From the Nipigon Historical Museum Archives
March 24, 1964
Mr. J.C. Bonenfant
Hotel du Gouvernement
Dear Mr. Bonenfant,
I take the liberty to address this letter to you in regard to some historical enquiries.
Introducing myself, I like to inform you that I came to Canada in 1927, originally from Austria and Italy and - outside of the nine years residence in Montreal - I have been living in Toronto. For the past 20 years I have been reading a great deal on Canadian History and, especially in connection with the Fur Trade in the Upper Lakes. I came across some interesting historic material, as yet unpublished.
It concerns the life of two Fur Traders, namely, Louis Denys de la Ronde and Charles Francois Denys de la Ronde, Count of Thibaudiere.
Their grandfather was Louis Denys de la Ronde a Chevalier de Saint-Louis, who built the first vessel in Lake Superior (1733 ) and who died in Quebec City in 1741.
Their father ( one of the sons of the above named Louis was Pierre Francois Paul, born 14 juillot 1723 at l'Ile-St. Jean, died at La Collo under Abercrombie. He was married to Marguerite Susanne de Celles-Duclos in 1749 in Montreal.
Louis Denys de la Ronde, the Fur Trader, ( and son of Pierre Francois Paul ) made a Will in Montreal in 1797 in which he left his worldly possessions to an Indian wife ( common law) in the Lake Nipissing District, Ontario. He had 10 children with her and in the Will he named the 10 children.
However, Louis Denys de la Ronde must have recovered his health because in July 1800 he married in Montreal a widow, her name was Louise King and with whom he had five sons. He died in 1808 and was buried in St. Anne de Bellevue. The five sons were:
Louis, born 1801 ( of Nipigon)
Charles-Francois ( named after the uncle) born 1803
Michel-Gaspard, born 1804
Pierre-Alexandre, born 1806
Joseph-Adolphe, born 1808
Louis Denys de la Ronde owed his brother Charles- Francois with whom he also dealt with in the Fur Trade, a total of L 11,355.10, this includes a loan of L 9031 . A signed statement for this amount against the estate of Louis is in the Courthouse.
The said Louise King, Widow, was appointed tutor and Charles-Francois (1763-1840) the uncle, was present in Montreal to the deed. The one son of Louis and Louise King who is of special interest in this research is Michel-Gaspard, born in 1804, who became a notary and practiced law in Avonteuil (not sure of spelling as the copy is blurry - ed). His life is described in the following two books:
a) "History of the Counties of Argenteuil, Quebec, and Prescott, Ont." ( from the earliest settlement to the present) by C. Thomas 1896, Montreal.
b) "Memories of Old St. Andrews and Historical Sketches of the Seigniory of Argenteuil" , by B. N. Wales, M.D. copyright 1934 Watchman Press, Lachute, P.Q.
In the above two books, Michel Gaspard de Coligny Denys de la Ronde is described as a highly intelligent lawyer, well known for his witty political lampoons etc. etc. He was a friend of Laurier. Michel Gaspard married in 1829 and had 10 children, he died age 78 in 1896.
Charles Francois Denys de la Ronde. He was born June 9, 1763, in what was then known as l'Assumption du Detroit ( now Sandwich, Windsor) his father being then an officer in that Fort. He too became a free Fur Trader in the Upper Lakes, perhaps, at first, with the North-West Company. He also had a family of several children with an Indian woman. However, he brought his family to Montreal, and on the 22nd of June 1818 he had his marriage and children legitimized, baptized, in OKA, Parish of Lac des Deux Moutagnes, District Terrebonne. He died in 1840 in Penetanguishene and his descendants are still living and fairly numerous.
About thirty years ago a direct descendant of this family of Charles Francois came from the USA to Montreal and had a visit with Mr. Massicotte. He told her about that lawyer de la Ronde in St. Andrews East, that he had carried on a long litigation with the Sulpician Order in regard to some family property, but that , in the end he lost out on account of lack of proper evidence. Mr. Massicotte also said that the case was well known in Montreal and, in case the visitor was interested, his son-in-law, a lawyer, would be willing to look into the matter.
