Guillaume Leguerrier arrives in Canada, marries and has kids.

A translation of Pages 27 and 28 – Victor Leguerrier’s book Les Leguerrier au Canada

 

The First

 

We do not know exactly when Guillaume Leguerrier arrived in Canada [more properly referred to as New France at this time]. In early 1748, we find him at St. François-de-Sales of “Ile Jesus”. [Ile Jesus translates literally as Jesus Island, but that does not seem an appropriate translation so we will stay with the French under this and similar circumstances] There he married a ‘Canadian’ woman, Marie-Louise Gariepy, in November, 1748. He had fifteen children among them Honoré, Charles and Jean-Baptiste. In 1780, he moved to Terrebonne where he was buried in 1792.

 

Charles established himself in Montréal. We find no trace of his lineage after the fourth generation.

 

Honoré had four children among them Eloi who settled in St. Augustin. Eloi had nineteen children among them Eloi (son), Joseph and Jules. The St. Augustin Leguerriers, and later of Clarence Creek, Alberta, of British Columbia and the Northwest Territories are all in this lineage.

 

Jean-Baptiste settled in SteThérèse-de-Blainville and had only one son, Léandre who had fourteen children including Joseph-Victor. This lineage includes most of the Leguerriers of Ste-Thérèse, of Fort Coulange and most of those in the Montréal and Hull regions.

 

In terms of the fifth generation of Leguerriers in Canada, there are those for whom we account here and by means of which we classify the descendants of subsequent generations, this in order to clarify the order.

 

The Honoré lineage –

Of Eloi (son):             Evariste, Georges and Rémi.

Of Jules:                     Euclide and Mastai.

 

The Jean-Baptiste lineage –

Of Joseph-Victor:      Adrien, Damien, Cyprien, Joseph-Benjamin, Maximilien and Emilieu. Malvina, Amanda, Clara and Emma.

 

In 1974, there are Leguerrier’s alive from the 5th to the 9th generations. Of the 5th generation, survivors include children of Eloi (son): Mélanie, Georges and Rémi, the children of Joseph: Anney and Jean-Gérard and of the children of Jules: Ernestine. The Leguerriers of the 9th generation are descendants of Adrien. [?]

 

An Honourable Family

 

Guillaume was an honest, respectable man, well respected. His fellow-citizens held him in high esteem. The Leguerrier family was among the elite of society. Guillaume’s three sons did him proud.

 

Charles established himself in Montréal and worked honestly. He was well known as a master woodworker. Honoré was a good son, a devoted parishioner and a model citizen. Jean-Baptiste became a captain in the militia of Ste-Thérèse and a warden of his parish. No one doubts that he was a natural leader in his society.

 

Eloi, an upright and humble man was elected by acclamation as a parish warden. Léandre was both churchwarden and militia captain. He was the driving force in the affairs of his parish and his village for numerous years.

 

Jean-Victor was churchwarden, mayor, county prefect, justice of the peace, popular mediator and school commissioner for the school in Ste-Thérèse. He was an advisor and confidant of a Québec prime minister.

 

A United Family

 

The Leguerrier were a united family. Guillaume’s three sons valued each other and helped each other out. Brothers and sisters got together for baptisms, weddings and funerals. Cousins of the 3rd generation became godparents for each others children. This friendship was not just a formality. It extended to real and financial assistance.

 

The Leguerrier of St-Augustin and of Ste-Thérèse, those of the 4th generation, visited each other frequently. When a death occurred in the family cousins were always there to offer their sympathies.

 

It was much the same for Eloi’s family, and those of Joseph and Jules. Mastai’s children got together every year for a sleigh ride and bean supper in Clarence Creek, Alberta.

 

 

[Alright, I can’t help myself, I have to editorialize here. So, Guillaume leaves France sometime before 1748, gets married to a local girl, moves to Terrebonne and lives happily until 1792. But why would he leave France in the first place and why would he choose New France as a destination? Well, this is a period of time in France and in all of Europe of rapid change. The year 1760 is usually noted as the year the industrial revolution really got off the ground in Europe, urbanization was the name of the game and the population exploded due to better sanitation and basic infrastructure. The French and English were often at war and the Seven Years War concluded with the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Guillaume would have arrived in Canada before the war started but after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759-60 most French citizens returned to France. Guillaume stayed probably in part because of his marriage, but he may have had business interests that would not have been affected by the change of rule. We know nothing about Guillaume’s financial circumstances when he arrived in New France, but he was not poor. He was able to buy land. We know nothing of this from Victor Leguerrier’s account of the early Leguerrier’s in Canada. Not only that, but how could Victor speak so glowingly of Guillaume’s honesty and high standing in the community on such scant information? Well, there are no records of Guillaume ever being arrested or involved in litigation of any kind. That speaks well of him. It would be so interesting though to know something about how he got on in the world outside of his family and parish? We’ll never know, I guess, but it’s fun to speculate.]

