Lacolle, Quebec- A brief history

Lacolle is the area from which the Joseph Dion family emigrated to the United States.  Historically both Rabideau and Dion/ Deyo family members lived and traversed this region.

source [the original site has been removed- minor edits and corrections from the original text made by ManyRoads]

First written mention of Lacolle can be traced back to July 4, 1609 when Samuel de Champlain and his entourage stopped briefly at the mouth of a small stream for a meal before continuing southward up the Richelieu River into the lake which now bears his name. In his journal Champlain referred to the location of the delta as “Lacole”. When translated literally the term means the neck of a bottle or that which is above the shoulders. […]This river seems to take its source from a nearby, solitary hill. From many places in France the term “La Cole” or “La Colle” stems from the Latin “colla”, which means “hill”.

“La Rivière à La Colle” appeared for the first time in the 1740 “Map of Lake Champlain from the Fort of Chambly to the ‘pointe à la Chevelure'” drawn by Chaussergros de Lery. His map is seen here. You can barely make out “Beaujeu” in the block to the right of the crease in the paper, below the river

Lacolle Quebec- 1740

What today is the farming village of St-Bernard-de-Lacolle has its roots in the Seigneurie of Beaujeu. The seigneurs of Beauharnois and Hocquart hatched a project to concede some seigneuries in the area of the Lake Champlain Valley. In 1733, they conceded land to Louis Denis de la Ronde (seigneurie of Lacolle) and to Louis Lienard de Beaujeu (seigneurie of Chazy). Unfortunately, as of 1741, both seigneurs had left the land as they received it. On the 10th of May, 1741, the lands were returned to Couronne because the consessioners had not established colonies. On March 22nd, 1743, Beauharnois and Hocquart conceded the seigneurie of Lacolle to sir Daniel Lienard de Beaujeu, son of Louis. By 1751, two new families had settled by the “rivière à la Colle”. On Mar 6, 1752, under the Marquis de la Jonquire and Francois Bigot, Daniel received the lands of his now-deceased father. It would be told “…how he made, before and after the war (1746-1748), considerable dispenses for the establishment of said concession on which he had settlers who have bulls, cows, plows, and other work tools.”

The seigneurie changed hands several times, passing from one generation to the next. During this time, several mills, churches, schools, and homes were built. Some had stone houses while the poorer settlers built log cabins. […]

Along the Richelieu River, the closest church to Lacolle was in Chambly, quite a distance to travel for marriages and baptisms. In 1810, the curé Berthelot took his chalice and portable alter to visit the settlers in Lacolle. He baptized several children and said mass. Later, other protestant missionaries made their way to the area and founded the United Church of Lacolle called St-Saviour.

In 1841, Lord Sydenham proposed the erection of municipal districts. Everyone thinks these municipalities will revive and that they will come to be well-known like a parish. On November 18, 1841, some residents of the seigneurie of Lacolle addressed Monsignor Ignace Bourget, bishop of Montreal, to obtain the erection of a parish. They presented the usual reasons: distance from the nearest church, the dreadful state of the roads [in order to get there], the difficulty in training their children in the catholic religion. The real reason appeared at the end of the document: “after the ecclesiastical recognition, they would be addressing the government to obtain “some documents that grant to their said new parish a civil existence which will soon be recognized.”

In January 1842, M. Charles Laroque, curé of Blairfindie was sent by Bourget to make an inquest. On the first of February, Monsignor Ignace Bourget set up the “mission of St-Bernard-de-Lacolle”, as the population is still too dispersed to create a parish. He also accepted the gift of three arpents [unit of land] of land from Michel Normandin on which to build a church.

  • 11 July 1842 – four representatives (James O’CONNOR, Michel NORMANDIN, Louis REMILLARD, Etienne DUQUETTE) signed a contract with Charles NOËL to build a stone church for $250 ($150 silver,$100 hay and grain).
  • 13 October 1843 – three representatives (Patrick BARKER, Constant BOUSQUET, Noël DESAUTELS) purchased 80 benches from the chapel of Saint-Jacques-Mineur for 16 livres 14 shillings.
  • 11 November 1843 – Charles François Calixte MORRISON is named the parish priest.
  • 16 November 1843 – At the courthouse of Montreal, the church was equipped with the necessary registers for the parish.
  • 19 November 1843 – The first baptism is recorded.

In 1851, the census of St-Bernard-de-Lacolle reports: 3483 persons (1760 anglophone and 1723 francophone), 1787 men and 1696 woman, 1886 catholic and 1597 protestant.

The law of December 18, 1854 ended the seigneurial system in Canada, and the municipality of St-Bernard-de-Lacolle has flourished since its first mayor [was elected] in 1833.

Charles Berthelot, curé of Saint-Luc, [wrote] on 9 October 1909 that the young people of the area are working cutting trees down south, near Lake Champlain.” In the 40-50 years since [then], many young families [spent] years in the factories in the [United States] to earn better wages. Many returned, but not all, with their savings. The [Canadian] census records still indicate one or two children from these families [were] born in the United States. […] In 1850, the California gold rush saw many men leaving behind a wife and children […]never [to] return with […] promised riches. Soon after [1850], many farmers left with their families to settle in the fertile prairies of Illinois [and Michigan], where they could easily establish their sons. In October 1867, the [Lacolle] city council began to worry, for an empty house meant that the road opposite this property was no longer maintained. [Dirt roads needed to be maintained by the settlers.] [At] the turn of the [21st] century, the parish of Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel and the municipality of Lacolle [were] established, and St-Bernard-de-Lacolle has become seemingly very small. The area has seen many ups and downs, but the overall feel for the land is the same. The families who till the land and milk the cows are as hardy today as they were in the first days of the seigneurie. If you ever visit this village, take note of the rolling hills and the wide open fields with their long, plowed rows, […] you’ll be swept away to another time when your ancestors [settled] a whole new world.


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