“Eddie! Come on, Ed. Frank forgot his lunch and you have to take it to him.”
Ed’s heart sank. This meant that he had to make his way all the way from Verdun to Montreal West so that he could give Frank the lunch he forgot. And it was sitting right there, on the kitchen table when Frank left – and he forgot it again! This meant that Eddie would spend all morning going and coming back again.
My uncle, Frank McHugh, worked as a tramway driver and he drove the tram on the 63 or 64 route that went along Sherbrooke Street West in Montreal. And the unlucky little boy who always had the job of taking him his lunch was my dad, Edward McHugh.
Uncle Frank’s full name was Francis Strachan McHugh and he was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1904 and emigrated to Canada with his parents and six siblings in 1912. His younger brother, Edward, was born in 1914. So, by the time Frank had found work as a tramway driver in the 1920’s, Edward was old enough to travel across the city and bring him his lunch.
Thomas McHugh with sons, Edward (left) and James (right). Edward was about eight years old in this picture, about the time he would have carried Frank’s lunch to him.
The first public transportation company in Montreal, The Montreal Passenger City Railway Company (MPCRC) was established in 1861 when the first horse-drawn tramway came into service along Notre Dame Street. The horse-drawn tramway had two employees on-board, a driver and a conductor who collected the fares. The passengers simply hailed the tram when they wanted to get on and signaled to the driver when they wanted to get off.1
Horse-drawn winter tramway on St. Catherine Street (around 1877), Société de transport de Montréal (STM) website, Tramways History
The MPCRC eventually became the Montreal Street Railway Company (MSRC). The MSRC introduced the first electric powered tramway, The Rocket, on September 21, 1892. The electric tramways immediately became very popular as they were much faster than the horse-drawn tramways. 2
By the time Uncle Frank became a tram driver, his employer was the Montreal Tramways Company (MTC). The MTC, created in 1911, acquired all the other transit companies on the island at that time. The citizens of Montreal, concerned that a private company had a monopoly over the public transit in the city, put pressure on the city, and the Montreal Transit Commission was created in 1918 to oversee the MTC. 3
At the time that Uncle Frank worked as a tramway driver in the early 1920s, it was the peak of the operation of the tramway system in city. At that time, the MTC carried nearly 230 million passengers per year. 4 In 1924, the company published this map of the Montreal Transit system.5
By the mid-1920s, the city began transitioning to buses, with the first major replacement of the tramway in 1936 in the city’s east end on Notre Dame Street. 6 Uncle Frank followed suit and drove the bus that went along Sherbroooke Street West. But by that time, if he forgot his lunch, he was out of luck.
When cars became popular in Montreal in the 1950s, Uncle Frank quit his job as a bus driver and became a taxi driver.
There is always a lot of talk in this province about who is a “real” Quebecer. Our current Premier Francois Legault, wants to limit services in English to “Historical Anglos”. While I can certainly claim this right, having been born and raised in Quebec, as were my parents, I also have “Pure Laine” ancestry. I descend from Pierre Gadois, the first person to be granted land on the Island of Montreal.
L’eglise Saint-Martin d’Igé in Orme, Basse-Normandie, in north west France has a plaque with the names of men who left for Canada and the saying, “Je me Souviens” (I remember). I don’t know when the plaque was installed in this ancient church but Pierre Gadois arrived in Nouvelle France (Canada) about 1636. He left in one of the earliest waves of immigrants from L’Igé. Nicolas Godé, his sister Francoise’s husband also has his name on the plaque. That family arrived in Ville Marie (Montreal) six years later.
Pierre, his wife Louise and two children sailed to New France as part of a settlement initiative by Robert Giffard de Moncel, the first Seigneur of the French Colony. They first settled near Quebec City on the Beauport Seigneury where Pierre farmed. Another child, Francois was born during this time and baptized in 1636. Pierre decided to move to the safety of Montreal after several Indian attacks. It was recorded that Hurons entered his house a number of times, beat him and robbed him of food.
While he arrived in Montreal after the founding ceremony in 1642, he was still a very early settler. In 1648 Paul de Chomedy de Maisonneuve the governor of the colony, awarded him the first land grant. Why was he given 40 arpents of land? Had he proven himself a good farmer? The answer was probably yes. The colony needed food to survive and as the majority of inhabitants were soldiers farmers would be important citizens. Pierre Gadois was well thought of as he was also elected the fourth warden of Notre Dame Church.
