POULIN DE COURVAL CRESSÉ (Cressé de Courval), LOUIS-PIERRE, assistant builder in the royal shipyards, seigneur; b. 8 April 1728 in Quebec, eldest son of Claude Poulin de Courval Cressé, merchant and shipbuilder, and Marie-Anne Lefebvre; d. 29 June 1764 at Trois-Rivières.
Louis-Pierre Poulin de Courval Cressé followed in a family tradition: both his father and his grandfather, Jean-Baptiste Poulin* de Courval, were shipbuilders in New France. At an early age Louis-Pierre was placed in one of the offices of Intendant Hocquart* in Quebec. There in 1746 he came to the attention of the superintendent of the royal shipyards, René-Nicolas Levasseur*, who had been instructed to find a young Canadian of good family to train as his understudy. Cressé was taken on by Levasseur and by the end of 1746 was reported to be receiving instruction from the master of hydrography, Joseph-Pierre de Bonnecamps*, and to have taken quickly to drafting and design. In the winter Cressé accompanied Levasseur in a search for ship timber and, in March 1747, he was appointed deputy builder at 30 livres per month. Thereafter Levasseur became Cressé’s strongest advocate in New France, teaching him all he knew about naval construction and organizing a shipyard.
By the end of 1747 Cressé was reported able to manage a shipyard under some supervision. His salary was scarcely adequate, and for several years had to be augmented by sums sent by his father. Levasseur was tireless in his efforts to obtain a raise in emoluments for him, but in 1754 Cressé was receiving only 480 livres per year although he was supervising master shipwrights being paid 900 livres.
By that date the royal shipyards were experiencing serious difficulties. Levasseur believed that François Bigot* was deliberately hampering progress and in the fall of 1753 had gone to France to present his complaints in person to the minister of Marine, Rouillé. Cressé was left in charge of the yards with the newly laid keel of the frigate Abénaquise on the stocks. Probably owing to his father’s influence, on 25 Sept. 1754 Cressé received one of the last seigneurial grants to be made under the French régime: that of Courval, located south of Baie-du-Febvre (Baieville, Que.) and adjoining the seigneury of Nicolet. Not long after, on 7 January, Cressé married in Quebec Charlotte-Louise, daughter of Eustache Lambert Dumont, the younger, seigneur of Mille-Îles, by whom he was to have three children.
Cressé continued to work on ship construction. In July 1755 the Marine decided to lay down no new ships in Canada until those on the stocks were completed and sent to France for inspection, but the outbreak of hostilities between France and England led to immediate demands for small warships to sail Lake Champlain and Lake Ontario. During the winter of 1755–56, Cressé was sent with a work party to Fort Frontenac (Kingston, Ont.) where he began building two ships, a schooner of ten guns (probably the Louise) and a larger vessel (either the 12-gun Hurault or the 16-gun Marquise de Vaudreuil). In the summer of 1756 the ships were ready.
Cressé’s subsequent activities remain uncertain. In 1757 Governor Pierre de Rigaud* de Vaudreuil recommended that he and Levasseur be sent to France to continue naval ship construction. Following the loss of Fort Frontenac in 1758, however, Cressé was sent to Pointe-au-Baril (Maitland, Ont.) near La Présentation (Oswegatchie; now Ogdensburg, N.Y.) where he began to build two or three corvettes for the planned campaign on Lake Ontario in 1759. These vessels were substantial: one, the Outaouaise, was 160 tons burden and mounted ten 12-pounder guns. Cressé remained at La Présentation through 1759, and after the capitulation of Montreal the next year he went to Trois-Rivières.
Seigneur of Courval and heir to Nicolet since his father had acquired the whole of this seigneury in 1747, Cressé appeared about to take up residence on the land after the conquest. In 1764, in return for one quarter of the revenues, his father granted him the banal rights over Nicolet on condition that he build a grist mill. Construction was begun, but on 29 June, at age 36, Louis-Pierre died at Trois-Rivières. His widow probably moved to Nicolet and completed the work. There in any case she raised her family and built the seigneurial manor. In 1785 Cressé’s son Pierre-Michel inherited from his grandfather two-thirds of Nicolet and became the first seigneur in a century to reside there.
AN, Col., C11A, 85, 86, 89, 99, 100, 103. Journal des campagnes au Canada de 1755 à 1760 par le comte de Maurès de Malartic . . . , Gabriel de Maurès de Malartic et Paul Gaffarel, édit. (Dijon, 1890), 59. Royal Fort Frontenac (Preston and Lamontagne). P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, II, 239–41; III, 281; V, 85–86. J.-E. Bellemare, Histoire de Nicolet, 1669–1924 (Arthabaska, Qué., 1924), 117–32. J.-N. Fauteux, Essai sur l’industrie, I, 272–74. Mathieu, La construction navale, 15, 58, 80, 103. P.-G. Roy, “Le sous-constructeur Cressé,” BRH, LII (1946), 131–35.