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Le Ber and Le Moyne: Prosperous, Ambitious Partners

Jacques LeBer and Charles LeMoyne were bold Montréal merchants who built the first fur trading post in Lachine. Located upstream from the rapids, this post commanded a strategic position for controlling a highly lucrative business.

Jacques LeBer dit (called) Larose

Born around 1633 in Normandy and buried in Montréal on November 25, 1706, he was the richest merchant in Montréal and the husband of Jeanne LeMoyne. He and his partner and brother-in-law Charles LeMoyne had the stone house built. His daughter Jeanne LeBer lived as a recluse with the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame, in rooms at the back of the convent chapel in Montréal.

Charles LeMoyne de Longueuil

Born in 1626 in the Normandy seaport of Dieppe, he landed in New France at the age of 15. Shortly thereafter he was sent to Huronia, where he learned the First Nations languages. In 1654, he married Catherine Primot, who bore him two daughters and twelve sons.

A soldier, interpreter, attorney general and merchant, Charles LeMoyne de Longueuil was the largest landowner in New France, aside from the religious communities. He and his brother-in-law Jacques LeBer controlled the principal access routes to Lac Saint-Louis. He was one of the weal- thiest and most influential notables of Ville-Marie, where he died in the winter of 1685.

1 & 2 Barrel taps (2)

Brass, 17th century. Fitted into a hole in a barrel, the tap served to draw off the content – usually wine – into glasses or jugs. These taps were found under the floor of the LeBer-LeMoyne house in a storage pit. Restored by the Centre de conservation du Québec

1. Barrel tap with clover-shaped handle. AR-2000-088

2. Barrel tap with T-shaped handle. AR-2000-052

3. Rattlesnake bones (3)

Rattlesnakes are pit vipers. They are not found around Lachine but do live in the Great Lakes region and in southern Ontario. First Nations are said to have prized them as a delicacy. A voyageur returning from the Upper Country may have brought a live rattlesnake back to Lachine as a curiosity. AR-1999-441-1.2, AR-2000-442

4 Beads (54)

The French Regime favoured the colours amber and turquoise. 40 of glass (2 stuck together).

AR-2000-378 to 386, AR-2000-428

10 glass, 1 shell. AR-2000-372 to 377, AR-2000-426

1 bronze glass, large, for a hatpin. AR-2000-410 2 black glass fragments (bead?). AR-2000-412

1 clear glass. AR-2000-411

5. Ornament

Copper alloy and fabric, 17th century. Clothing ornament, probably for a hat. Restored by the Centre de conservation du Québec AR-2000-121

6. Ring

Moulded copper alloy and bluish glass, 17th century. The hollows originally held other glass stones.

Restored by the Centre de conservation du Québec AR-2000-082

7. Glass stone

Glass, 17th century. This imitation turquoise was no doubt set in a ring. AR-2000-155

8. Two-handled cup or bowl

White Dutch faience, 17th century. Missing one handle. When coffee was introduced to the European and colonial markets in the 17th century, it was drunk from two-handled cups.


9. Utensil handle

Bone, 17th or 18th century. Green.


10. Decorative knife handle (partial)

Bone, 17th or 18th century. Decorated with incised hatching. AR-2000-157

11. Knife blades (2)

Wrought iron, 17th century.

AR-2000-091, AR-2000-440

12. Pins (9)

Tin-plated brass, 17th century.

Restored by the Centre de conservation du Québec AR-2000-053-1.9

13. Tinkling cone

Copper alloy, 17th or 18th century. Metal cones ornamenting clothing or locks of hair clinked together when the wearer moved, making a faint tinkling sound. AR-1999-014


Small copper alloy coins likely used as currency in the fur trade.  Counterstamped with a fleur-de-lys to authorize circulation in the colonies and with a new denomination, these recycled coins had a face value greater than their actual weight. These douzains date from the late 17th century (about 1683). Restored by the Centre de conservation du Québec

14 to 17 Douzains (4)

14. Fleur-de-lys hallmark, coin slightly bowed as a result of counterstamping. AR-2000-079

15. Fleur-de-lys hallmark and floral motif.  AR-2000-118

16. Silver alloy. Reverse markings faint, stamped with a cross and letters. Before 1685. AR-2000-050

17. Fleur-de-lys hallmark. AR-2000-049


The use of tobacco spread rapidly in 16th-century Europe. Tobacco was chewed, snuffed and smoked. Europeans developed and mass-produced moulded pipes of fine white or red baked clay. These long, fragile pipes were luxury objects, and the heel beneath the bowl was often decorated. People smoked as much for appearance as for pleasure. Only a pinch was smoked at a time because tobacco was expensive, hence the small size of the bowl. The pipes seen here were made in Europe in the 17th century.

18 to 26 Pipe fragments (9)

18.The heel is decorated with the raised image of an archer. AR-1999-019

19. Undecorated. AR-1999-021

20. Undecorated. AR-1999-022

21. Undecorated. AR-1999- 026

22. Stem decorated with rouletted rings. AR-2000-387

23. Stem decorated with rouletted rings. AR-2000-388

24. Stem decorated with rouletted rings. AR-2000-389

25. Stem decorated with rouletted rings. AR-2000-390

26. Bowl inscribed with the initials “HG” surmounted by a crown, for Hendrick Gerdes, a Dutch pipe maker.