According to notarial records, Pierre farmed his land and later added to his acreage. It was François Dollier de Casson, the author of the Histoire du Montréal 1640- 1672 who referred to him as “Le Première Habitant” or first farmer of Ville Marie.
He built a small wooden house of 390 pi² (French square feet slightly larger than English ones) on some of his land. An out building of almost the same size was also erected. This land is now in what is called “Old Montreal” bordering on de La Commune on the south, rue St Pierre on the east and possibly McGill Street on the west.
Montreal was not safe from Indian attacks even with its protective palisades. Pierre continued to defend his land and his family. Even when he was well into his sixties, he fought bravely defending Charles Le Moyne and other colonists who had been attacked by the Iroquois.
I descend from Pierre’s daughter Roberte Gadois and her husband Louis Prud’homme. Roberte became the owner of a number of pieces of property, after her father’s death. The family continued farming as their profession continued to be recorded as production-aliment or food producers.
Montreal kept growing. When François Dollier de Casson laid out the first streets for Montreal, one, Rue Sainte-Pierre was named in memory of Pierre Gadois. A small monument in Place d’Youville, placed there in 1992 during Montreal’s 350thanniversary also honour’s The First Farmer.
Pierre Gadois (Gadoys) Born 1594 & died Oct 20, 1667 in Montreal age 73.Married Louise Mauger in 1627.She was born in 1598 and she died 18 March 1690 in Montreal at age 92!
Roberte Gadois was born Sept 15, 1628 in France & died Sept 14, 1716, Montreal, the day before her 88th birthday.
Pierre born Nov 17, 1631 died May 18 1714
Francois born Dec 2, 1636 No further information.
Jeanne born Jun 26,1638 died June 26, 1638
Joseph born Sept 28 1639 died Oct 1639
Jean-Baptiste born March 2, 1641 died April 15, 1728
Pierre’s father was Francois Jean Gadois and his mother Barnabe Gadois
He was the brother of Francois, Francoise and half brother of Valentine Gadois.
Dollier de Casson, Francois. Histoire du Montreal 1640-1672. pg 88
Adhemar – Fiche Biographique Centre of Canadian Architecture
In 1734, a huge fire destroyed part of Montreal. Marie-Joseph Angélique, a black slave, was accused on setting the fire deliberately as she tried to escape from her owner. She was arrested and found guilty, then she was tortured and hanged and her body was burned.
Angélique was one of many slaves, some black, others Indigenous, in New France. Slavery was legal in Canada for more than 200 years. The Slavery Abolition Act brought an end to chattel slavery throughout the British Empire, coming into effect on August 1, 1834 in Britain, Canada, and several other colonies.
The attached PDF Slavery in New France is a 23-page research guide to the topic of slavery in New France in the 17th and 18th centuries. It contains the following contents:
Page 2 A link to a complete online copy of the book L’Esclavage au Canadafrançais – 17e et 18e siècles” (in French) Author: Marcel Trudel – 474 pages Publisher- Les Presses Universitaires Laval, Quebec, Canada 1960
Pages 3-17 A List of authors who have written about slavery in Canada
What made my ancestor think of using a black cross to mark homes of temperance?
Edouard Quertier (Cartier) launched Quebec’s first official temperance society in 1842 by placing a giant black cross on the top of the escarpment in Saint-Denis-de-Kamouraska. So began an organization that would encompass 400,000 of 900,000 Canadian Catholics eight years later.(1)
The symbol created a tradition that continues in Quebec to this day. If you ever go into a home with a bare black cross hanging in the middle of the living room wall, you’ll know you’re in the house of people who do not drink alcohol.
But what gave him the idea?
1842 Arrival in St Denis
Quertier certainly wasn’t feeling inspired when he first arrived in the tiny hamlet or between 10 and 15 families at the edge of a cliff on the Saint Lawrence’s south shore.
How did I accept this arid rock?,” he wrote. “When I arrived [in October], there was not even a piece of board on which to place a bed or a table. I had to go down the slope and rent a small house, or rather a cabin. No matter! I waited there, until my lodging was acceptable.”(2)
Still, Quertier was no youngster when he arrived in Saint-Denis-de-Kamouraska. At 43 years old, he had had four previous jobs before his priesthood and 12 years of experience serving communities.
