My sister Lorraine, part 2

Previously, I blogged about my sister Lorraine who died at the age of 5 months.  Her death registration erroneously listed her age as 5 years instead of 5 months.  I was able to have Manitoba Vital Statistics correct that information, and I now have both a birth certificate and accurate death certificate for her.

Birth certificate for Lorraine Hogue

Birth certificate for Lorraine Hogue

Death certificate for Lorraine Hogue

Death certificate for Lorraine Hogue

As was the custom of the time, my sister was buried in an unmarked grave in La Salle Cemetery.  My brothers and I had a grave marker made and installed this summer.  Lorraine’s marker is between that of her great-grandparents Thomas Hogue and Philomene Mcmillan, and that of her great-uncle Louis Hogue.

Lorraine Hogue's grave in La Salle Cemetery

Lorraine Hogue’s grave in La Salle Cemetery

Still more moves

I’ve written about the various moves the Girardin and Bernardin families made in their quest for more economic opportunities. What determined, hard-working people our ancestors were! To move from Quebec to Massachusetts to St. Daniel (Carman) to St. Alphonse/Bruxelles… and they weren’t finished yet.

Farming conditions had not been very favourable in the 1890s in the prairies, and wheat prices were not high. For various reasons, the families were choosing to move again. Many of Louise Bernardin’s brother Joseph’s family moved to Elie, Manitoba, a new community about 30 km. west of Winnipeg. There’s a fascinating local history book, Treasures of Time: The Rural Municipality of Cartier, 1914-1984, that has a great deal of information about the Bernardin family. Joseph’s son, Louis, married Lea Dufresne, whose father, Elie Dufresne, was one of the town’s first settlers. Apparently the town was named after him.

After Onesime Allard’s death, Napoleon Girardin moved his family to La Salle ( a subject for another post).

At some point, Louise Bernardin’s daughter, Caroline Girardin Hamel, moved to Ste. Anne. In 1915 she married Damase Dion.

Here’s a map showing all the places in Manitoba where the families homesteaded.

Manitoba places
The most surprising move to me, however, was that of Louise Bernardin and her second husband, Bruno Charbonneau, who left Manitoba to go back to Worcester, Massachusetts, about 1898!  Louise was 74 and Bruno about 71. They lived at 6 Southgate Street, and Bruno did find employment, according to the Worcester, Massachusetts City Directory.


Worcester City Directory 1898

Worcester City Directory 1898

It’s likely that once in Massachusetts, Louise would have occasion to visit, or receive visits from, family members such as her son Charles, and her daughter Rosilda, who lived in Massachusetts. Perhaps she also was able to visit with her sister Marie Elyse who still lived in Warwick, Quebec.

Tragically, on December 16, 1904, Bruno died suddenly of a heart attack.

Massachusetts, Death Records, 1841-1915 from Ancestry

Massachusetts, Death Records, 1841-1915 from Ancestry

By 1907 Louise had returned to La Salle to live with her son Napoleon. There would have been several great-grandchildren by this point.  My Dad would be born in 1909, so Louise would have had the opportunity to hold that great-grandchild.

Louise Bernardin died June 2, 1912 at the age of 87, having outlived two husbands.  She is buried in the La Salle Cemetery, in the same plot as her grandson Arthur. Although her gravestone gives her year of birth as 1825, her baptismal record states 1824.


Grave of "Grandma Louise" La Salle Cemetery

Grave of “Grandma Louise”
La Salle Cemetery

And this is the descent from Louise to Mémère:

1-Marie Louise BERNARDIN (24 Sep 1824-2 Jun 1912)
+Paul GIRARDIN (14 Oct 1804-29 Sep 1878)
2-Napoleon GIRARDIN (8 Apr 1851-16 May 1929)
+Onesime ALLARD (20 May 1852-29 May 1896)
3-Marie Emma GIRARDIN (23 Jun 1878-28 Aug 1979)

The Girardins move again

In 1885, the Girardin and Bernardin families were on the move again. They sold their properties near present-day Carman, Manitoba and moved to a newly-created settlement area near St. Alphonse and Bruxelles. We don’t know the reason for this move, but can assume that it was in pursuit of better economic opportunities.

As before, the family members moved together, and chose to settle very near to each other. Louise, her sons Napoleon, Edouard, Simeon, Oliver, as well as her daughter, Caroline Hamel, moved to Bruxelles. Louise’s brother, Joseph Bernardin, and his sons Joseph, Louis and Dosithe, moved to St. Alphonse.

