A trial in Red River

Recently the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre presented the play Sarah Ballenden by local playwright Maureen Hunter.  The play is rooted in the historical trial of Foss vs. Pelly that took place in July 1850 in the Red River Settlement.

Sarah Mcleod Ballenden was a Metis woman married to a Hudson Bay Company Chief Factor, John Ballenden. Rumors were circulating that she was having an inappropriate relationship with a soldier, Captain Christopher Foss. In order to clear her name, Foss brought charges of defamation against four members of the community who were the source of the allegations: A.E. Pelly, accountant for HBC; his wife Anne Pelly; John Davidson, the mess cook; his English wife, a servant.

Much has been written about the trial and the issues of class and racism in the settlement.  It is not my intent to analyze this historical event. Readers who wish to know more can read Sylvia Van Kirk’s article “The Reputation of a Lady”: Sarah Ballenden and the Foss-Pelly Scandal at http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/mb_history/11/fosspellyscandal.shtml#24

Dale Gibson’s has an account of the trial in his book Law, Life, and Government at Red River: General Quarterly Court of Assiniboia, Annotated Records, 1844-1872, excerpts of which you can read on Google Books.

What piqued my interest was the fact that I have Hogue, McMillan and Dease ancestors living in Red River during this time frame. During the play there were references to Governor Simpson having abandoned his country wife years earlier.  Of course, the country wife was Margaret Taylor, my great-great grandmother, whom I’ve written about here.

I wondered if any of my ancestors were on the jury. Thanks to the digitization of records on the Archives of Manitoba website, I was able to see the list of jurors.

Jury

District of Assiniboia General Quarterly Court District of Assiniboia General Quarterly Court, 1844-1851, Digital Image Number: PR16-002638.jpg Location Code: P7538/1

 

At first glance I thought, no ancestors there.  Then a couple of days later I took a second look.  One name stood out…Thomas Logan. Checking back through my files there he was… the brother-in-law of my great-great grandmother, Margaret Dease.  Thomas Logan was married to Margaret’s sister, Mary Anne.

Naturally I wondered what his opinions on the trial would have been, given that he was married to a Metis woman.  As I delved further into his background I discovered he was the son of Robert Logan and Mary, a Saulteaux Indian, so he was also Metis.

Thomas Logan scrip

Scrip affidavit for Logan, Thomas, from Library and Archives Canada, MIKAN NO. 1502263

Further research revealed that after Thomas’s mother died,  his father, Robert Logan, married Sarah Ingham, a white European widow, who was a schoolteacher.  Sylvia Van Kirk in her book Many Tender Ties, states that:

“The family of retired Chief Factor Robert Logan had particularly opposed their father’s marriage to Mrs. Ingham”.

Reading the transcript of the trial, Mrs. Logan’s name comes up several times.

Mrs. John Black (Margaret Christie, a Metis woman married to a HBC officer) said:

“I have heard Mrs. Logan state that Mrs. Ballenden was a woman that must always have a sweetheart as well as a husband.” and

“Mrs. Logan told me they were very intimate.”

Mrs. Cockran (wife of the Anglican Rev. William Cockran) testified:

‘I have heard reports, and questions has [sic] been put to me.  Mrs. Logan told me, & informed me that she had spoken to Mrs. Ballenden about it.”

The testimony of most of the witnesses for the defendants was hearsay.  There was a definite undertone of “white” superiority and racism.  So what would it have been like for Thomas Logan, a Metis, with a Metis mother and wife to hear his stepmother’s opinions? We can only guess.

I also noticed that one of the witnesses for the plaintiff was a Mr. Nathaniel Logan, a clerk for Mr. John Ballenden. Thomas had a brother Nathaniel who worked for HBC, and this could have been him.

In the end Foss won his case and damages were assessed against the defendants. However the rumors did not go away and Sarah Ballenden found herself shunned by many of the elites of the community.  She died three years later at the age of thirty-five.

