Recently the Governor-General of Canada appointed Nancy Karetak LIndell, Membership in the Order of Canada in recognition of her contribution to Canadians in the far north. She is the wife of my nephew, Jon Lindell, who passed away shortly after she became a member of Parliament. Nancy Karetak Lindell served to more than a decade as a member of Parliament and now lives in Arviat, Nunavut close to family members.
Her activities, contributions and dedication to the people of the north continues to this day.
It is with great pride as a Canadian that I share this news having learned of it through this week’s Nunatsiaq News that featured the article below.
In the waning years of the 16th century, Pierre Esprit Radisson, my eighth great grandfather was born in France. He was a cloth merchant of modest means living in the parish of Saint Nicolas des Champ, Paris Frances.
In the year 1633, he married Madeleine Henault, the widow of Sebastien Hayet. She brought to the marriage her young toddler, Marguerite. Together they had three more children, Francoise (1636), Elisabeth (1638), and Pierre Esprit, the famous fur trader and explorer (1640).
Recently the following biographical sketches about members of the Radisson family were added to our blog.
Pierre Senior died in 1641 at the age of 51 leaving Madeleine to care for the four children. Within five years she also passed away. (1646) What was going to happen to the youngsters? Marguerite was now 15 years of age, while Francoise, Elisabeth, and Pierre were still very young.
The three sisters, despite their young age, became “marriageable young girls”. They arrived in New France during the summer of 1646 and were welcomed into the community of Three Rivers (Trois Rivieres) that had been settled in 1634 by Samuel de Champlain. The location was ideal, the midpoint between Quebec City and the burgeoning Ville Marie (Montreal1642).
Very little information is known about the early years of Francoise Radisson, other than in 1649 the record shows that she became her nephew Etienne’s godmother. He was the son of her half-sister, Marguerite.
In 1653 at the age of seventeen, Francoise married Claude Volant de Saint Claude, a soldier from France, also 17. No records of their marriage contract nor written records of their marriage have been found.
The young couple set out to have a family and before long they were blessed with a set of twin boys, Pierre, and Claude, born November 8, 1654. Two and half years later, on July 28th, 1657, a daughter, Francoise saw the light of day, but at the age of five and a half, she died. There is no indication of what caused her death, but, typhoid and smallpox were common diseases causing the loss of life.
In November of 1659 another daughter, Marguerite and was welcomed after the pain of losing their first daughter. Four years later in July of 1663, another daughter also named Francoise was born. Her life came to an abrupt end, having lived only three months. In the fall of 1664, the family rejoiced when their healthy young son Etienne joined the family. Almost five years later Jean Francois was born, followed by Nicolas in 1671 and then young fellow Charles Ignace rounded out the family on November 7, 1673.
For nearly twenty years Francoise bore nine children having given birth to three daughters and six sons. No doubt there were moments of deep grief, along with times of jubilation for the family. The childbearing years took a heavy toll on Francoise.
In the last years of her life, she became ill and Claude soon realized the need for help and hired a housekeeper to care for her and the five young children still living at home. When the leaves of autumn are at their finest, most splendid colors, Francoise died October 3rd, 1677at the young age of forty-one.
During her lifetime, she lived to see her two eldest sons become priests, but not long enough to see them ordained, nor to witness their many accomplishments. She must have been quite ill when her daughter Marguerite was married in the summer of 1675 and perhaps unable to attend the celebrations. She may have rejoiced seeing her first granddaughter when Marguerite gave birth before her mother’s passing, but she died before seeing the second granddaughter and was spared knowing that Marguerite died shortly thereafter.
Francoise’s will above was prepared on the 12th of August 1677 prior to her death in October of the same year.
Francoise’s steadfast husband, Claude Volant became a prominent member of the Three Rivers community. He was granted a Seigneury along the St. Lawrence river also named a churchwarden. Numerous interesting notarial records may be found in his name. Perhaps the most important one consisted of his being named tutor of his children still living at home.https://www.prdh-igd.com/
Request from Claude Vollant (Volant), Sieur de Saint-Claude, for the election of a tutor to property and persons at the meeting of May 11, 1678 by Gilles Boyvinet (Boivinet), King’s adviser… (04T, TL3,S11,P1681)1)
Samuel de Champlain was a man with a plan; actually, many plans. His explorations of New France began in the early 1600s. Along the way he set his sites on Trois Rivieres, given its strategic location at the mouth of the St. Maurice River where it flows into the St. Lawrence River.1.
