Red River Jig

Today is Louis Riel Day here in Manitoba, Canada.  It seems like a fitting time to post a fabulous picture I recently received from a cousin.

It’s a picture of Mémère, at the age of 81, dancing the traditional Metis Red River Jig.

Red River Jig

Red River Jig

The party is taking place in the basement of her son Joe’s home on Kensington Street.  Clapping and watching are Joe, his sister Irene, and me.  I love the smile on Mémère’s face!

You can listen to the tune being played by the renowned Andy DeJarlais here.

You can see award winner Ryan Richard jigging here.



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!

The Girardins of La Salle, part 3

I’m continuing the story of Mémère’s (Emma Girardin) siblings. Maria Maximillian Girardin, also known as Martha, was born June 11, 1885. She was just about to turn 11 years old when her mother died.


Maria Maximillian Girardin

On January 15, 1922, at the age of 36, she married Herbert Heckford Burrell in Winnipeg. Herbert sounds like an interesting man. He was born in India to British parents, his father being a missionary. Herbert served in World War One, and was also a noted chess player. You can read more about him here and here.

I have not been able to discover any details of Maximillian’s life after 1901 up until her marriage. Perhaps she left La Salle to work in Winnipeg. Maximillian and Herbert had one son, Arnold, who became a well-known artist. You can read about him here.

Maximillian, Herbert and Arnold moved to British Columbia in 1935. Maximillian died October 30, 1968 in Duncan, British Columbia. I have not been able to find an obituary for her.

Herbert had predeceased her on March 23, 1956.

Burrell Herbert obit1956
Geraldine Girardin was born April 23, 1887. She was 9 years old when her mother died. One of her grandchildren recalls her mother saying that Geraldine had been sent to an orphanage run by the Grey Nuns.  I haven’t been able to find any documentation on this, but the younger children may certainly have spent some time at a boarding school or convent.  By 1911 Geraldine was working in Winnipeg, as a laundress in a hotel and boarding at 316 Edmonton Street.

On November 14, 1916, she married John Butchart. Here’s a picture, generously shared by one of their granddaughters. What a handsome couple!

Girardin Geraldine b1887 wedding

John Butchart and Geraldine Girardin

John and Geraldine had 4 children, 1 son and 3 daughters. One of their daughters lived with her husband and family on the same street as I did as a child, and I attended elementary school with one of their grandsons. Through this blog I’ve had the opportunity to “meet” other granddaughters, who have so kindly shared pictures and information.

John died April 6, 1957 and Geraldine on October 10, 1969.

Butchart John b1883 obit1957

Girardin Geraldine b1887 obit1969

Here’s a picture of Mémère (Emma) with both of these sisters in 1968.

Mary (Maximillian), Emma, Geraldine in 1968

Mary (Maximillian), Emma, Geraldine in 1968