So, what is the point of this post?  Obviously none of my direct ancestors were involved.  However, five of my direct ancestors (Margaret Taylor, Amable Hogue, William McMillan, Margaret Dease, and Genevieve Beignet) were adults living in the Red River Settlement at this time.  All of them, except for Amable, who was French-Canadian, were Metis. This is the social climate they lived in. These are the prejudices they experienced.

The pursuit of genealogy research for me is not just finding the names and dates for my ancestors, but placing them in the historical, social milieu in which they lived. And THAT is the reason for today’s post.

 

 

For all the Fathers and Grandfathers

I had many lovely comments on my Mother’s Day post of pictures, so I thought I would do the same thing for Father’s Day.

My maternal grandfather was George Vaillancourt.  He was born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec. He was married twice. His first wife died leaving him with a one-year old son.  He then married my grandmother, Marie Anne Girard.  They lived in Trois-Rivières, in Trochu, Alberta, and in Regina, Saskatchewan, before settling in Manitoba. He died long before my brothers and I were born, at the age of 65, and is supposedly buried in St. Anne’s, Manitoba, although I haven’t yet found a grave.

Vailancourt George

George Vaillancourt 1869-1935

 

On my paternal side, the oldest picture I have is of Allan “Glenpean” McMillan, my fourth great grandfather.  Born in Scotland, he was instrumental in bringing settlers to Ontario, in what was know as the Lochaber Emigration. I wrote about him here.  He died at the age of  71 and is buried in St. Andrews United Church Cemetery in Williamstown, Ontario.

McMillan Allan

Allan “Glenpean” McMillan 1752-1823

 

My third great grandfather was James McMillan, also born in Scotland, who came to Canada with his family. I wrote about him here.  His country wife was Josephte Belisle, my ancestor. He died back in Glasgow, Scotland at the age of 75.  I don’t have a picture of him, but I do have this picture of his statue at Fort Langley, British Columbia, courtesy of Joan Sanderson.

McMillan James b1782

James McMillan 1782-1858

 

My second great grandfather was William McMillan.  He was born near present day Edmonton and  eventually moved to the Red River Settlement where he married Margaret Dease.  He was a  very interesting man whom I wrote about here.  His obituary claimed he was 103, but I’m sure that’s not true.  He is buried in St. Charles Cemetery, Winnipeg.

McMillan William

William McMillan 1806-1903

 

My great grandfather was Thomas Hogue. He was the son of Amable Hogue, whom I wrote about here. (Sadly I don’t have a picture.)  He married Philomene McMillan and lived in St. Charles before moving to La Salle, Manitoba around 1893.  I wrote about him here. He died at the age of 83, and is buried in the St. Hyacinthe Cemetery in La Salle.

Hogue Thomas Sr.

Thomas Hogue Sr. 1840-1924

 

My other great grandfather was Napoleon Girardin. Napoleon was born in Kingsey, Quebec and emigrated to Worcester, Massachusetts, where he married Onesime Allard.  They eventually emigrated to Manitoba, and Napoleon settled in La Salle, after the untimely death of Onesime. At the age of 71 he married again.  I wrote about him here. He died, aged 78 and is buried in an unmarked grave in La Salle.

Girardin Napoleon

Napoleon Girardin 1851-1929

 

My grandfather was Thomas Joseph Hogue. He was born in St. Charles, moved to La Salle with his parents, and was the first constable of the village. He was married to Emma Girardin.  They are, of course, the Pépère and Mémère of my blog posts! I wrote about him here. He died at the age of 75 and is buried in Assumption Cemetery, Winnipeg.

Hogue Thomas Jr.

Thomas Joseph Hogue 1879-1955

 

And then my father, Joseph Thomas Hogue. He was born in La Salle, but eventually moved to Winnipeg.  A welder by trade, he died much too soon after retirement. He died just before his 63rd birthday, and is buried in Assumption Cemetery, Winnipeg.

Hogue Thomas b1909

Joseph Thomas Hogue 1909-1972

 

Still miss you Dad!

A tribute to my brother

Six months ago, on January 9, 2017, my brother Donald died.  I am grateful that I was able to be with him in St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver at the time.