My father is my 8th cousin.

My father is my 8th cousin.

 

So, I’m not at all certain that it’s true that my father is also my 8th cousin, but it is entirely possible given my family history and the interrelationships between the Alberts, Michauds, Leguerriers and Gauchers over several generations. [1] There is clear evidence that the Michaud and Albert clans came over from the Poitou area of France together in the mid 17th century. On my mother’s side of the family, the Leguerrier side, it seems that Guillaume was the first to arrive in Canada. He arrived sometime just before 1748. My paternal grandparents Thomas Albert and Edna Michaud are 6th cousins so it seems the families that appear most predominantly in our family histories intermarried frequently enough.

 

Maybe as I get older I think more about my own death just because I’m getting closer to that time and time seems to be moving ever so fast. But I do glance away from my own belly button from time to time. I’m also fascinated with my family’s history, mostly as I try to imagine what my ancestors experienced as they lived out their lives. What would have possessed my ancestor Guillaume Leguerrier to leave his home in St. Léger, Normandy in the middle of the 18th Century?

 

I’m in the process of translating parts of Les Leguerrier au Canada by Victor Leguerrier in 1974. This is a massive study of the Leguerrier family in the New World. It needs to be updated, but it’s complete to the mid 1970s. What follows is a translation of pages 15 and 16 of that text:

Among the possible hypotheses on the origins of the Leguerriers, there is one that proposes that the Leguerrier were originally from Switzerland and that they ended up in the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey fleeing from religious persecution. Some of the refugees ended up back on the continent, in Brittany. One Leguerrier, it is said, left the Channel Islands to settle in Wales, about one hundred and fifty kilometers to the southwest of London.

Certain contemporary [1974] Leguerriers in France report that oral tradition has it that the Leguerriers had lived in Brittany but that in the 15th Century some had come to live in Normandy. At that point they abandoned the Breton language to adopt French as their language. As to their name, they simply translated the Breton word for their family name into French, which ended up as “Leguerrier”.

The French origins of the Leguerriers in Canada are in St. Léger, Normandy, a tiny village situated at an altitude of 100 meters above sea level, at about 10 kilometers from Grandville and at about 18 kilometers to the north-east of Avranches in the Manche District. St. Léger is in the Coutances Diocese. The population is about 75 inhabitants [in 1974].

The ocean, about 7 kilometers away, is visible from St. Léger. Next to the church which is in the Norman architectural style there are a few stone houses, all occupied. Close by, in the south, at the base of a small hill flows the little Thar river that flows west towards the ocean where one can also find the partially restored ancient Lucerne Abbey.

The first and only Leguerrier to come to New France was Guillaume Leguerrier.

“Son of François Leguerrier and Anne Lebreton”, he was baptized on the 11th of January 1715 in the St. Léger Church by the Parish priest, Father M. Ainue. The godfather is listed as “Guillaume le Poupé and the godmother was Marguerite Lebreton, Ivan Lebreton’s daughter.” [I have no idea what the quotation marks mean here.]

Guillaume had brothers and sisters:

 

Louyie,           baptized on January 11th, 1702

Yvan,             baptized on May 7th, 1705

Andrée,          baptized on July 15th, 1708

Madeleine,    baptized on February 14th, 1720.

