Tag Archives: Rene Raguin

Golf in Dunany

The Dunany Country Club will be celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 2022. This nine-hole golf club, located north-west of Montreal in the lower Laurentians, near Lachute, has been of prime importance to my family and our history. My parents met in Dunany.

The Dunany area was settled in the mid-1800s by the Irish. These immigrants tried to farm the rocky Laurentian Shield carving small farms out of the forests. The area had already been logged but still, trees were everywhere. Small patches of land were cleared but it was subsistence farming at best. A post office was established in 1853 and it was called Dunany. The name came from a point of land in County Louth, on the east coast of Ireland. The four small lakes brought fishermen and cottagers to the area early in the 20th century.

My paternal grandparents, William and Minnie Sutherland first travelled to Dunany to visit friends, the McRobies. The long journey from Montreal, needed a car, train and horse and cart to complete, so one stayed a few days. Grandfather Sutherland enjoyed the country and so he bought some property and built a cottage on Boyd Lake. For them, it remained a long journey but he was said to be the first person to drive a car in from Lachute.

No one thought about golf until Katherine “Kit” McRobie challenged a friend to a game around the pastures and fields and so golf came to Dunany. A group of 20 people, including my grandfather, contributed money to buy land and in 1922 the Dunany Country Club was born.

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Wilson Sutherland putting on a sand green 1924
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Golf course equipment circa 1925
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Rocks and Rough Greens 1927

When my maternal grandfather Rene Raguin was interested in buying a country house in 1931, he too looked in Dunany. He knew of the area because his wife’s sister, lived in Lachute and she and her husband had a place at Lake Louisa, near Dunany. One evening, the Sutherlands visited the Raguins at their new cottage as Mrs Raguin and Mrs Sutherland knew each other from the United Church Women’s group. My mother was ten and she and her sister were sent to bed but spied on the visitors and their 15-year-old son Donald. With the age difference, Dorothy and Donald didn’t see much of each other until they met again after the war at a dance at the clubhouse. Two years later they married.

Everybody in the families at least tried golf. My grandmothers were not taken by the game but most other family members persevered. Some actually became very good players. The rough pastures and sand greens gradually evolved to smoother fairways and grass greens. The course grew from a couple of holes to a full nine. The layout of the course kept evolving. Then even sand traps were added. The trees have grown and some fixture trees have had to be cut down. The fairways are still not perfect but it is a country course played with preferred lies.

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The Golfer 1959

My father always lamented that he didn’t have proper lessons as his father taught him so he made sure we all had lessons with the visiting pro. My mother often took the four children over to the club so she could play. The well-behaved children could hit balls while those misbehaving had to sit on a bench and wait for the hole to be completed.

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The Sutherlands on the 1st green 1960

Four members of the family have had holes-in-one at Dunany. William Sutherland aced a hole that is no longer in play. He stationed his brother on a hill with a view of the green so he wouldn’t lose his ball and after he hit, all Wilson said was, “It’s in.” Isn’t that the point of the game! My mother Dorothy’s ball went into the hole after my father said, “Your mother just doesn’t hit the ball like she used to.” Her ball landed at the side of the green, bounced on and rolled in. My brother Don and I have also each aced a hole.

There are many trophies played for at the club. The Sutherlands have won a number. The Parkes Culross trophy is one that many family members have won. It is a low net competition played for on Labour Day weekend. Eight family members have their names engraved on this trophy.

The club continues to be the centre of the community. There are now plans for the log clubhouse to be renovated. Those who don’t play golf still attend the many functions, from dinners and bridge to music fests and art shows, sports nights and other junior activities. Mine isn’t the only family who found love in Dunany and so most people are related to somebody. Children who grew up and moved away have now returned and bought their own cottages. When you meet someone new you ask, “Whose house do you live in?” They think it is theirs but the spirit of all the old Dunanyites lives on.

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9th Green Grass & Sandtrap 2011

Notes:

Hammond Eleanor Hamilton, A History of Dunany. Printed in Canada by Zippy Print, Brockville, Ontario. 1990.

Eric Dauber, The Story of the Dunany Country Club, 1967.

Beth Sutherland Van Loben Sels, As I Remember Dunany.

Family winners of the Parkes Culross are Rene Raguin, Dorothy A. Sutherland, Donald W. Sutherland, Mary Sutherland, Donald J. Sutherland, Dorothy I. Sutherland, Sharon Leslie and Scott Ritchie.

Throwing Rocks

My Swiss grandfather became enthralled with curling when he came to Canada. Curling is a game invented by the Scots but my Scottish ancestors never took up the sport.

