Rooster Town: Part 1

A couple of years ago a friend, and follower of this blog, asked me if I had read the book Rooster Town: The History of an Urban Métis Community, 1901-1961. She mentioned there was a Pierre Hogue in the book, and thought that surely it must be a relation.

The book, written by Evelyn Peters, Matthew Stock, and Adrian Werner, examines the history and social structure of a Métis community that existed on the outskirts of the city of Winnipeg and was eventually disbanded to make way for a shopping centre and high school.

Even though I grew up in Winnipeg I didn’t know about Rooster Town while it existed. There was a newspaper article in 2003 that I remember (a sad story I will tell in another post) and that same year the Millennium Library had an exhibit about Rooster Town.

I read the book, and also the article Rooster Town: Winnipeg’s Lost Métis Suburb, 1900-1960 by David G. Burley, published in Urban History Review/Revue, Volume 42, Issue 1, Fall 2013. You can read it here. The book and the article have sent me on a long and winding research journey. Every time I thought I was almost finished my blog post I found another story to explore.

So what and where was this Rooster Town?

First, some necessary background. After Manitoba became a province in 1870, a Census was taken of all people (First Nations, Métis and white) living in Manitoba as of July 16, 1870. The result showed approximately 12,000 people living here, with almost 10,000 of them being Métis. The Manitoba Act had promised that the existing inhabitants would have their land title recognized, and that land would be reserved for the Métis and their children.

The promise wasn’t kept.

A system of awarding scrip (for land or money) was devised that had many problems. The federal government delayed the process. In the meantime new white settlers from Ontario were flooding into our new province, intent on obtaining farms and starting businesses, ignoring the original inhabitants whom they considered ignorant and uncivilized. Corruption and the greed of land speculators meant that many Métis families never received the land that had been promised. Some Métis left for what is now Saskatchewan and Alberta. Others drifted into areas just outside larger settlements. In such areas they could construct basic shelters, be close to kin, speak their language, and still access labour opportunities in the city. One such area was Rooster Town.

A short-lived real estate boom in 1881/82 resulted in surveying of land on the southern edge of Fort Rouge on the outskirts of Winnipeg. The boom burst, and it was this land that grew into Rooster Town. There was no electricity, water or sewer services. Water had to be hauled from Dudley and Cambridge unless you could afford to have it delivered. People built their own small shanties out of whatever materials they could afford or scavenge. They made improvements to their dwellings when they could.

Eventually city lots were developed, and over the decades, the settlement gradually moved further south. The Rooster Town residents were not all squatters. Some were eventually able to buy their lot, and paid taxes on their homes. Some even rented their homes to others. Many had seasonal jobs as labourer or domestics.

From Burley’s article, a map that shows how the boundaries of Rooster Town changed over the years.

“Note: The ovals do not exactly define Rooster Town. Rather, they identify an area within which Métis families resided at different periods and show the movement south and concentration of residences over time. Not all Métis families in Fort Rouge were located within these boundaries, and other ethnic groups lived in these areas.”

Readers from Winnipeg will see that the settlement was bound by Cambridge and Harrow Streets. At one time the northern most point would be Jessie Street, and the southern boundary was the Canadian National Railway. Until 1955 what is now Grant Avenue was a railway track, the Harte Line of the CNR. (See this very interesting article about Scotland Avenue!).

Their is no definitive answer to where the name came from. Some researchers claim that the residents themselves called the area Pakan. In the media however, the name Rooster Town stuck.

The authors of the book say the first reference they found to the name Rooster Town was a newspaper article September 30, 1909 in the Manitoba Free Press.

Wild orgies? Really? This is one of numerous article in the media that painted the inhabitants of Rooster Town as degenerate, lazy etc. Prejudice against the Métis, was widespread, as indicated by many articles in the newspapers. Typical of the language used were terms like “filthy” and “decrepit community”.

When the University of Winnipeg’s Dr. Evelyn Peters was beginning her research for the book, she was quoted as saying:

“However, we have found quite a few people who remember Rooster Town as a vibrant Metis community, presenting quite a different view of the shanty town than the mainstream City and newspaper one. People remember fiddlers, dancing, ball teams, and mutual support. Families owned or rented their houses, paid taxes, and worked in seasonal jobs including working for the City of Winnipeg.”