Trois Rivières derived its name from the delta at the mouth of the river where there are two islands that separate the river into three branches as it flows into the St. Lawrence. “… the Three Rivers name is used for the first time in 1599 by Sieur François Gravé Du Pont, a geographer under Champlain, whose records confirmed the name in 1603”. 2.
The area was settled by a small group of colonists on July 4th, 1634. At the time it was the second largest New France settlement, the first being Quebec City in 1608. Montreal would follow about 8 years after Trois Rivières in 1642. 3.
The young colony of Trois Rivières was constantly under attack by the Iroquois.4.
“Under the orders of Champlain, LaViolette, (a commander) travels to the mouth of the Saint-Maurice River to found a fur trading post and build a fort on ‘le Platon’, a plateau situated on a hillock of land along the St. Lawrence River. The fort would enclose a few homes and shops, and the settlement would become known as Trois-Rivières. For a long time, this site will be one of the most advantageous for the activities of fur traders.” 5.
In 1656, Claude Jutras dit Lavallée, a young 29-year-old soldier arrived in Trois Rivières and was stationed at the garrison. One of his first transactions was to purchase land. This was the first of many transactions he would be involved in over the years.
What is a ‘dit/dite’ name? When the first settlers came to Québec from France it was a custom to add a ‘dit’ nickname to the surname. The English translation of ‘dit’ is ‘said’. The Colonists of Nouvelle France added ‘dit’ names as distinguishers. A settler might have wanted to differentiate their family from their siblings by taking a ‘dit’ name that described the locale to which they had relocated. The Colonists of Nouvelle France added ‘dit’ names as distinguishers. 6.
Within a year of his arrival Claude married Elisabeth Radisson, my 7th great-grandmother, the sister of Pierre Esprit Radisson, the famous explorer and coureur de bois. (see previous blogs: A Very Marriageable Young Girl and Allegiances)
Claude was born in the parish of Saint Severin, Paris, Ile de France, France in about 1627. He was the son of Pierre Jutras dit Lavallee Desrosiers and Marie Claude Boucher d’Avancon. They were married in Paris and there are questions about the date of the marriage. Little is known or written about the family or about Claude’s early years.
Claude Jutras dit LaValléeis a bourgeois in 1699. This fact is noted frequently in the many BanQ NUmerique records shown in the documents below.11.
Eventually, the King of France realized that the young colony needed better protection if they truly wanted to establish a permanent settlement. The Carignan-Salieres Regiment consisting of 1,500 regular soldiers arrived in New France in 1663. 12.
Claude did not remain in the garrison for very long. The Talon census of 1666 indicated that he was living in Trois Rivières and had become a settler, a habitant, with a growing family.13.
After serving time as a soldier, he became a farmer. The family settled in the community and prospered and was recognized in 1679 as a member of the ‘bourgeoisie’. This is also noted in many of the court records and that both Claude and Elisabeth could sign their names.
Claude died on the 28th of November 1710 and was laid to rest in the cemetery in Trois Rivières. Elisabeth lived another twelve years surrounded by her extended family
While researching records at BanQ Numerique for information on Claude Jutras, it was interesting to note that Claude and Elisabeth had many irons in the fire. He had a variety of requests both as a plaintiff and a defendant.
One can glean glimpses into the insights of these settlers, how they lived, and the issues that were important to them: land purchases, settling of accounts, being dismissed from duties, gambling issues, and damages to property. Example: one’s ox, just to name a few. In the case of the Jutras family there are 195 records during a period of nearly fifty years.14.
Below are three records of transactions by Claude Jutras dit Lavallée.
