Louis Brizard was born in the County of Macquinoné in 1798 and came to Calumet Island in 1820. He married an Algonquin maiden, Marie Lavigne, in a traditional native ceremony. As a wedding gift, Marie’s brothers gave her a name of a tame moose. Three years later, they were married by a priest at a mission station in Fort Coulonge. They had four children – Louise, Louis, Joseph and Alexis.
The Brizards were good to the missionary priests who often stayed at their house on Calumet Island when they travelled by on the Ottawa River. Louis donated land to the Roman Catholic Church and erected the first chapel there.
Louis and Marie were the first pioneer family to settle permanently on the island. Louis had many trades. When he arrived, he was captain of the militia. Then he built a general store and became the post master. He had to deliver the mail between Portage du Fort, Calumet Island and Fort Coulonge. As he had no horses then, he harnessed a team of moose to a wagon in the summer and a sleigh in the winter. When the people heard the jingle of the bells and saw the moose with the ribbons in their antlers, they knew the mail had arrived. Louis’ favourite moose died one night when it escaped from the stall. The moose found the oats and ate so much that its stomach burst.
Louis Brizard became a very wealthy man. He bought lots of land on Calumet Island and sold the lumber. As a merchant they say he was thrifty. If he purchased something for one dollar, he sold it for two. There were no banks then so Louis stored his money in an iron pot. He kept the pot in a hole near the creek. When he died, everyone looked for the “pot of gold.” Some people say that it travelled down the creek to the Ottawa River. When they built the dam at Bryson, the water level of the river rose and buried the pot forever. Many people believe that if a pot of gold is not found before the owner dies, it belongs to the devil.
Jean Baptiste Brizard, the grandfather of Louis Brizard, was the first Brizard to come to Canada from France. He came to St. Germain du Sendre. He became a soldier in the Compagnie de la Forêt stationed in Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec, and was married on February 28, 1714. He came with two brothers and his sister Marie.
Marie Brizard met a native lady, part Montagnais and partly Mohawk, who offered her a drink made of local herbs - a tisane. Marie commented, “There is alcohol in here and it is very good.” Marie had it analyzed in France. It had at least 10 herbs in it. Marie found that if she used anise seeds from Andulasia and some other herbs, she could reproduce the drink in France. Her brother, the cabinet maker of Louis XV, offered it to the king who thought it was delicious and gave his royal approval. This drink is what is now known as Marie Brizard – Crème de Menthe and is available at our local liquor store.
Information provided by Gloria Tremblay, Alexander Tremblay, Joseph Taillefer in ‘Une Esquisse de l’ile du Grand Calumet.’ Compiled by Venetia Crawford.
* This article is available only to subscribers of the Premium or Online Edition memberships. *
If you have already subscribed please login using your email address and password. If not then please subscribe to the online edition using our Subscribe page.