René Raguin came to Canada from Switzerland in 1910 to teach school. He knew all about winter and cold weather sports. He had skied, sledded and climbed in his homeland. Once, he cut his leg on a bobsled runner and didn’t realize the extent of the injury until until he was at the bottom of the hill. All of his trips down hill weren’t on sleds with sharp runners, some for fun were on metal trays. I am sure he thought throwing “irons” on ice would be easy when he first tried curling in Trois Rivière. 

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Rene Raguin on the right with some of his curling buddies. Well pinned!

Curling is a game played on a sheet of ice where rocks are thrown from the hack to the rings at the other end and one tries to get closer to the centre or button than one’s opponents. Lakes and ponds hosted the first games, played with granite stones which were plentiful in Scotland. The stones are now carved and polished so they glide over the ice and a twist of the handle gives the curl.

The Grand Caledonian Curling Club was formed in 1838 to regulate this ancient Scottish game. Apparently many rules were needed for throwing rocks on ice. The club later received its royal charter from Queen Victoria and became the Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC), the mother club of the sport.

It is generally accepted that the 78th Fraser Highland Regiment brought curling to Canada in the mid 1700s. The soldiers melted cannonballs to make iron curling “stones” and curled in Québec City. Curling then moved to Montreal where men first played on cleared patches of ice on the St Lawrence river before it moved indoors. Quebecers continued to curl with “irons” until the early 1950s while the rest of the country played with granite.

When René moved to Montreal he didn’t give up curling. He first joined the St Laurence Curling Club, downtown on St Urbain Street and when he moved to Dixie, now part of Dorval, he joined the Lachine Curling Club. There he stayed. He played in bonspiels at clubs all over Quebec, Ontario and the North Eastern United States. Bonspiels are tournaments with many games played over a number of days and lots of drinks to celebrate the winners and the losers. Curlers collected pins from all the clubs where they played. Some would cover their their jackets or their hats with their pins. My grandfather had a coffee table that intrigued me as a child. Under its glass top sat many curling pins of all shapes and colours.

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A Squirrel Pin from The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts

He excelled at curling and skipped teams in many matches. He could easily take out his opponents stones and slide his rocks to the button. He gave back a lot to the sport which resulted in him being elected President of the Canadian Branch of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club in 1939. René was then honoured at a dinner with speeches praising his curling, his character, his tact and diplomacy with many toasts to his good health!

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He never traveled to Scotland but hosted the Scots on their curling tours of Canada. He became an honorary vice-president of the RCCC, the highest office available to a Canadian, for his promotion of all the traditions of curling and especially for the expansion of the game into the northern United States.

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The Scottish Curlers in Canada in 1950s

René enjoyed curling for the camaraderie, the skill needed and the drinks after the games. In out of town excursions he was said to be the life of the party. His son would drive him to all the area curling clubs for the New Years Levees where he would have a drink with the members and toast the coming year, “Good health and good curling.”

Notes:

https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/sports/bonspiel-history-curling-canada/Pages/curling-canada.asp

The minutes of the occasion of the election of Rene Raguin to the office of President of the Canadian branch of the Royal Caledonia Curling Club December 15, 1939 by J.J. Sophus.

The History of the Lachine Curling Club http://www.lachinecurling.com/history_en.php

Cartoon by Bill Cunningham in The Montreal Gazette in 1940.

The Heading photograph is of the Lachine Curling Club taken in 2019 by the author.

Some of Rene Raguin’s family curled a few times but I am the only family member to take up his game.

What is a Limonadier?

 

When you are lucky enough to find original documents pertaining to your ancestors do you really read everything on them or do you just glance through them, copy them and file them for later? One thing I have recently learned is to thoroughly read all documents. What a novel tip for genealogy research!

I was sending information to a fellow writing about my grandfather, Rene Raguin. He told me that Rene’s father Marie Joseph Raguin had been a Limonadier. What kind of occupation is that I wondered? I wrote back and asked him how he knew that information. He responded that it was on my grandparent’s marriage licence.

I had never looked up their documents as I knew when and where they were married. One of my great uncles, Herbert Bruneau had done a lot of Genealogy research and I had his family tree. I was more interested in people I didn’t know and had put off confirming other’s research. The document was easy to find and there under “profession of father of husband” was “Limonadier”. There is a lot of information on Ontario, Canada marriage certificates.