Donald John Hogue was born July 18, 1937 and spent the first few years of his life in La Salle, Manitoba. He had a few health problems as a child including a bout of polio. Here are some of my favourite photos of him as a child.

Believe it or not, there was a time when a photographer would go door to door with a pony offering to take pictures!  How could a mother say no?

Don on horse

Don on a pony

Here’s a picture with his big brother and Mémère in La Salle.

IMG_0004

In La Salle

This portrait is, I suspect, from his First Communion at St. Ann’s.

Don First Communion

Studio portrait

 

His dapper look in this photo foretold a lifelong habit of stylish dressing.

Don in suit

How dapper!

Don was eleven years older than I was, and he left home, Winnipeg, when he was nineteen.  Like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, he was “off to see the world”.

Don waving

Waving goodbye at the train station

He didn’t see that much of the world before being captivated by the beauty of Vancouver.

Don on Cornwall

Happy in Vancouver

I remember many train trips, traveling on Dad’s CN pass, to visit him in that gorgeous city.

Don and Jackie

Don and me in Vancouver

 

Later he moved to Toronto, for business reasons. Any time he came “home” to Winnipeg, we all made a fuss.

3 brothers

Don and his brothers, Christmas 1996

Don always made time to take me aside on these visits,  and really listen to what I had to say about whatever was going on in my life at the time.  When I had children myself he did the same thing, finding time during a visit to really inquire about their interests. Clearing out his apartment after his death, I came across all the photo albums/scrapbooks that he kept, filled with birth/wedding announcements for all of the extended family.  The tears flowed when I saw those reminders that, despite living away, he held us close in his heart.

When circumstances allowed him to move back to the coast, he jumped at the chance. He loved the ocean and the mountains.  If, as I believe, a human’s life is measured by their effect on other people, then Don’s was a great success, for he truly made a difference in so many people’s lives, especially through his involvement in AA.  The many friends I met in Vancouver when he died were testament to that truth.

Two friends in particular were the sole reason Don was able to continue to live his life with dignity and independence in his apartment.  They know who they are, and they also know they have my eternal gratitude.

Don

Donald John Hogue

Rest in peace dear brother.

 

For all the Mothers and Grandmothers

It’s Mother’s Day.  Time to honour all the Mothers and Grandmothers who came before me. How I wish I had pictures of ALL my female ancestors! Here are the ones I do have. Strong women, every one!

Louise Girardin nee Bernardin 1824-1912

Louise Bernardin Girardin 1824-1912

Louise, my great-great grandmother, died at the age of 87, having outlived two husbands, born 10 children, and emigrated four times, from Quebec to Massachusetts to Manitoba, back to Massachusetts, then finally back to Manitoba.

Onesime Girardin nee Allard 1852-1896

Onesime Allard Girardin 1852-1896

Louise’s daughter-in-law, my great grandmother Onesime, emigrated twice, first from Quebec to Massachusetts,  where she married (and buried her first three daughters), and then  to Manitoba. She died at the age of 44, pregnant with her 14th child.

Girardin Emma b1878

Emma Girardin Hogue 1878-1979

Onesime’s daughter Emma, my grandmother (Mémère) died at the age of 101, having raised her siblings after her Mother’s early death, born 8 children, and outlived her husband and all her siblings.  She had emigrated from Massachusetts to Manitoba as a child.

Margaret McMillan nee Dease 1818-1905

Margaret Dease McMillan 1818-1905

Margaret, my great-great grandmother, one of my Metis ancestors, died at age 87 having born 9 children and outlived her husband. She lived most of her life in the Red River Settlement.

Philomene Hogue nee McMillan 1848-1923

Philomene McMillan Hogue 1848-1923

Margaret’s daughter Philomene, my great grandmother, died at 75, just months before her husband.  She had 9 children.

Marie Anne Vaillancourt nee Girard 1881-1975

Marie Anne Girard Vaillancourt 1881-1975

Marie Anne is my maternal grandmother who died at the age of 94, having born 9 children and outlived her husband by 40 years.  She moved from Quebec to Alberta, back to Quebec, then back to Saskatchewan, and eventually Manitoba. (As an aside, this is the ONLY picture I have in which she’s smiling!)