Results of the research
results Keyword : Claude Jutras dit Lavallée – Quebec heritage– Judgment referring Claude Jutras dit Lavallée, elected tutor of the minor children of Marguerite Hayot, widow of sieur Grandmesnil, now wife of Medard Chouart DesGroseilliers before the judge of Trois-Rivières, to be discharged from the guardianship. Quebec heritage. New France. Sovereign Council. September 3, 1664
Transcription of the text with modernized spelling: “On what was represented by the Attorney General of the King. Translated by DeepL
Marguerite Hayet Des Groseilliers was the half-sister of Elisabeth Radisson.
2. Request from Claude Jutras (Jutrat) dit Lavallée (La Vallée), plaintiff, to be compensated by master Guillaume Pépin for an ox which was mistreated by his people who would have inflicted a wound on his hip by blows. Said Pépin is ordered to dress and medicate the beef in order to cure it. Quebec heritage -New France. Royal jurisdiction of Trois-Rivières. August 31, 1669 . Translated by DeepL
Over the years many authors have written about ‘les filles du roi, otherwise known as the King’s (Louis XIV’s) daughter’s. Eight hundred young women were part of a settlement scheme from 1663 -1674 in New France, now Quebec, Canada.
Much less was written and noted about a group of women who ventured into the new world. Prior to the King’s daughter’s arrival, the Company of One Hundred Associates between the years 1634 and 1662 recruited tradesmen, labourers and 262 young women. The purpose was to create a French settlement.
Elisabeth Radisson, my seventh great grandmother, along with her sister, Francoise and her half-sister Marguerite all signed contracts. What prompted them to sign these contracts, particularly when they were so young? Elisabeth Radisson was born in about 1637 in St. Sulpice, Paris, Ile de France, France.
Pierre Esprit Radisson Sr, their father was a well-to do bourgeois. He owned a clothing store in Paris. He married Madeleine Henault, the widow of Sebastien Hayet, who died leaving his young wife with a year-old daughter, Marguerite, born in 1632. Several documents have indicated that the marriage of Pierre and Madeleine took place in 1635. Together the couple had 3 children, Francoise about (1636) and Elisabeth about (1637) and Pierre, the famous explorer. The dates of his birth vary. There are discrepancies indicating that it was sometime between (1636 -1640)
There are several dates given for the passing of Pierre Senior. There is a document explaining an inventory upon his death dated 1641.3. The year of his demise seems most likely to be is 1646. Most documents give his date of birth as 1590 and it appears he died at the age of fifty-six, on November 25, 1646, in Paris leaving Madeleine to care for four young people between the ages of 15 and 9. 4.
In 1646 these three young girls, Elisabeth, age 9, Francoise about 10 years old and Marguerite at 15 each signed a contract as ‘filles à marier’. They set sail for New France. 5. After a lengthy crossing they arrived and settled in Trois- Rivières. Pierre may have come with them although a document indicates “he immigrated from France to Canada on the 24th of May, in 1651”.6.
After her arrival little is written about Elisabeth settling in her new home. We do know Elisabeth was able to sign her name. During a ten-year period in Trois-Rivières very little is known about where she lived as a young girl. One might presume that she was with her siblings. The first record other than her arrival in Canada is 8-7-1657 in Trois Rivières when she was the godmother of Marie-Anne Chouard or Chouart. This child might have been the daughter of Elisabeth Radisson’s half-sister. Marguerite.
Later that year there was a notarial contract signing on October 8, 1657, before her marriage to Claude Jutras. At that point she would have been 19 years old.7.
Her husband to be, Claude Jutras dit Lavallée was also born in Paris about 1627 and he arrived in Trois-Rivières 1656 as a soldier. He was stationed at the garrison in Trois Rivières. 8.
Elisabeth Radisson and Claude Jutras dit Lavallée were married on November 05, 1657, 9. at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Trois-Rivières.10.
Within the first year of their marriage Elisabeth gave birth to a daughter, Madeleine. Over a period of twenty years, the couple had nine children, 6 girls and 3 boys. Most of the children lived to adulthood. Sadly, Marguerite died at the age of nineteen giving birth to twin boys. Young Claude was sixteen at the time of his death.11.
