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The First Jew In Canada Now Identified In Historic Discovery

Jewish man from Turkey lived in Quebec City decades before Esther Brandeau

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“Esther”, a representation of the first Jewish woman in Canada Esther Brandeau, work by Suzan Edith Baron Lafrenière. 

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(This article, with full documentation on view, was originally published at this link: https://frblogs.timesofisrael.com/exclusif-un-juif-de-turquie-a-quebec-avant-esther-brandeau-1691-1697/ )

Everyone knows the picturesque and tragic story of Esther Brandeau, our national  Yentl, this young Jewish woman disguised as a boy who tried to immigrate illegally to New France by landing at the port of Quebec City in 1738. 

But who has ever heard of the incredible story of Joseph Langeron, a Jew from Turkey who nevertheless left eloquent (but discreet) traces in the archives – in particular during his hospitalizations at the Hôtel-D.ieu in Quebec City in 1691 and in 1697 – as well as than in his quixotic duel with the justice system? 

NO TRESPASSING 

The Law of the time strictly stipulates it: no Jew has the right to settle in New France, unless he converts to the Catholic religion. Therefore there is no official Jewish immigration until the British regime (1760). 

“The Esther Brandeau (Brandao) affair”, which kept the authorities in suspense from 1738 to 1739 and which resulted in the expulsion of the young Sephardi from St. Esprit (Bayonne) at the expense of the King, leads us to suppose that other marranos were able to settle incognito in the colony, without “getting caught”. 

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The traces of a few exceptional cases remain, however, not very eloquent on the fate of these illegal immigrants or, on the contrary, “legally converted”. 

The oldest appearance I found in the list of ships that came to New France: July 4, 1631: “Le Don de D.ieu” (meaning “the Gift of G‑d”) landed in Quebec “the Jew” who “signed a solemn protest” concerning a commercial restriction imposed by the English (Trudel, Marcel, History of New France, vol. 2, Fides, Montreal, 1966, p. 49). 

JOSEPH LANGERON DIT PASSEPARTOUT, “TURKEY JEW” 

Considering so many prohibitions on the passage to New France and resigned to the  shortage of historical documents on the question, what was my amazement when I cleared this discovery during a sleepless night. It was downright “throwing me to the ground”, especially since I was precisely rummaging through the Dictionnaire généalogique des familles du Québec (Genealogical Dictionary of Quebec Families), a must for “origin beggars” of the renowned René Jetté (Sorry my pun only makes sense in french, since this discovery was “à m’en jetter par terre”!) 

A small notice of nothing at all, but which suddenly became the key opening the door to other manuscripts unearthed during the same night. I share it here with you as I saw it appear before my confused and incredulous eyes:  

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LANGERON, Joseph (Assin & Facq CASON) Jewish, from Turkey; cited 11-12-1691 Hôtel-D.ieu Québec, 30 years old, Turkish and 11-10-1697 Provence, 39 years old. 

Mr. 06•08-1691 Quebec (Ct 25-07 Gilles Rageot) » 

Continued on the right page, the bride: 

GALARNEAU, Marie-Madeleine (Jacques & Jacqueline HERON) rem. 1701 Jean Deslandes. WITHOUT POSTERlTY” (Jetté, p.644) 

Excerpt from the Genealogical Dictionary of Quebec Families by René Jetté, bottom of p. 644. 

I summarize for you: 

The Hôtel-D.ieu Hospital of Québec city provided medical care at least twice to Joseph Langeron, a Jew from Turkey, whose father was named Assin Langeron and whose mother was Facq Cason (“Jacq” in the document below), the first once on December 11, 1691 and the second on October 11, 1697. 

We also learn that Joseph Langeron was married on August 6, 1691 (actually August 8) to Marie-Madeleine Galarneau, daughter of Jacques Galarneau and Jacqueline Héron (or Néron, see below). 

Finally, this notice by René Jetté in us informs that the couple had no children and that in 1701 Marie-Madeleine remarried with a man named Jean Deslandes. 

Of course, several questions came up: 

How is it that Joseph Langeron was officially identified as a “Jew from Turkey” given the laws in force in New France? 

The most logical hypothesis: he converted to Catholicism; confirmed by the fact that he was religiously married to Marie-Madeleine Galarneau at the Basilique of Quebec City, as I was able to see when I found the following marriage certificate:       

Marriage of Joseph Langeron and Marie-Madeleine Galarneau, Basilique Notre-Dame de Quebec, August 8, 1691. Source: Drouin Genealogical Institute

However, a doubt arises: 

From which original archive(s) did Rene Jetté derive the information that he was a “Jew from Turkey”? And the names of his parents? No mention of this is in the religious marriage certificate. 

I must at all costs find the archives of the patients of the Hôtel-D.ieu in 1691 and 1697. And, now I discover that Joseph was treated as a soldier when he entered the hospital. 

By consulting the PRDH (Programme de Recherche en Démographie historique de l’université de        Montréal), we read that Joseph Langeron benefited from another hospitalization of which Jetté does notspeak on January 1, 1691, that his nickname is”Passepartout”, that he is a soldier by profession and that he is indeed from Turkey (no. 4), which is reconfirmed during the hospitalization of December 11 (“Turkish nation”) (no. 12): 

Joseph Langeron, hospitalization no. 1 (Left) and hospitalization no. 2 (Right). (Source: PRDH) 

Following a lead indicated by Jetté and the PRDH, I came across a register of the notary Gilles Rageot on July 24, 1691. Joseph and Marie-Madeleine also signed a wedding contract before the notary before the religious marriage, as was customary under French law. 

I must absolutely find the original of this marriage contract: it is doubtless in these age-old scribbles or else in the fly-like originals of the registers of hospitalized patients at the Hôtel-D.ieu that the names of the parents and the Jewishness of Joseph Langeron. 

DAILY REGISTER OF PATIENTS WHO COME, LEAVE AND DIE IN THE HOTEL-D.IEU OF KEBEC IN THE YEAR SIXTEEN HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-NINE 

Pursuing the investigation in these archives containing the handwritten list of patients hospitalized at the Hotel -D.ieu in Quebec, I retrace as planned our Joseph dit Passepartout of Turkey. 

On January 1 of the “the year one thousand six hundred and ninety-one » (1691) (page 83) – to my great surprise – his surname is not « Langeron » but rather « Langello » (3rd patient in the list). 

Despite the interest that I take in these discoveries which teach us more about our Joseph Langello of Turkey who became Langeron, it is not by consulting the archives of the Hotel-D.ieu either that I will find in the roots of Joseph the son of Abraham, Itzkhak and Yakov. 

(Next: PART 2 – In Search Of The Origins of Joseph, Canada’s First Jew)

Nikolas-Samuel Baron Bernier is a biologist, actor, writer and a passionate investigator in the field of science and history. He is also a science popularizer and founded  Histoire des Sciences- Th??tre de vulgarisation scientifique , in which he writes and plays various  characters of famous and unknown scientists , like Albert Einstein or Sigismund Mohr, a Jewish immigrant from Prussia who was the pioneer behind the first hydroelectric power plant in Quebec , and one of the first ones in Canada (1881).

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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