As the book and the article both make clear, the existence of this settlement allowed marginalized families, mostly but not exclusively Métis, to make a living among kin and friends. Their children went to the local schools and churches. In a city environment that was prejudiced and offered few opportunities, these people who had so little were making do.

The size of the population varied as residents died, or moved, or returned. New members, often with kinship ties moved in. Like the rest of the city they experienced the hardships of World War 1, the Depression, and World War 2. In 1941 there were 50 households and about 250 people.

As the area now known as River Heights was developed and a new school, Rockwood, was built in 1950, the concern over Rooster Town garnered more attention. A school trustee reported to the school board that parents were complaining about the Rooster Town students spreading disease. Sensational stories and pictures then appeared in the newspapers, with headlines such as “Village of Patched-Up Shacks Scene of Appalling Squalor” (Winnipeg Free Press, December 20, 1951).

When the Canadian National Railway decided to sell its land to the City of Winnipeg plans were made for the construction of a new high school and a shopping mall. This was the beginning of the end for Rooster Town. Suburbia had engulfed the settlement. In 1959 the City sold land to the Winnipeg School Division to build Grant Park High School. There were 14 remaining Rooster Town families on the land. The City offered them $75 if they moved by the 1st of May, $50 if they left by the end of June, and if they did neither they would be forcibly evicted. On May 12th, 1959, The Winnipeg Tribune printed this news story.

I don’t know who that last holdout was. Previously on May 12th, the Tribune noted that according to the city welfare department:

Three families of 13 persons, squatting on school property at the Nathaniel Grant school site, applied for aid in finding new quarters.”

The same article explained that:

many old tenements and rooming houses, where low rental accommodation is available, are being torn down to make way for new buildings, thus removing a large number of housing units.”

By this time suburbanization was proceeding at a rapid pace and finding affordable housing was a problem in the city. As Professor Burley points out:

By the 1950s the land occupied by Rooster Town was much too valuable to remain a refuge for the poor and unwanted.”.

After reading the book I discovered my friend was right…the Pierre Hogue in the book is a relative. He is my first cousin twice removed. His father was Amable Hogue (1833-1892), son of Louis Amable Hogue and Marguerite Taylor, and brother to my great-grandfather Thomas Hogue, Sr. (1840-1924). Of course I wondered what circumstances led to Pierre living in Rooster Town and started researching what I knew and didn’t know about this branch of the family tree.

To start, I looked at the 1870 Census of Manitoba, taken just after Manitoba became a province. Amable is listed with his family as living in St. Charles, as are his brothers Thomas, Antoine, Joseph, and Louis.

Library Archives Canada digitized page of Census of Manitoba, 1870
for Image No.: e010985555

All of the brothers applied for scrip, and received the scrip worth $160 in July 1876.

The Genealogy of the First Metis Nation compiled by D.N. Sprague and R.P. Frye includes a table showing Recognition of River Lot Occupants by the Government of Canada. You can view it on the website for the University of Calgary’s Libraries and Cultural Resources Digital Collection here. It shows that all the brothers have river lots in St. Charles. Joseph on lot 56, Amable on lot 57, Thomas on lot 60, Antoine on lot 61 and Louis on lot 105 plus lot 3 in St. James.

All the Hogue brothers held patent to their land, except that by 1881 Amable’s lot 57 in St. Charles is held by Emily Roblin. Who would that be? A search of the 1881 Census of Canada shows an Emily Roblin, wife of Finlay Roblin. Emily was born in Ontario, and her husband’s occupation is that of “Real Estate Agent“. A search of Library and Archives Canada’s database Land Grants of Western Canada reveals that Emily held patents for 2 other lots. Hmm…I don’t know why Amable would have given up his land, but like many he may have been tempted by the speculators who were ready to offer cash. I did determine that Finlay and Emily Roblin never lived on the lot and emigrated to Oregon by 1888.

By 1881 Amable’s family was living in Baie St. Paul, near his brother-in-law Francis Morrissette. Amable died in 1892. His widow Betsy Morrissette remarried in 1899, was widowed again in 1901, and died in 1914.