Both of his previous roles as parish priest were stressful.
As curate and then parish priest of Saint-Antoine in Montmagmy, he argued frequently with his patron, Father Charles Francois Painchaud.
His bishop got him out of that situation by appointing him parish priest of Sainte-Georges of Cacouna. There, a new church and presbytery were required, but building them was difficult due to arguments between residents who wanted religious leadership and those who believed in the strong separation of Church and State. Despite the conflict, Quertier was able to build a new church and presbytery within the village. He oversaw the presbytery stonemasons and carpenters and got the church walls well underway before resigning the post. His departure halted the building of the church for a time, but it resumed in 1845 and opened for worship in 1848. The belfry didn’t get added until 1892 and full consecration delayed until 1897, but that’s another story.(3)
The experience simply makes clear that Quertier knew he had to do something important quickly to make an impact on his new neighbourhood.
He decided to promote temperance as a movement.
Temperance in Quebec
The issue already had some momentum in Quebec. Popular people like Bishop Charles-August-Marie-Joseph de Forbin-Janson and Charels-Paschal-Télesphore Chiniquy had been telling stories about the evils of alcoholism in weekly masses since 1839. Community residents saw that frequent imbibing often led to fighting, lethargy, poverty, spousal abuse, theft and neighbourhood violence.
Unlike his predecessors, however, Quertier decided to formalize the movement with an official association he called “The Society of the Black Cross.” He created statutes, oaths for members and procedures for joining the society, including the requirement that each member display a plain black cross on the wall of the family living room.
For the next 15 years, Quertier’s campaign for temperance spread. So many French Canadian families displayed the black cross, it became a decor tradition. The Quebecois de Souche society includes a photo that shows the once prevalent look.(4)
Growth and Departure as Leader
In the meantime, Quertier continued building his parish. The wooden chapel that originally opened on December 24, 1841 got replaced by a stone gothic church in 1850.
Seven years after that, Quertier retired. By then, the Society of the Black Cross included believers in almost every parish in Quebec and Quertier’s own parish had grown to encompass 100 families containing “625 souls.”(5)
Temperance continued to be a key issue, not only in Quebec but across Canada. In Quebec, however, the secularism movement also had great strength in many communities. To avoid angering these groups, the Province of Canada passed the Canada Temperance Act that allowed any county or city to hold referendums to consider whether or not to forbid the sale of liquor. This would ensure that communities who wanted to stay dry could do so without forcing prohibition on the entire country.
Life after Death
Quertier spent the rest of his life in Saint-Denis-de-Kamouraska, which became Saint-Denis-de-la Bouteillerie in 2013. After his death in 1879 at 73 years old, the church entombed his body under the crypt of the church. A tombstone says in French:
Here lies lord Edouard Quertier, first parish priest of St. Denis, one of the first apostles of temperance. Died July 17, 1873, aged 73 years, 10 months, 12 days. For 15 years, he lived for you. Pray for him.”(6)
Quertier’s remains continued to draw enough visitors that the church got entirely rebuilt after a fire damaged it on March 9, 1886. Initially, they built a belfry to hold a 2027-pound bell that cost $425,000 the following spring, and new walls on those of the former church by October. Later, they’d add two more bells to the tower.
Quertiers’ campaign for temperance didn’t end when he died. Members of his Black Cross Society were among 20% of Quebec’s population that supported a federal referendum on prohibition in 1898.
The movement grew substantially during World War I.
Temperance, not Prohibition
The Quebec Government declared prohibition in 1919. Then it made several exceptions by legalizing the sale of light beer, cider, and wine in hotels, taverns, cafes, clubs and corner stores.
The prohibition law got repealed entirely to enable liquor sales through a government-run commission in 1921.
In many ways, by choosing control over strict adherence to abstinence, the government duplicated the practicality Quertier included within the original functioning of the Society of the Black Cross.
