French Canadian soldier in winter uniform A Fontaine dit Bienvenu Genealogy and His Descendants: 1668-1991
by Roger Fontaine (another one!) (Translation)

Pierre Fontaine was not of a noble family. He was not known because of his stripes or rank as he was only a corporal. He never had a known official commission. He would enter history without a fuss.

The Sieur Pierre Fontaine dit Bienvenu came from the town of Orléans, France. He was "son of Sieur Jacques Fontaine, seller of wood living in the town of Orléans, street of hot ovens, parish Saint-Laurent of barley fields and the honorable lady Claude Girou, his father and mother".

Pierre was baptized 26-Feb-1668 and like many youths of the commercial middle-class of Orléans, he chose to bear arms. He came to New France with the troops who arrived in the spring of 1687. These reinforcements consisted of an army of 800 men of the infantry and navy, commanded by a Dauphinese gentleman, Philippe de Rigaud, knight of Vaudreuil, who distinguished himself at the taking of Valencienes (1677). The other major officers were d'Orilliers, Saint-Cirique, the knight of Troyes and Varennes. Pierre Fontaine was in the company of Saint-Cirque. He was based in Montréal and involved in campaigns against the Iroquois Indians.

To winter the troops in 1691, Governor Frontenac requisitioned the hospitality of the colonists. The Louvigny company was lodged in Verchères. Pierre Fontaine was among them; he still belonged to the same company, but it had changed its name. The 17-Nov-1689 M. de Frontenac informed the minister of the navy that he had given the company of Saint-Cirque to the sieur of Louvigny, the former having been killed by the Iroquois. It changed its name a second time the 20-Jun-1703, by royal decision, when the Louvigny company was passed to the sieur of Grandville.

With whom did he stay at Verchères? Impossible to tell. It is easier to find his friends. At the head of the list we have M. Pierre Volant, Priest, cure of the parish of Saint-Ours and other places and near him, without doubt, his twin brother Claude Volant also priest and cure of Varennes until 1714: Toussaint Lucas dit Lagarde and his wife Marguerite Charpentier; Francois Chagnon, carder and his wife Catherine Charron; Andre Jarret de Beauregard, lieutenant of the Contrecoeur company and his wife Marguerite Anthiaume; Francois Jarret de Verchères and his wife Marie Perrot, the father and mother of Madeleine de Verchères, a local heroine.

It seems that they were all there, a group of intimate friends. Was Pierre Fontaine a regular guest at one or the other of the Jarret households? The name of Bienvenu did not come from his family, his marriage contract says so; he acquired it while in the army as did most of the military men of that era, often know only by their "nom de guerre" or "war name": Jolicoeur, Belair, La Marche, La Cave, La Tremblade, Le Tambour, Gratt-Lard, Brisetout, Trempe-la-coute, Casse-grain, Labiere, Lififre, Lamusique, Frappe-d'abord, Ladebauche, Pret-a-boire, Va-de-bon-coeur, Lagiugne. Despite their childish nature, these names were a portrait; they describe to you a man as only other soldiers would know him. Life in the barracks and camps, in daily close contact on the good and the bad days, building the profile and the idiosyncrasies, revealing the temperament, the sense of humor, the habits and the obsessions, finally let you know the man by his true character. By that military barometer, Pierre Fontaine dit Bienvenu (Welcome) appears to have been a happy person who was pleasant to be around. In order to merit and continue to keep the nickname of "Welcome" he must have had an extraordinary personality.

Sainte-Anne church in Varennes, Quebec The soldiers for the overseas troops who were going to Canada were chosen by the assistant minister of the Navy, who looked for good looking types with the after thought of making them colonists. During periods of calm, the inactive soldiers were permitted to work for a set time for farmers in the country or artisans in town. That was a way of getting them to form an attachment to the land, to the Canadian life and if possible, to induce them to get married. Those who did, the king permitted to take leave or be discharged in order to settle in the country.

That is what happened to Pierre Fontaine in 1692. His friend, Andre Jarret de Beauregard had died living his widow with seven children whose ages were twelve to less than two. In a Christian and chivalrous manner, he asked for and was granted the hand of Marguerite Anthiaume, who was happy to offer it to someone so candid and to give her children a second father and protector. The 13-Apr-1692 the following contract was passed:

"Before the royal Notaries resident in Ville Marie, Island of Montréal, were present the Sieur Pierre Fontaine, Corporal in the Company of the current sieur de Louvigny in the seigneurie of Verchères, son of Sieur Jacques Fontaine, seller of wood living in the town of Orléans, street of hot ovens, parish of Saint-Laurent of barley fields and the honorable lady Claude Girou his father and mother, for him and his name on the one part and Mrs. Marguerite Anthiaume, widow of the deceased Andre Jarret de Beauregard living in Verchères, for her and also in her name for the other part which parties in the presence and with the consent of their communal friends for this assembled, to have admitted and confessed to have made and agreed the treaties and promises of marriage which follow, it is done."

Interior of Saint-Anne church For some months the new couple lived at Verchères in the house of the deceased Andre Jarret de Beauregard. The 22-Oct-1692, Pierre Fontaine having rigged a sturdy open boat left there with his wife and the children and sailed apparently toward Montréal. The boat was coasting upstream by the banks of the river near the fort, when Pierre Fontaine heard several gunshots; he was surprised. He know M. de Verchères was at Quebec and his wife in Montréal. It could only have been Madeleine (de Verchères) there to fire. But why? His soldier's instinct suspected danger. And the former corporal regained his old actions which summoned the squad. He fired to starboard. There could be seen roving around the fort, the ferocious faces of the nocturnal marauders. If there was danger, he would share it. It would not be said that a Fontaine would not go to the aid of someone in distress and here, these were his friends. He landed the boat. Madeleine saw him. The rest is known.

When de Mollerie saved the fort and provided security for Madeleine and here brothers, Pierre Fontaine one again got in his boat and finished his voyage. History tells us that our brave Pierre Fontaine came to the aid of Madeleine de Verchères as well as her two brothers and three servants who were besieged by a hundred Iroquois warriors and who after eight days of battle had left thirty dead warriors thanks to the courage and gunfire of our ancestor.

Not much is known about what went on in Montréal. The 28-Jun-1693, the first of his children, Marie-Therese, was baptized. Then nothing more is mentioned about him in Ville-Marie. It is Varennes where we find him next. He came to rejoin the brother of his friend, the curé Claude Volant. He was able, it seems, to do well at Verchères, the home of the Jaretts; he preferred to have this for his family and to follow by proxy the interests of the children of his wife. He made for himself at Varennes, a family estate which became the heritage of several generations. On 4-Oct-1699, he had the sorrow of losing his wife, who died giving him a fourth child. He married a second time on the 25-May-1700 to Marguerite Jentes. The last time the name of Pierre Fontaine dit Bienvenu appears in the register of the parish of Sainte-Anne-de-Varennes is to announce his death the 17-Mar-1738, age 70.