Gagnier (Gagne) History Web Site
by Rev. John F. Gagnier

Section One: Origins of the Family in France

After reading this section,
click on the blue link at the bottom of the page to go to
Section Two: Settlement in New France, 1644 & 1653


The original spelling of the name used in France was Gasnier.
This name, in its various spellings, is the tenth most common name in the Province of Quebec today!
The most common spelling is Gagne.

Some have tried to interpret a "meaning" to the name. I was told by a high school French teacher that the name meant "winner." Linguistically, this is a bit of a stretch.
The French verb "gagner" means "to win" or "to earn." Therefore, the derived noun "gagnier" could mean a "winner" or "earner." However, the correct word for "winner" in French is "gagnant."


Below appears in italics a translation of the marriage contract of
Louis Gasnier (1612-1661) and Marie Michel (1620-1687),
who were the first of the family to emigrate from France to the New World.
The contract was signed on June 11, 1638 and the wedding was on June 11, 1638
at the Church of Saint Martin in the town of Saint Martin-du-vieux-Belleme, France.
The translation below was done by Peter J. Gagne, whose web site link can be found on the home page of this site.


Marriage Contract of Louis Gasnier and Marie Michel.
Passed before notary Regnard 11 June 1638.

"On the 11th day of June one thousand six hundred thirty-eight were present in their persons Loys Gasnier, miller,
residing at the Courtoulin mill, parish of Saint-Côme-de-Vair, accompanied by Jean Dubois, his uncle and Pierre Gasnier, his brother residing in said parish, on one side.
And Marye Michel, daughter of the deceased Pierre Michel and Loyse Gory, in life her father and mother residing in Saint-Martin-du-vieux-Bellême, accompanied and escorted by René Michel, her brother and Pierre Guene, her brother-in-law living in said parish of Saint-Martin, accompanied as well by Julien Guillochon, her first cousin,
on the other side,
both of whom promised to take one another faithfully in loyal marriage, if God and Our Holy Mother Church give their consent and accord, and to be married before this latter, as soon as doing so is possible or should one by the other be required.
In contemplation of which marriage said Gasnier has endowed and does endow by these presents said Michel with the customary dower; promising, etc.

Passed in the town of Igé, house of the Juryman; Jehan Petitbon and René Carré, cobbler, present."
Signatories: L. Gasnier, R. Michel, J. Guillochon, Regnard.

Below is a photo (left) and drawing (center) of the ninth century church of Saint Martin in the town of Ige in France,
where Pierre (1610-1656) and his brother Louis (1612-1661) were both baptized,
and a photo of the church at Saint-Martin-du-vieux-Belleme where Louis & Marie were married 11 June 1638. (right)
Both photos were taken by Father Gagnier on October 11, 1999.

Churches attended by Gasnier families in France

On the left is a photo of the Baptismal Font.  On the wall are two plaques from French Canadians whose ancestors originated in the parish.  On the right is an interior view. These two photos were taken by Daniel Gagne in 2011.

Below at left is a photo of the Water Mill in France where Louis Gasnier (1612-1661)
lived and worked for several years before emigrating to New France in 1644.
The photo at the right shows the coach house. The property is currently abandoned.
These two digital photos were taken by Father Gagnier on October 11, 1999.

The Water Mill of Guemancais in France

Interior View of Moulin de (Mill of) Guemancais

The Water-Mill of Guemancais is situated at the boundary
of St. Cosme-en-Vairais Commune (Sarthe) in France,
located near the Department Road D-301, leading to Bonnetable.
The date is uncertain but this mill would have been built in the 15th or 16th century.
Louis Gasnier (1612-1661), the first ancestor, had first used it together with his father,
then by himself until his departure for New France in 1644.
In recent years, the mill has been restored, without changing the outside appearance.
An extension has been added (not appearing in this photo.) It blends very well with the old section.

The map below shows the location of the ancestral towns of Igé and St-Cosme in relation to Bonnétable and Bellême.

The following three photos were taken by Daniel Gagne in 2011.

La Rochelle is a city in western France and a seaport on the Bay of Biscay, a part of the Atlantic Ocean. It is the capital of the Charente-Maritime department. The city is connected to the Île de by a 2.9 km (1.8 mi) bridge completed on 19 May 1988. Its harbour opens into a protected strait, the Pertuis d'Antioche. Because of its western location, which saved days of sailing time, La Rochelle enjoyed successful fishing in the western Atlantic and trading with the New World, which served to counterbalance the disadvantage of not being at the mouth of a river (useful for shipping goods to and from the interior).

Below is an ancient painting of the port of LaRochelle from which emigrants sailed to New France.

The two towers shown in the painting still exist. Ships would have sailed between them.

A view of the port of LaRochelle.

Section Two: Settlement in New France


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Gagnier (Gagne) History Web Site
by Rev. John F. Gagnier

Last modified on Tuesday, February 07, 2012