Any household that became a member of the temperance organization could get a special dispensation to serve alcohol during celebrations, such as baptisms, birthdays and weddings. If the parish priest agreed that a special occasion merited an exception, he would temporarily replace the plain black cross in a home with a white one. The white cross hung on the wall during the celebration. After the celebration ended, the priest would visit to exchange the white cross with a black one and return the home to a liquor-free location.(7)
This kind of flexibility enabled temperance to continue growing within Catholic communities in Quebec even after 1921. Some of its proponents resurrected Quertier in the form of a statue in front of his former church in 1925. The statue remains in place today.
How do you get to be you? First you must have your parents, then your grandparents and as you trace back through your family trees you find all the coincidences needed for people to come together at a time and place for you to be who you are.
When Louis Prudhomme arrived in New France around 1640 I am sure that he never thought his seven times great-granddaughter would live there almost four hundred years later. He was an early settler in Ville-Marie (Montreal), a brewer, churchwarden and a member of the Montreal Militia. I descend from Louis and his wife Roberte Gadois. This marriage almost didn’t take place. Roberte came to New France as a child with her parents Pierre Gadois and Louise Mauger. Then when just 15, a marriage contract was drawn up between Roberte and Cesar Leger with the ceremony happening four days later. After six years, the marriage was annulled, most likely because there were no children. The survival of the colony depended on couples having children. On the same day her first marriage was annulled, Roberte married Louis Prudhomme. This wasn’t a quick decision as their marriage contract had been drawn up a year earlier. Roberte proved her fertility by soon giving birth. Their first child, son Francois-Xavier Prudhomme (1651 – 1741) is my ancestor.
Finally, well into his thirties, Francois Xavier married Cecile Gervais, only 13 at the time. This marriage too might not have taken place. Cecile’s parents were Jean Gervais and Anne Archambault. Her mother Anne had previously been married to Michel Chauvin. Michel had owned the property next to Louis Prudhomme. Louis, on a trip back to France, learned that Michel had a wife and children still living there. On his return to New France, he accused Michel of bigamy and reported him to the Governor Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve. Michel, expelled from the colony, went back to France leaving Anne free to marry again and give birth to Cecile. Francois Xavier Prudhomme and Cecile eventually had nine children.
Their first child Francois Prudhomme (1685 – 1748) married Marie-Anne Courault. This couple appeared to have lead uneventful lives except for having eight children.
One of their children, Nicolas Prudhomme (1722 – 1810 ) married Francine Roy. This couple had at least five children before Francine died at age 34. Their youngest child Eustache was just two at the time so not surprisingly Nicholas soon married again.
It was the marriage with his second wife Helene Simone Delorme that produced Jeramie Marie Prudhomme (1766 – 1846) my three times great grandfather. Seven years had past before this child entered the world. Helene must have been busy raising her step children. In 1818 Jeramie is listed by the Sulpicians as one of the twenty family heads living and farming in Côte Saint-Luc, west of the original settlement but still on the Island of Montreal. He married Marie Louise Décarie (1769-1855), from another important farming family. Jérémie and Marie Louise had seven children. Their last child Sophie Marie Louise married Barnabé Bruneau. The Prudhommes had lived on the island of Montreal since the 1640s. Sophie left her ancestral home and moved south across the St Lawrence River to St. Constant.
It is with Sophie Marie Prudhomme that my direct Prudhomme line ended. Other branches of the Prudhomme family continued to flourish. My Great Grandfather Ismael Bruneau chose the middle name Prudhomme in honour of his mother.
7th Great Grandfather Louis Prudhomme (1611- 1671) married Roberte Gadois (1628- 1716)
6th Great grandfather Francois Xavier Prudhomme (1651-1741) married Cecile Gervais (1671-1760)
5th Great Grandfather Francois Prudhomme (1685-1748) married Marie Anne Courault (1689-
4th Great grandfather Nicolas Prudhomme (1722-1810) married Helene Simone Delorme (1730-
3rd Great Grandfather Jeramie Marie Prudhomme (1766-1846) married Marie Louise Decarie (1769- 1855)
Two times Great Grandmother Sophie Marie Prudhomme married Barnabé Bruneau
Over the past several years, I have posted several articles about the Huguenots, or French Protestants, who came to New France. Once here, many of them signed abjurations, or declarations in which they renounced their faith, and they became Catholic.
