Ten generations of Canadian heritage
by Tom Thiévin
B7 C8 D1
|Sadly, Tom Thievin succumbed to stomach cancer in 2007. His brilliant efforts at gathering our Côté history live on in this article.
|Tom Thiévin and all D-generation
Louis Auguste Thiévin are great-great-great-great-
of Jean Côté. Louis's wife was Marie-Louise Côté
from Olga, North Dakota.
I have but one regret: I think my father would have been fascinated by this information. It is completely possible that some of his buddies in the RCAF Alouette Squadron in World War II were distant cousins, and he would never have known.
|Just as my father
did with similar projects and similar intentions, I started this as a little research that would help my progeny know their ancestry. I wanted a reasonably
accurate summary of one side of our family history. The material
before me was extensive, based on information available at the
time. When I finally began to write, if I followed any lead, it
would be the book The French Quarter by Don Graham. (No
relation to my patient wife, I think.)
Alas, things have changed. A few years ago a handful of people
shared information openly and freely. A loose network of relatives,
old papers, and non-related historians worked in a friendly way
to solve many genealogical and historical riddles. When someone
suggested a date that another thought was incorrect, a friendly
discussion ensued: "Say, Joe, if such-and-such happened on such-and-such
date over here, then this date would have to be after that. What
do you think?" It was friendly, and free, and fun.
But nowadays people are selling information, correct or otherwise,
thinking that if they discover something, they should be financially
rewarded. Some outright bash others if they think something is
incorrect. Some get upset because they feel they should get credit
for information they think they alone discovered, even when sometimes
their 'discovery' is the worst-kept secret in town.
I don't claim to have discovered any of the following, nor am
I selling it. Much of it is well-established history. The rest
represents information gathered over several years from hundreds
of sources, many of them verbal, and I'm sorry to say, forgotten.
I cannot properly credit each person involved because sometimes
at a reunion, a relative might say, "I don't know where
got this. It's been in the family attic for years
and I'd hate to see it lost. If this interests you, it's yours."
In a friendlier world, I think people would understand that. Now
I hesitate to use names in credits simply because I don't want
their good intentions subjected to ridicule and bashing over inconsequentials.
I don't know how many Jeans, Abrahams, and Annes are going to
turn up over the next few years. My hope is that friendly and
free information will be exchanged and that the 'fun' part of
this will continue. And please, if you read something here that
you know to be incorrect, email me before you do a slash, bash,
and burn on a message board. I'm not trying to spread my doctrine
or theory of life. I am trying to report the story and its associated
historical aspects as accurately as I can.
I have one last rant: Please do not email me if you have 'discovered'
a Côté shield, badge, medal, or banner on the internet or elsewhere.
My morals do not allow me to participate in something that some
businesses at fairs and malls seem to have no problem with, and
that is the practice of selling shield patterns and family-name
histories prevalent in English culture. These businesses might
make you feel warm and cosy about family honour, bravery, and
whatever else. But there is enough information available to show
that for French peasants, these items did not exist. I'll happily
change my stand if there is real proof otherwise.
Many thanks to all who have supplied information, historical and
genealogical, including criticisms. It's all appreciated. Your
interest in the Côté story will go a long way toward helping others
if we can keep our search friendly, free, and fun.
CONTENTS (Click to advance to a chapter)
This article is a survey of our Côté genealogy. There are as a conservative
estimate about 50,000 — perhaps even as many as 100,000 — Côtés or
persons in North America linked to the bloodline, and most, if not
all of them have Jean Côté, who arrived in North America in 1634,
as their original ancestor. In all of French Canada, only the Trembley
family is larger. My work was simplified by the quests of many other
Côté researchers who preceded me in exploring the rich history that
is the subject here.
Since Côtés are so interleaved with early Canada and Québec, some
history, or perhaps my version of it, is proffered to better state
the facts. I could only skim the surface of this complex heritage.
But there's much more to consider, and I invite you to delve deeper.
Lastly, a note on the finality of information that follows: My research
came primarily from the internet and from sources available in Alberta,
so the work is not exhaustive. If you study church records in the
Lotbiniere municipality in Québec or look up military records, French
naval records, and other documents from the 1600s, you'll immediately
expand on my work. These sources weren't available to me. While there
was every attempt to ensure accuracy, history will probably indicate
some errors in what I've reported below.
The spelling of the name Côté
The direct French translation of côté is "side". The French
translation of côte (without the grave on the e) is
"coast" — not altogether different in meaning from "side". In an interesting
linguistic similarity, the latin costa also means "coast",
as in Costa Rica, meaning "rich coast".
According to Appendix 1, a Jean Coste was aboard the ship Le St-Jean that arrived in Québec in 1634. But this signature belonging
to Jean Côté ...
... at http://web.ionsys.com/~microart/jean.htm clearly shows his name
as Jean Coste. Like many French Canadian family names, it appears
two basic spellings exist; one an Old World spelling, Coste, and the other a New World spelling, Côté.
Like most other Côté researchers, I've used the spelling Côté throughout. This was
an arbitrary choice since there are actually many spellings. Côté was chosen simply because it was more frequently used by the family
after the first generation.
Lending to the chaos was the French Canadian use of 'dit' or 'nick'
names. The dit name was actually more, sometimes a lot more, than
a nickname. Often the dit name was the more common name and was substituted
on legal documents and other records without much regard for spelling.
For example, when soldiers of that era joined the militia, they were
induced into their regiment with a hazing and usually given a 'dit'
that often had no cognitive meaning. Often the dit name stuck and
occasionally became the family name.
In the case of Jean Côté, it appears he was known as "Jean Côté, dit
Costé". The latter name appears to be the one most used by generations
before Jean and by the first generation, that is, Jean's children.
There is evidence that the name Cottez was also used. Sometimes
too, Jean is spelled Jehan. When translations from other
languages are used, all phonetic possibilities have to be considered.
This is interesting in that as a typical French farm labourer and
peasant of that time, it's highly improbable that Jean Côté was educated
or knew how to read or write. The signature mentioned above might
well have been made on his behalf and with his acknowledgment. At
best, it might have been the only thing he could write. The exact
spelling was probably not important for the time and status of those
Other names that appear in various records that refer to members of
this family lineage are Coté, Côte, Cote, Cotoe, Couty, Cotey, Caudy,
Cauta, Caute, Cete, Costey, Costez, Costé, Cota, Cotta, Cotte, Cottez,
Coty, Gaudy, Lefrise, Side and Sides. (Remember that Côté translates
as "side" in English). Research suggests that Cody and Cole belong
on the list, but since they are also common English names, sorting
them from the French could be an impossible challenge. Certainly the
earliest property records in Québec suggest that the name Costé was more common in the first generations.
Careful choice of names was applied more among the landowning upper
class and for legal documents of the middle class. If the research
from France stands, Jean Côté was from the working peasant class and
not a landowner in Europe, so it's also unlikely that this spelling
is consistent in Europe. For that reason and because little information
has been found to indicate service in the military, it's also unlikely
that a family crest or shield was commissioned, although one appears
at one Côté site on the internet.
Finally, there's a discussion site on the internet where some Côtés
have reported various pronunciations of their name. These include
"Coat" as in goat, "Cotay" as in no way, "Cotee" as
in goatee, and so on.
Early Canadian history
This is significant since it defines the reason we're here at all. An Italian, Giovanni Caboto (sailing for England as John Cabot) claimed
Newfoundland for England in 1497, and this led to exploitation of
the Grand Banks fish stocks off the east coast. Then in the 1530s,
the Jacques Cartier explorations claimed the St. Lawrence River and
the present Maritimes area for France. Both Natives and Europeans
recognized that fur trade was possible, and so trading began, something
that the Natives regarded as common, for things the Europeans had:
tools, metal wares, and later, guns and alcohol.
Present-day researcher, Pierre Côté, to whom much gratitude is due,
discovered various references to suggest that Costes were involved
in fishing activities off Newfoundland in the 1570s. (Pierre is now
trying to find verifiable lineage to our Jean Coste.)
But back to the history: A French commoner, Samuel de Champlain, became
an expert in exploration and cartography and was convinced that the
area had great potential. To that end, he set out to get commercial
and governmental sponsorship, to inhabit the area with French people,
and to begin land surveys. His first fort, Port Royal in Nova Scotia,
failed due to severe winters and a lack of farming and survival skills
needed by the new French inhabitants. For many the adventure ended
in starvation. An interesting thought: The Pacific weather disturbance
now known as El Niño occurred in those years and may well have played
a role in the unusually cold and long winters.
After piquing the interest of a commercial group in France, Champlain
began work on his second and most lasting colony called Québec or Kebec, which was the Native word for the place where the St. Lawrence River narrows.
Champlain's work in New France, mapping and setting up treaties with
the native aboriginals, organizing settlers, and generating interest
and sponsorship of the colony in Old France probably made him the
best ambassador Canada has ever had. He also learned the various First
Nations tribal political systems and created many alliances and trading
agreements whose importance was realized only years later, often at
In 1627 fewer than a hundred Europeans lived at Québec. (Unless otherwise stated, "Québec" alone means Québec City.) That year
the 'Compangie des Cent-Associés' was created to capitalize on the
growing fur trade and colonize and manage the area. In essence, Québec
became the property of this company.