Library and Archives Canada has some images from their database Land Grants of Western Canada 1870-1930.

Patent issued 18 Apr 1891 to Napoleon Girardin for NE Section 31 of Township 6, Range 11, West of principal meridian

There were other changes occurring in these families. Louise, widowed for nine years, remarried on April 10, 1887 to Bruno Charbonneau, also a widower.

Louise’s younger sons were also finding wives.
Simeon Girardin married Helene Rheault in 1889.
Edouard Girardin married Marie Paradis in 1891.
Oliver Girardin married Albertine Rousseau in 1891.
(Louise’s youngest child, Jean-Baptiste Girardin, is said to have become an Oblate missionary. I’ve found no documentation for that.)

Louise was gaining more grandchildren, among them were Mémère’s siblings. Arthur had been born as soon as Napoleon and Onesime had arrived in Manitoba. He was followed by Albert, Napoleon, Marie Maximillenne, Geraldine, Telesphore, Marie Helene, Florent and Caroline.

Tragedy would strike in several ways. Edouard’s wife was unfaithful and left him. Six of Oliver’s seven children, by 1900, had died young, of typhoid and influenza. But the greatest tragedy for Mémère was the death on May 29, 1896 of her mother, Onesime Allard. Family lore is that she died pregnant with her 14th child. Mémère, a month shy of her 18th birthday, would take on the responsibility of helping raise the family.

From Massachusetts to Manitoba

So, how and why did Mémère (Emma Girardin) move from Massachusetts to Manitoba? The answer to that question centers around the political and social situation that followed the Red River Resistance of 1870 and the creation of the Province of Manitoba.

John Welsted tells us in his book The Geography of Manitoba: Its Land and Its People:

“By 1870, the year of the first Manitoba census, over 80 percent of the population of over 12,000 was of mixed Native and European ancestry. The French-speaking mixed-bloods, most of whom were Roman Catholic, numbered 5,754 (48.1 percent). The mostly Protestant English-speaking mixed-blood numbered 4,083 (40.8 percent).”

These numbers would quickly change. The federal government  wanted to encourage the settlement of western Canada. To this end it passed the Dominion Lands Act in 1872, which gave a free quarter section (160 acres) of free land to people who settled in western Canada. A settler needed to pay a $10 registration fee, and, of course, have money for equipment and seed.

In 1877, according to this article in the Manitoba Free Press, 6511 people immigrated to Manitoba, over half of them from Ontario.

Manitoba Free Press March 2, 1878

Manitoba Free Press March 2, 1878

Although Manitoba was created as a bilingual province with protections for the French language and Catholic schools, it attracted many English-speaking Protestant settlers from Ontario. This was a worrisome trend, especially to the Roman Catholic clergy in Manitoba, most notably Archbishop Tache.

The Archbishop encouraged the creation of La Société de Colonisation du Manitoba in 1874. Its aim was to persuade French-speaking Catholics in Quebec and New England to come to Manitoba. They placed ads in newspapers, and hired immigration agents to encourage French-speaking settlers to take up the offer of free land.

Here’s an example of the type of advertising used in the United States.

Were Paul Girardin and Louise Bernardin tired of city life in Worcester, Massachusetts?  Perhaps they longed for the rural life they had known in Quebec. Whatever the reason, the year 1878 found Paul and Louise with four of their sons, Edouard, Olivier, Simeon and Jean Baptiste, as well as Louise’s brother, Joseph Bernardin, his wife Marie Peloquin and 7 of their children come to Manitoba.

Paul and Louise were leaving behind their daughter Caroline, married to Pierre Hamel; daughter Rosilda, who would later marry Louis Arthur Gourdeau; their unmarried son Charles; son Napoleon and daughter-in-law Onesime Allard.

The trip would have been by train to Minnesota, and then by boat on the Red River. I don’t know exactly what date they arrived, but perhaps they were part of this group described in a newspaper article.

Manitoba Free Press Apr 27, 1878 from Manitobia

Manitoba Free Press Apr 27, 1878 from Manitobia

By July 12, 1878, both families had obtained homesteads in the St.Daniel, Ilets-de-Bois area (near present-day Carmen, Manitoba).

There is a puzzling question about Paul Girardin. He died September 29, 1878. I can’t make out the cause of death on his registration, although I can see that he was sick for a week before he died.

