PRECIS OF HISTORY OF KING'S POSTS AND OF THE CONCESSIONS AND SEIGNIORIES WITHIN THE LABRADOR
PENINSULA GRANTED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA
DURING THE FRENCH AND BRITISH REGIMES.
The area included in the, so-called, King's Posts was also known as the
Traitté de Tadoussac and as the Domaine du Roy.
Originally set apart by leases granted by the Conseil Souverain de Quebec on the 30th October, 1653, and the 19th October, 16581, the Domaine du Roy was, in 1733, augmented by the addition to it of the territory between Isle aux Oeufs and cape Cormoran, the grantees of the Isle aux Oeufs having relinquished all claim to this territory.2
The area included in the Domaine du Roy was defined by Hocquart in
his ordinance of 23 May, 1733. It extended on the St. Lawrence from the
eastern boundary of Eboulemens seigniory to cape Cormoran and extended
northward to the northern watershed of the St. Lawrence and beyond. On the
east, it was bounded by the meridian of cape Cormoran. Westward, it
extended to the western watershed of the Saguenay and also included a
considerable area lying to the north of the seigniories on the St. Lawrence
and to the east of the river St. Maurice.
Beyond the height-of-land, its boundaries were not clearly defined, but Hocquart states that they included the “postes de . . . Mistassinoc . . . Naskapis . . . et lieux en dépendans.” He also states that its bounds included the post of Mistassins, “et derrière les Mistassins jusqu'a la Baie d'Hudson.”
Referring to the eastern portion of the Domaine, he states that “dans
laquelle étendu seront compris . . . le Lac des Naskapis et autres rivières
et lacs qui s'y déchargent.” 3
As fort Nemiskau was a dependency of Mistassini, the bounds must have
extended westward to a point on the Rupert river below lake Nemiskau and,
to the northward, must have included the territory occupied by the Grands
Mistassin Indians, which extended from lake Mistassini to the Eastmain
river and beyond.
The Indians “dependent” upon Naskapis post on lac des Naskapis (lake
Ashuanipi) must have occupied a large portion of the basin of the upper
The Domaine, therefore, must have included the upper waters of the
Eastmain, Fort George (Big), Kaniapiskau and Hamilton rivers and more
than three-fourths of the basin of the Rupert.
1627, the King of France granted to the Compagnie des Cent Associes,
otherwise known as the Compagnie de la Nouvelle France, in absolute
property, all the country of Canada.1
1658, the Company leased the “Traitté de Tadoussac” (Domaine du
Roy) to the Sieur Demaure.2
1663. the King accepted the surrender of Canada by the Compagnie de
la Nouvelle France.3
1664, an edict established the Compagnie des Indes Occidentales, granting
to it Canada, Acadia, Newfoundland, “et autres isles et terre ferme, depuis le nord du dit pays du Canada jusqu'à la Virginie et Floride.” 4
1674, the Compagnie des Indes Occidentales having surrendered its rights
to the King, he re-established the Royal Government of Canada.5
1674, information respecting the names of the lessees prior to the last
quarter of the 17th century is somewhat vague, but, a memoir by Chanjon,
Hazeur, et al, 1685(?) 6 indicates that the Domaine was leased to Jean Oudiette in 1674 or 1675.
1676, Oudiette protested against unauthorised trading in the Domaine. The King commanded Intendant Duchesneau to prosecute such trespassers.7
1682, de la Barre and de Meulles issued an ordinance prohibiting the
transportation into the Domaine of any goods suitable for the Indian trade
without the authorization of the lessees and forbidding anyone entering the
limits of the Domaine without permit from the Governor and Intendant,
under penalty of a fine of 2,000 livres.8
1684, a similar ordinance was issued by de Meulles forbidding all
unauthorized persons trading within the Domaine or otherwise disturbing
the lessee, Jean Oudiette.9
1685 (?), the lease of the Domaine was held by the Compagnie du Nord.