But what about Pierre Hogue? He was actually baptized as Antoine Hogue on the 26 May 1877 in Baie St. Paul. He’s enumerated as Antoine in the 1881 and 1891 censuses. When he married Julienne Henry (daughter of John Henry and Melanie Vandal) on 10 Jan 1901 in St. Boniface, he’s listed as Pierre. In the 1901 census the newly married couple (he’s still Pierre) are living in St. Boniface with his widowed mother and a young girl Philomene Vivier. She’s listed as an adopted daughter, but is actually his niece, the daughter of his sister Virginie. (Philomene married in 1905 and by 1906 is living with her husband, mother, stepfather and siblings.) Pierre can’t read or write, but speaks both French and English and is employed as a farm labourer.

Jump ahead to the 1906 Census and he’s now Peter Hogg and the family is living on what the enumerators call Mulvey Street in Rooster Town. There are street names but no actual streets! They have two sons, Mab (Amable) and James.

I don’t believe this was a deliberate effort to anglicize their name. I have found many records for the all the Hogue families where the name Hogg is used instead.

In 1915 during World War I Peter had signed up for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The marriage must have been under strain, because he claimed to be single and gave an aunt’s name and address as next of kin. This meant that his pay would not be sent to his wife, Julia, but to his aunt! Married men had to have their wife’s permission to enlist. I guess Julie didn’t want to give it. Perhaps his aunt shared the money?

In the 1916 census he is enumerated as Peter Hog, listed as overseas, but still attached to the record for Julie and his son Mab, living on Mulvey still. (No record of the other son James has been found).

Peter served overseas in France and received a gunshot wound in his shoulder on May 5th, 1916 at Ypres. He spent months in England in hospital, then was sent back to Canada to spend time in a convalescent hospital in Winnipeg. He was discharged on September 30, 1917. He applied for a military pension and I think it may have been approved.

According to the military records he gave his address in 1917 as Stafford and Fleet when he was discharged. He also states that his last employer had been the City of Winnipeg Sewer Department as a labourer.

With the injury to his arm, Peter must have found it hard to find work. Apparently Peter sometimes lived with Julia, and sometimes with other residents of Rooster Town. In the 1926 Winnipeg’s voters list he is listed as a tenant at 1141 Lorette, where Julia is the owner. It’s a small house with no services.

It’s hard to pinpoint Peter’s whereabouts until 1935 in the Canada Voters List where he is listed as Pete Hogue, labourer, living at 1146 Weatherdon in a household of 9 people, including his son Mab and daughter-in-law Alice.

On the 31st of March, 1939, Peter was walking on the railway tracks near Wilton when he was struck and suffered severe head injuries. He died in hospital on April 3rd.

Winnipeg Tribune, April 4, 1939

The funeral was held at St. Ignatius Church, and he was buried with a military headstone at St. Mary’s Cemetery.

Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 11 July 2021), memorial page for PVT Peter Hogg (1878–1939), Find a Grave Memorial ID 183093256, citing Saint Marys Cemetery, Winnipeg, Greater Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada ; Maintained by Leone Hanson Sigurdson (contributor 47259757) .

As for Julia, she still lived on Lorette, and eventually was joined by Frank Gosselin, a widower. In 1951 her only surviving son, Mab, was struck by a train and died. Shortly after that, Mab’s wife died. In 1955 Julia sold the Lorette home that had now been surrounded by new development. She and Frank moved to 1157 Weatherdon. Frank died in 1958.

Julia’s widowed sister, Mathilda Conway moved in with her. Free Press reporters visited them in 1959 for a story on Rooster Town. It was not a complementary story. In the November 22, 1969 issue of the paper there was an article looking back at Rooster Town. This “Remembrance of Things Past” included a picture of Julia and Mathilda from the 1959 visit. In this very grainy reproduction, in the top left hand corner, you can see a framed wedding picture that shows Peter looking very handsome.

By the end of 1959 she was living in the North End of Winnipeg at 510 Elgin. Another Rooster Town family, Paul and Bernice Parisien lived with her. I can’t track her after that. In 1963 Paul and Bernice were still at 510 Elgin, but Julia wasn’t listed. Her sister Mathilda died in 1965 in the Osborne Nursing Home.

Julia died November 22, 1973. She had outlived her husband, two sons, four sisters, and two brothers. Her only living relative was a brother Archie. Her funeral was at the Immaculate Conception church which is on the corner of Jarvis and Austin off Main Street in Winnipeg. I suppose that she ended up living in that area of the city. She was buried in Assumption Cemetery. ( I don’t know why the obit says her husband was Charles.)

