The following was submitted by Benoît Shoja Pelletier:
As is the case for all early québecois pioneers, our
understanding of the life of Michel Pelletier-dit-Antaya is based on religious, civil and
municipal records; certain details come to us from books published over the
last century that compile these records.
We know, given his ages in
1681 and in 1697, that Michel was born about 1674, during which time his father
still resided in Sorel (not having yet purchased the Seigneurie d'Orvilliers, later called Seigneurie d'Antaya).
Presumably, while still a boy and until he was a
young man, Michel worked on the land of his father, be it Sorel or Antaya,
clearing trees, sowing seeds, and reaping harvests.
Church records being our principal insight into the life of young Michel, we do
not encounter him until 1697, at the parish of Saint-Famille on the Île d'Orléans.
That spring he witnessed the baptism of his niece, and that summer he
wed Françoise Meneux-dit-Châteauneuf.
Although we do not know at present how long
Michel had already lived at Sainte-Famille, we do know that two of his sisters
preceded him there: Marguerite and her husband, Charles Boucher, settled
there about 1693, and Catherine witnessed the baptism of her nephew there in
How long Michel had known Françoise is another mystery, but we might
modestly presume that it was long enough for them to meet and become
acquainted, to court, appreciate, and perhaps even to love one another.
During the first seven years of their marriage, Michel and Francoise resided
in Sainte-Famille, where their first five children were baptized. In 1704, he
returned with his family to the Seigneurie d'Antaya, settling shortly thereafter in his native Sorel.
It is worthwhile to note here that
soon after, Michel's wife Françoise bore a daughter whom
they christen “Dorothée,” this happens to be the name of Michel's father's
Now, when Michel returned to Sorel, about thirty miles away
in the areas of Trois-Rivières and Gentilly lived two men also named Michel
Pelletier, one of whom was “Pelletier de Laprade”. Perhaps to avoid being
confused with these other two men, or because his family was already known in the Sorel area,
Michel Pelletier at this time began to be called “Pelletier-dit-Antaya”. His first appearance so named is in 1705,
at the baptism of his first son born in Sorel, and with
few exceptions he is so cited in parish records from this time forward.
On March 4, 1721, Michel was part of a delegation of twenty-two Sorelois who
presented to Benoit-Mathieu Collet, member of the Superior Counsel, their
petition to establish a true parish at Saint-Pierre, and to acquire a
resident priest. The following September 20th, the bishop of Québec granted
their request and established the parish.
From its 1724 Aveu et dénombrement, an inventory of all its inhabitants and
property, we learn that the Seigneurie de Sorel included fifty-two inhabitants,
thirty-eight houses, thirty-eight barns, forty stables, sixty "arpents" of
prairie land, and 596 "arpents" of arable land. We also learn that Michel
Pelletier-dit-Antaya was a fortunate landowner: his parcel totaled 300 square "arpents",
of which twenty-five were arable and five were prairie, and on which
sat a house, a barn and a stable. Besides the landlords' personal estate, this was
the largest single property in the Seigneurie, and only two other concessions
included as much arable land; Michel's real estate was worth some three
thousand "livres" (pounds).
Françoise Meneux-dit-Châteauneuf died in Sorel on the first day of 1741 at the
age of sixty-five. Michel survived her by some four years, cited for the
last time at his son's wedding in Saint-François-du-Lac, April 25, 1744.
Within a year he too has died, and on March 24, 1745, his and Francoise's
estate was divided among their children, all co-inheritors.