Robert Giffard de Moncel

Robert Giffard de Moncel was born in Autheuil, Perche Region, in France, in 1587.  As a naval surgeon, Robert Giffard made several voyages to Quebec. He built a small cabin in the woods outside of Quebec Village in 1627.

On a return voyage from France to Quebec in 1628 he was captured by the English adventurer David Kirke and lost equipment for colonization. In 1629, Kirke captured and held Quebec until its return to the French in 1632. After the English left, Robert Giffard was granted one of the first seigneuries (lands) in New France, future Canada, and he returned to America accompanied by his wife and two children.

Giffard's grant of a league of land along the Beauport and St. Lawrence Rivers was in exchange for his commitment to bring new colonists. His recruitment efforts in Normandy yielded other pioneers, such as Jean Guyon du Boisson, Zacharie Cloutier, Noël Langlois, Jean Juchereau de Maur and Marin Boucher.

All these settlers came from the Perche region of France. This is why this wave of immigration to Canada came to be called the Percheron Immigration as the region provided the greatest number of new colonists in the 17th Century. Robert Giffard became the first surgeon and apothecary in Canada, as well as a prestigious colonist and businessman and eventually a nobleman. In 1636, the marriage contract for Robert Drouin and Cloutier's daughter Anne was. This is the earliest marriage contract in Canada's archives.

In 1637, Giffard took part in the war against the Iroquois who attacked and nearly destroyed Trois-Rivières, the second settlement in Canada. By 1640, he became the first doctor of the Hôtel-Dieu de Québec - the first hospital in Canada and in North America north of Mexico.

In 1658, he was granted nobility. His service to the country was thus recognized. He was also granted two more seigneuries, Robert Giffard died in Beauport, near Quebec City in 1668. The Bishop of Quebec presided over his funeral. In 1912, a neighbourhood of Beauport was named after Giffard and a monument was built there. In 1935, Quebec City named an avenue after Robert-Giffard.

In 1976, the provincial mental health hospital took the name the Centre hospitalier Robert Giffard, continuing an association with mental health.

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