Winnipeg Free Press,Winnipeg, Manitoba Sat, Nov 24, 1973 – Page 39

More Rooster Town stories in the next post.

Reconsidering Canada Day 2021

In the wake of the rediscovery of the graves of Indigenous students at the sites of various former residential schools, there has been discussion about whether this year’s Canada Day should be celebrated or not. In prepandemic times, the 1st of July would be a holiday, a day of festivals, fireworks, barbecues, drinks on a patio.

But what do we celebrate when we choose to celebrate Canada Day? Is it the sanitized version of history we were likely taught in school? Heroes (overwhelming white and male)? Is it the mistaken belief that somehow we are less racist that other countries? More peaceful, more inclusive?

Although I knew about residential schools, it is only recently that I have started reading the report of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Learning the background and history behind the establishment of schools that took Indigenous student away from their families, their homes, their language and their culture.

I have heard and read people who say that the schools were a “good” thing. That the nuns, priests, teachers were well-meaning. That they did what they thought was best. That the children were “better off” in the schools. All of these comments miss their mark.

What those people neglect to remember is this: the stated purpose of establishing the schools in the first place was to “assimilate” the Indigenous people who stood in the way of expanding settlement. The church-run schools had a mission to turn the students into Christians and the government wanted to make way for more white settlers. Colonialism defined.

But let’s call assimilation in this case by its real name…cultural genocide.

Let that sink in.

On this website I found the following quotes from the architects of the residential school system:

“When the school is on the reserve, the child lives with its parents, who are savages, and though he may learn to read and write, his habits and training mode of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who can read and write. It has been strongly impressed upon myself, as head of the Department, that Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence, and the only way to do that would be to put them in central training industrial schools where they will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men.” John A. Macdonald, 1879

I have not hesitated to tell this House, again and again, that we could not always hope to maintain peace with the Indians; that the savage was still a savage, and that until he ceased to be savage, we were always in danger of a collision, in danger of war, in danger of an outbreak. John A. Macdonald, 1885

“I want to get rid of the Indian problem…..Our objective is to continue until there is not an Indian that has not been absorbed into the body politic, and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department.” Duncan Campbell Scott, Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs 1920

The schools were not successful in eliminating Indigenous people, but had long-lasting inter-generational effects that are well-documented. We see these effects everyday among our poor families, our struggling students, our homeless and our jailed population.

But I am not presuming to, nor capable of, examining the history and effects of residential schools in this post. There is plenty of information out there for anyone with the courage to explore.

No, I am trying to decide how to approach this Canada Day. When I deliberately called my blog As Canadian As Can Be, I did so because of all the threads in my genealogical tapestry. My ancestors include:

Indigenous women like Margaret Taylor, Genevieve “Jenny” Beignoit, Josephte Belisle.

Métis from the Red River Settlement like Thomas Hogue Senior and William McMillan .

French settlers like Olivier Tardiff, Jean Baptiste Bernardin, and Abraham Martin.

A Scottish fur-trader James McMillan, an Irish physician Dr. John Dease who became an United Empire Loyalist and an English sloopmaster with the Hudson Bay Company George Taylor.

My interest in genealogy started with finding out that Margaret Taylor was my great-great-great grandmother. I am proud to be Métis . I am proud to acknowledge all my ancestors, warts and all.

But my heart aches for the damage done by residential schools.

No country is perfect. So I think this Canada Day I won’t be celebrating some fantasy country that doesn’t exist.

But I will be grateful that I have the privilege to live in a country where most citizens are, I hope, willing to acknowledge the wrongs of the colonial past and pursue more quickly the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Every journey starts with a first step.

Church record glitches on Ancestry

Recently I had found a baptism record on the database called Manitoba, Canada, Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1834-1959 on Ancestry. It was for a baptism in 1877. I was delighted to find it because, despite misspellings in the record, it did confirm the parentage for the person I was researching.

But then I noticed something strange. The record was a digitized microfilm and the subtitle of this part of the database was Catholic Records: St Eustache, St François Xavier, Vol 6-7 1884-1892, Vol 8-9 1889-1900. What was a baptismal record from 1877 doing in this set?

