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Born in Barbezieux, France, in 1733, Jean Orillat arrived in Canada at a young age and soon became interested in trade. He was involved in the fur trade in Michillimakinac (Mackinaw City, Michigan), stalled by the war, in 1761. In 1763, he obtained a significant investment from merchant Benjamin Comte to invest in trade at the La Baye post (Green Bay, Wisconsin), a partnership that lasted two years. From 1767 to 1771, Orillat worked with partners to bring hides and furs to the London market. In 1774, he founded a third company, trading in furs and selling goods to voyageurs, taking their fur shipments as security. The company was financially successful, reporting over 160,000 pounds in claims secured by deliveries of furs to England. Orillat maintained a shop in Montreal where he sold wholesale and retail trade goods and everyday items. He also lent money on bonds, bought debts, and purchased land. A wealthy merchant and trader, Orillat is known to have owned four black slaves valued at 1,900 pounds. He married his first wife, Marie-Amable Filiau, known as Dubois, in Montreal on September 21, 1761 and remarried Thérèse-Amable Viger on August 27, 1767.
Orillat died in Montreal in 1779, with his fortune passing to his daughter, Marie-Luce-Amable.
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José E. Igartua, « ORILLAT, JEAN », dans Dictionnaire biographique du Canada, vol. 4, Université Laval/University of Toronto, 2003– , consulté le 17 août 2022, http://www.biographi.ca/fr/bio/orillat_jean_4F.html.