Five of the daughters married and Marie Joseph chose to enter the Ursuline convent. Pierre became a voyageur and acquired a seigneury.
The census of 1671 noted that Claude Jutras was no longer a soldier, but rather had become a habitant or settler. Life appears to have been kind to the family. By the year 1679 after a number of land transactions the Jutras had acquired wealth and were now considered members of the bourgeoisie, among the well to do families.12.
The above document is only one indication of the many financial contributions Elisabeth’s made to the Jutras family wealth.13.
Claude Jutras dit Lavallée died the 28th of November 1710 and was buried that same day in Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada.14.
Elisabeth Radisson lived for nearly twelve years after Claude’s passing. She died on the 11th of May 1722 and is also buried in Trois-Rivières.15.
In the early days of New France Robert Giffard, a doctor and a seigneur living in the new colony of Beauport was recognized for his determination to fulfill a specific role. The Company of One Hundred Associates was instrumental in requesting him to establish the new colony. At the time there were approximately one hundred people living there. For it to become a viable settlement they needed to attract new immigrants. Giffard was up to the task. He set out to recruit the most skilled and talented craftsmen in Perche, Basse Normandie. Men signed contracts with Giffard and emigrated to New France in the first wave of settlers.
Zacharie Cloutier, my ninth great grandfather, a master carpenter, in his mid-forties, along with an ever-growing family were eager to participate. He and his great friend, Jean Guyon, a master mason both signed three-year contracts with Robert Giffard on March 14th, 1634.
There were several stipulations in the contract:1. Robert Giffard
would pay passage from France to Canada for Zacharie and Jean
plus one family member each.
promised them 1,000 arpents of land on which they could hunt, fish, and build a home
also promised to foot the bill for all their living expenses for the duration of the contract.
After two years, Seigneur Giffard would pay passage for the rest of the mens’ families to join them.
There was also a clause indicating that the men would be required to render fealty and homage to Giffard.
Although Zacharie did not know how to read or write, his signature was not the regular X, that was used by many, but, rather a unique, distinctive, creative drawing of an axe.
The marks of Martin Grouvel (left) and Zacharie Cloutier (right)2
The ship carrying the men arrived in New France on June 4,1634 after a two-month journey at sea.3.Historians did not appear to agree on the time the men’s families arrived. Some indicated that they brought their families–in their entirety on the initial voyage, whereas, others noted that a passenger list for ships arriving in1636 contained the names of Zacharie’s wife and children. We do know that his family is among the first to settle in Beauport along with the Guyons.
Zacharie was born at the close of the 16th century about 1590 in Mortagne-au-Perch (Orne)and married a widow, Xainte Dupont July 18, 1616 in Saint Jean in the same village.4. Together they had six children, 3 girls and 3 boys. A young daughter, Sainte, sometimes spelt like her mother Xainte, died in France. She was only ten years old.
Within a short period after their arrival in Quebec City, June 4th,1634 our master carpenter set to work. He began building Robert Giffard’s manor home in Beauport.5.
Once his contract was terminated, he continued building the parish church in Quebec City, and the Saint Louis Fort. Meanwhile he worked for the nuns and others at their request and in his free time began clearing and cultivating his land that was granted February 3rd, 1637. La Clouterie, the arriére fief measured 322 metres in width and 7.4 kilometres in length.6.
An arriéve-fief is a subdivision of a seigneurie.6.
Zacharie was not from a noble family. These titles were given by the King, however, as a seigneur he became known as a ‘bourgeois seigneur’ with the same duties and titles of noble seigneurs.7
The issue of fealty and homage rose to the forefront between Giffard, Cloutier and Guyon., There was a parting of the ways caused by a dispute over the clause in their contract that requested fealty and homage to Giffard. Zacharie Cloutier and Jean Guyon resisted for several years and were adamant. They refused to pay tribute to Giffard. Court actions ensued. Zacharie chose to sell his land in Beauport to Nicholas Dupont and moved to Chateau Richer where Governor Jean de Lauzon had granted him land.8.
