Clocks were present in French colonial Canada as early as the 1630s and were generally the property of religious communities. To the astonishment of Amerindian visitors, the Jesuit mission at St-Joseph displayed a clock by 1634. Metropolitan elites could demonstrate their piety through donations to missions and religious orders established in New France; a Monsieur de Bernières donated a clock to the Ursulines of Québec in the early 1650s. The first public clock in Canada was installed by 1710 at the Sulpician seminary in Montréal.
Colonial craftsmen in Montréal and Québec were called upon to create and repair timepieces including clocks and pocket watches by the eighteenth century, although Swedish visitor Pehr Kalm noted that they were surpassed by those working in British colonial settlements such as Philadelphia and New York when he visited New France in 1749. Henri Solo or Solon is the first horloger, or clockmaker, mentioned in colonial archives. He worked in Québec beginning in the mid-1720s and was soon joined by others.
Upon his death in 1760, Henri-Marie Dubreil de Pontbriand, the last bishop of New France, owned a pendule à ressort appraised by Danré de Blanzy at 300 livres. The bishop left this clock, along with his furniture, linens, and the bulk of his remaining worldy goods, to the Sulpician order of Montréal.
Eight of the bishop's armchairs and a chest of drawers exist in the Sulpician collection today, as does the clock! Made in Paris by horloger Charles Voisin (1685-1761) circa 1740, the clock face is set within an ormolu-mounted wooden case that also bears Voisin's label. As the bishop assumed his position in Québec in 1741, the clock could have come to Canada with the bishop or been purchased via a merchant or some intermediary agent after his arrival.
Both Philippe's 1726 probate inventory and Pierre's 1771 claim refer to timepieces as pendules, referring to their regulation by means of a pendulum. The Dictionnaire universel, first published in the 1690s, referred to pendulum clocks as a "modern invention" developed at the turn of the eighteenth century. Several craftsmen were involved in the creation of clocks and other timepieces. Actual clockmakers, or horlogers, made the clock face and inner workings. The outer cover could be the work of a cabinetmaker, or ébéniste, or a fondeur-ciseleur who worked to produce a metal mount for the clock. It is likely that Philippe bought his clock during a return trip to Paris in the mid-1710s; Pierre made a point to identify his clock's Parisian origin, and it is likely that he bought it there between 1753 and 1755 between his governorships of Louisiana and New France. Clocks could be purchased from a variety of dealers in the eighteenth-century capital. Marchands-merciers specialized in furniture and luxury goods including porcelain, mirrors, and draperies, and it is possible that the Vaudreuil pendules were bought from such merchants.