Granny Jodouin and Her Baby Grand

In her book entitledLa Fille de Georges’, Laurette Jodouin Talbot, Louisa Jodouin’s niece wrote “Tante Louise was always well turned out, with the tact and distinction of a queen, but endowed with a profound sensitivity. She inspired in me a great respect and I learned from her, the art of remaining a lady at all times.”.

Maria Louisa Seraphina Fortin, my maternal grandmother was the daughter of Francois Evariste Fortin, a merchant. At one time he was the Mayor of Pembroke, Ontario, where she was born in the winter of 1874 at the end of February, some say, the coldest month of winter.

At a young age Louisa learned to play the piano and soon became an accomplished pianist. It was a passion that brought her great joy and satisfaction throughout her lifetime.

When Louisa was eighteen, she married her cousin Louis Joseph Jodouin. They both had the same grandfather, Moyse Hypolite Fortin. He had two wives. Henriette Bertrand, his first wife was Louis Joseph Jodouin’s mother. She passed away at the tender age of twenty-five. Moyse remarried Emilie Thomas dite Tranchemontage, Louisa’s mother. Before the cousins were able to marry, the Vicar Apostolate of the Diocese of Pontiac granted them the required consanguinity dispensation.1

Louis and Louisa were married in the Saint Columbkille Cathedral in Pembroke on the 9th of January 1893. They moved to Sudbury, Ontario, where Louis Joseph had already established a bottling company.

The new community had recently been incorporated and was booming. In 1883, during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, nickel-copper ore had been discovered  near Sudbury. Prospectors and miners came flocking to the district and soon staked their claims with high hopes.

Louis’ bottling company sold ginger ale, soda water and mineral water. It was a successful enterprise. After several years the bottling company was sold. A new company, L.J. Jodouin Ice Company was formed, and it became a thriving business for L. J. (as grandfather was known). He had an ongoing contract with the CPRailway to provide ice for the trains. The trains stopped in Sudbury where they were furnished with fresh ice for the next leg of their journey out west. This long-standing contract lasted till refrigeration became available on trains, some time in the mid forties.

Meanwhile, Louise was settling in as a homemaker. The couple were blessed with nine healthy children, six girls and three boys. They also raised a grandson, Frankie. His mother, Delia  had died of septicemia when he was an infant.

Louisa led a very sheltered life. Louis did all the grocery shopping and he paid the bills. Louisa had no idea what anything cost. She had an allowance that she could spend as she chose.

After her death it was revealed that over the years she bought First Communion dresses for little girls whose parents could not afford them. During the Depression, daughters of friends coming from out of town to find work were taken in to their large home on Elm Street. They were treated as one of the family until they were able to establish themselves. Wedding receptions were hosted in their home for young brides who had no family, the same way they did for their own daughters. She also paid the expenses allowing her granddaughter to continue her education after her parents were separated. All these acts of kindness went unnoticed. Perhaps one of the reasons her niece Louise who wrote about her, and knew of her generosity. More than likely Granny was there for her when she moved from Temiskamang to Sudbury as a young bride.

After Louis passed away in 1944, the family homestead was sold. The property was developed, a Canadian Tire Store was built on the site which was then considered prime land.  Louisa had a small bungalow built not far from the original ice warehouse on Lake Ramsey. She spent her last years living with her spinster daughter, Adele. It was here that she was able to fullfill a lifelong dream of having a baby grand piano in her home! The ‘Baby Grand’ had a place of honour in her bright sunny living room.

During the summer of 1948 my Mother drove four of us, Ruth, John, Paul and I to Sudbury for a visit. I have vivid memories of my grandmother, Granny Jodouin, ever a lady, playing her ‘Baby Grand.’ She sure could tickle those ivories. It seems her fingers remained nimble throughout her life.

Upon leaving Sudbury and heading for the long drive home to Asbestos there was a touching moment, as she began playing “Say Au Revoir, But Not Goodbye”. It is a moment that will be forever etched in my memory.

Two years later, on the 11th of May 1950 she died of a stroke, at the age of seventy-six. She is buried beside Louis in the LaSalle Cemetery in Sudbury. A place I have visited over the years.  Both my parents are there beside my grandparents, near the huge  granite Jodouin cross that once stood so prominently. Over time the ground could not support the cross and we  laid it to rest due to ground changes and heaving. It is also to be my final resting place.


Louis Joseph and Louisa Jodouin 1893


Marie Louisa Seraphina Fortin (Jodouin) – “Granny”


You may want to visit the following family related  stories at

A Pembroke Pioneer – Francois Evariste Fortin Louisa’s Father

Dad’s Favourite Christmas Story – Little Frankie






One thought on “Granny Jodouin and Her Baby Grand”

  1. Claire, this is a beautifully written piece. Louisa was an extraordinary woman. I arrived at this web page because I had seen two L.J. Jodouin bottles for sale in an auction in Sudbury ON and I wanted to know their history. Thank you for giving me that and for painting such a vivid picture of this family for me.


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