August 31, 2010

Hélène Desportes

Hélène Desportes is often cited as the first white child born in Canada, New France. There is considerable disagreement about when she was born and, in particular, if she was born in Quebec or before she arrived on the continent.  Her parents were French habitants Pierre Desportes (1580- after 1629), who was in charge of the warehouse in Quebec as well as the village baker, and his wife Françoise Langlois (c1595- after 1629), who settled in Quebec. Her father was a lawyer in the Parlement de Paris and an investor in the Company of 100 Associates which funded Champlain's colony.

Her godmother was Madame Hélène Boullé, the wife of Samuel de Champlain. In his will, Champlain left her 300 livres (about $15,000 in 1997).

After the fall of Québec City in 1629, Hélène and her parents, along with Champlain were transported to London, and then back to France. Shortly after peace was restored in 1632, Hélène returned to Québec, possibly with Champlain who arrived back in Québec on May 16, 1633.

On the first of October 1634, Hélène married Joseph Guillaume HÉBERT, son of Louis Hébert and Marie Rollet. Joseph's family had remained in Québec during the occupation and had the first farm there. His father LOUIS HEBERT had been involved in early expeditions to Port Royal with Champlain and others.

After Joseph Hebert died in 1639, Hélène was left with three living children one of which, Marie-Francoise Hebert, was our decendant. Hélène  then married Noël Morin, a native of the parish of St-Étienne in Brie-Comte-Robert, a village near Paris, on January 9, 1640, in Quebec City. They had 12 children, we are decendant of their daughter Agnes Morin.

Perhaps aided by having personally brought 19 of her own children into the world, Hélène learned the profession of sage femme, which is the French expression for midwife. She passed that profession on to two of her daughters.

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