Monday, February 17, 2014

In Memoriam: Mariette White

Today – 17 February 2014 – marks the sixth anniversary of my Aunt Mariette’s passing. She was 80 years old, a widow, and survived by her seven children, and many grand- and great-grandchildren.

Mariette, my mother’s eldest sister, was born on 18 December 1927 at home in Hearst, Ontario, Canada. She was the second, but eldest surviving, child of her parents, Eugène and Juliette (Beauvais) Desgroseilliers.

Mariette Desgroseilliers
Mariette, about 1936

During her early years, her father Eugène worked as chief of police in Hearst. He made a comfortable living, and was able to buy such luxuries as a piano for his children. He was also able to afford to send his elder daughters Mariette, Madeleine and Simone to the Académie Sainte-Marie, in Haileybury, Ontario, to be educated as boarding students by the Soeurs de l'Assomption de la Sainte Vierge.

About 1935, the family moved to northeastern Quebec. Life was good until about 1938 or 1939, when my grandfather Eugène became seriously ill with double pneumonia. He was unable to work for months, and ultimately lost his position as chief of police. Faced with unemployment, he moved his family to Ontario and found work as a guard in Nobel, just outside Parry Sound.

In the summer of 1942, the family relocated again, this time to Blue Water, a tiny community next to Sarnia, Ontario. It was here, in the mid-1940s, that Mariette met John (Jack) White, whom she married. They had three sons and four daughters.

I met my Aunt when I was very little, because my parents travelled to Sarnia at least twice when I was a toddler. But, I don’t remember anything of those visits. The next time I saw Aunt Mariette, I was a teenager. My parents and I (I don’t remember if my sister and brother were with us) were in Sarnia and visited her home. We walked into the living room where she and my cousins had gathered. As soon as I saw my Aunt, I was amazed at how much she and my Mom looked alike. I had, of course, seen photos of her over the years, but I had never really noticed this striking resemblance. Seeing her in person made such a difference, too. Mariette was a very beautiful woman, and with her dark looks, reminded me of actress Loretta Young.

Mariette Desgroseilliers and Jacqueline Desgroseilliers
Mariette (left) with her sister Jacqueline, 1974

I wish I had a better chance to know my Aunt and my cousins (actually all of my Sarnia relatives), but we lived so far apart from each other, and visits were, unfortunately, infrequent.

You are still loved and missed today, Aunt Mariette.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.


  1. Wonderful post. It's too bad how we have lost so many of those younger moments, but through family photos it helps bring back some of them.

  2. I can't beleive how much family info you have here of out family. We miss her to I am close to all her childred we grew up together Roxanne, Larry, Patrick, Garnet, Valerie, Carla