Joseph Bouchette

Joseph Bouchette

Joseph was born in 1774, the son of Colonel Jean Baptist Bouchette, topographer, and Marie Angélique Duhamel.

At the age of 16 Joseph joined the 0ffice of his uncle, Samuel Holland, the first Surveyor General of British North America. In this capacity he made a survey of the township of Rawdon. The following year Joseph joined his father with the British Navy’s Provincial Marine on the Great Lakes. 

In 1793 while serving on Lake Ontario he came into contact with Governor to John Graves Simcoe who assigned Joseph to make the first survey of York Harbor, including making maps of the Toronto Islands.

As a member of the Royal Canadian Volunteers, Joseph remained in New York for sometime assisting Augustus Jones in surveying the new provincial capital.

In 1793 a y0ung lieutenantof ran the HMS Onondega aground outside Toronto harbour. It was feared the ship could not be salvaged until after winter. Bouchette assumed command of the abandoned vessel and distinguished himself by managing to get it afloat and sailing it back to Niagara on the Lake.

In recognition of this feat, 20-year-old Joseph in May 1794 was promoted to second lieutenant.

1799 Bouchette was at Halifax studying military tactics under orders from the Duke of Kent with whom he had become friends. In 1801 Joseph returned to Quebec City in to take up the office of his elderly uncle, Samuel Holland. 

Bouchette reorganized the offices and Governor Robert Milnes reported in 1802 that “Mr. Bouchette has responded perfectly to the opinion which we had formed of him”.

After the death of his uncle in 1803 Bouchette officially replaced him as Surveyor General of British North America.

During the war of 1812 Joseph raised and commanded the Quebec Volunteers. In 1813 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and became a member of the staff of Governor General Sir George Prévost.

Joseph was then assigned to review the territory of Lower Canada for the government. In 1815 he published a topographical description of the Province of Lower Canada. This became the latest knowledge of the territory. The book, complete with essential maps, was published in London, England in English and French; updated in English only in 1831-1832.

In 1797, at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal, Joseph married Adelaide Chaboillez and thus became a brother-in-law to Simon McTavish, and Rodrick McKenzie of Terrebonne who was proprietor of the Manchester Mill in Rawdon.

Extracts from Joseph Bouchette’s 1824 Survey Report

Rawdon, Kildare, Kilkenny

I then proceeded to the visit and inspection of Rawdon, Kildare , and Kilkenny, on which subject I had the honour to report from Montreal, accompanying the same with a communication dated 24th August last, together with numerous documents touching the inquiries personally conducted by me then, and reported upon severally. I would therefore beg leave to refer thereto so far as they extend, and in embody in this general report such further observations, respecting the state of those townships, and their relative situation with the adjacent Seigneuries, to me appear necessary, commencing with Rawdon.

This township is bounded in front by the rear lines of the Seigneury of l’Assomption and La Chenaie, from which there are roads leading into the township. It is singular to remark, that, notwithstanding the limits between the Seigneuries and this township have been established and marked in the field by actual survey, this Seigneury has considerably encroached upon the first range of Rawdon, where he has placed Censitaires  under Seignorial titles. The encroachments in question extending as well to the crown and clergy reservations in that range as to the track granted under letters patent to the Bruyeres.

The Township of Rawdon is of the usual dimensions of a regular inland Township, that is, 10 miles square; it has been subdivided into 11 ranges, and each range into 28 lots of 200 acres. The new system of laying out the Crown and Clergy reserves in Blocks has been extended thereto, except in the first and the part of the second ranges, already granted under patent, in which the reserves were appropriated.

 The face of the country in this township is uneven, and in many parts mountainous, from the fourth Range northward. The soil therein, generally, is fit for the cultivation of every species of grain peculiar to this country, and, in various sections, susceptible of the growth and culture of hemp and flax. It contains several small lakes, and is well watered by the River Ouareau and numerous other streams, by which it is traversed and on which are to be found many mill sites. In fact, this Township, as well as those adjoining and lying in that direction, offer many temptations as a fine ” pasturing and grazing country”, to use the language of its inhabitants, and possesses, at the same time, the no inconsiderable advantage of the proximity of a large and populous market Town.

 With respect to the state of the population, (composed chiefly of emigrants from Ireland) and general improvement, I beg leave to refer to the accompanying statement.

I will only observe common that the settlements therein have appeared to me in a state of tolerable advancement and progress, considering the disadvantages under which the inhabitants have laboured, from the various causes stated in my former report. I shall only state, in addition there too, that Mr. Alexander Rea was appointed agent for the superintendency of Rawdon, in May 1821, and that he had previously obtained, for himself and a long list of applicants an Order of council for grants of 100 acres to each of them, to be located in this Township and in Kildare. Upon that order several of those individuals were like located to lands in Rawdon from this office; the others received their location tickets from Mr. Rhea, as agent, in which capacity he appears to have conducted the settlement of the Township under his inspection was somewhat more regularity than system than Captain Colclough, who succeeded to him in 1823. This circumstance may not, however, invalidate the just cause of complaining which has produced Mr. Rea’s removal–but, at that time, it was expected the appointment of another agent would be the means of obviating the difficulties complained of and introduce more order and harmony and a better understanding amongst the settlers. Although it may be a troublesome and embarrassing task, owing to the description and character of some of the people in that settlement, yet it might and ought to have been effected.

 Previous to closing this branch of my report, it may not be improper to notice the advantages derived by the inhabitants of this Township from Mr. Dugas’ excellent grist and sawmills, from whence the road winds into and traverses the interior of the township up to the seventh range.

Upon leaving Mr. McKenzie’s Mills, better known by the name of Manchester Mills, so called after the individual who conducts them, situate about 1 mile south of Dugas’ establishment, I was obliged to take a very circuitous route of about 20 miles to reach the Emmigrant Settlement, in the Township of Kildare, whither my attention was in the next instance directed, whilst by traversing that Township and part of Rawdon, the distance does not exceed 8 miles, one third thereof is only a foot path. The Ouareau River which we traveled winds along the banks of the River Ouareau , on upon which there were several grist and sawmills, intervals of one and two leagues. Continuing this road for a distance of about two leagues and a half, we took the road which which leads to the River Rouge ( Montcalm Corners) settlement.