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Baron d’Avaugour Pierre du Bois

Sixth Governor General of Canada

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Avaugour, PIERRE DU BOIS, BARON D’, d. 1664, was sixth Governor General of Canada. Born of an ancient family in Brittany, he served in the French army forty years; travelled in Persia, Russia, Poland, and Sweden, and took part in all the campaigns in Germany. This familiarity with camp life made his naturally eccentric character rough and unsociable as well. In 1661, he was chosen to succeed d’Argenson as Governor of New France, and arrived in Quebec on August 31 of that year. Utterly averse to pomp and ceremony, he refused the honors which the people of Canada wished to show him, and set out at once for Montreal, in order to familiarize himself with the state of the country. The result was embodied in a report which he sent to Colbert and the great Conde, wherein he advised the fortification of Quebec and the approaches to it by outworks at Ile d’Orleans and at Levis. He also recommended that the colony should be freed of its useless officials, to be replaced by soldiers who could hold the Iroquois in check, and prevent the Dutch from supplying them with arms. He formed a council, at the head of which he placed the Superior of the Jesuits. The sale of drink to the Indians was forbidden under pain of death, a penalty which the governor inflicted on several who had disobeyed his orders. He became embroiled in a quarrel with the bishop and the Jesuits, because they had begged the release of a poor widow whom he had caused to be imprisoned for selling brandy. He dissolved his council, in order to surround himself with more subservient advisers, and removed the prohibition imposed on the sale of liquor. Serious disorders ensued; the priests preached against misuse of authority, and an earthquake which shook the whole valley of the St. Lawrence was looked upon by the people as a Divine chastisement. Bishop Laval found it necessary to return to France to ask for the governor’s recall. D’Avaugour was relieved of his command, and a royal commissioner was charged to make enquiries as to his conduct. The governor left Quebec, July 23, 1663. On his arrival in France he submitted two statements to the king in regard to the measures to be taken for the colonization and defense of Canada; he advised the concentration of the troops at Quebec and the building of a fort at the head of the Richelieu river, also that the Dutch should be driven out of Fort Orange (Albany), and that the French should take possession of the Hudson River, in order to gain an exit to the sea. At a later date one of his suggestions was acted on, when veteran soldiers were sent to Canada with permission to settle as colonists. D’Avaugour asked to be allowed to resume active service, and was sent to Austria, where Louis XIV was aiding the rising of the Croats. He died a soldier’s death while bravely defending the fortress of Zrin against the Turks.


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