Some interesting dates in Europe during this era:
- Raleigh establishes the first colony in the North America
dates in New France and Québec:
1597 - Godson shows a flushing toilet to the Queen
1605 - King James 1st has scholars start writing the King
James version of the Bible, while referring to his manservant
George Villiers as '... my sweet child and wife, ... and grant
that ye may ever be a comfort to your dear dad and husband.' **
1609 - The song Three Blind Mice is published
1612 - The Dutch establish a trading post on Manhattan Island,
and King James I (same guy as above who has his name on the
King James Version of the Bible) holds a lottery to finance
the creation of Jamestown in the New World
1620 - The Pilgrims arrive aboard the Mayflower
1627 - France tries to ban duelling
1628 - Half the population of Lyons dies due to the Black
** See Marriage Relationships in Tudor Political Drama by Michael A. Winkelman or simply Google this for more information.
1607 - Champlain's settlement at Port Royal fails
1608 - Champlain sets up a new settlement at Québec
1609 - Champlain assists the Montagnais tribe of Indians who
were at war with the Iroquois
1615 - The first missionaries arrive at Québec
1617 - Louis Hebert and family arrive. (Herbert is often credited
being Canada's first farmer when, in fact, the Indians were
farming for centuries before his arrival.)
Later in the 1620s, Dr. Robert Giffard from Mortagne in the
Province of Perche in France visited and became interested
in the area.
In 1628 the company sent 400 settlers, but they were met at the mouth
of the St. Lawrence by the Kirkes brothers who had claimed the area
for England. The Kirkes blockaded the St. Lawrence, sacked Québec,
and shipped settlers home until 1632 when the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye returned the area to France. In early 1633 there remained six families
and five aboriginal translators living in what was now dubbed "New
The first problem was attracting settlers to live somewhere with little
hope of making a profit and a climate far colder than France. Recruiting
fur traders was relatively easy, but farmers were another matter.
France, even northern France, had a warmer climate and a longer growing
season. Farming without crops that could endure this climate was a
France also had a well-entrenched class system, essentially a feudal
state, and landowners, the upper class and the nobility, had little-to-no
interest in relocating to New France. Black flies and cold winters
were enough to keep anyone with privilege or entitlement well away.
For them it was preferable to risk the Black Plague then making its
way through Europe. Added to this was the Indian problem, so recruiting
farmers and labourers who might relocate to this hostile land would
be very difficult.
The start of the seigneurity system
The initial proposal by Cardinal Richelieu, agreed to by the king
of France, was to grant rights to full exploitation of the area to
the Compangie des Cent-Associés. This company realized that unless
the area was settled, there was little hope to profit over the long
term, and so they allowed the granting of land parcels to those who
could clear and develop them. And so started the seigneurity based
on the fiefdoms common in France, a culture understood by both those
granted land and those who agreed to work to clear it. See www.cam.org/~qfhs/FAQ_land.html.
Based on the medieval practice of 'no land without its lord', the
plan intended to make Québec and New France hospitable or at least
suited to habitation. In Québec this was just a narrow strip of land
touching the river's edge and inland several miles. Entrepreneurs
would develop parcels by employing peasants as labourers.
The lord of the seigneurity was the seigneur (French for 'lord') who
had absolute control over his domain, including matters of education,
policing, medical, marriage, and food and shelter for his labourers.
He built and maintained flour mills and other required public buildings.
Most seigneurs drafted tenuous legal contracts that, when read between
the lines, favoured themselves. For his investment, a seigneur collected
rent and whatever else he could extract from his tenants. All of this
was supposedly done as homage for the king and God.
In the end, labourers who survived the ordeal would have the blood
of some of the most determined and hardy people to have visited any
part of this planet. Those who failed returned to France with little.
That is, if disease, the Indians, or some accident didn't kill them
It should surprise no one that most seigneurs were motivated more
by greed than reverence. And since most early settlements were not
very successful, they found themselves doing all they could to keep
their tenants. There would be many verbal agreements, land and animal
swaps, legal entanglements, and law suits.
Many French Canadian families tell this story.
Recruiting settlers for New France
The French navy had a regulation that required that every ship have
a doctor on board, and as a result, a Dr. Robert Giffard arrived in
New France with the first wave of French migrants. He visited the
old settlement at Port Royal and at Québec, and he was among those
sent back to France by the English Kirkes. He was, however, quite
impressed with the area, and when the Company of a Hundred Associates
came calling in 1633, he returned to New France to create a seigneurity.
Like any seigneur, Giffard needed farm workers. These he recruited
from his home region, Mortagne and Tourouvre in Perche. He already
knew what it would be like and what kind of people were needed. His
settlers would have never experienced severe winters, hostile aboriginals,
isolation, near starvation, back-breaking work, wilderness, and billions
of black flies. They must not only survive all of that, but they would
need to grow in number, prosper, and create a new home and country
if Giffard's aspirations were to bear fruit.
From the Perche area of Normandy, Jean Côté, dit Costé accepted an
offer by a man now considered to be the first seigneur in Québec:
Robert Giffard. While the legal document that would bind Côté to his
seigneur hasn't been found, we presume that it stipulated that he
work for Giffard for a period in exchange for his passage. The contractual
duration is also unknown, but agreements of that era usually stated
five years after which a cow or other livestock, some land, or whatever
else, was awarded to the labourer.
Côté was among the first Normans recruited, along with Jean Guyon,
Marin and Gaspard Boucher, Sébastien Dodier, Zacharie Cloutier, Pierre
Paradis, and Pierre Maheu, Guillaume Isabel, the Desportes family
and a few others. Generally, seigneurs knew that to have permanent
settlers, they must attract families or tenants who would start families.
Jean Côté, being single, was perhaps not an ideal candidate, but he
likely had desire and a durability that interested Giffard. Many more
Normans would arrive later.
There are now very good historical information websites developing
such as www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/paris/canadafrance/percheemigration-e.asp.
This one nicely explains Dr. Giffard's exploits.
Our ancestral beginnings
in "New France"
As previously mentioned, life in the old country in the 1600s was difficult,
especially for peasant classes. A peasant was essentially devoid of
rights. A peasant who wanted a better life could try to obtain a cow,
a pig, or some chickens. It was possible to do this by careful trading,
and eventually he might gain status, possibly even some land. But
the chance was very small. Even if an animal was acquired, the army
might pass through and take it. And there were taxes. Peasants, owning
very little, had few taxes to pay, but any tax for those with little
or no income was an extreme hardship.
France in the 1600s had no sewer systems, and the filth of animal
and human wastes and consequent threat of disease was everywhere.
While finding suitable recruits for the New World might have been
difficult, it was probably easy to fill boats with French peasants
looking for a better life, especially if a cow or some other asset
was part of the promise.
Our Côté ancestry began in New France with Jean's contract with Seigneur
Giffard, a woman named Anne Martin, and a free voyage. Jean landed
at Beauport (see Appendix 1 below), now a subdivision of Québec City,
to begin a new life. A website at www.genealogie.org/famille/belanger/FrancoisImmigrant.html provides insight to the Québec community and other aspects of life
at that time.
Guesses could be based on what is known about the ships of those days
and prevailing circumstances. If the television show A Scattering
of Seeds - The Creation of Canada is of interest, its website
at www.whitepinepictures.com/seeds is worth a visit. Another site at www.geocities.com/Heartland/Ranch/6210/01_navires_pre_1666/E1navires.html states the number of ships and their captains for those early years.
The site at www.geocities.com/
glass was not generally available until a process was developed
in France in 1688. Homes of those days had no windows, and if
building ideas from the old country were employed, most homes
would have only had openings covered with an oiled, translucent
paper that could be shuttered in the winter. The movie Blackrobe, directed by John Lantos, written by Brian Moore, is set in Québec in 1634. While it's mainly about the spiritualities of the Jesuits and the Natives, it also portrays many aspects of life in that
area at that time. The roles of workers, the clergy, and even
Champlain seem carefully considered and portrayed. Even the
window used by Champlain appears to be oiled paper, which would
have been correct for the time.
Heartland/Ranch/6210/ which is the home page of the site above
contains good data and links. (Yes, I have noticed that the plaque
on the memorial to Louis Hebert states that Jean Côté arrived in 1635.)
The search engine at this site links to the www.ancestry.com site, and this might be useful to US-based Côtés. There are also considerable
errors here. But given that this site is hosted by an American-based
protestant church, it's likely that our Jean, who was a faithful
and loyal Roman Catholic who paid homage to his seigneur and to his
God, wouldn't really care.
It appears that in 1633 the dozen or so people at Québec saw their
numbers increase to a couple hundred with arrival of three or more
ships. In 1634, if the information in Appendix 1 is correct, Jean
sailed on a ship that was part of a flotilla, of sorts, of five or
six ships. His vessel could well have carried 75 souls comprised of
families, soldiers, and missionaries and basic tools, supplies, and
animals for farming and articles for fur trading. Most sailings were
in summer months, and their arrival in Québec would have significantly
boosted the population to 500 or more. Vessels would have then collected
furs for the return voyage. Generally ships of that era were supplied
by the French navy, which is why searches at the French naval archives
might be fruitful.
