Canada 150

Red on White

Today Canada is celebrating 150 years of Confederation. Confederation was the political union of the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. However, my ancestors have been in this land much longer than 150 years.

In Winnipeg, where I live, archeological digs at the Forks of the Red and Assiniboine rivers confirm that it has been a meeting place for aboriginal peoples for 6,000 years (you can read about that here).   I have three Metis ancestors, Jane Taylor, Josephte Belisle, and Genevieve Beignet.  Lack of documentation means I can’t trace these aboriginal roots any further back than the late 1700s.

As I have written before, I have many ancestors who were involved in the fur trade, which was a major economic driver in the settlement of the country.

My ancestors are mostly French-Canadian and go back to the early 1600s and the settlement of New France. I’ve blogged extensively about their lives.  Like all countries ours is a country with a colonial history. One can find many instances of racism, wars, and injustices, especially dealing with the treaty promises that were not honoured.

We are an imperfect country, and we shouldn’t gloss over our failings. But today let’s look around the world, and realize how lucky we are to live in a wealthy, democratic country, with freedom of speech and a belief in human rights.

Happy Canada Day, eh?


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!