The House on Main Street

There is a house on Main Street (now Rue Principale), in Lachute, Quebec that my mother said had ties to our family. We would drive by it on most shopping trips to Lachute from our summer cottage. Mom said her Aunt Helvetia and Uncle Eugene Jousse had lived there and for a short time her grandmother Ida Bruneau. I thought it was a different house but old pictures clearly show which was the house. It now looks out on a Canadian Tire gas station and a Tim Horton’s.

Eugene’s father Theophile Jousse, had the house built in 1887, as a copy of his family home outside of Paris destroyed by a fire during the Paris Commune of 1870-71.

The house, built in the French style, right on the street with a small overhead balcony and dormer windows stands out. To the west of the house was a croquet lawn. A small cottage was built behind for his parents.

Theophile Jousse was born in 1855 in Vincennes, a commune in the Val-de-Maren department in the eastern suburbs of Paris. His father the Reverend Jean Felix Jousse, his mother Gorgette Haerrig and the family lived through the Prussian War, only to be caught up in the Paris Commune of 1870-71. Soldiers of the National Guard had seized control of Paris, refusing to accept the authority of the French government and tried to establish an independent state.

Felix and Theophile immigrated to Canada around 1874 with the rest of the family coming soon after. When Theophile first saw Ephyse Piché at L’Oratoire, the French Baptist Church in Montreal he knew right away that she was the woman he would going to marry and they did in 1876.

Theophile, an apprentice watchmaker moved from Montreal to Waterloo, Quebec and opened a jewellery store. When his business failed he moved his family to Lachute as his wife Ephyse was originally from nearby Saint Scholastic. There he opened another jewellery store and his parents moved into the cottage behind. Felix Jousse died in 1890 while his wife Georgette lived in the cottage for almost 20 years.

Theophile and Ephyse had three sons, Paul, Albin who died as a child and Eugene 13 years younger than Paul. Both sons apprenticed as watchmakers and jewellers under their father. Paul moved to Vankleek Hill, Ontario, just west of Lachute and opened his jewellery shop while Eugene inherited the Lachute house and business from his father. This caused some family problems.

When Eugene Jousse married Helvetia Bruneau they moved into the small house behind the store as both Theophile’s parents had died. They lived there until Eugene’s mother Ephyse died and then moved into the big house to look after Theophile. While Helvetia had furnished and redecorated the cottage she wasn’t allowed to move or change anything in the big house. It had to remain as Ephyse had left it.

Helvetia and Eugene had two children, Eugene Theophile and Ephyse Marie. Theophile insisted his granddaughter be called Ephyse after his wife. When Helvetia’s father died in 1918 her mother Ida Bruneau and two younger brothers Herbert and Gerald came to live with them. They had the space as Theophile died in 1916 and they still had the two houses. Herbert finished high school in Lachute and Gerald was still living there in 1921.

In the twenties the jewellery business in Lachute couldn’t support the family so in 1927 they moved to Montreal and Eugene went to work at Birks.

The house is still there. It must have had many owners as the businesses have changed over the years. It has recently been renovated and a tattoo parlour and a clothing shop called Toxic have been replaced by a children’s clothing boutique. The grandmother’s cottage still sits behind but the croquet lawn is long gone.

Notes:

Letter from Ephyse Jousse Hawks to Donald Walcot October 10, 1986. Copy in author’s possession.

The Walcots of Montreal West by Donald T. Walcot. Toronto 1984.

Lachute Chapter IV The Period of Expansion. 1876- 1900.

The house was built in 1887 by a local builder Riddell and Sutherland but designed by Theophile Jousse.

In 1921 the house was number 57 and now it is number 601, 603 and 603A Rue Principale

In 1986 Ephyse Jousse Hawkes said the house housed a delicatessen. She looked through the window and didn’t recognize her old home.

The Jousses:

Jean Felix Jousse: 1825 -1890 He was a Limonadier and an evangelist

Georgette Caroline Eve (Mimi) Haerrig 1827 – 1908

Jean Theophile Jousse: 1855 – 1916

Ephyse Piché Jousse: 1858 – 1914

Eugene Marcelin Jousse: 1890 -1954

Helvatia Bruneau Jousse : 1891 – 1970

Eugene Theophile Jousse: 1913 -1992

Ephyse Marie (Fee) Jousse Hawkes: 1915 – 2008

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