Martin Boutet

Martin Boutet, (Sieur de Saint-Martin). Choirmaster, violinist, teacher, soldier, tailor, carpenter, b Sceaux, France, ca 1617, d Quebec City ca 1686. He enlisted 7 Apr 1643 at La Rochelle to serve for three years in Canada as a soldier and labourer.

Boutet, Martin

Martin Boutet, (Sieur de Saint-Martin). Choirmaster, violinist, teacher, soldier, tailor, carpenter, b Sceaux, France, ca 1617, d Quebec City ca 1686. He enlisted 7 Apr 1643 at La Rochelle to serve for three years in Canada as a soldier and labourer. Taking up residence in Quebec City ca 1645, he remained there except for a trip to France in 1677. He is thought to have been attached to the Fort St-Louis garrison until his wife's death sometime between 1661 and 1664, at which time he offered himself to the Jesuits, whom he served as a business agent. He started a mathematics course at the Jesuit college, also teaching surveying, hydrography, and piloting, and this earned him an engineer's certificate, awarded in 1678 by Louis XIV.

An artist as well as an engineer and a scholar, Boutet played an important role in the musical life of Quebec, especially with regard to church services. It is known that he played the violin at Christmas Mass in 1645 and at a wedding in the same year. In 1651 he was appointed by the parish church in Quebec City as both singer at the services and director of the children's choir. He also taught reading, writing, plainchant, and the forms of worship. He even provided the money for the purchase of singing books. One of his two pupils at that time, Louis Jolliet, became one of the first organists in New France, and it is likely that Boutet initiated his organ studies. Charles-Amador Martin also was one of his pupils. As early as 1656, Boutet functioned as a cleric of the vestry of Notre Dame Church in Quebec City. Boutet has earned a place in the history of the new colony as the first schoolmaster and mathematics teacher, the first secular singer, and the first choirmaster. In 1958 Boutet Square, located in the east end of Montreal was named after him.


Further Reading

  • Le Journal des Jésuites (Quebec City 1871)

    Gagnon, Ernest. Louis Jolliet (Quebec City 1902)

    Gosselin, Amédée. L'Instruction publique au Canada sous le Régime français (Quebec City 1911)

    Roy, Antoine. Les Lettres, les sciences et les arts au Canada (Paris 1930)

    Massicotte, Édouard-Z. 'Violons et luthiers,' BRH, vol 41, Apr 1935

    Roy, Pierre-Georges and Roy, Antoine Roy. Inventaire des greffes des notaires du Régime français (Quebec City 1942, 1943)

    Lachapelle, Canon E. 'Martin Boutet (1616-1686), ingénieur, savant et artiste,' Mémoires de la Société généalogique canadienne-française, vol 15, Summer 1964

    Godbout, Archange. 'Nos ancêtres au XVIIe siècle,' Rapport des Archives du Québec 1965, vol 43, 1966

    DCB, vol 1

    La Musique au Québec