In Trinity Anglican Cemetery on Wolfe Island lies a tombstone erected in memory of the Baroness de Longueuil:

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CAROLINA GRANT
BARONESS DE LONGUEUIL
DAUGHTER OF
GENL. JOHN COFFIN
DIED JUNE 2, 1868
AGED 83 YEARS.

Another side of the stone bears an inscription in memory of her husband:

CHARLES W. GRANT
BARON DE LONGUEUIL
DIED JULY 5, 1848
AGED 67 YEARS.

Charles William Grant (1782 – 1848) inherited the title of Baron de Longueuil from his mother upon her death in Montreal on 17 Feb 1841. He became the 5th Baron de Longueuil, but the first official Baron since his grandfather, Charles-Jaques Le Moyne de Longueuil, the 3rd Baron, died more than 85 years earlier, in September, 1755.

The story of the Barony of Longueuil begins with C. W. Grant’s great-great-great-grandfather on his mother’s side, Charles Lemoyne (I), who was born in Dieppe, France, in 1626 and emigrated to the French colony of New France (now Quebec) as a young teenager with his maternal uncle in 1641.

Charles Le Moyne (I) worked for the Jesuits among the Huron Indians and soon mastered the native languages. In 1646, Charles became one of the earliest settlers at Ville-Marie (now Montreal) but the new settlement suffered repeated attacks by the Iroquois. Charles fought with valour and became well-regarded as a soldier was well as an interpreter. In 1657 he was given an area of land on the south side of the St. Lawrence, which he called Longueuil after his mother’s village in France. In 1668 Charles received letters patent of nobility from the king of France in recognition of his services and he became Seigneur of the Seigneury of Longueuil. He was the patriarch of a remarkable family: almost all of his 12 sons had spectacular careers, displaying the bravery, guile and savagery of the coureurs de bois.

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Fig. 1: Taken from The Seigneury of Longueuil by D.C. Smith (Ginn, 1971)

Upon the death of Charles Le Moyne (I) in 1685, the Seigneury of Longueuil passed to his eldest son, Charles Le Moyne (II). Soon after inheriting the seigneury, Charles (II) played a prominent role in the defence of Quebec when British forces commanded by Sir William Phips attempted to capture it in 1690.

After purchasing considerable land contiguous to his seigneury, Charles Le Moyne (II) soon became one of the most extensive landholders in the colony. He erected a large stone fort and a well-equipped mill, built good roads, and in general made Longueuil into a model seigneural property. On the 26th of January, 1700, King Louis XIV issued Letters Patent elevating Le Moyne’s seigneury to the rank of a barony, making Charles Le Moyne (II) the first Baron de Longueuil.

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Fig. 2: Ruins of Fort Longueuil, 1825, by John Drake

The barony and title of Baron passed to Charles Le Moyne (III), the second Baron de Longueuil upon the death of his father in 1729, and to Charles III’s son Charles-Jacques Le Moyne, the third Baron de Longueuil, upon the death of the second Baron in January, 1755.

Charles-Jacques, had been newly married in 1754 to Marie-Catherine Fleury Deschambault, who was only 13 years of age at the time of their marriage, and had no children when he went missing during a battle at Lac Saint-Sacrement (Lake George, N.Y.) in September of 1755. His body was never recovered and his widow refused for some time to believe that he had died.Six months after Charles-Jacques\’ disappearance, Marie-Catherine gave birth to twin girls in March of 1756, five months before her 16th birthday. One of the girls died in August of the same year, leaving the surviving daughter, Marie Charles Joseph Le Moyne, the sole heir to the Barony of Longueuil.

Following her husband’s death, Marie-Catherine, now a dowerage Baroness, was aided by her father, Joseph Fleury Deschambault, who helped manage her affairs at Longueuil. Some confusion arose over the heiress’ claim to the Longueuil barony when Paul-Joseph Le Moyne, uncle of her late husband, laid claim to the title of Baron de Longueuil by virtue of his being the last male descendant of the first Baron. His claim was eventually refuted when the “most eminent jurists” in Paris (France) delivered three decisions between 1771 and 1776, all favourable to Marie Charles Joseph Le Moyne, confirming her as the rightful heir to the title. Paul-Joseph Le Moyne, who died in France in 1778, had fought under Montcalm, and was at one time commander at Fort Frontenac (now Kingston).

On September 11, 1770, Marie-Catherine Deschambault, the dowager Baroness de Longueuil and widow of the 3rd Baron, remarried to William Grant, who later became Deputy Receiver General of Quebec. Her heiress daughter was by then 14 years of age. William Grant’s nephew, David Alexander Grant, assisted his uncle in managing his properties, and in so doing, would have become well acquainted with the young heiress.

It was during the mid 1770’s that the American Revolution took place. David Alexander Grant served on the British side as a Captain in the 84th Regiment of Foot. In the midst of this conflict, Captain D. A. Grant and Marie-Charles-Joseph Le Moyne de Longueuil were married in Quebec [City] on May 7, 1781, after signing a “Marriage Settlement,” or pre-nuptial agreement, which, among other things, reserved the baronial lands for their future eldest son to inherit, subject to certain payments to any siblings he might have.