 

At that time there were other Leguerrier in St. Léger, as recorded in the parish registry:

  •  Nouelle Leguerrier was godmother at a baptism in 1704.
  • Catherine le Guerrier, wife of Claude Youffre, had her son Jean marry Jacqueline Pestour on September 30th, 1711.
  • Pierre Leguerrier, priest, attended the burial of a 7 or 8 year old child. A Claude Leguerrier assisted in this task. Pierre, the priest, signed the register   “leguerrier” and Claude, who has a nice handwriting, signed “le Guerrier.
  • Jacques le guerrier, sieur of the ‘her Pierre berbière’ (?) is present at a wedding on February 17th, 1718.
  • Julienne le toxa, wife of Jacques le guerrier, sieur of la her Pierre [whatever that means], is listed as godmother at the baptism as Julienne petoux, daughter of Jean petoux and Jeanne le terrier.
  • Françoise le guerrier, widow of Robert le petour, who had died the day before, was interred on November 22nd, 1719. She was about 70 years old.

There are currently Leguerrier in France who claim to be descendants of François, thus of Louyie or Ivan, Guillaume’s brothers. These Leguerrier claim that they are from St-Ursin, a tiny village close to St. Léger.

As Guillaume was making his way to North America, one of his brothers established himself in the neighbouring village. The descendants of this brother include Victor Leguerrier, grandfather to several Leguerrier currently living in France.

We note that there is another Victor Leguerrier living in Rennes, France. Finally there is a woman living in Switzerland who claims that her ancestors are from St. Léger.

[1] My sister, Claudette, has done a lot of snooping around the family tree and has published a number of calendars and booklets of family memories. distant cousins on my mother’s side, Victor Leguerrier, published a history of the Leguerrier family in Canada (1974), a very serious study of over 600 pages, and Marcel Lirette published Descendants of Antoine Micheau and Marie Train (date unknown- I remember getting my copy around 2005).

 

Just a little depressing viewpoint for you about crime, poverty and ill-health.

 

Be thankful that there’s crime in the Comox Valley. Without crime there would be a huge hit to the Valley economy. Just think about it. No need for police. Save a few million there. No need for criminal lawyers, counselors, support staff. Save a few more there. No need for probation or parole offices, John Howard Society. None of that. There would be no domestic assault, so no need for The Transition Society or other support services for women fleeing domestic abuse. So, next time you see someone doing something criminal, thank them for their contribution to the economy. If they go to jail, they even do a better job of contributing to the economy. Inmates have to be fed, watched all the time and ‘administered.’ There’s lot of money for business in servicing prisons.  Never mind that there’s a lot of money in building prisons, tons of concrete and such things. Stephen Harper would love more jails.  He must have friends in the concrete business.

 

Poor people as so important to the economy too. Wow. If there was no poverty, there would be no need for social services, affordable housing, the Food Bank, most of what The Salvation Army does, nor for soup kitchens and charities of all kinds.

And holy jeez. If we were all healthy and never sick, wow, think of the savings there. No hospitals, no doctors, no physiotherapists, no pharmacists, no labs, none of those.

The Comox Valley depends on crime, poverty and sickness to have a healthy economy. To figure that out, all you have to do is look at the stats or read the Comox Valley Social Planning Society’s Quality of Life Report. It’s available online at:

http://cvsocialplanning.ca

So, next time you run into a criminal, a poor person or someone who is physically or mentally ill, give them a big hug, a warm handshake and a huge THANK YOU. So many jobs in the Valley depend on them, both direct and indirect. Maybe the Economic Development Society should promote crime, poverty and sickness. It just might do more for economic development in the Valley than what they’re doing now.

And you know what? I haven’t even mentioned fear yet. My, my. If we could eliminate fear we could get rid of so many services we’d hardly need anyone to do anything anymore. So, get out there and scare the shit out of somebody. For the sake of the economy!

Mutiny of the Soul – Reality Sandwich

Mutiny of the Soul – Reality Sandwich.

I find this quite refreshing.  A perspective that argues that the world drives people crazy and sick.  This isn’t the first compelling argument I’ve come across on this subject (see René Spitz, Thomas Szasz, R.D. Laing, Otto Rank, Ernest Becker, etc.) but most people are so totally ignorant in this regard that any article that comes out that even hints at a socially-based explanation for depression, fatigue, mental illness, and I pay attention.  It’s good to share too, isn’t it?  My mom always said it was.

There is a reference to this article on Facebook.  I thought I’d share.

Rushing to print is often a mistake.

