Photo by Shirley Nadeau This statue of Louis Hébert, located in Parc Montmorency, is dedicated to the memory of Louis Hébert (top), his wife Marie Rolette (right) and their son-in-law Guillaume Couillard (left), who were among the earliest settlers in Quebec City. Hébert is considered to be the first European apothecary and the first European farmer in the region.

Monumental Views – The story behind the statue of Louis Hébert

Shirley Nadeau

This large monument of Louis Hébert, his wife Marie Rolette and their son-in-law Guillaume Couillard is located in Parc Montmorency, on a section of the first farm in New France. The monument, located on Rue Port Dauphin in the Old City, was inaugurated on this site with great pomp on Sept. 3, 1918, with many dignitaries and crowds in attendance.

Hébert (1575-1627), a Parisian apothecary, made his first voyage to America in 1606–1607, landing at Port-Royal in Acadia (N.S.), along with his cousin Pierre Dugua de Mons, who was featured in the first of this series of “Monumental Views” in the May 3, 2023, edition. 

Hébert returned to Port-Royal with his wife and remained from 1610 to 1613, but trouble in the colony forced them to return to France. 

Samuel de Champlain, who founded Quebec City in 1608, saw a desperate need for medical service and agricultural self-sufficiency for Quebec. He had met Hébert during the earlier expedition to Port-Royal and recognized his outstanding qualities. 

In 1617, Champlain recruited the couple, along with their three children, and brought them with him to Québec. Settling on a property on Cape Diamond that extended from today’s Parc Montmorency to Rue Couillard and Rue Hébert, they were the first family from Europe to reside permanently in New France. The farm covered the sites occupied today by Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica and the Petit Séminaire de Québec. Hébert grew grain, vegetables, medicinal plants, and Normandy apple trees. He also tended to the sick, among them Native people, with whom he had friendly ties.

By 1620, Louis’ hard work was finally recognized as having been of great service to the colony; for being the physician and surgeon; for being its principal provider of food; and for having fostered good relationships with the Natives. He was appointed procurator to King Louis XIII, which allowed him to personally intervene in matters in the name of the King. 

In 1623, Louis became the first Seigneur of New France when he was granted the fief of Sault-au-Matelot. In 1626 he was further granted the fief of the St. Charles River in recognition of his meritorious service.

His wife Marie helped work the land, cared for the sick, and preached the Gospel to the Aboriginal population. In 1627, after her husband’s accidental death (he slipped on a patch of ice), she married Guillaume Hubou. She died in 1649. 

Hébert and Rollet’s daughter Guillemette and her husband Guillaume Couillard produced many descendants, including Philippe Couillard, the premier of Québec from 2014-2018. 

Sources: Ville de Québec and Wikipedia

Monumental Views – The story behind the statue of Louis Hébert was last modified: May 24th, 2023 by QCT Editor

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