The records are indexed on Ancestry, but the images themselves are on FamilySearch. I decided to use the filmstrip icon to browse back and forth to see if the microfilm had any what I would call “headers” to indicate exactly what these records were supposed to be.

The digitized microfilm has 731 images. I discovered that the record set was divided as follows:

Image #3 start of St. Francois Xavier 1884-1889

Image #102 start of St. Francois Xavier 1888-1892

Image #253 start of St. Francois Xavier 1892-1900

Image #391 start of St. Eustache 1874-1897

What???? There is no indication in the title that this record set begins in 1874!

And then on image #393 I found this.

Aha! So the baptismal record I found was for a baptism in Baie St. Paul, not St. Francois Xavier or St. Eustache, but the records were transferred to St. Eustache because the settlement was badly flooded ( a cause inondations) in March of 1882, and the parish moved over to St. Eustache.

The local history book Treasures of Time: The Rural Municpality of Cartier: 1914-1984 says that the flooding of Baie St. Paul was so bad that:

“The water reached the tops of the windows of the church. One part of the cemetery slid into the river. Many of the small houses were destroyed.”

Going back to the microfilm, the next header is:

Image #615 St. Eustache 1898-1903

A good reminder to really explore your sources. They may not be telling you what you think they are!

Using the New York City Police Census 1890

Well it has been a long, long time since I have posted here. It’s certainly not that I haven’t been researching! This past year of pandemic isolation has given many of us an abundance of time to explore our roots. I have had many other researchers leave comments and questions. It has been a pleasure to share information with distant cousins and learn from them.

I’ve also spent some time researching for other people, relatives and friends. This post has nothing to do with my Hogue and Girardin ancestors. However, it does involve a useful tip that I felt was worthwhile posting.

As researchers know, most of the population schedules of 1890 Census of the United States were damaged in a fire in 1921. They were stored and then inexplicably destroyed. It pains me greatly to admit a librarian was involved. Sigh. Only fragments remain.

So what to do if you are searching for people who lived in New York City in 1890? Now it is true that the New York City Directories can be used to find people in 1889 and 1891, but they don’t record children unless they are employed. While searching for a friend I came upon the New York City Police Census of 1890. Despite the title it is not a census of the police department, or a census of criminals!

Let me explain. It turns out that the Mayor of New York felt that the Federal Census conducted in June, and which showed a decrease in population, was wrong! He therefore authorized a new census to be conducted by Police Officers in October. It resulted in about 200,000 more people being counted. See the article at for a fuller discussion.

The good news is that most of the 1890 Police Census has been preserved. Microfilm is available at 3 locations: the City of New York Municipal Archives, the New York Public Library Central Branch, and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Since most researchers may not be able to travel to these locations, it’s wonderful that FamilySearch has also digitized the microfilm, but these images can only be accessed at your local FamilySearch Family History Center, many of which are closed indefinitely due to the pandemic.

All is not lost however. FamilySearch also has an index to the Police Census at And this is where my tip comes in. If you search for a person and find them you will get a result that looks like this.

At first glance this doesn’t give you much information, just a name and age and a direction to which book/volume of the original census contains this record. No address, no marital status, no family relationship. How can I be sure this is the right person?

If you look closely you will notice that this information is on line 4 of image 00281 on Film # 001309969. By searching for other Hooley names, and comparing the Document Information, I was able to confirm that 3 other people (that I knew belonged to the family I was looking for) were in fact on lines 1, 2, and 3 of that same image!

On the off chance that I may someday be able to get to the local Family History Centre here in Winnipeg, I can go to FamilySearch at and scroll down to the correct Film # and find the original record.

So with this method I was able to confirm which children were still in the family household in 1890.

Never stop looking and always thoroughly examine your sources.

Happy researching!

Update to Riel in Massachusetts!

I found it! I found the location for the St. Jean Baptiste Society in Worcester on the 18th of July, 1874.

Although I had checked city directories and newspaper articles during my research, I hadn’t been able to determine exactly where Louis Riel had spoken that day…until I decided to check French language newspapers.

GenealogyBank has digitized records of some of the 1873/74 issues of Foyer Canadien. I was able to find in the July 28, 1874 issue, a long article by Frederic Houde describing the occasion of Riel’s speech to the Society. It included the fact that Riel’s appearance occurred:

“dans la salle de la Société St. Jean Baptiste; sur la rue Mechanic”

Mechanic Street!

