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Mathurin GAGNON (GASGNON) - Biography

GAGNON (Gaingnon, Gangnon, and Gaignon), MATHURIN, farmer, business man, member of the Communauté des Habitants; b. 1606 at Saint-Aubin de Tourouvre (Perche), son of Pierre Gagnon (Gaignon) and Madeleine-Renée Roger; d. 1690 at Château-Richer.

The propaganda of Robert Giffard and of Noël Juchereau, who were recruiting settlers in Perche, probably had an influence on Mathurin Gagnon, and he decided to establish himself in Canada with his brothers Pierre and Jean. They arrived at Quebec before 1640. They went in for business, and worked in partnership. A number of notarial documents of the period bear as a signature “Sieurs Mathurin, Jehan, and Pierre Gangnon, brothers.” Mathurin was the best educated of the three: he alone knew how to write. Consequently he acted as head of the firm. It was he who went to France in 1642, to settle their family and business affairs. Around 1651 the Gagnon brothers built a store on the square in the Lower Town, near the store belonging to the Communauté des Habitants.

However, the Gagnons loved the land. In 1640 they had taken up tracts of land on the Beaupré shore, at Château-Richer. Between 1635 and 1660 several natives of Perche settled in this area, where they introduced the ritual of the devotion to Sainte-Anne, which was observed at that time at the famous “Carrefour de Sainte-Anne” in Perche. Mathurin applied himself to clearing his land. He was a member of the Communauté des Habitants; he worked on his farm in the summer and concerned himself with business at Quebec in the winter. He did not settle finally at Château-Richer until 1650, in which year he received a grant of land six arpents wide and one and a half leagues in depth.

Mathurin was married on 30 Sept. 1647. His wife, Françoise Goudeau, was only 13; she gave him 16 children. He was appointed churchwarden in 1662, and was an important figure in the parish. According to the various census-takings, he was one of the most energetic of the farmers; in 1681 he owned 20 horned beasts and 45 acres of land under cultivation. He died on 20 April 1690, aged 84 years. He was buried the next day in the parish cemetery. From Mathurin is descended one of the largest families in French Canada.

Jean Hamelin

Dictionary of Canadian Biography (

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