Marie Bonin

More than a year ago, I blogged about the fact that I could find no death record for my great-great grandmother Marie Bonin. Marie was born to Jacques/Jean Bonin and Amable Dupre and baptized at St. Ours, Lower Canada on 28 July 1827.  She married Joseph Pierre Allard 30 January 1849 at St-Denis-sur-Richelieu. She had 15 children, at least 7 of which died in infancy. Her husband died in 1875.  Until now, I hadn’t been able to trace her past the 1881 census when she was still in St-Denis.

Yesterday, October 30th, I posted a query on the Quebec-Research list and quickly found my answer.  A “genealogy angel” found her death record in Millbury, Massachusetts on 26 October 1895.  She died of pneumonia.

Obviously, sometime after 1881, she moved to Massachusetts!  At least 2 of her sons, were there, although my great grandmother Onesime Allard had already emigrated to Manitoba.

She was not buried in Massachusetts however.  Her body was sent “home” to St-Denis where she was buried on…..wait for it…October 30!

Bonin Marie burial

St-Denis-sur-Richelieu, 1895

She definitely wanted me to find that record!

I have no photo of her grave, if it even is a marked grave after all this time.  However here’s a picture of the beautiful church, built in 1796.

Église St-Denis-sur-Richelieu


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!

Onesime Allard

Onesime Allard was Mémère’s mother. Marie Bonin was Onesime’s mother. Yesterday I was trying to find out when Marie died.  I know when she was born, when she married, and the dates of birth for all 15 children.  However, I lose track of her after the 1881 census.  I’ve never been able to find a burial record for her.

Sometimes you come across the most interesting finds when you’re not even looking  While checking the church records at St.-Denis-sur-Richelieu (at Ancestry and FamilySearch),  I came across the marriage record of Marie’s eldest daughter Marie Allard to Jean Baptiste Leblanc on February 9, 1869.

There I found the signature of Onesime Allard, who signed the church register as one of the witnesses to the marriage of her sister!


It’s a little thing, but I was still pleased to find it.  Interestingly she appears to have signed as Onezime, rather than Onesime. Or perhaps that’s just the way she made an “s”!  I have no other specimens of her handwriting to compare.

And I still haven’t discovered a date of death for Marie Bonin.  The search continues.


The Girardins of La Salle, part 5

This is the last in a series of posts about Mémère’s (Emma Girardin) siblings.

Florent Girardin was born August 25, 1892. He was 4 years old when his mother, Onesime Allard, died. He married Marie Louise Marcoux on November 9, 1921. They had 8 children, one of whom died at birth.

Florent was a member of the First Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment, during World War Two, but did not serve overseas.

Florent Girardin military service act 1917 particulars of recruit

Library and Archives Canada RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 3566 – 80 Item Number:413891

He farmed in La Salle and later in St. Norbert, Manitoba.

There are a couple of pictures of him in the La Salle history book, Then to Now.  I won’t post pictures that I don’t own, or haven’t received permission to share.  However, comparing those pictures to one I have, I THINK this is Florent.


Possibly Florent Girardin

Florent died December 13, 1953 and his wife, Marie Louise on January 23, 1972 (while on holiday in California).

Girardin Florent obit1953

Obituary of Florent Girardin Winnipeg Free Press, Monday, December 14, 1953

Marcoux Marie Louise b1900 obit1972

Obituary of Marie Louise Marcoux Winnipeg Free Press January 26, 1972


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Gravestone of Florent Girardin and Marie-Louise Marcoux La Salle Cemetery

Mémère’s youngest sibling, Caroline, is very much a mystery to me. She was born July 22, 1894. She was only 2 years old when her mother died. In the 1901 and 1906 census records, she is at home with her father in La Salle. In 1911 she is living with Mémère and Pépère, and works as a house servant in a boarding house.

And then she disappears! I can find no marriage or death records for her. At one point I thought she had married, but that record turned out to be her aunt, also called Caroline. There are public trees on ancestry that give her death as 1936, but none of these trees have documentation for that date.  She remains, for the time being, my “brick wall”.

And what of Mémère’s father, Napoleon? So many changes in his life! To recap, Napoleon was born in 1851 in Kingsey, Quebec. He moved with his extended family to Worcester, Massachusetts where he worked as a shoemaker, and married Onesime Allard.

