The Story of Angelique the Slave Woman Who Burned Down Montreal

by on March 7th, 2015
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Previously published in Examiner

Most Americans are familiar with the legend of how Mrs. O”Leary’s cow knocked down a lantern and caused the Great Chicago Fire on October 9, 1871. People are obsessed with blaming someone or something with causing a whole city to burn down.

Few people know the legend of how Montreal was burned to the ground in 1734. The legend has it that a black slave woman by the name of Angelique started the fire. She was a very willful woman and burnt down the city for spite. How much of this story is true, will not be known due to the torture she had to endure before she confessed under duress.

Angelique was a Portuguese Black slave woman in New France later to be known as Quebec. The full slave name given to her by her owners was Marie-Josephe Angelique. Angelique was born in Portugal around 1710 and transported to the New World during the Atlantic Slave Trade era.

Angelique first lived in New England and then was sold to a French trading family in 1725. She was expected to do the chores for the Francois De Poulin Du Francheville household and to breed with other slaves. Angelique refused to breed with the other black slaves and took a white lover, a servant by the name of Claude Thibault who was also a member of the household.

There are scholars who believe that Angelic was scapegoated for this terrible tragedy when 46 buildings were burned to the ground. The buildings included ” the convent and the Hôtel-Dieu hospital, originally founded by Jeanne Mance in 1642. For Hôtel-Dieu, this was the second fire to fell their building in 13 years.


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