Here is my last post about Joseph Noel Taillefer. Having established that he arrived in Red River in October of 1872 as a member of the third contingent of the Red River Expeditionary Force, I went looking for newspaper articles about his time here.
On the Manitobia website I found several articles that mention him, mostly in the French language newspaper Le Metis.
He appears to have been well regarded in the French community. Bishop Tache performed the marriage ceremony on February 3, 1873 on the occasion of Joseph’s marriage to Mary Jane McDermot, daughter of Andrew McDermot, a wealthy and notable merchant in the city. Didn’t take him long to find a soulmate, did it?
Zouavania says that Andrew McDermot disinherited his daughter for becoming a Catholic. McDermot was an Irish Catholic who broke with the Church in later life. However, I have read his will at the Provincial Archives of Manitoba, and he did leave both money and land to his daughter Jane.The will was written February 19, 1873 after Jane had married. Hmm… her married name is not used in the will, unlike her other married sisters.
Joseph and Jane had four children, all born in Manitoba:
Mary Jane who married Gabriel Belanger
Joseph who married Virginie Poitras
Alfred who died in 1890 at the age of 14
Henriette who married Francois Xavier Poitras
In December 1878, Joseph won the provincial election for St. Agathe by acclamation. Sounds wonderful, except that result led to gunshots and a controversy! Seems the returning officer declined the nominations for two people running against Joseph, for rather technical reasons. Supporters of the opponents tracked down the returning officer the next day, a scuffle ensued, and shots were fired. Joseph was shot in the thigh, and one of the supporters shot also.
By January 25, 1879 the Manitoba Gazette was reporting that new nominations were accepted for Taillefer, Mr. Kyne, Mr. John Grant and a Dr. Bedford. Bedford withdrew before the election on January 29th, and Taillefer won. (I haven’t been able to determine whether this Grant was the John Francis Grant I wrote about here).
In the December 16, 1879 election, Taillefer again won election, this time for the Morris riding. He did not run in the 1883 election. In 1884 he is listed as the Police Magistrate for Provencher.
Sometime before the 1891 census the family moved to the area of Broadview in the Assiniboia area of the Northwest Territories (present day Saskatchewan).
The book Holiday rambles between Winnipeg and Victoria by George Bryce, published in 1888, locates Taillefer in the Qu’Appelle Valley:
“At one point of this part of the Qu’appelle is a settlement of French people, two of the settlers, Taillefer and De Cazes, being well-known in Winnipeg as having been in years gone by officers in the Provisional Battalion.”
When Andrew McDermot died in 1881, his daughter Jane was mentioned as Mrs. Taillefer in the obituary in the Manitoba Free Press. She is also mentioned in the obituary of her sister Annie McDermot Bannatyne in May 1908.
However I believe I know where the story of a disinheritance comes from.
Joseph Taillefer died May 31, 1897. Here’s his burial record from St Coeur de Marie, Marieval, Saskatchewan that I accessed on FamilySearch.
On FamilySearch I also found his probate record, which for some reason was not filed until 1906. It includes a copy of his will dated July 16, 1896, in which he provides for his wife and two of his children (one having already died). Then he says this:
“My dear children, although your sister Mary Jane is excluded from this will, do not conclude I have cast her from my heart, in acting thus towards her, it has been her lot, freely taken. Before God I forgave her the way she left me and her home, and I enjoin you in case she would knock at your door to receive her as your sister, and in case she would be left alone, to give her shelter and divide your bread with her. Moreover you will give her a milking cow valued about twenty dollars.”
Why would Joseph have disinherited his daughter? Mary Jane Taillefer had married Gabriel Belanger January 30, 1893 at St. Coeur de Marie. Bishop Tache himself had given a dispensation for the reading of banns, and no impediments to the marriage had been found.
Mary Jane’s brother Joseph was godfather for her first child Marie Josephine. Was it only her father from whom she was estranged?
Not to fear, family relations must have been restored after Joseph Senior’s death, as Mary Jane’s sister Henriette was godmother for Mary Jane’s son Albert in 1903.
Mary Jane’s brother Alfred who had died in 1890 had property in his own name. A probate was conducted in 1910 and Mary Jane Taillefer Belanger was included in that arrangement.
I have been able to track Mary Jane and her husband Gabriel Belanger in the 1901, 1906, and 1911 census records. They are enumerated on the Crooked Lake Indian Reserve in Saskatchewan. Could this have been a factor in the disinheritance? I can’t find them in the 1916 census, except for a Gabriel Belanger who is a prisoner. But that may not be the same man. I’d love to know what happened to them and their children, but that’s a research project for another day.
As for Joseph Noel Taillefer’s widow, Jane McDermot, the last documentation I have found for her is in the 1921 census, when she is living in St. Boniface, Manitoba with her son Joseph and family. Some public trees have her death listed as 1927, but I have not been able, so far, to verify that date.
So there you have the story of Joseph Noel Taillefer, born in Quebec, died in the Northwest Territories. A lawyer, a Papal Zouave, a soldier, a politician, a farmer…and an extremely interesting person to research.