Jean Côté's origin
Until recently, very little was known of either the early life of
Jean or 'Jehan' Côté, dit Costé, or his precedents in France. Thanks
to work by Pierre and Jean-Guy Côté, there is evidence suggesting
who his parents and grandparents were. Dozens of websites state the
basics of Jean's marriage to Anne. Many of them differ. I don't think
I could be criticized too harshly for suggesting that he was born
in about 1604, son of Abraham and Francoise Loisel. (Much genealogical
data from these years poses problems with similar names, improbable
dates, and so on, especially where it involves peasants and the French
lower working class, so some inaccuracies are plausible.)
Appendix 2 below contains information from Jean-Guy Côté. It's definitely
interesting, however, questions arise. One is that it's in English
and it might have suffered in the translation. Another is that it
refers to the Côté spelling, and this might not have been the name
Jean and his predecessors used. Another problem is that there aren't
yet any links to the persons indicated. Still, the information shouldn't
be ignored since it could disprove some of our thinking.
"It is most likely that (Jean Côté) came
from Perche, but he is one of the rare settlers about whom tireless
researchers, such as Pierre Montagne and his wife, have discovered
nothing in the archives of this French province. Without a doubt,
it is for this reason that they do not mention him in the Percheron
Cahiers, nor in Tourouvre et les Juchereau."
I have found the essence of this paragraph in several sources on the
There is also a good chance that Côté came from the Dieppe area. Information
is surfacing to suggest Coste namesakes were involved in the fishing
junkets to the Grand Banks.
Jean Côté's peasant background, marital status at the time of his
departure from France, and apparent absence of military service certainly
gives rise to another more sinister speculation: that he was on the
lam. I believe it would be wrong to discount this possibility, and
it creates yet another fascinating wrinkle in the mystery behind this
intriguing man whose genes are now replete in tens of thousands of
Our original Côté matriarch
Jean Côté's blood does not run in our veins without worthy consideration
of the woman he would marry in the New World and whose genetic blueprint
we equally carry. So for a moment, we turn back to France and the
ancestors of Anne Martin, specifically her grandparents Galleran Martin
and his wife, Isabella Côté. Yes, the Côté name appears here too,
and I will explain:
It's doubtful that this was the grandmother's true family name. Since
Côté also means "side", she simply may have been "at the side" of
Galleran according to nomenclature in ancient cultures. Galleran was
devoted to the cause of Mary Queen of Scots, but it's unknown whether
he was a Scot living in France or a Frenchman spending time in Scotland.
Currently it's believed that Galleran and Isabella were from Scotland.
Galleran was involved in a plot to free Queen Mary from the English.
The plot failed. History knows well that Mary was beheaded. Galleran
fled to France with his family.
Galleran's son, Abraham Martin, was born in Scotland in 1587. Abraham
arrived in New France (Canada) on the sailboat LeSallemandie at Tadoussac
on August 30, 1620. His wife was Marguerite Langlois, whose sister
gave birth to the first European born in Canada . After the takeover
of Québec by the Kirkes, Abraham was sent back to France with hundreds
of others, as stated above. But in1633 he returned to Québec with
his family which now included a daughter named Anne. He worked as
a river pilot, ploughman, and fisherman. Abraham is often noted as
Abraham Martin dit l'Ecossais, meaning Abraham the Scot.
But possibly there were two Anne Martins. One was a kid sister to
Abraham, born about 1617; the other was Abraham's daughter, born on
March 23, 1621. I raise this since either one could be the Anne Martin
who ultimately married Jean Côté . Both were born in Perche Province
in France. The assumption is that Abraham married Marguerite Langlois
in France on Oct 24, 1621, leaving Anne to have been born before the
marriage in both cases.
Anne, Abraham's sister, was born in 1617 and would have been 28 years
junior to Abraham. Her mother would have been about 50 at the time
of her birth. She could have met Jean while in France and then travelled
on one of several ships that arrived from France in 1635, and at the
time she would have been about 18. She might also have arrived as
a guest of her brother with a view to see what might develop with
Anne, Abraham's daughter, was born in 1621 and would have been 15
at the time of her arrival from France and her marriage to Jean. While
this is possibly more credible than the first scenario, it conflicts
with data that suggests Abraham and Marguerite had another Anne born
in 1645. I will hold to the notion that the Anne who married Jean
Côté was Abraham's daughter, unless other data arises to the contrary.
A message I received, possibly from Pierre Côté, indicates that records
were lost in a fire, and the year 1640 comes to mind. If so, much
critical information about Canada's first settlers will never be known.
Côté generations since arrival in North America in 1634
Logically, though it's not verified, Jean Côté and Anne Martin, based on
the birth of their first child, were involved in a relationship by January
or February 1635. The child, Louis, was born on October 25, 1635,
and they were married a few weeks later by the missionary Jesuit Charles
Lalemant on November 17, 1635 at Giffard's home, with Giffard being
their witness and sponsor.
||The first generation
|Jean Côté and Anne Martin
Jean was a cultivateur meaning a farmer, farm labourer, or gardener.
Since Giffard himself had nearly starved in this new climate a few
years earlier, Côté and others like him were critical to the success
of his seigneurity. Jean Côté worked as a fief or tenant, clearing
land and farming for Giffard at Beauport. After probably five years,
he was given an 'arpent', which is about an acre of land. He may have
also received a cow, since this was a common payment for services.
Champlain died a few months later at Christmas, and virtually the
whole settlement at Québec attended his funeral. Doubtless, our Jean
and his wife were there too. One only wonders what they and their
fellow settlers were thinking. Surely they pondered their future since
Champlain had been their guide, their protector, and their sponsor.
He had arranged peace with the aboriginals and had battled tirelessly
on both sides of the Atlantic for everything that Québec had become.
This was a dreary and foreboding time at the settlement.
Gradually it was evident that land seigneurities would never rival
the great fortunes created from fur trading, and France's interest
in colonization began to wane. It also became clear that the settlement
had much more land than prospects for creating seigneurities. Those
who came as peasant labourers realized that they too could have land,
and it wasn't long before seigneurities were also granted to peasants
and labourers as freely as they were to France's elite.
In August 27 1636, governor Huault de Montmagny, who had succeeded
Champlain, gave Jean Côté an arpent facing the river, but it was hardly
sufficient to raise a family. The children who followed were:
Very likely all were
born at their home in Beauport. For Jean's descendants at least, this
was the first generation of Canadian born Côtés.
Simone, 1637-before 1698
|Jean Baptist, 1644-1722
Jean Noel, 1646-1701 (our branch)
Marie, 1648 (died at 2 weeks old)
Some of the information following is commonly known. Who actually
"discovered" it is hard to determine. Some of it is also covered again
in Appendix 1.
A neighbour and relative of Jean's (the brother of his mother-in-law),
pioneer Noël Langlois, owned 300 acres that Giffard ceded to him in
his seigneury of Beauport in 1637, and in return for Jean and family
living close by, Langlois provided some homestead land for Jean. In
1641, Langlois and Jean made a contract with the Company of New France
for the supply of 500 bundles of hay at the price of 80 livres, the
currency at the time. Jean built his house, and in 1645 Lord Giffard
granted him ownership of the ground that he occupied; about three
acres. This land became the subject of a dispute over theie verbal
agreement. In the end, the act of generosity caused more problems
than it solved.
Jean Côté became the owner of a house situated near the present corner
of the rue Trésor (Trésor Street) and the rue Baude (Baude Street)
in modern Québec City. Today this is an alley where artists display
their creations for tourists. The house was on a plot of land with
150 feet of frontage and 60 feet in depth. On 15 November 1649, Côté
offered it as dowry for his eldest daughter Simone when she married
Pierre Soumande. On 7 November 1655, Soumande sold this house to Jacques
Boessel for 350 livres. Côté also owned a piece of land between la
Grande-Allée and the river in what was then the outskirts of Québec.
The act was ratified on 5 April 1639 for the land Governor Montmagny
had given him on 27 August 1636.
The practice of passing the homestead to the oldest male doesn't appear
to have occurred in this case. Jean Noël was three when his older
sister married Soumande, and apparently the boys all had to look elsewhere
for their homestead.
Just off Québec City in St. Lawrence River is a large island, about
21 by 5 miles in size. Even Jacques Cartier remarked at its beauty,
eventually naming Ìsle d'Orleans after a friend. In 1651, the residents
of this island were granted fiefs by the governor, and it became possible
for commoners to take up land there. (Check www.lachances.net for a very nice website made by the Lachance family on this island.)
Probably due to availability, all the Côté boys took up acreages there,
and from there the Côté bloodline began its movement throughout North
It's interesting that ancestors of ex-prime minister Jean Chretien, singer Celine Dion and
many other famous French Canadians also came from this island.
There were essentially four nations of aboriginal peoples in the area.
The Algonquin and the Montagnais were traders, peaceful and quite
nomadic. Their territory was mostly north and northeast in the backwoods
of modern Québec and Labrador. The Huron were south and east in the
area now know as the Eastern Townships. This is now cultivated Québec,
Maine, and New Brunswick. They were somewhat agricultural, peaceful,
and also nomadic.
The Hurons were often attacked by bands within the various Iroquois
nations and the Mi'cmaq, and a threat to Huron populations existed.
By 1639 their numbers had been halved by European diseases and wars
with other more aggressive aboriginals. There is an excellent essay
at www.dickshovel.com/mic.html that might be of interest. The home page, www.dickshovel.com/www.html,
also has essays on Abenaki, Huron, and Iroquios and has links to just
about anything related to aboriginal peoples.
