As my belated contribution to "Press Gang Week," here are two documents from Quebec City in the early nineteenth century. To learn more about press gangs in Canada, see my article "Northern Exposure" in the Canadian Historical Review.
Le Canadien Newspaper
Quebec City, 19 September 1807
Last Saturday, around ten-thirty at night, Simon Latresse, by a soldier of the Press (Press-Gang) of His Majesty’s ship Blossom commanded by George Picket [Pigot] Esquire. Latresse was to dance in the house of Faux-bourg St. Jean when the press entered, under the orders of Lieutenant Andrel [John Undrell]. One of the two soldiers armed with pistols stayed at the door of the house, let go of the man Fournier, that they had pressed, to run to Latresse, who was escaping from them, by his force and his actions, was saving himself by running, the soldier not to catch up with him, the soldier fired a shot from his pistol at him; the bullet went through his body, he fled to the Hôtel-Dieu where he died last Sunday at midnight, after having suffered with courage and resignation.
This man, aged twenty-five years, was Canadian, a native of Montreal, he had been a voyageur in the neighborhood of Michilimackinac for seven years, he played a loyal character, was attached to his master, and left to mourn his unhappy widowed mother, aged 75 years, that alone he supported with his savings and pledges.
Last Thursday around Seven o’clock in the morning, His Majesty’s ship the Blossom, commanded by George Picket, Esquire, left the port without having handed over to the magistrates the guilty party of the murder of Simon Latresse, that which was required to do.
Thomas Rideout to his Father at York, from Ten Years in Upper Canada in Peace and War, 1805-1815; Being the Rideout Papers, ed. Matilda Edgar (Toronto: William Briggs, 1890), p. 40.
Quebec City, 9 July 1811
This evening I embark on board a government transport called, the Sea Nymph, Captain Robert Smith, bound for Portsmouth. In the cabin there are three ladies (one of them widow of Captain Andrews, who died at Niagara).
Yesterday, at the mess, the officers talked as if they wished and expected war [with the United States]. Colonel Shank has his regiment under very bad discipline. There was a press-gang came up from the frigate last night and pressed fifteen fine seaman [sic], all English. I saw the poor fellows marched into the boat by a party of soldiers.