Although relatively isolated from what was happening politically in the rest of New France, Rivière-Ouelle did not remain entirely untouched by the wars with the British colonies to the south. In apparent retaliation for incursions by the French into New England, a fleet of 32 British ships with two thousand soldiers, commanded by Sir William Phips, appeared in the eastern part of New France in 1690. They first wreaked havoc on Nova Scotia/Arcadia and then later, in early October 1690, showed up off the shores of Rivière Ouelle. Their presence produced a tale that has been told and retold, often with embellishments and not without confusing facts. (http://www.apointinhistory.net/Rivière-ouelle.php). I will just summarize the events here.
According to the story, messengers from Quebec City had come to warn the villagers of the fleet’s arrival and its intention of taking the city. The villagers were thus prepared when Phips sent six boats ashore at Rivière Ouelle, loaded with 25 men each. Led by the parish priest, fifty “heroes” managed to defend Rivière Ouelle and send the British soldiers on their way to Quebec City. Phips went on to defeat in Quebec City in mid October, and life returned to normal along the river.
The names of those who participated in defending Rivière Ouelle have been repeated through the years only to be challenged by relatively recent research. Robert Levesque and his two Lecanteur sons were definitely part of the defense of Rivière Ouelle. Two of Deschamps’ sons were originally listed as participants, possibly incorrectly. The whereabouts of Seigneur Deschamps remains a mystery since he was not listed as present in the rout in Rivière Ouelle. Was he in Quebec City, called there to help defend the government? Or had he possibly returned to France? No records of any land transactions or other registered appearances of Deschamps have been found for the three years following the land grant to Nicolas Lecanteur in April 1689. Absence of such records has led one historian to speculate that he might have returned to France later that year to share the news of births, marriages, and deaths with his family and those of his Norman countryman and to visit with his son who was pursuing a military career there. Ah, yet another item to be added to the “to be investigated” list.
With or without Seigneur Deschamps’ presence for those years, Rivière Ouelle continued to experience change and growth. New settlers arrived in Rivière Ouelle, mainly from other parts of Quebec and in particular from Chateau Richer and L’Ange Gardien, seeking grants or purchasing land from existing habitants. A small number did arrive directly from France. Along with other families, Jeanne and Robert had another child, this time a little girl, who sadly only lived for ten days. But other babies did survive. Children grew up, married sons and daughters of other Rivière Ouelle settlers or their friends, and settled down in Rivière Ouelle, with their expanding families.
While New England was caught up in Salem Witch trial hysteria in 1692, records do show that Deschamps resumed making grants to several new settlers that year. In the same year, he also ceded his manor to the church to be used as a residence for the new priest. I have not been able to find any mention of a new manor being built during his lifetime. What appears most reasonable is that he then moved into one of the houses on the land that Robert and Jeanne had just purchased from Joseph Renaud. If that move in fact did happen, he presumably would have brought his domestic servant to handle day-to-day housekeeping chores with him. The new location would have become the estate’s manor for payment of taxes and management of judicial matters.
In addition to encouraging new settlers and moving his residence, Deschamps continued to explore other avenues for growth. On 11 May, 1697, Governor Frontenac conceded to Jean-Baptiste-François Deschamps de La Bouteillerie and two other men fishing rights on the Iles des Pelerins, islands located in the St. Lawrence almost 39 kilometers further northeast of Rivière Ouelle. Apparently these three were planning some sort of business to fish and hunt porpoises.
By 1698 Rivière Ouelle had a population of 105. This growth compared favorably with other nearby settlements, although exact details are hard to find. But it was still a frontier outpost, since that year there were 15,355 people living in New France, with much larger concentrations around Quebec City, Montreal and Trois Rivières.