On the 12th of May 1669, Zacharie and Xainte, his wife, made their will and placed themselves in the hands of their son Zacharie.
In 1670 Zacharie and Xainte were now about 76 and 70 years of age. They chose to prepare an “Actes de Donation”.9 Their sons and families had settled in Chateau Richer. The act consisted of a donation of all their possessions. Land and goods were given to their son and his family. In return, they were to provide the parents a home, food, clothing, and all that comes with caring for their parents for the remainder of their days.
Zacharie died on September 17th, 1677 at the age of 87 or 88 and was buried the following day in Chateau Richer Cemetery.10 Xainte succumbed on the 13th of July 1680. 341 years ago today, as I put the finishing touches on this story. She too is buried in the same cemetery.
The Cloutiers are one of the foremost families of Quebec, noting that over the years there have been between 5 and 6 million descendants.11. I’m in good company, Prime Minister Louis St Laurent is also a direct descendant.
The name ‘Cloutier’, itself, supports the contention that Zacharie was a skilled person. It appears the name is a contraction of the French word “clou” meaning nail and “métier” meaning to make; thus, a Cloutier being a ‘maker of nails’
Zacharie and Xainte were the first couple in Canada to celebrate their diamond and golden wedding anniversaries in New France.
During the past year racism and the Covid19 pandemic have been uppermost in the news. The Black Lives Matter movement protesters have been out in full force, particularly since the death of George Floyd. People from all walks of life around the world have been expressing their desire, their dreams and hopes for change.
In the United States in 1947 Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, prior to that he played for the Montreal Royals as a stepping stone toward the big leagues!
In 1955 Rosa Parks was arrested and fingerprinted for refusing to give up her seat. At the time people of color were designated seats in the back of the bus.
Martin Luther King Jr. had not yet come upon the scene. It was in1963 that the famous march on Washington, DC took place. It was there that he gave a powerful “I Have a Dream “speech.
The current turmoil of systemic racism is slowly being addressed and is changing. Will the Black Lives Matter movement leave a lasting positive message?
Growing up in a small mining town in the Eastern Townships in the 50s the population was predominantly Caucasians, either French or English speaking . There were no other ethnic groups at the time. When I made frequent trips to the orthodontist in Montreal, I became aware of many diverse groups in our country. That was not the case in our small town. There were no people of African American descent or other ethnic groups.
Life’s adventures are ongoing learning experiences.
On a crisp October morning in 1956 the ’54 Hudson was all packed and we were looking forward to our long trip. Sarasota, Florida was our destination. At that time it was the winter home of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.
The three of us were embarking on a long journey. Mac, the golf professional, and his wife Midge would be spending the winter months in their home in Sarasota. Every spring they would make their way back to Canada where Mac was the manager of the local golf course. I, on the other hand had just finished High School and was too young to pursue further studies. The plan was for me to spend the winter in Florida with them and broaden my horizons.
Among the many stops on our journey south was one that brings bac memories. Winston Salem, North Carolina was on our itinerary and we planned to spend the weekend with Midge’s sister, Elsie. She and her family lived in a luxurious home. Like most wealthy folks in the south, they had servants. Their daughter, Lucretia and I were about the same age. She began showing me around their home. Most likely we had just finished breakfast and she wanted me to meet the cook and her little granddaughter.
Looking at this little four-year-old who had the biggest smile, my first instinct was to go toward her, bend down and chat. In the process of moving toward her I froze and could not budge. No matter how hard I tried, I could not bring myself to go near her. What was happening? What was preventing me from touching her and chatting.
Shortly after this occurred I began to realize how much we are swayed and influenced by others.
The experience has left a lifelong impression. To this day, I get goose bumps thinking about my actions and the way I handled the situation as a young teenager. It was a valuable lesson at the time and still is.
With so much of the news revolving around Black Lives Matter will the movement be a major turning point in eradicating systemic racism?
Hillary Rodham Clinton, Justin Trudeau, Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles, Justin Bieber, Angelina Jolie, Madonna, Ryan Gosling, Celine Dion, and me.