Denys Riverin was Director of the Company and Chanjon, Francois Hazeur,
Catignon, Charles Aubert de la Chenaye, Bouthier, Ruette d'Auteuil, Pachot,
Le Ber and De Comporté Peuvret were the principal shareholders. 10
1694, the lease was held by the Compagnie du Nord. Apparently
their lease terminated in 1698.1
1695 (or 1696), Jolliet and Bissot discovered lac des Naskapis (Ashuanipi)
and traded there with the Naskapi Indians as indicated by the name they
1698, the Domaine was sub-let to Pierre Dupont and Chas. Perthuits
for three years (1698-1701) for 15,200 livres, monnaie de France.3
1700, the widow Viannev Pachot and Messrs. Dupont, Perthuis and
Joseph Riverin, sub-lessees of the Domaine, protested against the departure
of the Sieur de la Perade, who had left Quebec to winter in the Domaine.4
1701, the Domaine was sub-let for 8 years (1701-1709) by Hazeur, Gobin, Maccart and Peire, directors of the Compagnie de la Colonie de Canada, to Riverin and Hazeur at an annual rental of 12,700 livres. 5
1707, Raudot, issued an ordinance which, after reciting the complaints
of Hazeur respecting illegal trading and hunting in the Domaine, prohibited
such trading and hunting under penalty of a fine of 1,000 livres.6
The Domaine was sub-let to Nicolas Pinaud from 1709 to 1710, for 6,100
livres per year. It was leased to Riverin from 1710 to 1714. It was again
leased to said Riverin from 1714 to 1718 for 16,000 “Monnoye de cartes” (12,000 monnaie de France), but, on the death of Riverin in 1714, it was sub-let to Guillemin.7
1718, Sieur Rivet, acting Director of the Domaine, appointed a manager,
Pierre Normandin, to manage the Domaine on behalf of the Crown. From
1719 to 1720, it was managed by Cugnet. From 1721 to 1726, it was sublet
to Bourgeois and from 1727 to 1732, to Carlier.8
1728, Nicholas Lanouiller, in a memorandum respecting the droit du
domaine in the “Ferme de Tadoussac,” stated that, in depth, it extended “jusqu'a la baye d'Hudson”; that the last lease prior to 1728, had been made to Riverin for 12,000 livres a year, but that the then lessee, Sieur Guillemin, had obtained the lease for an annual rental of 7,500 livres.9
1733, Hocquart issued an ordinance accepting the abandonment by
Bissot de la Riviere of the seigniory of Isle-aux-Oeufs and other concessions granted to Francois Bissot in 1661. The tract on the north shore of the St. Lawrence extending from the Isle-aux-Oeufs to cape Cormoran was united to the Domaine.10
In the same year, Hocquart, at the request of the adjudicataire-general,
Carlier, issued another ordinance. It repeated the prohibitions of earlier
ordinances respecting trading or hunting in the Domaine du Roy. It also set
forth in detail, the boundaries of the Domaine and prohibited any unauthorized person approaching within 10 leagues of the landward limits for the purpose of trading with the Indians.11
In 1698, the Domaine was leased at an annual rental of 15,200 livres, in
1701 at 12,700 livres and in 1714, it had decreased to 12,000.1
The decrease was due to several causes. During 1710 to 1714, the
lessee, Riverin, introduced a large number of Huron, Abenaki and Micmac
Indians who practically annihilated the elk and thus caused the death by
starvation of Indians of the Domaine; fires over-ran the forest, killing or
driving away the fur-bearing animals; one fire destroyed the timber of over
Lastly, poor administration was largely responsible. When the returns of furs decreased, the lessees reduced the quality of their goods and increased their prices ; inferior arms and ammunition injured the Indians or drove them away ; by supplying the Indians with brandy, their pelts were secured at very low prices ; some Indians, lacking ammunition for their hunt, died of starvation after trading their furs for liquor.
Guillemin, prior to the termination of his sub-lease in 1714-18, closed Mistassini and Nikabau. Mistassini was re-opened by Cugnet in 1728 or 1729, and Nikabau was re-opened in 1731.3
Joseph Dorval, who was in charge at Mistassini post prior to 1733, discovered an Indian tribe called the “Pays Peles, parce-qu'il n'y a point de bois, Ces sauvages n'ont point de canots, d'ecorce pour en faire.” 4
This description identifies them with the Naskapis of the upper waters of
the Eastmain, Fort George and Kaniapiskau rivers. Thus, W. H. A. Davies
sometime in charge of Esquimaux Bay district for the Hudson's Bay Co.,
says that “Their rivers and lakes being covered with ice for nearly two-thirds of the year, they [the Naskapis] do not travel much in canoes and are consequently not good canoemen, being very timid.” 5 Davies was writing in 1844, when the Naskapis had been in contact with Europeans for over a century.
