Sunday, April 27, 2014

Church Record Sunday: Sisters Priscille and Domitille Belair

My paternal grandfather Fred Belair’s half-sisters Priscille Belair (1900-1939) and Domitille Belair (1901-1973) both died in the month of April and were buried on the same day, 34 years apart.

I found these genealogical details when I travelled to the province of Quebec in the late 1980s and located their church burial records in Ste-Cécile-de-Masham in Gatineau County. If I wanted to see those same records today, I would view them in the “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967” database at Ancestry.ca.

Priscille Belair

Burial record of Priscille Belair
Priscille Belair’s burial record, 1939 [1]

Priscille was the elder of the two sisters. She died relatively young on 24 April 1939. Her death at 39 years old must have been a devastating loss for her husband Aldoria Meunier, by whom she had 13 children, as well as their surviving 10 children, including the youngest, Marie Rose, who was only six weeks old.

Priscille’s burial record states that she died in Hôpital Sacré-Coeur of Hull (about 30 minutes from Masham), but does not give the cause of death; RC church records rarely do. I wonder if her death had something to do with her last pregnancy or the birth of her last child.

Domitille Belair

Burial record of Mathilde Belair
Mathilde Belair’s burial record, 1973 [2]

Domitille, also known as Mathilde, was a month short of her 72nd birthday when she died on 10 April 1973. She too died in hospital, but in the General Hospital of Kingston, Frontenac County, Ontario, according to her burial record.

By her first husband Norbert Martineau, Domitille had five children. (I’ve written about the couple’s wedding day in Wedding Wednesday: Martineau - Belair.) Domitille married André Renaud in June 1972, one year after Norbert’s death.

The Sisters' Funerals

Both sisters were interred in Ste-Cécile-de-Masham, where they were born and raised.

Priscille’s funeral took place on 27 April 1939. Father Filiatreault, who performed the ceremony, noted in her burial record that Priscille was “munis des derniers Sacrements de l’Eglise”, meaning that she received the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church. A priest, possibly Sacré-Coeur Hospital’s chaplain, administered the last Sacraments: Penance (confession), Anointing of the Sick, and Viaticum (communion), and offered prayers and readings for the dying. [3]

Domitille’s remains were transported from Kingston to Ste-Cécile-de-Masham. Her funeral took place there on 27 April 1973, with Father René Soucy of Masham as the celebrant.

Priscille died many years before I was born, so I never knew her. Although Domitille lived in Kingston when I was a young teen and lived a few hours north in Timmins, I don’t believe we ever met.

Sources:

1. Ste-Cécile Roman Catholic Church (Ste-Cécile-de-Masham, Quebec), sacramental register, p. 255, entry no. S.9, burial of Priscille Bélair [sic], 27 April 1939; parish rectory, Ste-Cécile-de-Masham. (My husband and I made photocopies of selected baptism, marriage and burial records from the sacramental registers when we visited Ste-Cécile in the late 1980s, but we unfortunately didn’t note which volumes we used.)

2. Ste-Cécile Roman Catholic Church (Ste-Cécile-de-Masham, Quebec), sacramental register, p. 78, entry no. S.11, burial of Mathilde Bélair (Renaud) [sic], 27 April 1973; parish rectory, Ste-Cécile-de-Masham. (My husband and I made photocopies of selected baptism, marriage and burial records from the sacramental registers when we visited Ste-Cécile in the late 1980s, but we unfortunately didn’t note which volumes we used.)

3. Reverend Peter M. J. Stravinskas, editor, Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia (Huntingdon, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 1991), 572, “Last Sacraments”.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

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