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Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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DENYS DE FRONSAC, RICHARD (1654-1691)

DENYS DE FRONSAC, RICHARD, French colonizer; b. St-Pierre (St Peter's), Cape Breton Island, c1654, s/o Nicolas Denys and Marguerite Lafite; m. 1st, Anne Parabego, an Indian woman, and 2nd, Françoise Cailleteau; d. Aug 1691.

The domain of Nicholas Denys, governor of Acadia, extended along the southerly side of the Gulf of St Lawrence, from Miscou Island to Cape Breton. It may have included a trading post at Miramichi in the 1640s, but the first extensive French establishment on the river was that of Denys's son Richard Denys. He began to cultivate land along the Miramichi in 1684. In 1688 he had a fort with gun emplacements, a house built of freestone, and a storehouse. There were three French families at the fort, and he had men employed catching fish. Nearby there were approximately eighty Micmac wigwams.

The site of Denys's establishment, which is considered to have been on the north side of the Miramichi opposite the Point - that is, near the pulp mill site in Newcastle - was abandoned by 1691. In August of that year, when he was thirty-seven years old, Denys set sail for Quebec in the ship Saint-François-Xavier, which was never heard of again. His estate passed to his widow in 1694 and was still owned by members of the family in Quebec in the 1750s. It was later acquired by a John Bondfield, who asserted his ownership when Davidson & Cort's grant was made, but claims based on French grants were not recognized by the government of Nova Scotia.

A lasting local memorial to Denys de Fronsac is Mount Fronsac, which stands near the northern boundary of Northumberland County.

Sources

DCB; Encycl. Can.; Rayburn; Wright (Mir.)


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