RÉAUME (Rheaume), CHARLES, interpreter and farmer; b. 4 Feb. 1743 in Detroit (Mich.), son of Hyacinthe Réaume, a shoemaker, and Agathe de Lacelle; m. Angélique Beauchamp; d. 20 Dec. 1813 in Kingston, Upper Canada.
By the mid 1760s Charles Réaume had begun his career as an interpreter for the British Indian Department at Detroit. Nor was his activity confined to that vicinity: in 1778 Major Arent Schuyler DePeyster* at Michilimackinac (Mackinaw City, Mich.) entrusted him with correspondence for Governor Frederick Haldimand at Montreal, to be taken via the French River (Ont.). His domicile continued to be the region of Detroit, however; he was listed the same year as one of three captains in the Indian Department under Jehu Hay*, the deputy superintendent there.
Réaume also became the proprietor of lots on both sides of the Detroit River, some of which were acquired from the Indians with whom he dealt. In 1776, “in consideration of the sincere friendship and affection that we have for Charles Réaume,” Egushwa* and two other principal chiefs of the Ottawa village on the south (Canadian) shore granted him a tract near by. The Detroit census of 1782 shows him to be a well-to-do farmer, whose holdings included a female slave (another slave had died earlier the same year). In 1786 the Potawatomis granted him property on the River Raisin (Mich.).
Réaume not only obtained lands himself; he also played a role in the acquisition of lands by others. In 1780 he acted as an interpreter when the Wyandots conveyed lands on the south shore to Father Pierre-Philippe Potier*, and in 1800 he witnessed the formal conveyance to the crown of the greater part of the Huron Church Reserve, on which the new town of Sandwich (Windsor), Upper Canada, had been begun in 1797.
Réaume achieved some status in the Detroit community, serving from 1781 to 1795 as a warden of Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption, the south-shore parish. However, an incident that took place in 1797, a year of particularly bad relations between the Indian Department and the local commanding officer, suggests the limitations of Réaume’s social standing as well, perhaps, as the haughty character of Captain Hector McLean. Servant-maids at the newly built Fort Malden (Amherstburg), Upper Canada, were reported to have prevented Réaume from seeing McLean by pushing him downstairs, he not being a gentleman and therefore not fit company for an officer. In 1799 McLean approved a list certified by Réaume of 270 Ottawas and Chippewas who had been settled at the Chenal Écarté (on the eastern boundary of the Walpole Island Indian Reserve).
The British naval defeat of 10 Sept. 1813 on Lake Erie [see Robert Heriot Barclay*] resulted in the abandonment of the western frontier and an overland retreat to the northeast [see Henry Procter* ] . The hardships had a disastrous effect on the ageing Réaume’s health. Somewhere on the Thames River he and his family separated from the British forces, and by early December they had arrived in Kingston. There, on 20 December, he died “of fatigue.” During the half century he had served in the Indian Department, Charles Réaume appears to have discharged his responsibilities with such fidelity that he enjoyed the good opinion of both the British and the multitude of native people he encountered.
Archdiocese of Detroit, Chancery Office, Reg. des baptêmes, mariages, et sépultures de Sainte-Anne (Detroit), 2 Feb. 1704–30 Dec. 1848, 1: 229 (transcript at DPL, Burton Hist. Coll.). John Askin papers (Quaife), 1: 170, 249–50, 325–26, 331–33. Mich. Pioneer Coll., 9 (1886): 371–73, 485; 10 (1886): 602; 15 (1889): 585; 20 (1892): 544–45, 641–42. Windsor border region (Lajeunesse).