The Grants were descended from the laird of Blairfindie, a Scottish Jacobite, whose house was burned by the Crown following the fateful Battle of Culloden in 1745. The family was forced to flee, probably going temporarily to France, although the laird himself later returned to Blairfindie, where he died in 1762. Some of his sons, including the above-mentioned William Grant, and his brother David (father of David Alexander Grant), sought their fortune overseas in the new province of Quebec, formerly called New France until it was officially ceded to the British by the Treaty of Paris in 1763. After settling in Montreal, the Grants flourished.

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Fig. 3: From The Seigneury of Longueuil by D.C. Smith (Ginn, 1971)

On May 6, 1795, David Alexander Grant, husband of the 4th Baronne de Longueuil, together with a partner, Patrick Langan, a former Lieutenant in the 2nd Battation of the King’s Royal Regiment of New York (KRRNY) during the late war with the U.S., purchased Wolfe Island and some smaller islands adjacent to it, from brothers Michele and Amable Curot of Montreal.

On September 29, 1800, Grant and Langan wrote a letter from Montreal, in which they referred to their purchase in Upper Canada:

“We purchased the Grande Isle on the 6th May, 1795. From Michel and Amable Curot, to whom the Island devolved by right of descent, and soon after we caused it to be surveyed, erected a dwelling house and placed settlers on the Island, who are now improving it.”

Following the end of the American Revolution in 1783, a large number of non-francophone Loyalists came north to settle on lands remaining under British control, encouraged by the offer of land grants from the Crown. To accommodate this wave of English-speaking settlers, the parliament of Great Britain passed the Constitutional Act, which, when it took effect on December 26, 1791, split Quebec into two separate provinces called Upper and Lower Canada, each with its own Lieutenant Governor. John Graves Simcoe was dispatched to the colony to assume his new position as the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada.

Simcoe and his wife made it only as far as Montreal that first winter. Lady Simcoe kept a detailed diary which included this entry:

“Tues. 19th I dined with La Baronne de Longueuil at a pretty house she and Mr. Grant have built on the north shore of her island of St. Helen’s, opposite the east end of Montreal. Though the distance is so short, the current is so strong that the passage is rather alarming. The island is four miles in circumference, and the views from many points very pretty. Montreal and Longueuil are good objects to view from it. La Baronne has the only hothouse I have seen in Canada. Ice houses are very general here, but seldom used for the purpose of furnishing ice for a dessert. They use the ice to cool liquors and butter, and the ice houses are used for larders to keep meat.”

After Lieutenant Governor Simcoe arrived at Kingston the following year, he delivered a lengthy proclamation on July 16, 1792, which divided the new province of Upper Canada into 19 counties, including a county named Ontario, described as follows:

“That the seventh of the said counties be hereinafter called by the name of the county of Ontario ; which county is to consist of the following islands : an island at present known by the name of isle Tonti, to be called Amherst Island ; an island known by the name isle au Foret, to be called Gage Island ; an island known by the name of Grand island, to be called Wolfe Island ; an island known by the name isle Cauchois, to be called Howe Island ; and to comprehend all the islands between the mouth of the Gananoque to the easternmost extremity of the late township of Marysburgh, called point Pleasant.”

Getting back to the heiress Marie Charles Joseph Le Moyne de Longueuil, who had married David Alexander Grant in 1781, it is unclear if she ever visited Wolfe Island, which her husband had purchased in 1795 in partnership with Patrick Langan, but following her husband’s death on 20 March 1806, she became entitled to a life interest in this Island by virtue of the Marriage Settlement executed at the time of their marriage. Wolfe Island, although it had great potential, was a distant and still relatively insignificant part of the joint estate of the Baroness and her husband at the time of his death in 1806. Besides the Barony of Longueuil, which at its peak encompassed about 150 square miles, their land holdings also included the seigneuries of Beloeil and Pierreville, and 36,400 acres in the eastern townships of Lower Canada: Upton, Roxton, Barford and Hereford.

Adding to difficulties associated with its remoteness from their homes in Lower Canada, efforts by the Grant and Langan families to attract settlers to Wolfe Island were hampered by the fact that British authorities in Upper Canada were skeptical of the legitimacy of their title. Settlers placed there were subjected to harrassment by agents of the Crown who accused them of tresspassing on Crown land. The previous owners, Michel and Amable Curot had encountered the same frustrations after getting the Island from their half-brother in 1784. They went to great lengths to document their claim to Wolfe Island, which originated with a seigneural grant of Fort Frontenac and surrounding area to La Salle by the King of France in 1675.

In July of 1807, the widowed Baroness and Patrick Langan jointly wrote a letter to Francis Gore, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, showing how the original title had been successively transferred until it came into their possession and petitioning for an end to “all hindrance or molestation by or on the part of His Majesty’s servants.”