Paul Girardin death registration

Paul Girardin death registration

The death wasn’t registered until June 24, 1884.  The informant was Father Kavanagh, who presumably would have presided over the burial (a location I have yet to find). The puzzle is that Louise is the one whose name is on the homestead, and not Paul’s. Regulations stated that only women who were the head of a family could apply for a homestead.

Eventually Louise, her sons Edouard, Oliver and Simeon all had homesteads adjacent to those of Louise’s brother Joseph Bernardin and his sons, Louis, Dosithee and Edouard.

In 1879 a nephew of Louise’s, called Charles Bernardin, came for the first of two short visits to Manitoba, but eventually settled back in Massachusetts.

In 1880 Louise’s son Napoleon with wife Onesime Allard and daughter Emma (Mémère) arrived in Manitoba. Mémère was 2 years old and Onesime was very pregnant. She gave birth to  a son, Arthur, August 2nd in Winnipeg and shortly afterwards they went to live with Louise.

Sometime in 1882, Louise’s daughter Caroline left her husband in Massachusetts and came to Manitoba with her four daughters, Marie, Emma, Lea and Louise. She then gave birth to a son, Edouard,  on September 29th.

In 1884, Louise’s son Charles must have come for a visit, as his son, Charles Wilfred, was born here. By 1886 Charles, his wife Stephanie Rondeau, and family were back in Massachusetts. Do you think it was the weather than dissuaded them from settling here?

In the long run, the effort to attract French-speaking Catholics to Manitoba met with little success. From the website Manitobia we learn:

By 1891 French-speakers accounted for only 7.3 per cent of the population.

Oh my! From 48.1 % of the population in 1870 to just 7.3 % 21 years later.

Meanwhile the Girardin and Bernardin families, showing what appears to be a very strong sense of optimism, made yet another move in 1885!

July 1, 1867

Today is Canada Day! It is 148 years since Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia united to become the Dominion of Canada.

FATHERS OF CONFEDERATION IN LONDON / From the original painting by J.D. Kelly Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. R1300-360

FATHERS OF CONFEDERATION IN LONDON / From the original painting by J.D. Kelly
Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. R1300-360


Now, none of our Hogue and Girardin ancestors had anything to do with Confederation! However, I was inspired by a very interesting and educational program that ran in the 1950s on CBS, hosted by the noted journalist Walter Cronkite, called YOU ARE THERE. It featured re-enactments of pivotal events in history, as if they were happening in the present, and included reporters interviewing the major characters. Every episode ended with the tagline

“What kind of a day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times. And you were there.”

You are there

I thought it would be interesting to document which of my Dad’s direct ancestors were alive on July 1, 1867. Turns out there were 15 of them.

Here they are with their ages and place of residence on that momentous day.

On the Hogue side:

Josephte Belisle, about 82 (lots of confusion about her birth date). Living in St. Charles, in the Red River Settlement, near or with her son William.

William McMillan, age 61, married to Margaret Dease, about 49 years old, living on the banks of the Assiniboine River, on what is now called the St. James side.

Thomas Hogue, Sr., 26 years old, married to Philomene McMillan, 19 years old, living on the banks of the Assiniboine River, Lot 60 St. Charles in the Red River Settlement.

Marguerite Taylor, about 62, living in Red River Settlement with family, possibly Thomas and Philomene, as she is with them in the 1870 Census.

On the Girardin side:

Charlotte Taillefer, age 69, widowed, living in Warwick, Canada East.

Paul Girardin, age 62, married to Louise Bernardin, age 42. They were either still in Kingsey, Canada East, or may have already moved to Worcester Massachusetts.

Napoleon Girardin, age 16, and living with his parents in either Kingsey or Worcester.

Joseph Pierre Allard, age 41, married to Marie Bonin, age 39, living in St. Hyacinthe, Canada East.

Jean Baptiste Bonin, age 68, married to Marie Amable Dupre, age 66, living in St. Ours, Richelieu, Canada East.

Onesime Allard, age 15, living with her parents in St. Hyacinthe.

Happy Canada Day everyone!


So why did Paul Girardin, his wife, Louise Bernardin, and their family move to Worcester, Massachusetts? Research indicates that they were not the only Quebec family to do so. According to the article French Canadian Emigration to the United States, 1840=1930 by Damien-Claude Belanger and Claude Belanger:

“Between 1840 and 1930 roughly 900 000 French Canadians left Canada to emigrate to the United States.”

