Historical commentary: Stéphane Tessier. Directing and filming for this video: Nicolas St-Germain.
Stéphane Tessier (ST), historian and cultural animator, explains Simon Sicard’s role as miller, and his importance in the village of Sault-au-Récollet. We hear him off-screen at the start of the video, then see him on a belvedere overlooking the stream that crosses the mills’ dike. The camera pans around the miller’s house.
ST The mills’ historical site; a lot of people don’t know the history behind it and, most importantly, what being a miller meant at the time.
The miller in question was Simon Sicard.
The Sicards were a very interesting family. They belonged to a long line of millers.
Simon’s grandfather and father were both millers in Rivière-des-Prairies, as were his children and grandchildren. This was normal, as the trade was usually passed down from father to son. You see, the miller had to take on an apprentice, and often, that apprentice happened to be his son.
This type of apprenticeship was called “compagnonnage”, meaning from master to apprentice. In addition to keeping his apprentice fed, housed and clothed, the master also had to see to his religious instruction.
Simon Sicard was a historical figure who lived in the miller’s house. Quite an interesting historical figure. Millers like Simon Sicard were in constant contact with the population because they were the seigneur’s representative.
They were the ones who could transform the farmer’s wheat into flour, so people could feed themselves. So they had a very important role. What’s more, Simon Sicard—just to show his importance in Sault-au-Récollet—was also captain of the local militia.