War-time Wedding

Did they really get married on a Thursday?

That was the first question that ran through my mind as I began to try to verify what seems to be indicated by a wedding photo of Jean-Baptiste Hurtubise and Marie-Berthe Charette from my grandmother.

My grandmother’s handwriting below the picture indicates: “Mom & Dad Hurtubise, January 7, 1915.”

Census records from 1901 indicate that they were both 25 years old at the time,[1] another fact I wonder about.

Why would a young man of that age be free to marry and settle down when World War I was in full force? Perhaps this is an indicator of how remote the war seemed to Francophone families in Canada prior to the conscription crisis of 1917.

By that time my great-grandfather would have two children and wouldn’t be required to serve. My grandmother, their first child, was born twelve months after they married.

In addition to her parents’ wedding photo, my grandmother kept only two other pictures. One is a photo of a church, presumably where the wedding took place. The other shows four large church bells. Why are they important?

Turns out that the church in the photo still exists, and it still serves a Franco-Ontarian population! I found it by referring to the census showing Marie-Berthe, called Martha, living in Clarence Creek in 1911.stefelicitedeclarencecreek

The Roman Catholic Church in that town is Ste-Félicité de Clarence Creek, and it originally opened on August 19, 1881.

At the time of Jean and Martha’s marriage, it had two steeples, but now the smaller steeple on the right side is missing. I know the church is the same one, however, because a duplicate of my grandmother’s photo appears on the history page of the parish website. [2]

I’m extrapolating from the facts, but it seems as though Martha’s family were among 170 that remained within the parish after 80 others left in 1908. The bells were part of a renewal show of strength two years later. The families expanded their church, bought the bells and hired famed Montreal decorator Toussaint-Xénophon Renaud[3] to renew the interior. His work can still be seen today.


[1] Data from the 1911 Census of Canada: her birthdate appears on Enumeration District 21, Cumberland Township, Russell, Ontario, Sarsfield Village, Léonard Village, Bear Brook Village, page 7, line 48; his on Enumeration District 112, Cumberland Township, Russell, Ontario, Sarsfield Village, Léonard Village, Bear Brook Village, page 3, line 25

[2] Paroisse Ste Félicité – Ste-Félicité de Clarence Creek (1855) http://www.paroissestefelicite.ca/fr/Historique_30/Stefelicite-De-Clarence-Creek-1855_44, written in 2011, accessed on September 17, 2015.

[3] Webpage http://txrenaud.com/, by Marc Renaud in 2008, accessed on September 17, 2015.