Madeleine Hogue nee Vaillancourt 1916-2006

Madeleine Vaillancourt Hogue 1916-2006

And here’s my Mother, Madeleine, who died at the age of 90, having outlived Dad by 24 years, and born 5 children.  She was born in Quebec and moved to Saskatchewan as a child, and then to Manitoba. Still “talk” to her everyday.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

A Spanish connection

A catchy title, right?  It’s not that we have any Spanish ancestry, but, having returned from a holiday in beautiful Spain, I did come back with a picture to share.

General Castanos

General Francisco Javier Castaños

One of the many museums we enjoyed on our trip was the Museo Historico Militar in Seville.  I admit my husband was a bit more interested than I was.  However, remembering that my great-great-great-grandfather, Jean Baptiste Bernardin, a Napoleonic soldier, had been captured in Spain, I kept my eyes peeled for any mention of that specific French-Spanish conflict.

I was not disappointed.  The picture above shows a bust of General Francisco Javier Castaños, who was the head of the Andalusian Army that was victorious at the Battle of Bailen on July 19th, 1808.  That’s the battle in which Jean Baptiste Bernardin was captured.  You can read my post with his story here.

New Year’s Day Levée

levee

On New Year’s Day my husband and I attended the Lieutenant Governor’s New Year Levée, held at the Manitoba Legislative Building. I knew it was an annual event, one of those things I told myself that we should attend…someday.  Since 2017 is a special year, the celebration of 150 years since Confederation, I decided that this would be the year.

According to news reports, about 1300 people attended this year’s celebration, and judging by the number of cars parked in the area, that seems about right.

I stood in line to shake Lieutenant Governor Janice Filmon’s hand, as well as other dignitaries. Fruitcake, cookies and punch were served.  Musical entertainment was provided. I came away with a Canada 150 flag and pin, as pictured above.

A levée is a reception held “to mark the advent of another year and to provide an opportunity for the public to pay their respects.” You can read more about the levée here.

The tradition of a New Year Levée has a long history in Canada. The first recorded one was hosted in 1646 by the Governor of New France, Charles Huault de Montmagny, in the Château St. Louis in Quebec City.

chateau_saint-louis

Château St. Louis From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

 

We have many ancestors that were in the Quebec City area in 1646 and may have attended the Levée.  There is no way to know for sure, but perhaps these ancestors  paid their respects to the Governor: Abraham Martin, Olivier le Tardif, Jean Guyon , Zacharie Cloutier, Robert Drouin. You’ll notice that these are all men, as women were not ALLOWED to attend until World War II, when female members of the Armed Forces were permitted to join the event!

On the wonderful website Manitobia, I found a description of the Manitoba Levée of 1873.

capture

capture2capture3

Again, we can’t know if any of our ancestors and relations were in attendance.  However, the Mr. Beauchemin, MPP (Member of the Provincial Parliament) who is mentioned, would have been Andre Beauchemin, uncle of Jean Baptiste Beauchemin who was married to my great-grandmother Philomene McMillan’s sister Marguerite.

During the time of the fur trade, a New Year’s celebration was the custom at the various forts. These seem to have been less subdued occasions. In the book Making the Voyageur World: Travelers and Traders in the North American Fur Trade by Carolyn Podruchny, excerpts of which are available on Google Books here, we learn:

“Feasting, drinking, and levees, or paying courtesy calls on masters (particularly on New Year’s Day), were characteristic of celebrations in fur trade society.”

Undoubtedly James McMillan, John Warren Dease and Amable Hogue would have partaken in these festivities.

I seem to remember my Mother mentioning that in La Salle, it was the custom for families to visit the grandfathers on New Year’s Day.

I enjoyed attending the Lieutenant Governor’s New Year Levée of 2017, and it resulted in a brief moment of “fame”.  That evening on Global News as we watched their coverage of the event, my husband and I walked into the frame!