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Researching the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
  Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada


Extracts of Matters of Historical Interest from "The Huissier, News For and About the Fortress of Louisbourg Heritage Presentation Staff" By The Fortress of Louisbourg Heritage Presentation Staff


(August 22, 2007)

The following is an extract from an article
written by Ken Donovan entitled,
Imposing Discipline Upon Nature: Gardens, Agriculture
and Animal Husbandry in Cape Breton, 1713-1758,
November 2006.

Gardeners and Animal Keepers

             Although most people tended their own gardens, there were also numerous hired gardeners and animal keepers in Ile Royale. Louis Salmon, for instance, a Louisbourg innkeeper, hired a gardener in 1738. Salmon’s wife, Catherine, had died the year before, leaving him with five young children, the baby being less than two years old. Preoccupied with caring for his children and running the business, Salmon had  little time for gardening and thus he hired Antoine Heron to plant and cultivate his vegetables. The contract, dated 17 April 1738, stated:

I, Louis Salmon confirm that I have hired Marc Antoine Heron dit Parisien to work in my garden and I promise to pay him as salary the sum of 16 livres per month to begin on the sixteenth of this month and to finish on the same day from month to month; and I will also feed him the same as myself (CAOM, G 2, 185, f 313).    

Heron worked in Salmon’s garden for six months until 16 October 1738. A former resident of Placentia, Heron and his wife had moved their family of six children to Louisbourg in 1714 (CAOM, G 1,  466, 14 January 1715, piPce 51). A cook and tavern keeper, Heron was also a gardener  since most people had to provide their own vegetables.18  Moreover, in Louisbourg’s newly formed society, people tended to change occupations more readily than in France but, because all manufactures were imported, their occupational choice was narrow (Donovan 1987). Heron was a capable gardener since his garden at Placentia had been 92 pieds long and 57 pieds wide.19 Although getting on in years, Heron may have been helped by his sons since Salmon’s garden was 98 pieds long and 66 pieds wide, larger than Heron’s garden in Newfoundland.

            Hundreds of Louisbourg residents, such as Salmon, hired gardeners to cultivate their gardens inside the town and throughout the colony of Ile Royale. Fifty people have been identified who were described as “ jardiniers, maitre jardinier, garcon jardiniers and habitant cultivateurs”. Full-time gardeners, including garden apprentices, ensured bountiful gardens and therefore a secure supply of vegetables, greens, herbs and ornamental flowers. The Brothers of Charity, for instance, who operated the Louisbourg hospital, had a full-time gardener who was paid 400 livres per year, including his board, by 1732 (AN, CllB, v 13, 17 March, f  42).  In December of the same year governor Saint Ovide attempted to have 300 livres per year allocated for a gardener (AN, CllB, v 13, f 92). The following year, on Saint Ovide’s initiative, a “maitre jardinier” and an assistant were sent to Louisbourg but they returned to France because of a lack of funds to pay their salaries (AN, CllB, v 14, 21 Oct, f 115).  The governor, however, did have access to gardeners, two of whom were soldiers (CAOM, G 2, v 184, 25 July 1737, f 376-8). As at Louisbourg, it was common practice for soldiers at other garrisoned towns throughout  New France to tend gardens during the summer months. At Fort Chambly, south of Montreal, soldiers  hired themselves out to people of the area to cultivate their land so as to supplement their monthly income (Gelinas 1983, 52). The British soldiers at Annapolis Royal maintained the gardens for the garrison.20        

Although soldiers were not usually gardeners, some did have garden experience. Jean  Vadeboncoeur, for instance, was care taker of Major

François de Bourville’s “petite menagerie” in 1728 (CAOM, G 2, 2 Oct, 178, f 527-8). Appointed the king’s gardener in 1741, Vadeboncoeur was

paid 400 livres per year with Governor DuQuesnel and ordonnateur François Bigot agreeing to share the cost of the salary (AN, CllB, v 23, 20 Oct

1741, f 109-10). A long-time soldier in Louisbourg, Vadeboncoeur had been groomed for the garden position. Permitted to marry Jeanne Toussain

of Louisbourg in 1740, Vadeboncoeur was eventually discharged from the military and he and his wife were granted land in block 41 and allowed

two rations per day in 1742.21  Thirty soldiers identified themselves as gardeners in Ile Royale.  

18.For Heron described as a cook, see the census of 1724 and 1726, G1, vol. 466, piPces 67, 68, CAOM; for Heron as a tavern keeper, see land grant concessions in Louisbourg, 1723, CllA, vol. 126, fol. 111, AN.

19.Marc Antoine de la Foret, Evaluation of the houses and gardens in Placentia, Newfoundland, 27 August 1714, C.O. 194, vol. 5, B 208, fol. 351, PRO.

20.Mascarene to Governor Shirley, July, 1744, Mascarene Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston.

21.For the rations given to Vadeboncoeur during the months of July, August and September 1742, see 30 September 1742, vol. 24, fols.192-96, A.N., Colonies. For Vadeboncoeur’s wedding, see 1 February 1740, G 3, 2046-1, no. 233, CAOM. For granting of land to Vadeboncoeur on 16 June 1742, see 21 October 1743, G 3, 2047-1, piPce 52 CAOM.