The act of ‘’abjuration’’ was the first step to be taken by a Protestant individual. The second step was an act of ‘’confirmation,’’ conducted by a Catholic priest at a local or regional parish or at a regional convent. Guy Perron in his superb blog refers to this subject as Confirmations.
Recently, the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) has replaced its online research tool Pistard with a much better search engine, Advitam, https://advitam.banq.qc.ca/ and this has made the task of finding these abjurations and confirmations much easier. The first six entries in the attached research guide were obtained by using Advitam. See https://genealogyensemble.com/2020/04/19/banq-advitam/
Through BAnQ Advitam, BAnQ Numérique or BAnQ Ask a Question/BAnQ Poser une question, you can obtain an online download for free within days simply by searching for the ‘’cote #’’ (Shelf # at BAnQ) and an approximate date of an event.
The nine-page research guide attached here Abjurations in New France includes links to registers of abjuration, to the bulletin of the historical society of French-speaking Protestants of Quebec, to Guy Perron’s excellent blog, and to a list of books and articles on the subject.
Over the last few years, Genealogy Ensemble has posted three listings of Huguenot Family Names of New France and Quebec. The links to these lists are at the end of the PDF.
Huguenot family names listed by the Huguenot Trails periodical of the Huguenot Society of Canada prior to 2002.
Huguenot family names issued by Michel Barbeau, a retired genealogist. (Michel Barbeau’s work is highly precise but is a short list in comparison to other sources.)
Huguenot family names compiled by myself from books, essays, papers issued over four centuries by leading historians, academics, archivists, authors, librarians in Canada and in France.
This last list was compiled from books stored at the Collection nationale within the Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal, books and dossiers at BAnQ Vieux-Montréal and books which can be researched online at BAnQ Numérique and through various online sociétés savantes (literary societies) and finally from the online pages of Fichier Origine (www.fichierorigine.com.)
Over the past few years, I have posted a series of research guides to finding Protestants in France. Here are links to my articles about the Protestants who came to Quebec:
Also of interest: Marian Bulford’s articles about the Huguenots who immigrated to England. After the British Conquest of 1759 at the Plains of Abraham, British Governors James Murray, Guy Carleton, Frederick Haldimand, Lord Dorchester (Carlton) appointed chief justices, judges and a few lieutenant-governors and senior military officers who were at ease in the French language and all of the above were descendants of Huguenot families who had settled in the London region and also in Northern Ireland. These Huguenot administrators and military officers under Murray, Carleton, Haldimand, Dorchester attended the same churches mentioned by Marian.
Settlers have long been attracted to Saint Roch, a neighbourhood on the banks of the St. Charles River next to the cliff leading up to Quebec’s walled Upper Town.
My great great great grandparents—Joseph Gabriel Arial Robert Content and Judith/Julie Belleau-dit-LaRose —both grew up in the neighbourhood. They knew it as the Saint Roch parish, which was officially founded in 1829. By then, the swampy neighbourhood housed 20 different shipyards and most of Quebec’s French-speaking families.
The neighbourhood began in 1620 as a small religious community set up by French missionaries known as the Recollets. They built a chapel in 1620. That chapel has long since gone, as were those built in 1811, 1816 and 1841.1 A stone church built in 1923 now sits on the same site as all the others at 160, rue Saint Josephe Est. For some great photos of the area and a discussion in French about all the different churches on the site, refer to Jérôme Ouellet’s 2014 blog post.
Joseph and Judith got married in the 1816 version of the church on September 4, 1832.2 Her parents Joseph Belleau and Marie-Anne Ratté married in a predecessor on November 5, 1808.3
I don’t know exactly where in Quebec Joseph lived prior to their marriage, but his dad Jean Baptiste worked as a day labourer.4
Judith’s family lived at 28 Saint Vallier. Her dad Joseph Bélau (Belleau) worked as a baker.5
Just down from the Bélau home sat an opulent stone house built by businessman Henry Hiché. He built his mansion on the foundations of a farmhouse originally built by Charles Aubert de la Chesnaye in 1679. The building later became known as the “White House” due to a covering of white plaster.
Most of the neighbourhood, including the White House, burned down in the Great Saint-Roche Fire of 1845. A total of 1,200 houses burned down, leaving 12,000 people homeless that year. Another smaller fire swept through in 1866.