In 1641 a priest working with the Hurons named Jean Brebeuf wrote The Huron Carol. Then in 1649 the Iroquois tortured and killed
him and Lalement (not the one who performed the marriage ceremony
for our Jean and Anne in 1635). This was a time when the probability
of capture and harrassment or killing by the aboriginals was quite
high, especially for those who were out of the range of safety of
their homes. It's surprising that there wasn't a huge outcry or a
large-scale retribution over Lalement's death.
In 1660-61, the Iroquois were again at war throughout the area attacking
Montreal and even pillaging Ìsle d'Orleans. These wars totally decimated
the Hurons, and since fur trading depended largely on them as middlemen,
it began to subside.
Jean Côté died in Québec on March 27, 1661. According to Appendix
1, he is buried in the church at Notre Dame Church in Québec City,
although this is disputed.
In 1663, King Louis XIV made New France a crown colony with Québec
becoming a royal province, and royal governors or intendants would
replace private commercial interests in governing Québec. In 1660-70,
black or bubonic plague was taking its toll in Austria, Italy, and
Populating French Canada
In 1665, France sent Jean Talon, "the Great Intendant", to take over
as head of the colony, and the first challenge he faced was to increase
the population. In 1666, Canada's first census revealed a population
of 3,215, and by 1672 it was 7,000. Since it was now formally a colony,
the French crown paid for the passage of thousands of settlers, even
disbanding the Carigan-Salieres regiment and forcing them to stay.
There isn't a good accounting of names here, but there is a list at www.geocities.com/Heartland/Ranch/6210/.
The ratio of men to women was 6:1 in 1666, that is, about 2,800 males
and 400 females.
France had sent the Carigan-Salieres Regiment, a thousand or so soldiers,
to protect its developing colony. During this time, the filles
de roi (daughters of the king) incident became a famous historical
event. Prompted by Talon, the king sent females to the colonies to
promote marriage with soldiers and other marriageable males. Between
1663 and 1673, over 800 women, half from the Parisian orphanage L'Hôpital
Géneral, the others from other orphanages or from homes too poor to
have a dowry, from the western provinces in France were sent to New
France. Their names are available at www.fillesduroi.org/Daughters/Filles/filles.html.
Although the accusation
that they were the king's ex-girlfriends existed, within a few months
of their arrival, 90 per cent of them married and only one never married.
(One can only imagine how she might have felt.) While calling them
the king's daughters might have added some dignity to the affair,
in fact to Talon and Québec, they might have been the king's crown
jewels. Rumours persist that they were poverty-stricken street people,
but the reality was that many had a rudimentary education in their
orphanage, and while not formally educated, they quickly understood
nursing, motherhood, child-rearing, and survival basics, and so their
contributions are still beyond measurement. See www.civilization.ca/vmnf/popul/filles/s-fil-en.htm.
|At least one
of our Côté ancestors married a fille du roi a
"daughter of the king" brought to Canada in the 1600s to boost
It was not what the filles du roi were or what they possessed,
but rather what they were not. They were not privileged ladies of
the courts or from upper/middle class backgrounds. They intimately
knew the realities of hardship, hard work, and of being unfortunate.
The dowries provided by the king injected valuable economic assistance
at the family level. Their arrival and presence was exactly what Québec
needed, and a baby boom of unprecedented proportion followed. In 10
years, by 1677, the population more than doubled. Fifteen years after
Canada's first census, the genders were about even in number, and
the filles de roi were as close to a perfect solution to a
problem as there ever was in history.
(I have often considered that if the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
ever wanted to make a Canadian series with historical context, stories
from the filles du roi and the Carigan-Salieres Regiment would
be truly fascinating resources.)
Since their numbers amounted to over 10 per cent of the population,
their bloodlines quickly permeated the entire French Canadian population
in the area. There are very few unfortunate French Canadians from
the Québec era who aren't related to at least one filles de roi or soldier from the Carigan-Salieres regiment. As mentioned in Appendix
1, one of Jean's sons married a fille de roi. The Morin family
name appears here as it does in our branch. Hockey fans might also
be interested that Guy Lafleur and many other hockey players are descendants
of the soldiers of the Carigan-Salieres Regiment.
Within a generation, Québec transgressed from a wilderness trading
outpost to a somewhat decent, family-oriented society and culture.
This marked the beginning of a major change in the makeup of French
Europeans in Québec. From this period on, approximately a third were
Normans from rural areas of France, and the rest were from the urban
areas, split up such that half were the military and filles de
roi, and the others were missionary, governmental, and administrative
If the filles de roi event wasn't enough to elevate Talon's
reputation, other aggressive steps to encourage population growth
surely helped. In 1669, he issued a royal decree that stated that
girls were to be married by age 16 and boys by age 20. Those who complied
were given 20 livres. And to make sure parents were productive, they
were given a pension of sorts of 300 livres per year for having 10
or more children (children who became priests or nuns didn't count
in the total!), and those who had 12 or more got 400 livres annually.
The birth rate rose to over four times that of today. With Talon's
encouragement, a culture developed of early marriage, large families,
and quick remarriage upon the death of a spouse. The birth rate, coupled
with free passage to New France from Europe, sent numbers soaring,
and thus it took little time to populate the land with the next generation.
During this period, Ìsle d'Orleans quickly became completely inhabited.
Each succeeding generation would have to look elsewhere for land.
The changing class structure
In 1670, Hudson's Bay Company was granted a charter from the king
of England to trade fur in the Hudson's Bay area. This started another
round of fur-trading wars and caused many skirmishes among traders,
aboriginal middlemen, and trappers. In 1682 LaSalle explored the Mississippi
to its mouth at present-day New Orleans. In 1689, the Iroquois killed
many French settlers at Lachine.
In time, the Native confrontations started to settle. Ìsle d'Orleans
had become less dangerous, and all the sons of Jean Côté, Louis, Martin,
Jean Baptist and Jean Noël took up land there to raise their families.
Québec City now had a several thousand people and likely was not so
desirable a place to live. Stench of human and animal wastes, rats,
chimney smoke, and health problems known to all cities in those days
made country living most attractive.
The oldest Côté boy, Louis, died a young man. His children followed
their mother to the Ìsle aux Coudres. There she was remarried to Guillaume
Lemieux and settled eventually in Saint-Thomas de Montmagny, which
gave rise to the Lemieux dynasty. (Thus it's quite possible that hockey
legend Mario Lemieux has Côté blood.) Martin's sons spent their lives
on the Ìsle d'Orléans and at Beauport while grandson Gabriel settled
at Rimouski. It was this branch of Côtés that produced David Côté
New France and Québec
were starting to take shape. A class structure had begun where educated
people performed management, administrative, and pastoral work; the
uneducated did everything else. The basic difference from other class
structures was that resources here were from the working class. Peasants,
educated or otherwise, realized that the situation in New France was
entirely different from that of the old homeland for several reasons,
perhaps the largest being that Old World system of paying homage and
kow-towing to landholders was no longer part of life in this new land.
homage: Essentially, a peasant meeting with his seigneur
would kneel, remove his hat and sword, and utter an appropriate
oath of allegiance. It was soon realized that picking a day
when the seigneur wasn't home was one way to avoid this belittling
ritual. In New France the practice was eventually seen as redundant
and died out.
In the New
World, workers could survive without the help of a seigneur, since
seigneurity needed them much more than they needed seigneurity. Not
only did farm labourers find that much land was available to them,
but that they were much freer than in the old country and could do
whatever they wanted — including simply disappearing and possibly
working with and for the aboriginals. No matter how lawless, uncivilized,
and unlike Old France, there was always a way to survive and perhaps
even improve their lives.
For those who disliked the drudgery of farm work, it was always possible
to work as an intermediary or broker to deal with Native traders.
Opportunities could be better, sometimes much better, than working
on a seigneurity. As a result, a seigneur's need to keep contented
labourers was resolved by giving them land, or he simply found new
Catholic missionaries also found themselves in a much different light
than they'd expected. Priests of the old ilk were revered, so traditionally
the church held a major influence in the life of a peasant labourer.
Since priests were educated, they acted not only for pastoral issues,
but as mediators, negotiators, lawyers, and counsellors, assuring
that parish and church benefitted, and thus adding to their esteem
within the church system.
But the working class started to regard priests differently from the
Old World model since a new set of values had arisen. Churches survived,
but morality and religious values were taking interesting turns. Local
priests realized that the basic French Canadian was highly principled
and independent, while old Catholic icons in Europe began regarding
French Canadians as somewhat immoral and spiritually decrepit.
Varying turns of good seasons, crops, and other successes or failures
left peasant labourers to ponder whether God was important to their
survival after all. What perhaps seemed more important was hard work,
integrity, and resourcefulness. The old system of total religious
dedication and subservience to church and seigneur would never impact
them as it had in France. A change was underway that some believe
formed the cultural basis for New World thinking today. Still many
argue that priests held considerable power and their influence, especially
during elections, is still is an important element in modern-day Québec.
Eventually, and perhaps inevitably, the old systems of seigneurity,
paying homages, fiefdom, and complete subservience to the church and
their masters lost out. Property ownership and self-destiny began
to take root, and life for immigrants in New France steadily gained
favour over life in the old country. While the hard life caused the
return of many people to the old country, for the ancestors of what
was to become French Canada, there was no turning back.
||The second generation
|Jean Noël Côté and Helene Gratton
For reasons unknown, this generation mostly used the name Coste and sometimes LeFrise. Surprisingly, children of this generation
would revert to Côté. I was told by one researcher that the
practice of choosing old-country French was common until the late
1700s. While it would literally spell confusion for modern-day researchers,
the fact remains that these names meant the same thing.
