A Blupete Biography Page

Simon-Pierre Bonaventure, Sr.

Simon-Pierre Denys (known to history as Bonaventure) was born at Throis-Rivières, in 1659. His Grandfather was Simon Denys (see Nicholas Denys) who had come to Acadia with Isaac de Razilly in 1632.1 His father was Pierre Denys de La Ronde who was a "landowner and businessman." Pierre married the daughter of the governor of Throis-Rivières, Jacques Leneuf, Catherine.

As a young man Bonaventure joined the militia (I suppose a regular thing in those days) and very early on he had an encounter with "the Iroquois, taken prisoner, and burned." He survived, however, and was soon involved in his father's fishing business established at Ile Percée; he was there when the English made a raid in 1690.

In 1690, it will be recalled, Phips made his unsuccessful attack on Quebec. Bonaventure upon hearing that Quebec was under siege ran his vessel up the Saguenay in order to safely moor her, from there he led his followers by canoe to Quebec arriving in time to assist in its defence. Bonaventure, likely chosen by Frontenac to bring the news of Quebec's successful defence, sailed to France. In the spring 1691, having gained the faith of the French naval authorities, Bonaventure was put in command of the French naval vessel, Soleil d'Africa. The Soleil d'Africa soon found her way to Quebec and there she stayed until Frontenac was satisfied she was no longer needed for the protection of Quebec. At the end of the summer, the Soleil d'Africa was permitted to descend the St Lawrence in order to go to Acadia, having aboard her the Acadian governor, Villebon, who had come over with Bonaventure from France earlier in the year. After seeing to the governor and calling on Port Royal, Bonaventure sailed for France. In the spring of 1692 Bonaventure was once again in New France, this time in a new ship, the Envieux and continued to work the waters of Acadia.

On April 8th, 1694, Bonaventure sailed from La Rochelle. This time he was in command of the Bretonne. Baptiste in his new corvette, La Bonne sailed in company with Bonaventure. Bonaventure cruised Acadian waters in the Bretonne and later in the season convoyed a fleet of fishing vessels back to France. In 1695 Bonaventure was once again in command of the Envieux. By December 1st, he was back at La Rochelle.

In 1696, Bonaventure left La Rochelle, in company with another ship under the command of Iberville; but this time Bonaventure commanded the Profound; Iberville, the Envieux. Coming first to Quebec, they took on board approximately 100 soldiers and headed back down the St. Lawrence to Baie des Espagnols at Cape Breton (modern day Sydney) there to rendezvous with a group of Micmac Indians. About 30 Micmacs joined the company and the Profound and the Envieux steered for the St. John. At the St. John River additional forces were gathered up and on August 2nd, 1696, Iberville and Bonaventure in their two ships and a crowd of Indians in their canoes traveled on down the coast to the English fort, Fort William Henry, described as the strongest fortress in New England at the time. The English commander, Captain Chubb, soon gave in and his garrison was sent to Boston; the fort was burnt to the ground; and the French sailed away in triumph. The Profound and the Envieux next sailed to Placentia.

Between 1698 and 1701 either Bonaventure or his naval bosses decided Bonaventure's days as a sea captain were over. It is known that Bonaventure's personal activities bothered the authorities, "trading with Boston ... misbehaving himself with Indian women." (Webster's work on Villebon, pp. 165-6.)

In 1701 Bonaventure was appointed second in command of the French fort at Port Royal under Brouillan; it is here that the lives of Louise Guyon and Bonaventure become entwined. I give a brief accounting of Louise Guyon elsewhere in these biographies and its a most interesting and romantic and true story; but, suffice to say, that Bonaventure's sexual involvement with Guyon -- such were the mores of the time -- cost him his promotion as the Commandeer at Port Royal upon the death of Brouillan in 1705.

Bonaventure was part of the garrison at Port Royal when it, on October 13th, 1710, capitulated to the British. He, with the other defenders, were transported to Rochefort in 1711; within the year he was dead.


[1] Simon Denys was one of two brother, from La Tours, France, who had come over with Razilly. Nicholas established himself first at St. Peters then at Nipisiquit (Bathurst). Simon, Bonaventure's grandfather, who eventually made his way to Quebec, did have an establishment, a French trading post, at Ste. Anne, Cape Breton, around 1650.


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Peter Landry
2012 (2020)