Rushing to print is often a mistake and I do believe I rushed to print with my last couple of posts. I think that was a mistake. Research can often turn up evidence from the past that makes a lie out of what we thought was true. Does this really matter? Maybe. Not certainly. It depends on what we want to depict, on what we want to understand and have understood.  I could write fiction, drawn from my imagination, enriched by my experience. How would that be different than what I am doing here? The ‘truth’ of fiction is in how believable it is, how sympathetic the characters are and how ‘realistic’ the scenes. In turning my gaze on my family, I enter a very different realm than I would occupy writing fiction. Of necessity, family histories are mostly fiction, the details of lives lived drowned in a sea of unrecorded continuity just as one tree can be made insignificant standing in a forest. Moments that stand out get into the history books.  Sometimes, they are recorded in a photograph.  More often not. When writing about family, the truth sometimes comes out slowly, not always in one go.  Even the ‘truth’ of a photograph, objective as it might seem, can be revealed more fully in all its complexity when the past, present and future of the depicted scene are entertained.

When I look at the picture I analyze in my last post, I am struck by the innocence of the scene, the mundane aspect of it.  The full impact and relevance of the scene cannot be appreciated at first glance. The scene is nothing outside of its living context. The people depicted in the photograph have no idea what awaits them in the near future, the death, panic and sorrow that they will suffer, as well as the love and sacrifice that will energize life and make it livable for them. What can I see in their faces? Nothing that belies their future. My mother would never have dreamed when this picture was taken that within 3 years she would be having a baby with the man standing next to her in this picture, a man married to the woman who stood just on the other side of him, both of whom had been her family’s close friends for years.

Now, I must make a correction to my previous post where I suggest that Yvonne died on June 22nd, 1945, because it was rumoured my father couldn’t afford a transfusion which would have saved Yvonne’s life. That may still be true, but I now know that my father had asked my mother and aunts to give blood to save his wife. Cecile donated blood sometime after midnight on June 22nd, but it was too little too late.   I learned this by looking through calendars my sister Claudette created for us over the years which contain pages from a diary my mother kept for a few years during the 1940s. It may be that my father had to find blood donors himself because he didn’t have the money to buy blood from the usual sources.  I find this difficult to believe because St. Mary’s was a Catholic hospital and I can’t imagine they would let someone die who couldn’t afford a blood transfusion, but no one lives who can set the record straight.  That makes the photo I introduce in my last post even more compelling to me because now, Cecile, my wonderful older aunt, standing on the far right in this picture, is also intimately involved in the final stages of the drama that was to unfold at St. Mary’s Hospital on June 22nd, 1945.  Death in childbirth was not as common in 1945 as it had been in previous generations but everyone knew that it was a dangerous time.  Yvonne was 29 years old, a mother of five daughters.  Such a tragedy.

It seems my mother and her family were very close to my father and his family for some time before they were married.  There was much socializing between the families starting in Alberta around Bonnyville and continuing in and around New Westminster in British Columbia.  My mother’s diary is full of references to visits to my father’s home in the years leading up to June, 1945.  She writes on Sunday, January 7th, 1945: “My day off [from work at St. Mary’s Hospital]. Went to Zenons for supper and a party.  Stayed until 3 AM.  Had lots of fun…”  On Sunday, March 11th, “I went to Zenons for supper then to a card party. I won $1.50 first prize womens. Zenon won $10.00 door prize…had lunch at Fraser Café with Albert and Gill, Mrs. Lagrange and Zenons.” The close familiarity between the Alberts and Leguerriers is evident in the photograph and it waits patiently, silent in the background to give added meaning to the scene for those who wish to know. The events to unfold in the following few months can only be understood in light of the tight bonds that existed in the community of ‘ex pats’ from Alberta now living in British Columbia.

A photograph can hide as much as it shows.  It can give us the impression of time stopped for an instant, frozen in a way that allows us to return to contemplate the moment, to relive the essence of a snapshot, lingering and maybe meditating on it.  It’s an illusion, of course, but that doesn’t prevent us from taking pictures, from trying to momentarily pause the clock. But clocks are stubborn things.  They stop for no one.

I have another photograph.  This one was probably taken on June 25th, 1945, the day of Yvonne’s funeral. She was buried along with her son, Roger, in St. Peter’s Catholic Cemetery in New Westminster.  It shows my father kneeling before Yvonne’s grave which is covered in flowers, his five daughters by his side.  The same day, my father asked my mother to quit her job at St. Mary’s Hospital, come work for him and look after the girls.