You can still see the third rendition of the home built by Scottish immigrant William Grant on the original vaulted cellars of the previous home at 870 Saint-Vallier East. The stone house gives you a rough idea of the beginnings of the neighbourhood built outside of Quebec City’s walls.
Joseph Belleau appears again in the 1851 Canada East agricultural census in St. Roche, Quebec on line 24.6 Joseph and Judith/Julie don’t appear on the 1851 census, but they and their eight children (one of whom was my direct ancestor “Pete”) appear on the census 10 years later, still living in St. Roche.7
If my grandmother’s notes are accurate, Joseph moved to Manitoba sometime after that. He died in St. Boniface on November 4, 1880.8
At some point, I hope to go on a walking tour of the area and reconnect to the neighbourhood that housed my ancestors 200 years ago.
One Sunday after the service at St. Andrew’s United Church, Westmount, a friend of my mother’s commented on an article in the Westmount Examiner. My mother said she didn’t read that paper as she’d never lived in Westmount. “Yes you did dear,” my father replied, “but you didn’t like it!”
My parents, Donald William Sutherland and Dorothy Isabel Raguin were married on June 25, 1948. The recent war and the return of the soldiers made finding apartments very difficult. That summer they lived in Dorothy’s family home on Woodbury Ave in Outremont. Her parents, Beatrice and René Raguin were spending the summer at their cottage in Dunany, north of Montreal. Come fall and the return of the Raguins, there was no room for them there so they moved in with Donald’s mother, Minnie Eagle Sutherland and his sister, Dorothy on Arlington Avenue in Westmount.
My mother found it difficult being a new bride and living with her mother-in-law. She didn’t have much to do. Two women came in to do the housework. Mrs Mikalachki did the heavy work and Mrs Boutilier the light cleaning and ironing. When Mom tried to do things for her husband she came up against Minnie Sutherland, a proud, willful woman who wanted all things done her way. Dorothy had been a Wren during the war and worked as a sick berth attendant in Halifax, Nova Scotia. On leaving the navy, she renewed her teaching certificate and taught at Iona School in Montreal up until the day of her marriage. Sitting around listening to her mother-in-law tell her how things should be done wasn’t making her happy. She certainly didn’t want to start a family living there.
Luckily, one of her husband’s friends had an apartment on Maplewood (now Edouard Montpetit). He and his wife had bought a house and offered to have the apartment lease transferred to Dorothy and Don. My mother was thrilled with her own place but my father hated paying rent. My sister, Elizabeth Anne was born there and it was up to my mother to push the baby carriage to the post office to pay the monthly rent.
In the early fifties, the construction of new houses increased so my parents looked for a home to buy. What had been farmland and apple orchards in western Notre Dame de Grace were now streets with semi-detached brick houses. The show house on Cumberland Avenue, little longer and wider than others on the street was the one my father wanted. It had three bedrooms, a large basement and a good-sized backyard. The house was purchased on February 21, 1951, my sister’s first birthday. It was bought for $19,000 with a small mortgage. My father hated the mortgage payments and paid it off as quickly as he could.
One child soon became four with the births of Mary Ellen, Donald John and Dorothy Jean. The house became too small. My parents considered moving, although they liked the area. They looked at houses in the West Island of Montreal, but none were just what they wanted. So, in 1960 they had an addition built onto their house. A bedroom, bathroom and den were built over the garage and the kitchen was enlarged, including a laundry room.
In the mid-sixties, it became apparent that both grandmothers would soon need help. My parents considered buying a bigger house with a grannie suite, so both grandmothers could live with the family. This time they did look at houses in Westmount. My maternal grandmother lived with us for a short while but in the end, we didn’t need to move as both grandmothers died in 1967.
My mother continued to live in the house after my father died. She went into a residence in NDG in 2011 where she died in 2017 and never moved back to Westmount.
This Sunday was mother’s Day and May 11, 2020, would have been my mother’s 98th birthday so I posted this story as a remembrance of her.
Personal recollections by Dorothy and Donald Sutherland told to the author.
One house in Pointe-Claire had a large closet with sliding doors in the upstairs hall where two little girls put their dolls during the visit and forgot them. The agent returned to look for them but they were gone and never seen again.
In the mid 1600’s New France welcomed many of my ancestors from France. Among them, Genevieve Gamache a ‘marriageable young woman’, contracted to marry. She is, a sixth great grandmother, who was privately sponsored. She settled in the Quebec City area.
