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by Ivan Sache
The family Crouan, of Irish origin, settled in Brittany in the XVIIIth century. In the beginning of the XIXth century, there were four brothers Crouan. The elder brother, Prudent-Aîné, born in Brest in 1800, created in 1817 a trade post in Belem (state of Pará, Brazil). He was appointed in 1832 consul of France in Belem. Two of his brothers, Denis and Augustin, were involved in the management of the trade post.
In the middle of the XIXth century, Denis Crouan came back to France and founded a shipping company in Nantes. He died in 1891, aged 85, and was succeded by his son Fernand. The shipping company was renamed Denis Crouan Fils.
The fortune of Fernand Crouan is associated with the chocolate maker Ménier. In the middle of the XIXth century, Jean Antoine Brutus Ménier built a chocolate factory in Noisiel, in the east of Paris. In 1852, his son Emile Justin Ménier industrialized the production. Emile's son, Henri Ménier, was the main customer of Fernand Crouan for the importation of cocoa from Brazil and sugar from the Caribbean islands.
Crouan had a fleet of three-masters, whose flag ship was the Belem, built in 1896 by the Dubigeon shipyard in Nantes. The bow of the ship was decorated with a shield charged with Ordem e progresso, the national motto of the young republic of Brazil (1889). Crouan's ships had indeed the reputation to be safe and thoroughly managed.
When Fernand Crouan died in 1905, he was succeded by his son-in-law de Lagotellerie. Ménier decided to import cocoa from Le Havre, which was closer to Noisiel than Nantes. The shipping company lost its main customer and could not face the competition of steamships. It was liquidated in 1906. The Belem was purchased by Demange Frères for their scheduled line to Cayenne (French Guyana).
The Belem has been preserved until now and is today a training ship.
Source: Laurent Gloaguen's website, dedicated to the Belem.
Ivan Sache, 14 March 2004
According to Grands Voiliers Français (Jean Randier) and Les Derniers Grands Voiliers (Lacroix) the house flag of Crouan is white with a red border and a six-pointed red star shown towards the hoist.
Neale Rosanoski, 12 December 2004Red dog casino