Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sympathy Saturday: Martin Grozelle

Lake at sunset

As a genealogist, I know only the basic facts of Martin Grozelle's life, but as an historian, I wanted his short life to have a story.

Martin was born 140 years ago on 25 January 1874 in Lutterworth, a small community in Haliburton County in central southern Ontario. [1] He was a younger son of Pierre Desgroseilliers (also known as Peter Grozelle) by his wife Sarah Martin. [2] His siblings included brothers Jean-Baptiste (John) and Peter, and sisters Elizabeth, Lucy, Felicity and Mary. [3]

Martin's father, Pierre, came from a large French-Canadian family, whose branch changed their surname from Desgroseilliers to Grozelle when they settled in Ontario. Pierre was a second cousin to my mother Jacqueline’s paternal great-grandfather Pierre Desgroseilliers (1841-1904).

Martin's maternal grandfather, James Martin, was an Irish-born soldier, while his maternal grandmother, Lucy (née Waters), was an important and useful presence for his mother. She was the accoucheur or midwife at the births of her daughter Sarah's children, including Martin's. [4]

The community of Lutterworth is surrounded by magnificent nature with abundant lakes and rivers. It was among this outdoor backdrop, however, that cruel fate awaited Martin. One autumn day, Martin and friend Leslie Valentine (son of a Lutterworth farmer), were boating on nearby Gull Lake on October 14, 1896. In a moment, tragedy struck, and the "two young men [...] drowned together while crossing [the] lake". [5]

Martin and his companion were only 22 years old.

Image source: Microsoft Clip Art.


1. “Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1913”, digital images, ( : accessed 30 December 2013), entry for Martin Groselle [sic], 25 January 1874.

2. “Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1801-1928”, digital images, ( : accessed 30 December 2013), entry for De Grozellier – Martin marriage, 13 February 1870.

3. 1891 census of Canada, Lutterworth, Victoria North, Ontario, population schedule, p. 13, family 57, Petar Grosell [sic] household; digital image, ( : accessed 30 December 2013).

4. “Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1913”, digital images,, entry for Martin Groselle.

5. “Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1932”, digital images, ( : accessed 2 May 2007) entry for Martin Grossell [sic], 14 October 1896.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.


  1. You certainly brought to life what a wonderful life and place that Martin grew from. It is a shame, for any tragic happening, but especially so when it takes the young life away, from living on. Bravo, you put a fine tribute in his honor.

  2. Although I was born and raised in Ontario, I never really knew that part of the province where Martin lived. I might get to see that region, though, when I visit relatives back east in a few months. Thanks for commenting, Karen.