The Lachance family found the wood it needed to build its boats on Île au Canot and the neighbouring islands.
François-Xavier would look on as his father, Alphonse-Liguori, built at least three boats, each some ten metres long, in his workshop. His brothers—keen to earn their independence—were also building their own rowboats by the time they were teenagers. Even the Lachance girls knew how to handle a boat, which was rare for women at the time.
When winter came, a solid layer of ice would form a bridge linking Île au Canot to Isle-aux-Grues, allowing people to go to mass and visit friends and family by horse-drawn sleigh. In spring or fall, the Lachance family would travel in an ice canoe they’d built themselves—a sturdy, hybrid vessel that could tackle both ice and waves out on the river.
As a result, François-Xavier spent his childhood immersed in a culture of maritime know-how that he later put to brilliant use in his own shipyard.