TERROUX, JACQUES, silversmith and merchant; b. in Geneva (Switzerland), son of François Terroux; fl. 1725–77.
According to his own affirmations Jacques Terroux practised the silversmith’s craft before coming to Canada. His name appears for the first time in Canadian documents in 1755. In October of that year he had registered with the Quebec notary Claude Louet the dissolution of a verbal agreement with Louis-Alexandre Picard, a merchant silversmith originally from Paris. During the last years of the French régime Terroux is believed to have taken on a number of apprentices and to have manufactured cheap goods for the fur trade, as well as some works of art. It has not been possible, however, to discover any of his artistic work other than a chalice in the Canadian style preserved in the bishop’s palace in Baie-Comeau and believed to be by his hand.
In 1758 or 1759 Terroux travelled to Europe in quest of funds. He went to Amsterdam, where he formed a company to do business in America. In the spring of 1760 he was back at Quebec and was seeking by every means to become rich rapidly, imitating in this the British merchants who had set up businesses in Quebec and Montreal. Between 1760 and 1765 he was putting money in trade with the West Indies, in fishing off the north shore of the St Lawrence, in shipping, in speculation in landed property. He imported goods from England and the West Indies and in return exported iron from the Saint-Maurice ironworks, fish, and furs. Moreover, Terroux advanced money to several people, including the nuns of the Hôtel-Dieu and the Hôpital Général as well as certain individuals. He also speculated in “Canadian bills,” buying payment orders and bills of exchange for a song, to sell them in turn to London suppliers, particularly to Francis Rybot; in all, Terroux succeeded in acquiring 1,333,681 livres. He seems to have exceeded his credit with Rybot, since the latter sent a representative, John Jennisson, to Quebec in 1765 to liquidate Terroux’s assets. These were sold by a court officer, and once debts were paid 4,680 livres remained for the Quebec merchant. He then went to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he met Joseph Frederick Wallet DesBarres*, a friend of Sir Frederick Haldimand*, the former governor of Trois-Rivières. Terroux borrowed money from Desbarres, after which he disappears from sight.
His will, dated 18 Dec. 1762, included a stipulation for payment of 3,000 livres tournois that he “recognized having received from Mademoiselle Louise Loubier.” Further on, the trader ordered that whatever remained of his assets after his death be put aside “for the children already born or to be born of me and the said Mademoiselle Loubier for the purpose of paying for their keep, having them educated, having them learn a trade or commerce.”
Despite the impressive number of business deals in which he engaged, this rather enigmatic person does not seem to have played a role of prime importance in the economy of New France.
ANQ-MBF, Greffe de L.–C. Maillet, 11 juill. 1777. ANQ-Q, Greffe de Claude Louet, 2 oct. 1755, 17 janv. 1763. Marcel Hamelin, “Jacques Terroux et le commerce entre 1760 et 1765” (unpublished l.ès l. (hist.) thesis, Université Laval, Québec, 1961).