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.]

I have an old photograph.

I have an old photograph. I don’t know who took it and I’m not sure exactly when it was taken, but it must have been sometime in 1944 because in the picture my father is holding in his arms my step-sister, Denise, who was born on January 10th, 1943. In the photograph she appears to be a year old or so, which would mean the photo would have been taken sometime in mid 1944. Given that my father’s first wife, Yvonne, died on June 22nd, 1945, it stands to reason that the photo was taken sometime in 1944. It doesn’t look like Yvonne was pregnant at the time with Roger, but she may have been.

There is no obvious way to tell where the photo was taken, but the ground is dry and there’s no snow. I’m guessing it was taken somewhere in or close to New Westminster, British Columbia. Actually everyone in the photo is dressed for a nice, warmish spring day, and they’re all standing in front of my father’s 1929 Ford Model T.

In the photo, my father’s first wife, Yvonne, is farthest on the left. She is standing just behind my step-sister, Lucille, who at that time was two years old or so and she has her hands resting on Lucille’s shoulders. Next to her on her right is my father and he, as I said, is holding Denise. Standing next to him is my mother, Lucienne Leguerrier at the time. Next to her is Rémi Leguerrier who married my father’s older sister, Isabelle, and farthest on the right is my aunt, Cécile, mother’s older sister. Uncle Rémi, standing between them, has his arms around the shoulders of my mother and my aunt. He’s smiling too. The children are not smiling, neither is Yvonne although she may have been suffering from morning sickness and that might explain why.

Who could know when this picture was taken that my father’s first wife would be dead within the year and my mother, Lucienne Leguerrier would be his new wife within two years. So, here we have my father flanked by his wives. Never would he have guessed at that moment, smiling for the camera, holding his youngest daughter, that Yvonne would be gone and that he would be scrambling to find a way to look after his five daughters while still going to work. The picture tells nothing of the sorrow to come.

As it turns out, my father and Yvonne had over the years since moving to British Columbia in 1936 made friends with the nuns who ran St. Mary’s hospital in New Westminster where all their children would be born. Apparently my mother had worked there for a time and it was they who suggested, after Yvonne died, that my father ask my mother to come help look after the children while he went to work in local sawmills. That wasn’t a stretch, because the Albert family knew the Leguerrier clan when everyone was still living in the vicinity of Bonnyville, Alberta a few years before. So, my father knew my mother’s family before a number of them migrated to BC during the Depression looking for work. My father was resourceful and capable of doing various kinds of mill-related work so he was able to find employment. My mother too.

When Yvonne died, my father asked my mother if she would help and she agreed that she would. Months later, actually it wasn’t too many months later, my father had my grandfather and grandmother come to New Westminster to look after the children because my mother had returned to Alberta unexpectedly it seemed. It turns out that she had returned to Alberta anticipating that my father would join her shortly so they could be married in Alberta at Fort Kent and both return to New Westminster as husband and wife.

Now my step-sisters had a new mom. My mother was only twelve years older than my oldest step-sister, Hélène. That caused minor friction to start with because when Yvonne died my father had told Hélène that she would now have to be mommy to the four younger ones. Now, she was being displaced as mother of the family but that animosity soon dissipated because my mother had lived with them for a few months already giving time for attachments to grow between them.

I cannot imagine that my father was not steeped in pain and sorrow during that whole time, but he had no other choice but to carry on.  Sorrow must give way to children and their needs.