Thus the second generation of our branch of Côtés continued with Jean
Noël. In 1673, he married Helene Graton (also spelled Gratton), daughter
of Claude and Marguerite Moncion. Their nine children were:
(Joseph and Augustin
appear to have died on the same day. Accident?) All these children
were born on Ìsle d'Orleans in various parish jurisdictions, Ste-Famille,
St-Pierre, and St-Lament. During this time their grandmother Anne
Martin died, specifically in 1684, in Beauport. Both she and her husband
Jean were apparently buried in unmarked graves, although Appendix
1 states otherwise, and in fact their whereabouts are unknown today.
|Louise, 1676 - ?
Jean Baptist, 1682-1712
Pierre, 1684 (died at 10 days old)
Jacques, 1686-1734 (our branch)
(died at 4 months)
Anne, 1690 - ?
This record in Dreams of Empire-Canada, page 332, from the
Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, 'registre des malades' for the date June 1689,
"helene graton ages de 37 an famme de noil Cottez de La Parou?ge
de St Pierre a Iille dorlean sorte le 12"
... which loosely means Helene Graton, aged 37, wife of Noël Côté?
(note spellings) of (perhaps name of seigneurity) of St. Pierre of
Ìsle de Orleans, departed on the 12th (of June).
A map drawn by Catalogne and Couagne in 1709 at www2.biblinat.gouv.qc.ca/cargeo/htm/a40.htm shows that several Costés had land parcels on Ìsle d'Orleans. It also
states that no more land is available, and thus the next generation
moved on. Today a beautiful farm on the coast, 'the Coterie', property
of Pierre-Célestin Côté located at number 6109 Royal Avenue, testifies
1706 - Christofori invents the
1702 to 1713 - Britain wins control
of Acadia (Nova Scotia)
in the Queen Anne's War by driving
from Hudson's Bay.
Jacques Côté, from our branch, was the fourth boy. Assuming the homestead
went to the oldest son, he likely had to look elsewhere to settle.
He would have been among the first of the next group of settlers to
choose the Eastern Townships.
||The third generation
|Jacques Côté and Madeline Rondeau
Our third generation spread further upstream on the south side of
the St. Lawrence River near the parish of St-Nicolas. While not far
from Québec, this was prime farmland and Jacques' choice of inhabitable
land. On Feb 8, 1706 he married Madeline Rondeau, daughter of Thomas
and Andrée Remondiere in St-Pierre on the island. Then he settled
south of the river at St-Nicolas. Their children, all born at St-Nicolas,
Madeline died in 1712,
just six years into the marriage. His oldest child being six and the
youngest barely a year old, Jacques remarried Therese Catherine Lambert
Briene Vincenne. She had seven more children and died in 1730. Apparently
not given to bachelorhood, he remarried yet again in his 46th year
in 1732 to Genevieve Cauchon who bore him no additional children.
Jacques, 1708-1773 (our branch)
Jean Baptist, 1711 - ?
Back in 1706 when Jacques was of age to start a family, his father
had been dead for five years and his older brothers had probably taken
over the family homestead. By 1712 all his older brothers had died,
and yet Jacques did not take up the homestead on Ìsle d'Órleans. It's
possible that this land was either assumed by his sister Louise or
given as dowry.
In 1713 the English took total and final control of Nova Scotia, then
Acadia, as one of the settlement terms in the Treaty of Utrecht which ended the War of Spanish Succession. Wars had severely depleted
France and left the colonies economically on their own. England's
takeover of Nova Scotia meant that its inhabitants must pay homage
to the England's royalty and convert to the Protestant Church of England.
This caused a 40-year standoff that ended in 1754 when the governor
of Nova Scotia deported anyone who would not pledge allegiance to
the English Crown.
By 1755, seven to ten thousand French settlers had been deported to
the West Indies, many later settling in the Louisiana territories
where they became what are now known as "Cajuns" (an aberration of
"Canadians"). The harsh treatment they received from the English left
many French Canadians forever embittered about the English Crown.
A few Côtés from other family branches were deported. The bloodline
was over a hundred years in the New World and had already branched
out through three generations. However, the confusion of the time
and the fact that so many perished makes it hard to know exactly who
was involved and their precise lineage. (There is a listing of Cajun
names published showing 88 Costes and 4525 Cotes/Cotoes as descendants
of this epoch.)
At this point, North America was still considered a colony by both
French and English. The French occupied an area extending from the
mouth of the St. Lawrence to the mouth of the Mississippi and west
to the Great Lakes. The English had taken over the American colonies
of the east and the Hudson Bay and west area trading system.
In 1754 a British general named George Washington decided to test
the resolve of the French by attacking a fort on the Monogahela River
near present-day Pittsburgh. Being short on troops and training, his
attack didn't go well. The lesson he learned has stood the test of
time. United States has never attacked the French since and have seldom
considered a fight anywhere unless odds were greatly in their favour.
Thus started the last period of fighting between Britain and France
over French colonies in the New World.
This generation of our ancestors again took land upstream, this time
at Ste-Antoine de Tilly. Not unlike his father, Jacques Côté also
had three marriages. His first produced nine children, his second,
five, and his third in 1756 to Josette Josephe Bergeron, daughter
of Jean Baptist and Charlotte Houde, produced a son who would ultimately
be our ancestral connection:
||The fourth generation
|Jacques Côté and Josette Bergeron
When Jean Charles Côté
was born, his father Jacques was 59 years old, Josette was 45, and
they had been married for 11 years. Interesting!
1767 - ? (our branch)
George Washington's actions in 1754 signalled the start of the Seven
Years War in Europe. Anyone falling asleep in 1754 and waking 25 years
later would have had a huge surprise. The political layout of the
world completely changed. In 1756 war broke out in Europe, and England
used its superior sea power to cut New France off from Europe and
later recapture Québec.
In September of 1759, our branch of the Côtés and a few hundred other
settlers could only watch as 1,200 British soldiers moved into their
town of Ste-Antoine-de-Tilley and took over their church. British
General Wolfe hoped that General Montcalm, who commanded the French
army on the other side of the river, would attack. Montcalm did nothing
and thought that since the cliffs that Québec sat on were said to
be resistant to military attack, he could easily defend the city without
a needless and costly attack on the river or on open land.
What happened next of course is the stuff every Canadian studies in
school: Wolfe mounted an attack from the cliffs, and a battle was
fought on the Plains of Abraham with Montreal falling to the British
in 1760. Wolfe and Montcalm both died in battle. When the smoke cleared,
the debate started over who actually won the war. It would appear
eventually that it was the British. Considering the ages of Jacques
Côté and the rest of his family and their location, it's unlikely
that anyone in this branch was involved in the actual fighting. But
there is no question that they were just across the river, at best,
only a few miles away. The Plains of Abraham were originally the property
of their great-great-great-grandfather.
In 1763, as a result of losing the war, Louis XV of France had the
option to keep Canada or regain the French Caribbean islands taken
by the British four years before (including Guadeloupe and Martinique
and the other minor islands of the French Antilles). His decision
was written into the Treaty of Paris, and from that time forward,
Canada, excepting the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon that were
kept by France to provide a settlement for fishermen from old France,
became a property of the British Commonwealth. Aside from climate,
Canada and its potential wealth was less desirable to Louis XV than
a few scantily inhabited Caribbean islands. One perhaps wonders about
The French regime was officially over. The largest and longest period
of French emigration to the New World ended. The relationship between
France and Québec would be forever tarnished, possibly even severed.
Earlier ineptitude, neglect, and insufficient support could be forgiven.
For anyone who ever wondered why French Canada seemed to have congenital
animosity to old France, being squandered for a few Caribbean islands
might have had something to do with it.
In 1764, British general James Murray was appointed to transform the
colony, unbelievably, into an English colony. Since he had 1,500 soldiers
and there were 70,000 French Canadians, he realized that a takeover
similar to that in Nova Scotia might not be easy and could cause yet
another revolution. He decided against it.
By 1766 Murray hadn't produced the results expected, and he was replaced
by Sir Guy Carleton. On looking over the situation, Carleton decided
that Murray's actions were reasonable, and he proposed that French
Canada be allowed to have its own language, church, justice system,
and so on.
While Britain contemplated this, the Boston Tea Party (1773) and the
American War of Independence separated United States from England.
40,000 loyalists fled to Canada from the American colonies thus starting
the English-speaking settlements of New Brunswick and Western Québec
In 1774 the British, pressured by their problems in the US and remembering
the debacle in the takeover of Nova Scotia, passed the Québec Act which recognized territorial French legal codes and land-tenure system
and granted legal status to the Roman Catholic church. Clearly their
takeover of Québec would go a lot differently than that of Nova Scotia
or of the American states.
In 1783, the American Revolution created a border between Canada and
the US to the Great Lakes.
The French Revolution, starting in 1789 and ending with the beheading
of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in 1793, ended the French royal
dynasties with an invention created and named for Dr. Guillotine.