Searching other issues of Foyer Canadien I found a recurring notice advertising the meetings of the Society:

My translation:

St. Jean Baptiste Society. – Meeting room, Bliss Block, 24 Mechanic street; regular meetings the first and third Wednesday of each month, at 7:30 p.m.

Back to Google Maps and Sanborn Insurance maps to discover that Mechanic Street was a very short street, only a block away from Notre Dame des Canadiens!

So there we have it. Certainly the meeting was close enough that the Girardins could have attended. Whether they would have had the time or inclination to do so is not something I can prove. However, it seems to me that they definitely would have heard about his speech and his words about Manitoba.

And that just may be one of the reasons I live in Manitoba today!

Louis Riel in Massachusetts

I have recently finished reading The Audacity of His Enterprise: Louis Riel and the Metis Nation That Canada Never Was, 1840-1875 by M. Max Hamon.  As usually happens, this book, via content and footnotes, led me to more research. One of the things I learned from it, that I hadn’t know before, was that Louis Riel spent time in the 1870s visiting Franco-American communities in New England. This was while he was awaiting the amnesty promised by Sir John A. MacDonald at the time of the Red River Resistance.

Louis Riel was the dynamic Metis leader who was instrumental in the creation of the Province of Manitoba. If you don’t know about Riel you can read about him here.

One of the places Louis Riel spoke was Worcester, Massachusetts!  Why does this matter?  Because in the 1870s my great-great-grandparents Paul Girardin and Louise Bernardin, as well as my great-grandparents Napoleon Girardin and Onesime Allard lived there. (I wrote about them here and here.)

I immediately knew I would have to research and discover if my ancestors could have been among the people listening to Riel speak!  My task would be to see if I could find out why Riel went to Worcester,  who would have been his contacts, what did he talk about, and where did he give his speeches.

In the Journal of Canadian Studies Volume 51 • Number 3 • Fall 2017, there is an article by Mark Paul Richard titled “Riel … vivra dans notre histoire”: The Response of French Canadians in the United States to Louis Riel’s Execution. From that article I learned that:

When the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste of Montreal celebrated
its fortieth anniversary in June 1874, more than 10,000 French Canadians from the United States joined in the festivities.

There was discussion about whether to issue a document supporting amnesty for Riel, but it was not adopted by the delegates. One of the participants who most strongly defended Riel was Frédéric Houde, co-owner of the Worcester newspaper Foyer Canadien.  In July of 1874 Riel went to visit Houde in Worcester to thank him for his support. Okay…that’s the why.

According to Thomas Flanagan, author of Louis ‘David’ Riel: Prophet of the New World, Riel stayed with Abbé Jean-Baptiste Primeau, pastor of Notre Dame des Canadiens, a parish that served as the centre of spiritual and cultural identify for Franco-American Catholics.  Okay…Houde and Primeau were his contacts.

Hmm…although I have never seen the church record for Napoleon and Onesime’s marriage on 29 September 1873, the civil registration states the ceremony was performed by none other than  J.B. Primeau!  Notre Dame des Canadiens was very likely their parish!

In 1874 this church was located on Park Street across from the Common (a public park space). I knew from city directories that the Girardin family was living on Bloomingdale Street.  Using Google Maps I discovered there is no Bloomingdale Street anymore.  Comparing the Google map to the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for Worcester in 1892 (see here), I determined that Bloomingdale Street was now called Franklin.  Park Street where the church was is also called Franklin.  It’s a long street, but it looks as if my ancestors would have been about a 20 minute walk to Notre Dame. There’s a wonderful article about the church’s history in The Catholic Free Press here.

L'eglise des Canadiens a Worcester

Picture from 1870 accessed at Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

But I don’t know if Riel gave his talk at the church.  Hamon states that Riel usually spoke at meetings of the St. Jean Baptiste Association. I found another blog post, by David Vermette,  titled Louis Riel: A Franco-American?  here. It also mentions the St. Jean Baptiste Society.

I have not yet discovered where the Society held its meetings.  Were they in the basement of the church?  A nearby hall? At the moment the question of where remains unsolved.