At the request of Louis XIV who offered incentives for people to settle in a new country Anne Thomas, also a sixth great grandmother, in 1665 along with 90 other ‘filles du roi’ (young women) boarded the ‘St. Jean Baptiste’ and sailed from Dieppe to Montreal.1.
At about the same time, in the town of Bayeux, Normandy, France, where the famous tapestry depicts the Norman Conquest of 1066, there was a young man seeking adventure. Antoine was born on the Feast of St. John the Baptist in 1664 (June 24th).2. His father Thomas Pilon, a butcher and his wife Madeleine Hugues dit Rouault had 5 children.
At the age of twenty-four Antoine left his homeland to cross the Atlantic seeking a new life in what was then a fledgling country where he became a farmer and later a landowner.
30 oct no.2656 Notarial Record – Lease on a farm 3.
Shortly after his arrival in Ville Marie Antoine, my 7th greatgrandfather chose his bride to be, Anne Brunet. Michel Mathieu Brunet dit L’Etang and Marie Madeleine Blanchard brought Anne into the world on January 1, 1672.4. Michel was a farmer and a prosperous fur trader. At the time of Anne’s birth, the family was living near Trois Rivieres. The family moved to Lachine at a later date.
Antoine and Anne were married in Notre Dame parish church in Montreal on January 29, 1689. Their first child, Jeanne was born in Montreal, December 9th of that same year. Over a period of 24 years the couple had 14 children.6. The first 3 children were born in Montreal, two, in Laprairie and the others in Lachine and Pointe-Claire. In those days not all children survived, and they lost three infants. However, several of their children lived well into their 80`s.
Church record of the marriage of Antoine and Anne 5.
On the 20 of January 1689 a solemn marriage between Antoine Pilon, son of Thomas Pilon and Madeleine Hugues, the father and mother on one hand and Marieanne (Anne) Brunet daughter of Michel Mathieu Brunet and Marie Blanchard, the father and mother on the other. Mathieu Brunet was a witness.
1689 2 janvier 21551 Notarial record of marriage 5.
Antoine was not as fortunate as his children. He died at the age of 50 on February 24th, 1715.7. He is buried in St. Joachim Ancient Cemetery beside the church in the village of Pointe-Claire not far from the home he built.
Church Record of Antoine Pilon’s burial
During those early years Ville Marie, as Montreal was called at that time, experienced numerous Indian raids. One of them being the devastating Lachine Massacre in August 1689. Many lives were lost. During the next few years efforts were made to find a peaceful resolution.
After the signing of the peace treaty, the Sulpicians, administrators, and seigneurs of the land began conceding properties. Several of my ancestors were among those who benefited from this opportunity. They chose to move westward to what we now refer to as the West Island. The first, Sebastien Cholet dit Laviolette, my 6th great-grandfather, a weaver started the trend along with his wife Anne Thomas, the ‘fille du roi’. He and his family settled in the community of present day Dorval. Their home lay on the eastern tip of Valois Bay in a small cove that bears his name, overlooking Lake St. Louis.
Antoine Pilon my 7th great-grandfather also chose to settle west of Ville Marie, following in Sebastien’s footsteps, He also purchased land in Pointe-Claire with frontage on the shores of Lake St. Louis. 9.
All the land transactions, from the original owner Pierre Sauvé to Antoine Pilon are all documented to the current date.10.
The Antoine Pilon House lies on lot 88 of the present survey, forming a part of lot number 154 in the original land registry of the Island of Montreal. Lot 154-D was conceded by the Sulpicians to Pierre Sauvé dit Laplante on November 24th,1698. Then, the size of the property was 3 acres of frontage and 60 acres deep, on the shore of Lac Saint-Louis.
Pierre Sauvé and his wife Marie-Michel sold this land to Jean du Tartre dit Desrosiers on October 27th, 1700. Two transactions took place on the same day, September 19,1706. DuTartre gave a concession to Madeleine LeMoyne, already in possession of the adjoining lot. She immediately sold lot 154-D to Antoine Pilon, having already purchased from her the adjoining lot 155-D.