France was weakened and bankrupt, and its troubles were really just
beginning. England declared war again over the king's beheading, and
the next generation would experience Robespierre and Napoleon. In
the wake of all this, France would never again be a world power.
When Jean Charles Côté was marriageable, Québec was officially under
the control of the British Commonwealth, but in reality, not much
had changed from the prior generation. In 1788, the church at Ste-Antoine
de Tilly burned down and a new one was built. In 1791, the Constitutional
Act separated Québec into Upper (Ontario) and Lower (Québec).
It was during that year Jean Charles married Pelagie Croteau, daughter
of Louis Francois and Felicite Chaine. There were three children:
||The fifth generation
|Jean Charles Côté and Pelagie Croteau
No official record is
yet found of their birth dates, but it appears that they were all
born in Ste-Antoine de Tilly, Québec. Apparently widowed, Jean Charles remarried
in 1816, but there were no children from this marriage.
about 1794 (our branch)
In 1803, France, did a land deal called the Louisiana Purchase and
sold all lands west of the Mississippi to the Rockies and south of
Québec to the Gulf of Mexico for $15 million.
Again, war intervened before the next generation could develop, specifically
the War of 1812. Here the US declared war on Canada hoping to liberate
it from the British. Britain sent many soldiers to help the colonies
fight the Americans. In the end, not much was lost or gained other
than Toronto was temporarily under American control and a British
military unit got close enough to the US president's residence in
Washington to set fire to it. (It was then painted white, and the White
House has been white ever since.)
In 1818, two totally unrelated events occurred that affect us to this
The 49th parallel was accepted as the division between British and
American possessions in North America, and the Christmas carol Silent
Night was written. It may be surprising that Huron Carol, mentioned above, is about twice as old as Silent Night. (Huron Carol is over 350 years old, while Silent Night is less
Our sixth generation descended from Francois Xavier who married Angelique
Bedard, daughter of Jean Baptist and Elisabeth AuClair in 1820. That
marriage produced six offspring before Angelique's early death. Francois
Xavier remarried in 1826 to Rosalie Rose Marion (sometimes called
Morin). It appears that the family moved to St-Flavien, Québec and had two
||The sixth generation
|Francois Xavier Côté and Angelique Bedard
Records were not well
kept, and there are considerable date conflicts. St-Flavien is about
20 miles south of Ste-Antoine de Tilly.
||Francois (our branch)
This was another period when many Côtés as well as other French Canadian
families migrated to other parts of North America. The area that included
the Eastern Townships was cleared and developed to the extent that
it is today, and there was little land to be had for this generation.
In the 1830s, a serious economic depression together with severe overpopulation
in the Eastern Townships created enormous hardships to the point that
there were minor revolts and concerns about political upheaval.
Most Côtés living today in Maine, Vermont, New York, and even California,
emigrated from French-Canadian settlements during this time.
From 1815 to 1855, the British actively encouraged British immigration,
and one million Britons moved into the Canadian Territories.
In the 1840s a potato famine in Ireland created wave after wave of
"coffin ships" that is, ships having people and families on board
sick with typhus, starving, or dead. Many Irish names in Québec can
be traced to this origin. See www.ncf.carleton.ca/~cd200/mac36.html and www.historyplace.com/worldhistory/famine.
Our seventh generation is from Francois who married Desanges Chaurette
(sometimes Choret), daughter of Joseph and Marguerite Aubin, in 1845.
While they were both born in St-Flavien, they were married in Ste-Antoine
de Tilley in 1845. Their children, also born in St-Flavien are:
||The seventh generation
|Francois Côté and Desanges Chaurette
In approximately 1863,
they migrated to Benson in Swift County, Minnesota in the United States
without the older boys Honore and Lazare who were 26 and 25 respectively.
Today it might seem an unpatriotic gesture to move to the US. But in those years the border seemed fairly insignificant and people often relocated without bureaucratic fuss wherever economic conditions led them. Once there, they had two more children, Alphonse in 1863 and Clarisse
Lazare, 1850 (our branch)
In this period, two events occurred having great impact in North America:
The American Civil War started in 1863; and the British territories,
Québec, Ontario, and Nova Scotia accepted confederation which led to the creation of the Dominion
of Canada in 1867. In 1870 Louis Riel led the Metis resisting
Canada's authority in the west by seizing Fort Garry at Winnipeg and
presenting demands for rights for the Metis in the northwest. In 1870
Manitoba became a province based on those demands, and Riel fled to
The eighth and final generation of Côtés, as they relate to my Thiévin
family, began when Lazare Côté, who had not moved to Minnesota with his parents, married Clarisse Bergeron in 1870 in
St-Flavien, Québec. Their daughter Marie-Louise would become our matriarch,
and after her marriage, she became the final Côté in our lineage.
Her parents could hardly be accused of mediocrity with 14 children:
||The eighth generation
|Lazare Côté and Clarisse Bergeron
In 1889, Lazare and
his family followed his father's journey to Minnesota, and after several
stays along the way where Louise and Ulric were born, they settled
in Wales, North Dakota. Clarisse, their final child, was
born in 1894. The decision to move from Québec was very likely
due to an economic depression that started in 1888 and lasted about
eight years. Our matriarch Marie-Louise was born at Olga, North Dakota
Onesime (Pete), 1879
Marie-Louise, 1891 (our branch)
Lazare, like his ancestors, was a farmer and labourer, and there was
little work or large enough farms in North Dakota. In 1900, upon hearing
there were Western Canadian homesteads available, he decided to look further.
Having moved too many times before, his wife Clarisse initially
stayed in North Dakota. While the 49th parallel was the border, Lazare's
Canadian citizenship made it a simple matter when he chose to settle in 1902 near "Alma" Post
Office a few miles from present day Forget, Saskatchewan.
Alma Post Office, located on section 24, township 8, range 7, west of the
2nd meridian, was then in the Assiniboine Territory of the North West
Territories, and in 1905 this area became Saskatchewan, a province
of Canada. Alma P.O. closed in 1905 after the railway went through
a few miles away and the Forget post office opened. This sometimes
confusing name came from Amedee-Emmanuel Forget who was the last lieutenant
governor of the Assiniboine [Northwest] Territories. (Almost any level
internet search for Forget returns references to the Roman Catholic
convent that became a landmark there. I, my two immediate brothers,
and several first cousins attended this convent for the first years
of our schooling in the 1950s.)
At $10 each, Lazare and his boys each bought a homestead for a total
of seven. Since Clarisse disliked sod houses, they built a log house
and essentially started farming in the same way as thousands of others
who arrived on the prairies in those times. Lazare died in 1914, Clarisse
in 1921, and they were buried at the cemetery in Lampman, Saskatchewan.
Marie-Louise Côté's marriage in 1909 led to a ninth
generation of Jean Côté albeit with my family name, that is, Thiévin. Louis was born
in Pannece in Brittany, France, the son of Pierre Thiévin and
Marie Gougeon. The family had immigrated to Canada when Louis was
a toddler, arriving in Grande Clairière, Manitoba in 1889. After living
there four years and acquiring some cattle, they moved with their
eight children and livestock by ox-drawn cart to Alma Post Office. It was here that young Louis met
his bride, Marie-Louise. They would settle in Saskatchewan south of
Forget near the towns of Benson and Lampman, and not to break traditions of having large families,
the fruits of their marriage were 13 children:
||The ninth generation
|Marie-Louise Côté and Louis Thiévin
Louis Thiévin was an
excellent carpenter and farmed near Benson. He retired in Benson and
died after a struggle with lung cancer at Estevan in 1958. Louise-Marie
died in Estevan in 1974. These were two of the nicest of people ever
put on the planet. I have several memories.
1923 (my family branch)
Since Grandma disapproved of alcohol, Grandpa would take guests out
to his workshop. There, hidden away, were the libations they sought, and
for as long as I remember, he never was without. I also remember Grandma
tripping people as they went in and out of the kitchen at the New
Year's Day celebration that they always held at their home. Possibly
she also liked to drink a bit, but would never, ever let it be known.
Both were hard-working and fun-loving people who will always be remembered.
|Marie-Louise Côté at 17 (1908), the year before her marriage to Louis
Thiévin and Côté in-laws: At the centre of this photo
is Louis, and immediately below him and to our left is Marie-Louise
Côté holding, presumably, their first born, Albert Thiévin.
||The tenth and subsequent generations
|(offspring of Marie-Louise Côté with non-Côté surnames)
My siblings and I, born in the 1950s and 60s, represent the tenth generation of Jean Côté since
his arrival in Canada nearly 400 years ago. By 2003, 14 or more generations that led to our specific family had been propagated. In truth, however, it's possible that other children of Jean Côté propagated even more generations. The long and winding roads that led Jean Côté's other children into the 21st century might well differ, but we will probably never know who they are or what role they play in the Côté mosaic. The research on these pages, of course, focuses only on the Côté descendants who led to my immediate family.
There has been a dramatic difference in the rate of proliferation in modern times. Consider this:
From 1604 (Jean's birth) to 1891 (Marie-Louise's birth), 287 years
and eight generations transpired, averaging 36 years per generation.
But grandmother Marie-Louise's offspring produced a whopping five generations
between 1913 and 2002, averaging fewer than 18 years per generation
— clearly double the rate.