A year or two later, a member of the same family made a trip to St. Andrews East and there met Eva de la Ronde, then about 70 years old and daughter of the late notary Michel-Gaspard. She too confirmed the above story.
A month ago I came across in the Toronto Reference Library three booklets with the following titles:
A) Report, relating to the Affairs of the OKA Indians, made to the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs by Rev. William Scott, Ottawa, 22 Jan. 1883, printed by MacLean, Roger & Co.
B) A Contribution to a proper understanding of the OKA question and a help to its equitable settlement by BETA, Montreal 1879
C) An historical notice on the difficulties arisen between the Seigneurs of Saint Sulpice and certain Indians of OKA , Montreal.
The interesting part in these 3 booklets is that it mentions that third and fourth influential parties were using the simple Indians in this litigation. However, no name is quoted who these parties were?
My question now is : Does the above refer to Gaspard de Coligny Denys de la Ronde, it looks as if this is the same case?
It seems, as if Charles Francois Denys de la Ronde also enters in this picture, because he left POWER OF ATTORNEY to the Hon. Michel Chartier de Lotbiniere on August 13th , 1808 before Notary Public in Montreal. With this document Charles Francois claims his rights of succession to the Denys estate.
My question is
a) Where can I read about this succession and
b) Exactly, what was the case Gaspard de Coligny de la Ronde against the Sulpicians Mr. Massicotte spoke of?
A year or so ago, there appeared an article in the Daily Paper again referring to the properties the Sulpicians are holding. Is this the same case?
It may also be of interest to you in regard to the Ontario Denys de la Ronde's that an article appeared in the Toronto Telegram of December 28, 1950, stating the case of 3 Indians in the Nipigon Region. They were descendants of the following :
Louis Denys de la Ronde, born in St. Ann's (?).... 1803
joined the North-West Company in ...1818
Joined the Hudson's Bay Company in...1821
Served at the Nipigon Post ...1851--68
died at the Nipigon Post ... August 1868
Although there seems to be an error in his birth year ( the above information was given from the Hudson's Bay Records in Winnipeg ) I believe the above Louis Denys de la Ronde was the son of Louise King and Louis Denys, who died in St. Anne de Bellevue in 1808. The Louis was buried at Sault Ste. Marie and in the Historical Room in the new Armories of that city there is a broken tombstone with the following inscription :
"Sacred to the memory of Louis Denys de la Ronde departed this life August 22, 1868, aged 68 years. He was for a period of 18 years in the service of the Hon. Hudson's Bay Company and was one of their most zealous and faithful officers."
The Louis of the Sault left seven legitimate children ( he had married an Indian woman ) and appointed 3 trustees in his Will. The half-Indian descendants showed that this estate had been turned over to the third trustee, a certain Mr. Colin Rankin in 1881, but the Half-Indians never got the money. The article states that the Lakehead lawyer (?) in Fort William - Port Arthur investigated these claims for two years. How it ended I don't know. These descendants had French documents.
Before I close this letter, I would like to state that I have been conducting this research on and off as a hobby, I have no personal financial gains from it, I was simply fascinated by the story, peopled with French Nobility, Fur Traders, Indians, Sulpicians and a host of descendants. The history of the Denys de la Ronde family has never been written, some of the descendants went even far into Western Canada with exploratory expeditions.
Prof. Clayton Gray, who teaches history at the George Williams College in Montreal, read some of the material I have gathered. He thinks I have enough for a most interesting book on never before published Canadiana. This should really be written by a French -Canadian, perhaps under a Canadian Council Grant!!
If you would be kind enough to answer my question contained in this letter, please wrsite in the French Language which I read very well but cannot claim the same for my own French writing. Italian and German were my own bilingual languages and I have retained them to the full. Please excuse that my letter is in English.
Hoping to hear from you, I remain
Sincerely yours (Mrs) Ida Schneider.