Next question…what exactly did Riel talk about? Richard states:

Several days later, [18 July] about 400 French Canadians from Worcester and surrounding towns gathered to hear the Métis leader, greeting him with thunderous applause. “Quand on est Canadien-Français catholique, on aime toujours à serrer la main des patriotes qui se font les zélés défenseurs de nos droits nationaux et religieux, ainsi que l’a été M. Riel,” wrote Houde.

Google Translation:

“When you’re French-Canadian Catholic, you always love to shake hands with patriots who are zealous defenders of our rights national and religious, as was Mr. Riel, “

Richard continues:

Riel…spoke to the French-Canadian immigrants in his audience about the climate, soils, and francophone establishments of Manitoba, and he expressed his hope that the Canadiens might remigrate there,a province where he felt they might prosper more than in the United States.

Wow! By 1878 Paul and Louise had moved to Manitoba, and by 1880 Napoleon and Onesime had followed. I wrote about the move here.  I understood the background surrounding the move…the availability of land, the efforts of La Société de Colonisation du Manitoba, and perhaps the desire for a rural lifestyle again.  But now I wonder if  hearing Louis Riel speak in person, or at least hearing about this charismatic leader, would have had any bearing on the Girardins subsequent emigration to Manitoba?

Just another one of those social history moments that is so entwined with genealogical research!

Manitoba Archives and the 1846 Census

To celebrate Manitoba’s 150th Birthday, the Archives of Manitoba initiated a project called Your Archives: The Histories We Share.  They are asking patrons to write about something in the Archives of special interest.  I made a submission which has been accepted and is now on their blog here.

Part of the project was to include these items in a physical display at the Archives.  Due to COVID-19 that is temporarily on hold.


Cousin bait provides a missing obituary

I’ve written about “cousin bait” before.  It refers to posting information that results in another researcher contacting you with details they are willing to share about ancestors.  Such an occurrence just happened to me when a  reader left a note on the post I had written about Mémère’s sister Maria Maximillian Girardin. You can read that post here.

Turns out this lady was the stepdaughter of Maximillian’s son!  Although I knew the date of death I had never found an obituary for her.  This lady generously shared the obituary as well as some personal remembrances of Maximillian (which she allowed me to share).

Girardin Maximillian b1885 obit

“I remember meeting her. She lived in an apartment on the 2nd floor of an old house. Right at the top of the stairs was a door leading to her kitchen and living room. You then had to go back out into the hallway and walk down to the end of the hallway to find the door to her bedroom and the same for the bathroom. She was an interesting lady who really didn’t have time for anyone but her son Arnold. She was really attached to him and called him several times a day. Arnold took her passing very hard.”

You can read this “genealogy angel’s” post about her stepfather at



Christmas decorations

We’re fortunate to still have a few tree decorations from my childhood.  Slightly worn, but still they hold the power of memory.


White plastic reindeer.  I have two.



A red Cardinal, also plastic, but with only 1 leg now.  Must be carefully placed on a branch!




A single, simple blue bell.  Quite the worse for wear, with less shine and colour every year.



I got this china bell when Mom and I went to Breakfast with Santa at the Bay.  Probably around 1956 or so. Some of the lettering has worn off.  It used to say “Your Christmas Wishing Bell from the Bay”, now it is just a “Bel”.  Obvious nick in the china, the circumstances of which I’ve forgotten, but I’m going to blame it on my brother!

Wishing all readers a very joyous Christmas!

Museum donation

It’s been a very busy time in our household since my last blog post.   Of greatest  importance was the birth of our fourth grandchild, a beautiful, healthy baby girl! (And she has my name as a middle name ♥).

Of less importance, but  MUCH more stressful was the fact that we sold our home and “right-sized” into a condo.  Needless to say, we had a very busy time sorting, selling and donating. Some decisions were quick and easy to make, but in terms of genealogy “stuff” I still have a great deal of organizing to do!

One donation I made was to the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada here in Winnipeg. I have blogged previously about Dad’s service with the R.C.A.F. during World War II (here) as a welder working on airplanes at #8 Repair Depot.

I donated some manuals, pictures of Dad and planes, as well as the pennant for the Repair Depot.



The staff at the museum was pleased to receive my donations, and I’m happy knowing these small items have found a good and useful home.