Just Like The Wedges of a Pie!

Portrait of Louis XIV
Portrait of Louis XIV (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Jean Talon
English: Jean Talon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Certainly I believe that one of the most remarkable men who played a part in Canada‘s history has to be Jean Talon.  He was the Intendant, or business manager, from 1665 to 1668; and on October 23, 1670, he began his second term, and remained until 1672. Jean Talon was the sort of man who liked to do things himself. Here’s an example:  When he first arrived at Quebec, there was a message for him from the nuns expressing their hope that he would protect them.  Later that day a man called at the Hotel Dieu, claiming he was the Intendant’s valet.  He wanted to know what the nuns needed in the way of protection.  But soon enough the nuns realized that the man they were talking to was in fact Jean Talon himself.  He would often disguise himself and go door to door in Quebec and Montreal, to learn something about the living conditions. Jean Talon worked directly with Louis XIV, and not through the governor or the bishop, as was expected of him back then.  As such, he was largely involved in bringing out “the King’s Daughters” in April 1671. Before the end of the following year, 1,100 babies were baptized! That was a big increase in a population of only seven thousand.

The new families needed homes.  A big problem was to give every home enough property to grow crops.  Another problem was that the houses could not be too far apart, or they would be attacked by the “Indians”.  So Talon solved these problems by shaping the new communities like pies.  The homes were in the centre, close together, but the properties stretched out behind them in the triangular shape of wedges of pie.

Talon sent survey parties throughout the country 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 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.

To learn more about Jean Talon and today’s post, I suggest visiting the Dictionary of Canadian Biography and the Gutenberg Project to read “The Great Intendant : A Chronicle of Jean Talon in Canada, 1665-1672” by Chapais


  1. Another impressive story, Tk. It would be interesting to see a piece of pie in the field when most of the land is now sectioned in round or rectangular. Too bad he went back to France.


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