23 October

Talon Begins Second Term as Intendant

One of the most remarkable men whoever came to Canada from France was Jean-Baptiste Talon. He was the Intendant, or business manager, from 1665 to 1668, and served a second term from October 23, 1670, until 1672.

Jean Talon believed in seeing things for himself. When he first arrived at Quebec, there was a message from the nuns expressing the hope that he would protect them. Later that day a man called at the Hôtel-Dieu and said he was the Intendant's valet. He wanted to know what the nuns needed in the way of protection. The nuns quickly realized that their visitor was no valet, but Talon himself. He often disguised himself in this way and went from door to door in Quebec and Montreal, learning about living conditions.

Talon enjoyed the confidence of Louis XIV and worked directly with him, rather than through the governor or the bishop. He was largely responsible for bringing out "the king's girls" (see April 5) in 1671. Before the end of the following year 1,100 babies had been baptized!--a big increase in a population of only seven thousand.

The new families needed homes, and Talon must have been Canada's first town-planner. A big problem was to provide every home with enough property to grow crops. Yet the houses could not be far apart or they would be attacked by the Indians. Talon solved the problem by shaping the new communities like pies. The homes were in the center, close together, but the properties stretched out behind them in the triangular shape of wedges of pie.

Talon sent survey parties throughout the country, and as far south as the lower Mississippi, to look for precious metals. He built the first iron foundry, tannery, brewery, and fish-processing plants. He also started a ship-building industry and developed trade with the West Indies.

When he finally returned to France in 1672, the king made him secretary of his cabinet, and gave him the title of Comte d'Orsainville, a name derived from his estate in Canada.


23 October

-1785    The Government of New Brunswick was moved from Saint John to St. Anne's Point, now Fredericton.

-1837    A meeting at St. Charles on the Richelieu River, Quebec, marked the beginning of the rebellion in Lower Canada.

-1847   A telegraph service was opened between Montreal and Albany, New York.

-1952    Canadian troops fought in the battle of "Little Gibraltar Hill," Korea.

              Canada's new consumer-price index, constructed to replace the cost-of-living index, was released.

-1958    An explosion in a coal mine at Spring hill, Nova Scotia, killed seventy-four miners.

-1963    The Maritime Union Trustees Act received royal assent. It appointed a three-man board to oversee maritime unions.

-1964    Quebec Superior Court justice Adrien Meunier was sentenced to imprisonment for two years on three perjury counts. This conviction of a judge in Quebec was believed to be without precedent.