Obviously Marie-Louise's offspring bear as much Côté blood as descendants
who still bear the name. The first of these, generation 9, are each
of her immediate, surviving children, the first two dying from pneumonia
on the harsh prairies. She would eventually have 64 grandchildren
(generation 10), and 187 great-grandchildren (generation 11), before
her death in 1975. Since then, at least three more generations have emerged.
My father Aime was among Marie-Louise's many children in the ninth
generation. He married Bernadette Dubreuil in 1945, daughter of Francois Dubreuil
and Rose Montes. Their children were me (Tom), Richard, Denis,
Jim, Charlotte, Francis, Marie, Dianne, Marcel, and Jacqueline.
My father served his country in World War II with the Royal Canadian
Air Force. He was a wireless operator and flew 28 operations before
returning in 1945 to marry Bernadette. He farmed and then ran a garage
business in Estevan called Aime's Hillside Service. When his own interest
in this waned, he purchased a small resort at Round Lake in the Qu'Appelle
Valley called Maple Grove Resort. Both were eventually sold to interests
outside the family. Dad was an excellent hunter and trapper, a farmer,
mechanic, and businessman. He liked to think of himself as a jack
of all trades and master of none, but he was clearly made of survival
instincts handed down to him by parents who taught their children
to take nothing for granted.
Other Côtés (who emigrated from France but weren't related to Jean)
Tanguay (a French Compendium of French Canadian Settlers) mentions
three or four different Côtés coming from France in the 1700 and 1800
centuries. Jean, or Jehan as he was known, was the earliest of all.
He was the ancestor of the majority, if not of all the Côtés whose
roots in North America go back three centuries and more.
Jean had been dead several years when Abraham Côté (or Botte) dit
Soraká arrived from Dieppe. Abraham was married at the Mountain Indian
Mission at Montreal on 14 October 1750 to the Onondaga Marie Aéndea.
This man, who may not even have been a Côté (it might have been a
dit name) since his children were baptized under the name of Bote
or Soraká, left no known descendants apart from his own offspring.
It is possible that they assimilated into the aboriginal culture and
lost their real name.
In the following century other Côtés appeared: Claude, a native of
Lyon, married Françoise-Angélique Pampalon in Québec on 20 July 1724
and remarried there on 20 June 1728 to Marie-Genevieve Baudouin. He
had at least 13 children; two of his sons had wives.
Finally, there is another Jean Côté, this one from Languedoc, who
probably arrived at the end of the French regime. This Jean married
Marie-Francoise Lefebvre at Saint-Constant on 6 June 1768.
In fact, the Côté name had the potential to have also been a dit name.
For example, it would have been possible in French Canada to have
the name added to the original name if that person in some way had
a characteristic that led to an intuitive meaning. Thus Jean Doe
could have become Jean Doe dit Côté since Côté means 'side'
or 'coast' (as in coastline) if he lived beside something significant
such as the St. Lawrence or the Bay of Fundy. To take this supposition
further, eventually the Côté name might have stuck and a land title
or church record might have simply listed him as Jean Côté, leaving
out the real name entirely. This process happened often and
is the kind of thing that makes careful genealogical study necessary.
The Indian or Metis connection:
Many of our relatives have wondered about the possibility of aboriginal
blood and how much of it might run in our veins. This is not an easy
question to explore, and the answer might never be known.
There's much to ponder: In terms of lineage, it appears there is no
formal, documented intermarriage with non- French-Canadian Europeans
throughout our branch of Côtés (emphasis on our branch). Granted, this
depends on documents that genealogists often consider less than ideal
Since our branch of Côtés were essentially farmers and land settlers,
not soldiers, trappers, or traders, their exposure to Natives was
considerably less than for other occupations after the first generations.
And since our branch lived in eastern townships south of the St. Lawrence
River, they were quite apart from interactivity with the Iroquois
in early years on the north side of the river.
There certainly are Côté family branches in Québec with well-documented
marriages to non-European or Natives. I have a friend whose name is
Côté, a piano tuner in Ottawa, who insists that his great-great-great
grandfather who fought in the War of 1812 was part of a large-scale
mass marriage that occurred at the conclusion of that war where soldiers
of both French and British ancestry took Native brides. While I haven't
found documentation to support this, there are other documented Côté
marriages to non-Europeans.
|(photos coming soon ...)
|Of course this doesn't explore the possibility that wives of any Côté going back through our lineage might easily have come from blended aboriginal heritage. For example, as recently as the eighth generation it's possible that non-European blood was present in the veins of great-grandmother Clarisse Bergeron. The physical features of ancestors in the Bergeron/Côté family photos make it all the more plausible. — D. Thiévin, 2008
I met a man in Edmonton in January 2002 wearing a jacket with the
embroidered words "Cote First Nation". Given my knowledge of a Cote
reservation in Saskatchewan, I approached him and learned that he was newly elected Chief
White Hawk. I regret that I didn't note his proper Ojibwan name.
Regarding the naming of Cote First Nations, he said — and I hope I
have this right — that Cote was one of the negotiators of the treaties
and that naming was often done that way since many bands had no formal
name. The liaison in this case was Gabriel Côté whose name became
that of the band's.
On checking further, I found Côté was a chief, probably a Metis, who
also represented two other bands in the area that signed Treaty
4, although White Hawk's tribe might not have actually signed
or authorized Côté to represent them. While there is an obvious issue
over enforcement of their rights, the band has lived under the terms
of Treaty 4 since 1870.
To save the Ojibwa language from extinction, Chief White Hawk is promoting
its use in schools, although he does not speak it himself (as an attestation
to his cause). He is also involved in litigation with the federal
government for regaining treaty land reclaimed since the signing of Treaty 4. I found all of this interesting but evidence that
the Cote First Nations has very little, if any, connection to our
own Côté lineage.
It might be that Native children were adopted and absorbed into earlier
Côté families. Again, this is virtually impossible to prove since
adoption, as practised in those days, usually terminated any connection
with a biological family. Since most births occurred in the home using
midwives, records are scant, if any, on both European and Native sides.
Usually the first personal record to exist was a baptismal record
or a mention in church records kept at the time.
Most interesting in our branch are the facts surrounding our ancestor
Jean Charles, specified above in the fourth generation, born in 1767.
Given his mother was 45 and father 59, that they had been married
for 11 years, and that there already were nine children from a previous
wife, this clearly is a situation with limitless possibilities and
no facts to support any conclusion. In Jean Charles' case, we're left
to accept that he was most likely biologically related to his mother
But if he was adopted, there are several possibilities: His adoptive
parents might have actually been his grandparents. Possibly his biological
parents were an uncle/aunt or cousins who were not able to care for
him. Possibly he was not related by blood but still of French European
blood. And possibly too, he might have been an orphaned Native or
even a Metis boy related to the family. But without any information,
we can only assume at best that his biological parents raised him,
unless new evidence arises. It is intriguing that of the many internet
genealogical record sites for this family, only one lists Jean Charles
as son of Jean Baptist and Charlotte Houde.
For as long as I can remember, my Côté family always had a place at
the table for anyone and everyone. It was a long-standing, humble
family tradition, undoubtedly passed down through numerous generations.
Almost certainly our ancestors would have advocated that taking someone
in was the right thing to do, no matter what the circumstance.
A famous Côté
Alberta has claim to a rather famous Côté. He was Jean Léon Côté who
was born at Les Éboulements in Charlevoix county in Québec.
J.L, as he was called, was educated at Ottawa College (now the University
of Ottawa) and learned surveying at l'Académie Commerciale. He came
west in 1886, working for the Dominion Land Survey (D.L.S.) and then
in private practice. This was a time when most important surverying
projects in Western Canadian history occurred. Besides involvement
in the Alaska-Canadian Boundary, and the Klondke Gold Rush, he worked
considerably in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, around Edmonton and on
the emerging rail lines in the area. In 1909 he was elected to the
Alberta Legislature as a Liberal member from Athabaska, and in 1918
he became Minister of Mines and of Railways and Telephones. In 1923
he was appointed to the Senate by Hon. MacKenzie King. He was an active
promoter of research and science and became the first chairman of
the Scientific and Industrial Research Council, later to become known
as the Alberta Research Council. There is a village in Northern Alberta
in the Peace River country named after him as well as a Mountain (Mount
Cóté) near Jasper Park.
Closing (The word 'conclusion' is hardly applicable.)
The Côté lineage is truly a study of one of Canada's, and for that
matter, North America's longest standing family legacies. A Côté member
has ancestry that witnessed Canada's development from the earliest
days of European settlement right through to the present. Additionally,
the remarkable expansion of this family has probably placed descendants
of Jean and Anne in every province in Canada and every state in the
While our branch of the Côtés has concentrated on agricultural pursuits,
other branches of the Côté family have engaged in every imaginable
trade in their time. And while most of our branch of the family remained
within a 20-mile radius in Lotbiniére Township in the Eastern Townships
of Québec for about 200 years, other branches have moved or transplanted
themselves many times within any given generation.
Saskatchewan: Resting place of Lazare Côté and Clarisse
Bergeron Côté, parents of Marie-Louise Côté (below), wife of
Louis Thiévin, A1 B7.
For a brief history of this family, read the A1
Family Tree info and the A1
It's also interesting that since members within our branch were never
the oldest or the oldest male, there was never a transfer of the homestead
property in this branch. At the same time, five generations were born
in an area of about 20 miles in Lotbiniere municipality and each generation
must have set about clearing land for their farms.
