Friday, August 24, 2012

Funeral Card Friday: Albert Desgroseilliers



This funeral card is dedicated to the “douce mémoire” (dear memory) of Albert Desgroseilliers, my maternal great-grandfather. The card measures 10 cm long by 5.5 cm wide (approximately 4” x 2”). I don’t remember how I came to own it, but my mother had it for many years before she gave it to me.

I never met Albert, because he died a few months before I was born. He was a tall man, about 6’5” (his eldest son Eugène was even taller – 6’7”), and was a farmer most of his life. Albert was born in February 1879 in Embrun in Russell County, Ontario, and married Clémentine Léveillé in April 1899 in nearby Limoges. Soon after their wedding, they relocated north to St-Charles in Nipissing District, where their son Eugène was born in the summer of 1900.

When I first started researching my mother’s side of the family many years ago, I was told that Albert died in Sturgeon Falls, close to St-Charles, where he and Clémentine settled on a small property. Years later, when I found his burial record in the “Drouin Collection” at Ancestry.ca, I read that he died on December 16, 1957 and that his funeral took place three days later on December 19 in La Résurrection parish in Sturgeon Falls. I was told he died in Sturgeon Falls by my mother and her sister Madeleine, I knew he was buried in that town, and I was satisfied with this information. About three years ago, I ordered a certified copy of Albert’s “Statement of Death” (death registration) from the Office of the Registrar General in Ontario. Was I ever surprised and confused to read that my great-grandfather died not in Sturgeon Falls as I had always believed, but miles away in Ottawa General Hospital in our country’s capital city! (I knew I had the correct Albert Desgroseilliers, because all the other bits of info on the form matched what was verified about him, like his date and place of birth, the names of his parents, and the name of his wife.) I asked Mom if she could clear up this mystery, but she assured me that Sturgeon Falls was where her grandfather died. She suggested I call her elder sister, Madeleine, who would surely confirm that “fact”. So, I call my Aunt Madeleine, and she was just as sure as Mom was about where Albert died. She couldn’t explain why his death registration gave a different, and until now, unheard of place of death. At this point in time (2009), all of Albert’s 14 children were deceased, so I couldn’t ask any of them for their help. I looked at the document one more time hoping to see if I had missed important clues. I believe I found two. First, according to “Length Deceased Resided” were the death occurred, it says that Albert lived in Ottawa for “2 mois” (2 months), indicating that he was there since October. I wondered what would have brought him to Ottawa? I checked my files on his family, and saw that his younger brother Célestin had recently died on November 22 in Vanier. (Vanier used to be a municipality next door to Ottawa, but is now part of that city.) Second, the name of the informant was Laurent DesGroseilliers, Albert’s nephew, and Célestin’s son. It now seemed reasonable to think that Albert travelled from his home in Sturgeon Falls to visit his ailing brother in Vanier. While there, he became ill, was taken to the hospital where he subsequently died. (The death registration does not have a section for cause of death.)

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff

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