Anne Brunet, Antoine’s widow, inherited the lot after Antoine`s death and she gave the land to her son Mathieu on January 22nd, 1729. The deed (acte de donation) indicates land of 5 acres of frontage to 20 acres deep, consisting of lots 154-D and 155-D. In this deed we learned that the lot contained a house, and a small barn, possibly built during the summer of 1707.
The house Antoine built remained in the Pilon family, passed on from his wife, Anne to their son Mathieu and then from father to son for 120 years.11. Remarkably it is still standing today. One can see the home when driving along 258 Lakeshore Road-Bord-du-lac near the entrance to Pointe-Claire village.
Ancestry.com. Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621- 1968[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2008.Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968
The Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (Library & National Archives of Québec, or BAnQ,) recently introduced a powerful new online search engine. Known as Advitam, it replaces the previous search engine, Pistard. It points to documents, files, photos and other holdings in the BAnQ’s archives, some digitized, others only available in the BAnQ’s 10 branches across Quebec.
Advitam (ad vitam means to life in Latin) offers online researchers two search options: Reherche simple (Regular online searches) and Recherche avancée (Advanced online searches.) Unless you are familiar with the French language and the way archives are organized, the regular search is probably easier to use.
Type in the name of the person, place or topic you are searching for. The results will come up in two parts: on the right are the photos, maps, documents, collections, etc. stored at the BAnQ, while on the left is a list to help you filter your results. The filter choices are written in French, but they are not difficult to figure out. If you have difficulty, try using an online translation tool such as Google Translate or DeepL.
You can also use the bar at the top left to focus on the time period you are interested in. New France existed 1604-1759, the British period was 1760-1790, and Quebec was known as Lower Canada 1791-1841.
You can also filter your searches to look for Quebec civil registers, judicial registers or notarial records. You can search for the names of cities, towns, townships, seigneuries, villages, counties and even modern-day MRCs (regional municipal regions or districts.) You can look for events (baptisms, marriages, deaths, divorces, legal proceedings, judicial inquiries and judgments, etc.) and find out about institutions such as religious orders, military regiments, government appointees, etc.
Here’s an example of how this search tool can help you find the record of an ancestor who lived in Pointe-Claire, Quebec, and who was baptized in the Catholic church there. An online search on Advitam for Pointe-Claire, (a suburban municipality on the Island of Montreal) brings 823 results addressing the city or village of Pointe-Claire from about 1713 to 2002.
The fourth result from the top refers to the Catholic Parish of Saint-Joachim-de-la-Pointe-Claire – Content 1713-1918 – CE601-S37 – Fonds Cour supérieure. District judiciaire de Montréal – État civil. BAnQ Vieux-Montréal Id 477622. This dossier addresses Parish Registers of this Catholic parish from 1713 to 1918, kept on five microfilms at BAnQ – Vieux-Montréal.
These church registers can also be found online through BAnQ Numérique – Registres de l’état civil, or on Ancestry.com, on FamilySearch.org and on Généalogie Québec, however these sources may not contain all of the church registers from 1713 to 1918. If you haven’t found your ancestor’s name elsewhere, try Advitam.
The BAnQ’s repositories are: BAnQ Vieux-Montréal, BAnQ Québec, BAnQ Gaspé,BAnQ Gatineau, BAnQ Rimouski, BAnQ Rouyn-Noranda, BAnQ Saguenay, BAnQ Sept-Îles,BAnQ Sherbrooke and BAnQ Trois-Rivières. If you do not reside in Montréal or near another BAnQ branch, try contacting the BAnQ to ask a question.
You can use these links to make a request for digitized material. A BAnQ clerk or librarian will help you download the material for free, but you need to facilitate the research process for the archivist. You should indicate the approximate year of an event (baptism, marriage, death) and be sure to specify the ‘’cote #’’ (dossier # or shelf #) as in the above example, 1713-1918 – CE601-S37 – ID-477622. Each file at BAnQ is identified by a similar description which can be found through your initial online search on BAnQ Advitam
Email requests can be written in French or English, and your reply will be in the same language.
In most cases, if the above basic conditions to your request are respected, you should receive a reply within days by email. If your request is more complicated, contact the regional specialist librarian at the appropriate branch of the BAnQ.
Please note: Due to Covid-19, all branches of the BAnQ are closed at this time. (2020-04-19)