The control by the French of the Indian trade of the Domaine and
adjacent territory in the Labrador peninsula was materially assisted by the
conversion of the natives. For instance, at Mistassini and at Lake St. John,
houses were provided for a missionary and a lay brother at each post.6
In Father Laure's map, compiled before 1731, he indicates missions at
Seven Islands, Pointe-a-la-Croix, Islets-de-Jeremie, Bondesir, Tadoussac,
Chicoutimi and Mistassini. On his 1731 map, he shows a mission at Lake St.
Bigot, in 1750, states that chapels had been built at Seven Islands and Islets-de-Jeremie, prior to that date.
1733, the trader at Nikabau reported that Indians from Hudson
bay had traded there. These Indians must have come from the Nottaway
river as Abitibi River Indians would be intercepted at Abitibi post and Rupert River Indians would be intercepted at Nemiskau and Mistassini posts.7
Hocquart points out in his ordinance of 1 September, 1733, that the
missionary who is labouring among the Indians can “contribuer beaucoup a affectioner les sauvages an bien de la Traitté,” 8 demonstrating that the French
officials fully recognized that the missionaries at the French posts were attaching to the French, the Indians who traded at these posts.
Hocquart also points out that measures should be taken to conserve the fur resources by excluding the “sauvages etrangers” and by taking other measures to ensure the re-stocking of the Domaine by fur-bearing animals.1
Tadoussac was founded in 1600 and for many years was the headquarters
for the Domaine. In 1733, it was maintained as a depot for Chicoutimi and Islets-de-Jeremie posts.1
Chicoutimi, in 1733, was the most important post in the Domaine, being the headquarters for the posts of Lake St. John, Nikabau, Grands Mistassins and Petits Mistassins. The Nikabau Indians numbered 37 families and the Grands Mistassins (Mistassini post) numbered 43 families.2
Annually, a trader was sent inland from Islets-de-Jeremie post.2 Other evidence indicates that he ascended the Outarde river at least as far as lake Pletipi (St. Barnabé of the old maps) where he could meet the Indians of the upper waters of four great rivers which take their rise in that region, namely, the Eastmain, Fort George (Big), Kaniapiskau and Hamilton rivers.
In 1733, there were 24 Indian families on the St. Lawrence near Islets-de-Jeremie post and 20 families inland.3
Hocquart states, in 1733, that Rene Cartier, who operated Moisie and Seven Islands posts, planned to establish a wintering-post at lac des Naskapis (lake Ashuanipi). Traders had made trading trips to the lake each summer and Jolliet and Bissot had traded there at least as early as 1696. Evidently, the value of the trade had become of such importance that it justified occupying the post during the winter also. About 40 Indian families traded at lac des Naskapis.4 The name of the lake and the fact that they had no canoes practically demonstrates that they were Naskapis of the Hamilton river and adjoining country.
Solicitor General Jenkin Williams, writing in 1786, states that, when the King suppressed the Compagnie des Indes in 1674, the interests of this Company “were leased by him to the Fermiers Généraux (in France) for a term which expired in 1733. The Farmers General had deputed a Gentleman [Francois Cugnet] to manage their concerns here, and upon the determination of their Lease the same Gentleman was continued on the part of the King to direct and manage his Domaine. He remained in the Direction till the year 1741, when a Lease was granted to him of the Posts in question.” 5
The Fermiers Généraux, in turn, sub-let the Domaine. The ordinances
that were issued prohibiting unauthorised trading in the Domaine demonstrate
that the authorities endeavoured to prevent any invasion of the lessees'
exclusive right to trade, hunt and fish within the limits.
1743, Louis Fornel returned to Quebec from Baye-des-Esquimaux.
Learning that Fornel had left two Frenchmen and a number of Indians to
winter near the mouth of the Nord-Ouest river and to trap and trade with the Indians; that Fornel's post at Nord-Ouest river was in an advantageous