Their first three children all died young. In 1880 with their daughter Emma (Mémère), they moved to Manitoba where Napoleon’s mother (Louise Bernardin) and brothers had already settled. They lived first in St. Daniel, then Bruxelles/St. Alphonse and had another nine children before Onesime died in 1896.

Napoleon moved his family to La Salle. He farmed, and most of the children married. In 1922, at the age of 71, Napoleon married again, to Marie Rouleau, who was the widow of Ferdinand Rheault. And here’s one of those strange connections we sometimes find. Marie was actually the mother-in-law of Napoleon’s younger brother Simeon, who had married Marie’s daughter Helene!

Napoleon died May 16, 1929 and is buried in La Salle, although apparently his grave is unmarked.

Girardin Napoleon b1851 death1929 pt1

Death registration for Napoleon Girardin

As is so often the case, even this “official” document has errors.  Napoleon was definitely born in 1851 in Quebec, not 1852 in Massachusetts, as evidenced by the baptismal record in St-Félix-de-Valois parish in Quebec.

Girardin Napoleon b1851 baptism

Actes d’état civil et registres d’église du Québec (Collection Drouin), 1621 à 1967, Kingsey (St-Félix-de-Valois), Québec, 1851. Baptism of Napoleon Girardin, accessed on

I’ve never seen a record where Napoleon’s father, Paul, is called “Adelard”.  The maiden name of his mother was Louise Bernardin.  Charbonneau was her name after her second marriage.  But these are the sometimes inaccurate details that you find when you research.

I THINK Marie Rouleau died in 1941, and is buried in Elie, Manitoba.

Now if I could just track down the elusive Caroline!

The Girardins of La Salle

Napoleon Girardin and Onesime Allard

Napoleon Girardin and Onesime Allard

In a previous post here, I mentioned the untimely death of Mémère’s mother, Onesime Allard, in 1896. Mémère’s father, Napoleon Girardin, was left with 10 children, the youngest, Caroline, only 2 years old, and the oldest, Emma (Mémère), a month shy of her 18th birthday. Onesime was buried at Bruxelles, but at some point the body was interred in another cemetery where other Allards were buried. I suspect that may have been St. Francois Xavier.

Napoleon was offered a position at the St. Hyacinthe seminary college farm in La Salle, and moved the family there. In the book Hugging the Meridian: Macdonald: A Manitoba Municipal History 1881-1981 by Betty Dyck, Emma was interviewed and recalled:

“We came by horse and wagon. Mr. Joseph Cormier made us a bed for the night on straw. The next day he took us to the college farm. When I married Thomas Hogue I moved to La Salle town April 16, 1907 to where the house is now on the Main Street.”

In the 1901 Census for La Salle (Macdonald, Selkirk, Manitoba; Page: 9) the Girardins are family #76 and the Hogues are family #77. It’s easy to understand how three Girardins married three Hogues!

1901 Census of Canada

1901 Census of Canada

Obviously Emma had a great deal of responsibility for her siblings. However, other descendants of Napoleon and Onesime have related to me that some of the siblings were sent to either an orphanage or convent or boarding school. This may have been an institution run by the Grey Nuns in St. Boniface, in the building which is now the St. Boniface Museum (see here). Or it may have been St. Joseph’s Academy run by Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (see here).  I have not yet been able to track down any records to document this.

So who were Mémère’s siblings?  I’ll begin a series of posts to share what I have learned.

The first was Arthur, born August 2, 1880 in Winnipeg almost as soon as Napoleon and Onesime arrived. Arthur was almost 16 when his mother died. He married Sarah Hogue (daughter of Thomas and Philomene) in 1901. Arthur worked as a foreman for the Canadian Pacific Railway. They had a family of six. Here’s a picture of them later in life.

Arthur Girardin and Sarah Hogue

Arthur Girardin and Sarah Hogue

Arthur died December 14, 1955 and Sarah on February 23, 1960. They are buried in the La Salle Cemetery. As you can see from the gravestone, two of their children died young.

2009 07 10_1055

Winnipeg Free Press Friday December 16, 1955 p. 15

Winnipeg Free Press Friday December 16, 1955 p. 15

Winnipeg Free Press February 25, 1960

Winnipeg Free Press February 25, 1960

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting two of Arthur and Sarah’s granddaughters, who have generously shared information and photos with me.