What was this profession? It sounded like someone who made lemonade. The marriage was in 1912 when bottled soft drinks were not available. According to Wikipedia, a Limonadier made and sold lemonade, could also make and sell alcohol or run a cafe.

Aside from being an interesting occupation, this explained some of our family traditions. My mother had a recipe that we called “Grandfather’s Lemon Syrup”. It was a lemon syrup that when added to water made lemonade. My mother used to make it and on visits to my grandparents, we had the lemon drink in little glasses that once contained cream cheese and home-baked sugar cookies. My cousins called my aunt’s version of it, “Grannie’s Lemon Drink” but they were obviously wrong about the origin.

It is also possible that Marie Joseph did run a cafe in Fleurier, Switzerland. One story that we heard growing up was that grandfather used to take a big pan of plum pie to the bakery to have it cooked as the pan didn’t fit in their oven. Why would a family of four need such a big pie? So making it for a cafe makes sense. It was a simple dish, pie crust covered by half plums with sugar sprinkled on top, a dessert that my mother also used to make.

It is amazing how much information one can get from a single word.

Notes:

Ontario Marriages, 1869-1927,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KS8D-G3N : 10 April 2015), René Emile Raguin and Cecile Béatrice Bruneau, 09 Jul 1912; citing registration, Cornwall, Stormont, Ontario, Canada, Archives of Ontario, Toronto; FHL microfilm 1,906,765. On Feb 22, 2017.

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limonadier accessed Feb 22, 2017.

Safe Passage

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René Emile Raguin, my grandfather, was the last of my relatives to arrive in Canada. He was the only one to return home after he emigrated. His family, originally from Doubs, France, moved to Fleurier, Switzerland soon after he was born.

He arrived in Canada aboard an Allen Line steamship, the Lake Erie and so didn’t have to endure a long voyage on a sailing ship. It was 1910 and he was 23 years old. He had been a Lieutenant in the French army. His father was French and as the son, even though he lived in Switzerland, he had to do his service. He had also trained as a teacher but there were no jobs in Switzerland, so he was fortunate to find a job at the French Protestant school in Pointes aux Trembles, Quebec.

René was a dapper little man with a full beard and moustache. He was sure he was going to be a hit with Canadian girls although his landlady told him they didn’t like men with a lot of facial hair. The morning after meeting Beatrice Bruneau and her sisters, he came downstairs with only a goatee! In later years he only had a small moustache but with a completely shaved head.

René and Beatrice were married in 1912 in Cornwall, Ontario by Beatrice’s father, Reverend Ismael P. Bruneau. Their first daughter Aline Marguerite was born in May 1913. The next summer they sailed to Europe to show off Aline to Rene’s family. Rene enjoyed the voyage, walking on deck with his little daughter, but Beatrice, pregnant with their second child Robert, suffered from seasickness and was mostly invisible. Rene was very happy chatting with all the other passengers who wondered about the little girl’s mother.

They were having a wonderful time in Fleurier, visiting Rene’s parents, Joseph Marie and Rosina Steinman Raguin and his sister Bluette, when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated and World War I began. When England declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914, returning to Canada as quickly as possible became a priority. As Rene had become a Canadian/British citizen in 1913, they appealed to the British Government and received a document of safe passage through both France and Italy to return to England. They made a quick journey by train from Switzerland to Le Havre, France taking what they could easily carry and leaving their trunk behind.

They made it safely back to Canada where René was then the principal of De La Salle Academy in Trois Rivieres, Quebec. The school administration had been worried he wouldn’t return for the beginning of the school year. He used his story to raise money during the war, for the Canadian Patriotic Fund. 

Robert was born in December followed by Arthur, Dorothy and Madeleine. René continued teaching and finished his career as a French teacher at Baron Byng High School in Montreal. They spent summers in Dunany north of Montreal where he enjoyed golf and socializing and winters in Montreal where he curled and socialized. He and Beatrice didn’t travel very much, just one train trip to Vancouver to visit their son Robert. They never returned to Europe, never again saw any of Rene’s family or their trunk.

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Notes:

Rutherdale, Robert. Hometown Horizons: Local Responses to Canada’s Great War. Vancouver: University of British Columbia, 2004. Print.

Anecdotes personally communicated to the author by Aline Raguin Allchurch in 2003.

Passeport; original document in possession of author.

Rene’s British /Canadian Naturalization Certificate was in his possession in Europe to obtain his Passport but the document was later lost as it was replaced in 1916. Libraries and Archives Canada: Citizenship Registration Records for Montreal Circuit Court 1851-1945.

Military documents in possession of the author.