This year (2021) is the 400th Anniversary of the baptism of our common ancestor. Julien Fortin saw the first light of day on February 9th, 1621 in the village of Saint Cosme-de-Vairais in the old province of Perche. Julien’s parents were Marie Lavye and Julien his father, a butcher by trade. 1. & 2.
At the age of seven young Julien’s mother died. The young fellow had a good relationship with his grandfather, Gervais Lavye, the owner of L’Auberge du Cheval Blanc. In 1634 at that inn, Julien, now a lad of thirteen first heard Robert Giffard speak at the request of the French King Louis XIV. Giffard’s mission was to recruit settlers, in particular tradesmen and their families to join him in developing a colony in New France.
It was at this point that maybe a seed was planted in his memory as he listened to the adventures of Giffard, that he too, would someday be able to participate in this endeavour?
Robert Giffard, proprietor of the Seigneurie of Beaupré went back to New France with a small number of settlers and later, around 1650 he returned to Saint Cosme-de-Vairais with the same mission, to recruit more settlers. Julien, now an adult with a bright future ahead, chose to join the group taking on the challenge of an adventure into the unknown. What lay ahead? Could they possibly imagine?
The enthusiastic families made their way perhaps with a certain degree of skepticism to Dieppe where they boarded a ship for a long three-month arduous, perilous voyage, arriving in Quebec City in late August of 1650.
Young Julien had worked as a butcher and would appear to have saved some money. When he arrived in New France, his savings were sufficient that his first notarial act took place on December 26, 1650 when he purchased a prime lot of waterfront property along the Saint Lawrence River in Ste-Anne de Beaupré. It was the first notarial transaction of more than 85 notarial records prepared during his lifetime.
Over the years he became an astute businessman buying and selling land, often using beaver pelts as payments for these transactions. He soon became known as Julien ‘de Bellefontaine”, a name given when he bought his first property which had a source of fresh spring water.
Marriage contract of Julien and Genevieve
Julien, now in his thirties, settled in his new environment and the time came for him to consider marriage. He chose his bride to be, a young seventeen-year-old, Genevieve Gamache, a ’fille a marier’, a marriageable young woman, who had arrived in New France with the hope of finding a suitable husband. At the time many young women were sponsored. She arrived before King Louis XIVs program of “les filles du roi” or King’s daughters who arrived during the years 1663-1673. These young women sponsored by the King came with the intention of marrying and developing the new colony.
Genevieve came to New France accompanied by her brother, Nicolas Gamache dit Lamarre. A marriage contract was drawn up by Claude Auber and signed on the 22nd of August 1652 in the future home of Toussaint while the celebration of the marriage and blessing took place in the chapel of Saint Joachim de Montmorency in Cape Tourmente on the 11th of November 1652. A festive gathering followed at the home of Louis Gagné, whose name appears on the notarial contract, a friend of Julien’s. Both men came from the same village in France.3.& 6.
It was not long before there was a family celebration, one of great joy. Julien and Genevieve had given birth to a daughter, Barbe. She was the first of twelve children, eight boys and four girls from their union.4. Over the years there were many occasions for family festivities. The twelve children were all healthy at birth.
The fate of six of Julien Fortin and Genevieve Gamache’s children.
The above chart indicates the devastation that the epidemics of 1687 and 1703 brought on the Fortin family. Some of the younger children contracted scarlet fever, measles and later in 1703 others were taken by smallpox. Julien, the son, died at the age of 20 in 1687, as did Louis at 16. Around 1681 Jean had also succumbed to an epidemic and in 1703 when another outbreak of smallpox occurred Marguerite, Genevieve, Marie-Anne, and Joseph also lost their battles with these devastating diseases. Along the way Barbe lost her first husband, Pierre also due to an epidemic.
On a positive note, it shows the progeny of Julien and Genevieve. They had a total of 75 grandchildren. Julien certainly upheld his part of the bargain in developing and populating New France.
Despite trials, tribulations and the loss of family members and the constant attacks by the Iroquois, life in the new colony continued to thrive. By 1668, Cape Tourmente with its fertile plains along the St. Lawrence River had become an agricultural hub that provided the settlers with plenty of food.
