (Paris, 1572), Philibert Delorme, Le premier tome de larchitecture . . . (Paris, 1567), Giacomo Barozzi, known as II Vignola, Règles des cinq ordres darchitecture . . . (Paris, 1632), Blaise-François de Pagan, Comte de Merveilles, Les fortifications . . . (Paris, 1624), Louis Savot, Larchitecture françoise des bastimens particuliers . . . (Paris, 1624), as well as 17 architectural engravings.

Some of these books may have come from the library of the builder-architect Claude Baillif* for the inventory of his estate listed similar titles. The Maillou brothers had been his employees and Baillif witnessed Jean-Baptiste Maillou’s first wedding contract. Jean-Baptiste bought Baillif’s house on Rue Sault-au-Matelot in 1701 and even though he moved to Upper Town about 1720 it remained his business address. Maillou was, in a sense, a successor of Claude Baillif.

The premature death of Joseph Maillou in December 1702 left Jean-Baptiste in command of their flourishing concern. His talents were not confined to domestic architecture. He acted as a builder-contractor for several ecclesiastical buildings: the friary of the Recollets at Quebec, the church at Saint-Laurent, Île d’Orléans (1702, 1708), the Hôpital Général at Quebec (1717), and the church of Saint-Étienne-de-Beaumont (c. 1727). In December 1720 an ordinance of the intendant, Michel Bégon, called for a new church and presbytery at Saint-Nicolas, in the seigneury of Lauzon, following the plans of Maillou, “builder of the King’s works.” A signed but otherwise unidentified plan by Maillou for a typical parish church exists in the ASQ. Alan Gowans suggests it might be the plan “for a new standard type of Quebec parish church” commissioned by Bishop Saint-Vallier [La Croix*].

Jean-Baptiste Maillou quickly gained the confidence of the royal government. In 1726 he rebuilt the upper storey of the intendant’s palace and in 1731 was the contractor for the stone vaults of the Château Saint-Louis. Most of his crown contracts were for military structures: the restoration of the Lower Town battery called “la grande plateforme” (1702), the Saint-Louis bastion (1705–7), and other parts of Quebec’s fortifications (1711), as well as similar work at Fort Saint-Frédéric (Crown Point, N.Y.) in the 1730s. In 1724 Maillou submitted an unsuccessful tender for the fortifications at Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island) [see Gédéon de Catalogne*].

Maillou was suitably rewarded by the government though his accounts were not always acceptable. By 1719 he had received the honorific title of king’s architect. On 6 Nov. 1728 Pierre Robinau* de Bécancour, the chief road commissioner, gave Maillou a commission to perform his duties in the jurisdiction of Quebec: Maillou was to act “in our absence” but the road commissioner actually left matters in the Quebec area entirely to his delegate. Maillou was empowered “to grant house alignments along the streets; to keep the streets clear in accordance with the highway ordinances; to prevent any protrusion, projections or encroachment on the streets without our permission or that of our delegate; and . . . to regulate, inspect and ensure maintenance of the royal roads of the said town.” In 1735 Maillou’s son-in-law Michel Petrimoulx was also made a clerk of the road commissioner, possibly to assist or replace Maillou.

From 1702 until the last years of his life Maillou was frequently called upon by the courts and private individuals to measure and appraise land, houses, and masonry work and to draw up plans. He also worked as a land surveyor even though no surveyor’s commission had been registered in his name. He marked out country roads in 1717 and 1729. He was an occasional assistant to the chief royal engineer Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry. In 1728, 1730, and 1742 Maillou was one of the experts who assessed the necessary repairs and possible modifications to the bishop’s palace. After the publication of Intendant Dupuy*’s ordinance of 1727 on construction, Maillou helped to enforce those sections dealing with shingle roofs and fireproof chimneys.

A variety of sources testify to the rise of Jean-Baptiste Maillou in the society of New France. He was of humble origins; his first wife, Louise Phélippeaux, whom he married at Quebec on 4 Feb. 1695, was a tailor’s daughter, and his second wife, Marguerite Caron, was the child of a merchant seaman; they were married at Quebec on 2 July 1703. On 30 Oct. 1720 the intendant, Bégon, and his wife attended the signing of the wedding contract between Jean Maillou and his third wife, Marie-Catherine Amiot, dit Villeneuve, a merchant’s daughter. From 1723 on Maillou rented a pew in the cathedral of Quebec, and in July 1746 he was one of four representative “merchants and townsmen” of Quebec consulted by the authorities about the town’s defences.

Several factors might account for Maillou’s rapid advancement. He was a competent masonry contractor and he had learned draughting and surveying. Jean-Baptiste and Joseph Maillou were uncommonly literate for masons: both owned copies of the Bible, small collections of sacred and profane histories, and books of devotion. Jean-Baptiste’s last home was decorated with a variety of prints and paintings. He was public-spirited as well as intelligent. He and his brother Pierre volunteered for training in gunnery from 1725 to 1727 for the defence of the town.