According the Canadian Veterans affairs, 40 Canadian Côtés died in
the past two world wars. Four American Côtés were killed in the Vietnam
Finally, I have but one regret. I think my father would have been
fascinated by this information. He was interested in genealogy and
worked a lot on Thiévin, Dubreuil, and even Montes (my mother's side)
family trees. It is completely possible that some of his buddies in the RCAF Alouette Squadron in World War II were distant cousins, and he would never have known.
The Côté family is one of Canada's original families and their contribution
to Canada and North America is immense. And it all started with Jean
and Anne, a slow boat, and a work contract.
This would not have been possible without the work of many who have
gone before, collecting data and searching out long-forgotten documents.
I am especially thankful to David Côté of High River, Alberta who
provided much of the genealogical basics needed. From there I was
able to find other sources that verified David's data.
The internet proved to be a huge asset. All data provided by David
Côté was further substantiated there. The Richard Côté database proved
to be the most complete.
I also greatly appreciate the work of Esther Dube and Denis Thiévin.
The following books were used also during this study, although information
from them was not directly quoted:
1. A Short History of Québec
by Dickinson and Young
2. The Illustrated History of Canada
by Craig Brown
3. People, Places, Saskatchewan and its Names
4. The Complete Idiot's Guide to British Royalty
by Richard Buskin
5. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Canadian History
by Ann Douglas
6. Montcalm and Wolfe
by Francis Parkman
7. Dreams of Empire, Canada before 1700
8. The French Quarter
by Ron Graham
9. Forts of Canada
by Leslie Hannon
10. Senator Jean Léon Côté
by Jean G. Côté
There is a great history site dealing with Metis and other Canadian
history at www.agt.net/public/dgarneau/
1: (by Linda Cote Dube)
Our first Cote ancestor was Jean Jehan Cote whose roots in North
America go back over three centuries.
Jean Cote presumably came from Mortagne, Perche, France. He was
recruited by Robert Giffard (the first lord of Beauport) in 1634
with the fleet "Le St-Jean" of Duplessis-Bouchart and Capt. Pierre
He arrived in Québec after a voyage of approximately two months
of around 75 persons; among them Robert Giffard - medicine man,
architect Pierre Clust, surgeon Simon Baron, master Jean Coste,
Robert LeCorq, Jean Bourdon and Marin Boucher and his family. Payment
of voyage to be paid at Québec in beaver skins was 9 "livres pesant"
or French pound, 50 "livres pesant" to return to France, and 30
"livres pesant" to return to Canada.
Jean worked for Charles Huault de Montmagny in Québec, who became
governor after Champlain's death in December 1635.
He married Anne Martin on November 11, 1635 at Québec by Father
Charles Lelemant, a Jesuit priest, and witnessed by Guillaume Couillard
and Robert Giffard. His was one of the first families to settle
on Ile d'Orleans of present St. Pierre parish.
He first settled at Québec, where he owned a house on the corner
of rue Tresor and rue Baude on land 150 ft. frontage by 60 ft. in
depth next to the Notre Dame-de Roucouvrance Church. He offered
this land as dowry to daughter Simone when she married in 1649.
The house had a value of 450 livres but the newlyweds paid 300 livres
and the balance of 150 livres as their wedding gift. He also owned
land between "la Grande-Allee" and the St. Lawrence River of one
acre frontage and depth to the St. Lawrence River — total 6 acres
— then on the outskirts of Québec which he received on August 27,
1636 from Governor Montmagny and ratified on April 5, 1639. This
was sold to Antoine Leboesme dit Lalime on 8-11-1652 for 300 livres
which Jean bought merchandise for at the store "Compagnie des Habitants".
(Ct. Vachon) 12-24-1652, he confirmed his title deeds along with
Robert Giffard in Beauport. On 2-3-1653 (Ct. Audouard) settled his
debt of 30 livres from son-in-law-Pierre Soumande and also the same
sum to Louis Le Sage.
They had eight children, and all his sons settled at Ile d'Orleans:
1. Louis Cote m. Elizabeth Langlois
2. Martin Cote m. Suzanne Page
3. Jean-Bapt. Cote m. Anne Couture (Anne Couture was a king's daughter,
one of the many young French ladies who was given a dowry by the
king and transportation to the New World to provide wives for the
many young men who had been recruited here to settle the new lands.)
and Genevieve Verdon
4. Mathieu Cote m. Elizabeth Gravel
5. Noel Cote m. Helene Gratton
6. Simone Cote m. Pierre Soumande
7. Louise Cote m. Jean Grignon
8. Marie Cote b & d 1648
On July 21, 1641 "La Compagnie de Nouvelle France" gave Jean and
associate Noel Langlois compensation for work done at "Seigneurie
de Beauport"; the arrangements with Robert Giffard. He sold 500
boots of peasant wheat (16-18 lbs.) valued at 80 pounds, for which
he bought a horse and cows.
In 1642, Jean obtained permission from Robert Giffard to graze his
animals on the Beauport prairies for three years. He worked for
Robert Giffard in return for working one day a year per animal not
counting the yearlings. In turn, he would gather hay for lodging
On February 5, 1645 he finally received a concession on the banks
of fleuve for three acres of frontage #126 in Beauport on the St.
Lawrence River, surveyed lot #342-350 and to the depth of the Seigneury
of Beauport between the lands of Zacharie Cloutier and Noel Langlois,
who feared the Iroquois. Noel Langlois donated a small portion of
his land next door to his homestead for Jean to build his home there.
Rent of five sols per year due was cleared by Noel Langlois on 6-7-1681
for all of Jean's unpaid rent.
1652 he obtained a parcel of land of five acres, 79 perches x 10
acres depth "au bourg" Du Fargy near Beauport River and north of
the church. Because of Iroquois hostilities, Jean left Beauport
and returned to Ile d'Orleans. Upon Jean's death none of his sons
Jean died at his home in 1661 and is buried in the church of Notre
Dame de Québec.
— Linda Cote Dube
Note: While I credit Linda for providing these
details, I have seen many of them elsewhere. I should also mention
that some of the information is debated. Still, her research is
generously provided, with thanks, and I hope that others would
agree that the mission to discover secrets of our Côté past will
probably never end.
Appendix 2: (Thanks
to Jean-Guy Cote)
Costé (Côté): Original family from Caux, Normandy which owned lands
and fiefdoms ever since Saint-Louis. The proof can be seen in the
letters of assignment which were issued by that prince, dated July
1259, by which his Fief of Senneville is attached with certain conditions,
the original of which was communicated by Pierre Côté, Knight, Seigneur
of Friqueville, eldest of the branch of the family bearing his name,
proprietor of that same fief which was given to him during the sharing
of the separation of the family branches, and was always in the
family, without interruption, since Saint Louis.
This is confirmed by all the registries of the counts of Normandy
and on the epitaph of Jean Côté, Seigneur d'Harfleur, who lies buried
in the parish of Senneville where he died in 1535. This family was
known in this province even before the time of St. Louis. We need
only to consult history in which we see the name of Hugues Côté
in the lists and enumerations of the knights and seigneurs who went
overseas with Richard, known as the Lion Heart, Duke of Normandy
and King of England. The lands of Saint-Supplix, Buglise, and St.
Barthélemy became property of the Côté family through Jeanne de
Normant, daughter of Jean le Normant, seigneur of the said lands,
who married Pierre Côté, seigneur of Harfleur, of Ridelieu and of
Pierre Côté died in 1577, member of the chamber of counts of Normandy
and counsellor to the state. The seigneurie of Saint-Supplix was
created in Châtellenie in favour of Pierre Côté, second of that
name, grandson of the first Pierre Côté. He died a member of the
chamber of counts of Normandy, state and private counsellor and
a commissar of the court for reformation of the customs in that
province. Alexandre Côté Marquis of Saint-Supplix, counsellor to
the parliament of Normandy, married Marguerite Blais, baroness of
Crepon, Dame de Vaux, Grais and other areas.
She was a goddaughter of King Louis XIV and daughter of Jean de
Blais. Of that marriage were born: Alexandre Côté, Marquis of Saint-Supplix,
Baron of Crepon, seigneur and governor of the cities of Harfleur,
Buglise, St. Barthélemy, Ecrepentor, Vaux, Grais, Bavon, Quesnay,
Cambres, Sainte-Croix-sur-mer and others.
He died in Paris May 13, 1749, aged 58 and a few months. He had
married on the 15th of December 1717, Marie-Guillemette de Moura,
daughter of Don Antoine de Moura and Antoinette de Camiga, and in
second marriage, Catherine-Françoise Thomas de Montroger, daughter
of Nicholas Thomas de Montroger, knight, seigneur of Bois-Guillaume-les-Rouen.
Of the first marriage issued:
1. Alexandre-Antoine-Sébastien, Marquis of Saint-Supplix, officer
of the king's regiment, infantry and aide-de-camps to the late Count
of Clermont, Blood Prince.
2. Pierre-Jacques-Alexanndre, count of Saint-Supplix, officer in
the same king's regiment, and later captain in that of Bonac.
3. Marguerite-Angélique, married September 14, 1746 to Noël-Florimond
Huchet de la Bédoyère.
4. N. Côté of Saint-Supplix (Mercure de France, July 1749 page 201)
(extracted from Dictionnaire De La Noblesse
de la France 3rd edition 1863 pp 263-264)