Julien was a generous, prosperous, and deeply religious man with a strong devotion to Saint Anne. He gave to the churches of Chateau Richer and Sainte Anne. He bestowed a house near the church, and a bake house to be used by the two churches. He donated a monetary gift of 20 sous and 2.1 bushels of wheat to the church. He owned several guns, several beasts and twenty acres of land.
The exact death of Julien Fortin is unknown. Archivists have concluded that he was not present at the second marriage of his daughter, Barbe on the 16th of April 1690. The date of his death appears in a document and that the death occurred at Hotel-Dieu hospital in Quebec City August 10, 1692.
Julien Fortin de Bellefontaine faced the unknown, undaunted by the challenges and adventures that lay before him as he set sail for New France in 1650. He was a man of honour and integrity. As he and his wife were among the early pioneers that survived hardships’ They worked diligently and produced a long prolific line of Fortin descendants in North America. Approximately 90% of the Fortins are related to Julien and Genevieve Fortin.5.
Are you a descendant of Julien Fortin dit Bellefontaine?”
I am a proud to be a descendant of this honorable man and his family.
Louisa Seraphina Fortin, my mother’s mother, my grandmother was a direct descendant of Julien Fortin, my 7th great grandfather.
There is a distinction between ‘dit’ names and ‘de’ names. “dit” names were given to people by giving them an additional second name to distinguish them from others with the same family name.
In 1945 our family moved to Asbestos, Quebec. Dad, a mining engineer was hired to design and oversee the construction of a shaft. The company was planning to mine underground.
My older sister, Ruth had to learn French and the same for brothers John and Karl. For them it was a difficult transition. My younger brother, Paul and I, were young enough that we learned the language easily and took it in stride.
As children we used to play Tic-Tac-Toe on the cars parked near the Main Office which was not far from our home. In those days, all the cars were black! It was like having our own little blackboards.
Our home was also extremely close, perhaps 500 yards from the open pit. Our house would shake when they blasted several times daily. Sirens could be heard all over town at blasting time. It did not take us long to get accustomed to them. When the Second World War ended it seemed like the sirens were never going to stop. That is one of my first memories of living in Asbestos.
During the past year I have written and published these stories about my hometown, Asbestos.
Recently the town of Asbestos entered a new era. Over the years there has been a constant demand to change the name of the town. “Asbestos’ is a known carcinogen that causes various lung diseases. Businesses, particularly English companies, did not wish to be associated with name ‘asbestos’, while in the French language the product asbestos fibre is referred to as ‘amiante’ and does not create a similar problem. However, the citizens of the town were aiming at creating a new direction for their community.
Several names were suggested: “to vote in a ranked-choice referendum among six options: L’Azur-des-Cantons, Jeffrey-sur-le-Lac, Larochelle, Phénix, Trois-Lacs and Val-des-Sources. Val-des-Sources won 51.5 per cent on the vote”.1. in recognition of the Nicolet River and Three Lakes nearby that had already been incorporated with the town.
One of the choices was Jeffrey which would have been my choice. The open pit was named Jeffrey Mine. It helped make Canada one the world’s leaders in asbestos exports. The Jeffrey mine, once Canada’s largest, closed in 2012.2’
The Provincial Government, Toponyme committee and the Municipal Affairs and Housing accepted the new name in December 2020.
Having spent so many years living there, in my heart of hearts, it will always be Asbestos. Most of the places I frequented while growing up are no longer there. The church where I was confirmed, the elementary school, the commercial district, our house, all have disappeared.
Much of the town as I knew it has been absorbed by the pit. However, the golf course is far enough away and there will not be anymore changes to the pit except for those who will be able to enjoy slacklining.
Slacklining refers to the act of walking, running or balancing along a suspended length of flat webbing that is tensioned between two anchors. Slacklining is similar to slack rope walking and tightrope walking. Slacklines differ from tightwires and tightropes in the type of material used and the amount of tension applied during use. Slacklines are tensioned significantly less than tightropes or tightwires in order to create a dynamic line which will stretch and bounce like a long and narrow trampoline. Wikipedia.