Maillou also had a sound but not venturesome business instinct. He bought real estate in Quebec and a few farms in the region, investments which showed a preference for security and a regular revenue. One of his biggest acquisitions was the former home of René-Louis Chartier* de Lotbinière. It was a large, two-storey, mansard-roofed house on Rue Saint-Louis in Quebec’s Upper Town, which he obtained in 1713 in a legal auction for a bid of 10,000 livres. It was later rented to the crown as a residence for Chaussegros de Léry. The house Maillou built for himself on the adjoining lot in 1736 was a relatively modest, one-storey, stone dwelling. In this house he died in 1753, and it still stands, much enlarged in height and breadth.

None of Jean-Baptiste Maillou’s sons seems to have shown enthusiasm for his trade. Vital was a mason for some years and then became a tavern-keeper; Louis-Marie was “in the pays den haut for the king’s service” when his father died. Joseph (1708–94) achieved some distinction as a silversmith and merchant; in 1723 his father had had to pay 500 livres in restitution to the parents of a girl whom he had accidentally killed. Two of Jean-Baptiste’s daughters married well and he provided a handsome dowry for Marie-Joseph when she became a nun of the Hôtel-Dieu. From 1707 to 1723 Jean-Baptiste had trained six apprentices in masonry, including Girard-Guillaume Deguise, dit Flamand, Nicolas Dasilva, dit Portugais, and an Englishman called Charles-Étienne Camanne. These apprentices and not Maillou’s children followed in his footsteps.

Peter N. Moogk

[AHGQ, Livres de comptes, I, 90v. AN, Col., B, 47, ff.1247–59; C11A, 59, ff.67–70; F3, 11, ff.224–25; G3, 2040 (here we find two original acts drafted by Claude Louet and the specifications for Maillou’s work at Fort Saint-Frédéric). ANQ, Greffe de Jacques Barbel; Greffe de R.-C. Barolet, 21 sept. 1753, passim; Greffe de Louis Chambalon, 30 janv. 1695, 12 avril 1704, 21 déc. 1705, 26 déc. 1711, 26 nov. 1715, passim; Greffe de J.-É. Dubreuil, 22 nov. 1723, passim; Greffe de François Genaple de Bellefonds, 16 juin 1683, 9 janv. 1700, 5 juill. 1702, 26, 29 juin, 29 août 1703, 19 avril 1707, passim; Greffe de Florent de La Cetière; Greffe de Jean de Latour; Greffe de Claude Louet; Greffe de J.-C. Louet, 30 oct. 1720, passim; Greffe de J.-N. Pinguet de Vaucour; Greffe de Gilles Rageot; Greffe de Pierre Rivet Cavalier, 8 avril, 6 nov. 1713, 21 nov. 1717, passim (since the quantity of notarial acts involving Maillou as a party or expert assessor is immense, one can only cite the most important deeds and indicate where the others might be found); NF, Coll. de pièces jud. et not., 69, no.2, passim.  p.n.m.]

Archives paroissiales de Saint-Étienne (Beaumont, Qué.), Livres de comptes, I. ASQ, Polygraphie, II, 77; Seigneuries, VI, IX; Séminaire, XX. PAC, MG 8, B1, 20/1, pp.245–54; 25/3, pp.1113–14, passim. “Correspondance de Vaudreuil,” APQ Rapport, 1947–48, 309, 326. Édits ord., III, 100. Jug. et délib., IV, V, VI. Recensement de Québec, 1716 (Beaudet). “Recensement de Québec, 1744” (APQ Rapport). P.-V. Charland, “Notre-Dame de Québec: le nécrologe de la crypte,” BRH, XX (1914), 215, 237, 238. Godbout, “Nos ancêtres,” APQ Rapport, 1951–53, 462, 490. P.-G. Roy, Inv. ins. Cons. souv., 185; Inv. jug. et délib., 1717–1760, I, II, III, IV, V; Inv. ord. int., I, II, III. Tanguay, Dictionnaire. Alan Gowans, Church architecture in New France. P.-B. Casgrain, “Le Kent-House, rectification historique,” BRH, XIX (1913), 11.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Peter N. Moogk, “MAILLOU, Desmoulins, JEAN-BAPTISTE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed February 26, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/maillou_jean_baptiste_3E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/maillou_jean_baptiste_3E.html
Author of Article:   Peter N. Moogk
Title of Article:   MAILLOU, Desmoulins, JEAN-BAPTISTE
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1974
Year of revision:   1974
Access Date:   February 26, 2024