DSC02522 - Commissaire-Ordonnateur’s Property
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Close scrutiny of this big building can reveal how an empire was run. To maintain royal sway over far-flung colonies, paperwork was as vital as fortresses and fleets. While the engineer built Louisbourg and the governor symbolized its authority, the man who lived here kept the colony running.
In the offices overlooking the quay, the administrator and his clerks filled up books of correspondence, maintained the colonial accounts, and compiled their statistical reports for the Ministry of Marine. They paid the colony’s bills from the well-guarded treasury here - see the barred windows - and filled the storerooms behind with their supplies. Everything from economic policy to civil justice was managed from here, and the power of the commissaires- ordonnateurs sometimes excited the governors’ jealousy. Built as a private residence, the house became royal property in 1733 and expanded with the power of its occupants.
The administrators were professional servants of the Crown who hoped to win promotion by proving themselves here. François Bigot established his reputation by able and devoted service as Île Royale’s commissaire-ordonnateur from 1739 to 1745, while his sharp investments simultaneously laid the foundation of his wealth. Duly promoted, he went on to both fortune and disgrace as the last Intendant of New France.
The main floor of this house is furnished as Bigot’s working and living space. The top floor houses an exhibit, Vestiges of Louisbourg, which contains artifacts from eighteenth century Louisbourg, and a gallery with paintings and ship models recreating aspects of Louisbourg’s busy port.
The stables behind the residence, at the corner of Rue Royale, are another sign of authority. Boats were needed more than horses in this colony. Few homeowners built large stables like these and a horse and carriage proclaimed wealth and prestige.