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!



Happy New Year Canada!

2017 is a special year for Canadian history buffs, as it marks 150 years since Confederation.  All sorts of special celebrations are planned throughout the coming year.

You can read about some of the official planned festivities here.

Check here for a database of community and volunteer projects.

Library and Archives Canada will be informing us of a daily “today-in-history vignette highlighting a significant event that shaped our society” at

As the title of blog suggests, and my posts confirm, I am fascinated with the historical and social events that surrounded the lives of our ancestors.  Whether blogging about the first Girardin ancestor, Olivier Le Tardif who was in New France by 1621 (read about him here), our Hogue ancestor James McMillan, Chief Factor with HBC, who traveled with the explorer David Thompson (read his story here), our Napoleonic soldier Jean Baptiste Bernardin, who arrived on our shores via the War of 1812 (his story is here), or the fascinating story of our Metis ancestor, Margaret/Marguerite Taylor, country wife of Sir George Simpson, and the person whose story ignited my passion for genealogy, I remain in awe of the fortitude and courage shown by our ancestors, as they built their lives in this country we call home.

As the festivities of Canada 150 unfold, I hope to share more stories that make up our history.

Happy New Year everyone!



Olivier Le Tardif

Remember studying Canadian history in school?  You may have forgotten much of what you learned then, but you probably remember the name of the famous Canadian explorer, Samuel de Champlain who is the founder of Quebec City.  You can, if you want, refresh your memory at The Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

The first of my father’s ancestors to come to New France was a contemporary of Champlain’s. Olivier Letardif (sometimes spelled Le Tardif or just Tardif) was my 9th great-grandfather in the Girardin line. He was born sometime between 1601 and 1604 in Etables, Bretagne (Brittany in English).  Bretagne is that area of northwest France that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. He was definitely in New France by 1621, and perhaps by 1618.

Letardif became one of Champlain’s most trusted interpreters.  Champlain professed a desire to live peacefully with the natives and learn from them. Historians may have varied opinions on Champlain’s motives, but he did send young men out to live with the native tribes, learn their languages, and be ambassadors.  In David Hackett Fischer’s book Champlain’s dream: the visionary adventurer who made a new world in Canada (Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2008 p. 502) he describes Letardif …“As a young man he traded actively with the Indians of the St. Lawrence Valley, lived among them, and learned their languages with remarkable success.  Champlain began to refer to him as “Olivier le truchement” and wrote that he became as “skilled in the languages of the Montagnais and Algonquin as in those of the Huron,” an extraordinary achievement.”  Check Google Books for this page.

Le Tardif plaque

Commerative plaque in Château-Richer, Quebec placed by Les Familles Tardif d’Amerique.

Picture courtesy of Julia Saxby Stevens.

Letardif became an influential citizen in Quebec. He became head clerk of the Company of 100 Hundred Associates in 1633. This was the organization charged with overseeing trade and colonization in New France.  By 1653 he was the seigneurial judge in Beaupré. Letardif was also a witness to Champlain’s will. You can view his signature here.

He married twice.  His first wife was Louise Couillard, granddaughter of Louis Hebert (considered the first European farmer in New France).  Louise was only twelve at the time, and died at the age of sixteen, months after giving birth to a son.  Louise’s sister, Marguerite, married Jean Nicolet who was also one of Champlain’s interpreters and is credited with being the first European to “discover” Lake Michigan.

It is from Letardif’s second marriage in 1648 to Barbe Emard (while he was back in France) that we descend. We actually descend from two of their children as these lists show:

Olivier LETARDIF (abt 1604-1665) + Barbe EMARD (1625-?)
Barbe Delphine LETARDIF (1649-1702) + Jacques CAUCHON DIT LAMOTHE (1635-1685)
Jacques COCHON (1663-1726) + Jeanne VERREAULT (1668-1711)
Jean Baptiste COCHON (1704-1755) + Marguerite DUMAS (1698-1771)
Paul LAMOTHE DIT COCHON (1733-?) + Marie Anne LEGARE 1736-?)
Marie Josephe LAMOTHE DIT COCHON (1765-?) + Joseph BONIN (1766-?)
Jean Baptiste BONIN (1799-?) + Marie Amable DUPRE (1801-?)
Marie BONIN (Jul 1827-?) + Joseph Pierre ALLARD (1826-1875)
Onesime ALLARD (1852-1896) + Napoleon GIRARDIN (1851-1929)
Marie Emma GIRARDIN (1878-1979)


Olivier LETARDIF (abt 1604-1665) + Barbe EMARD (1625-?)
Guillaume LETARDIF (1655-?) + Marie Marguerite GODIN (Mar 1665-?)
Charles LETARDIF (1688-1740)+Marie Genevieve ROY DESJARDINS (1697-1763)
Marie Angelique LETARDIF (1723-1764) + Nicolas LETARTE (1722-?)
Joseph LETARTE (Dec 1761-?) + Marie Elisabeth PAQUET (1750-1826)
Marie Amable LETARTE (1784-?) + Pierre DUPRE (1773-1858)
Marie Amable DUPRE (1801-?) + Jean Baptiste BONIN (Mar 1799-?)
Marie BONIN (1827-?) + Joseph Pierre ALLARD (1826-1875)
Onesime ALLARD (1852-1896) + Napoleon GIRARDIN (1851-1929)
Marie Emma GIRARDIN (1878-1979)

You can read more about Letardif at The Dictionary of Canadian Biography.