New Year’s Day Levée


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.


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.



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!


Jean Guyon and Mathurine Robin

In France, about 100 miles west of Paris, is an area known as Perche which use to be part of Normandy. Starting in 1634 a large number of people immigrated to New France from this area, including many of our ancestors. So many colonists came from there that the village of Tourouvre has a Museum of French Emigration to Canada.

Also in Tourouvre  is a plaque in the Église Saint-Aubin that lists the Canadian emigrants who were baptised there.  Our Hogue ancestor, Jean Guyon, is on that list.  You can see a picture of the plaque here.

Jean  was baptized on September 18, 1592 and he married Mathurine Robin on June 2, 1615 in Église Saint-Jean-et-Saint-Malo de Mortagne. Mathurine’s date of birth is not known for certain. They had eight children in France, including our ancestor Marie who was baptized March 18, 1624, and two more children in Quebec

Guyon was a master mason. The stairs leading up to the bell tower of Église Saint-Aubin  were built by Jean in 1615, and are still standing! If you go to this Préfen webpage you can see a picture of the stairs and his signature!

So what brought Jean, Mathurine and their children to New France? You may remember that the seigneurial system of New France involved land grants to seigneurs, who then had habitants work their land.  The Company of One Hundred Associates in France was attempting to colonize this new land, and in 1634, Robert Giffard de Moncel, a surgeon from the Perche area became the very first person granted a seigneury by The Company.

Giffard, as a seigneur, engaged skilled labourers to build his settlement at Beauport, near Quebec City. A mason like Guyon was exactly the type of person he was looking for!  In return for three years of work, Guyon was promised 1000 arpents of land with hunting and fishing rights. In 1634 Guyon arrived in Quebec.  It is not certain whether his wife and children came with him at that time, or made the trip later.

Why did our ancestors leave France to come to a harsh, unknown land?  For most of them it was undoubtedly seen as a chance for a better life, which is ironic as so many of us now dream of winning the lottery and buying a villa in France!  Jean was 42 years old when he left to come to New France.  He was a skilled, literate, property owner with a family.  He and Mathurine must have had an adventurous spirit that was willing to take on that possibly treacherous ocean voyage and an unknown future.

In 1637, having fulfilled his duty to Seigneur Gifford, Guyon was given a land grant by the Rivière du Buisson, and then was known as Sieur du Buisson. Mathurin died in 1662 and Jean in 1663.

One of Jean and Mathurine’s granddaughters (not one of our direct ancestors) married Antoine de Lamothe Cadillac, considered to be the founder of Detroit.

Here’s our descent from Jean and Mathurine to my Pépère:

Jean GUYON (1592-1663) + Marie Mathurine ROBIN (?-16 Apr 1662)
Marie GUYON DION (1624-1696) + Francois BELANGER (abt 1616-abt1685)
Charles BELANGER (1640-1692) + Barbe CLOUTIER (1650-1711)
Francois BELANGER (bef 1666-1721) + Catherine VOYER (bef 1673-?)
Francois BELANGER (abt 1708-1774) + Marie Catherine NADON LETOURNEAU (1712-1779)
Marie-Josephe BELANGER (1740-1775) + Joseph Amable HOGUE (1734-?)
Louis Amable HOGUE (1769-?) + Marie Anne LABELLE (1776-?)
Louis Amable HOGUE (1796-1858) + Marguerite TAYLOR (1805-1885)
Thomas HOGUE (1840 1924) + Philomene MCMILLAN (1848-1923)
Thomas Joseph HOGUE (1879-1955)

About those famous “cousins”

Premier colonsLés premiers Colons de Québec

Christian Lemire 2007, © Ministère de la Culture et des Communications

In Quebec City there is a monument to Louis Hébert with a plaque that commemorates “Lés premiers Colons de Québec”. Fifteen of our ancestors have their names on that plaque, including Letardif, Martin and Langlois, about whom I’ve already written.  The next several blog posts will be about these men and women. Two of particular note are Zacharie Cloutier (an ancestor on both the Hogue and Girardin lines) and Jean Guyon (a Hogue ancestor)

The Research Programme in Historical Demography (PRDH) at the University of Montreal has done extensive work using church and civil records, to reconstruct the population of New France from the earliest colonization to 1800. Their records indicate that Cloutier and Guyon had the largest number of married descendants before 1800; 10,850 for Cloutier and 9,674 for Guyon.

Think about that for a moment.  Think about what it means when a very small, culturally cohesive population, in a small geographic area, has large families.  It is no wonder that I am among a tremendously large group of people who can claim Cloutier or Guyon as ancestors, including Celine Dion, Madonna, Hillary Clinton and Jack Kerouac.  Read about these famous “cousins” here.

Now as exciting as that may sound, it is NOT at all unusual.  It’s simply mathematical! If you can trace your ancestry back to early settlers as we do, you are going to find that you are related to almost everyone!  Noted genealogist Dick Eastman explains this very well in his blog post We Are All Related! So Get Over It.