There were many economic reasons for this emigration movement. Life was hard in rural Quebec. The population was expanding at a faster rate than agricultural land could support. The New England states were an easy train ride from Quebec and wages in the U.S. factories could provide a higher standard of living for a family.

In the same article we learn:

“Often, the emigration of an entire nuclear family would begin with the departure of a couple of its members who would sound out the general situation in a given town and then would send for the rest of their family. Cousins, uncles and nephews would often join the initial family before bringing their own relatives down, creating a pattern of settlement where family ties became the primary source of support and information in the United States.”

In the book The French-Canadian Heritage in New England by Gerard J. Brault, we learn:

“Immigrants wrote enthusiastic letters home or, when visiting, forcefully pointed out the advantages of living and working in New England mill towns.”


“Some industries actively recruited labor from Canada, especially in the years immediately before and after the Civil War.”

Were Paul and Louisa encouraged to move by other family members? Were they approached by recruiters? I am still trying to piece together exactly when the various members of the families moved. It is a time-consuming process, searching census, marriage, death records and city directories, but one I confess to enjoy!

To begin with, two of Louise Bernardin’s siblings are found in Lowell, Massachusetts in the 1870 U.S. Census. Charles Michel Bernardin is with his wife Victoire Peloquin and family. Joseph Bernardin is with his wife Marie Peloquin and family. They may have returned to Warwick, Quebec at some point. Several of Charles Michel’s children married in Massachusetts,  he died in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1890, and a great many of his descendants stayed in Massachusetts.

And what of the Girardin families? Two of Paul Girardin’s brothers, Antoine and Casmir are in the 1870 U.S. Census for West Boylston, Worcester, Massachusetts. Antoine’s and Casmir’s children, ages 10 to 19, are working in the cotton mills. Another Girardin researcher has determined that Antoine and Casmir were paying taxes in Massachusetts by 1869.

I have not, yet, been able to find Paul and Louise in the 1870 U.S. census, although I suspect they were there. The earliest record I’ve found is when their daughter Caroline Girardin married Pierre Hamel on July 4, 1871 in Worcester.

In the 1873 city directory for Worcester, we find Paul and his son Napoleon, who is listed as a shoemaker. By 1877, Napoleon’s brother Charles Girardin is also in the directory. Both Charles and  Napoleon are listed as working at 9 Barton Place. Further research revealed that 9 Barton Place was the address of H.B. Fay & Co. Bootmakers.


Worcester, Massachusetts, City Directory, 1876

Worcester, Massachusetts, City Directory, 1876


Shoe factories were a thriving business in Worcester. Hours were long and the work was tedious. Here’s a picture of a  factory in Lynn, Massachusetts in the 1870s.


In terms of direct family history the most important event to occur was the marriage of Napoleon Girardin to Onesime Allard September 29, 1873 in Worcester.

Girardin Allard marriage

Notice the spellings of their names on their marriage certificate…Jourdan and Allerd! French Canadian names were often mangled in census records and directories.

Onesime had been born 20 May 1852 in St-Denis-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. In the 1871 Census of Canada she was still living at home with her parents. I don’t know when or why she came to Massachusetts. Two of her brothers, Joseph and Frederic can be found in Massachusetts by 1877. That’s the year Joseph’s daughter Laura was born and Frederic married. Frederic’s wife died young, he returned to Quebec, married again and died there. Joseph remained in Massachusetts, also marrying a second time after his wife’s death. He died in 1920.

Paul Girardin and Onesime Allard had three daughters who died tragically young:

Georgia Girardin born 18 Oct 1874 and died 22 Feb 1878 of inflammation of the bowels
Lydia Girardin born 11 Nov 1875 and died 12 Jul 1876 of cholera
Marie Diana born 1 Mar 1877 and died 1 Aug 1877, no cause of death given

Infant death was not uncommon. Napoleon’s sister Caroline, wife of Pierre Hamel, also buried two young daughters in Massachusetts in 1876 and 1877.

All three of Napoleon and Onesime’s daughters were dead by the time Mémère, Emma Girardin, was born 23 Jun 1878.

Girardin Emma birth1878Again we have mangled surnames…Girard and “Olisseum Allore”.

So, there you have the story of how Mémère came to be born in Massachusetts.  How did we end up in Manitoba?

Stay tuned.