Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Workday Wednesday: Eugene Desgroseilliers, Chief of Police

Eugene Desgroseilliers as chief of police

My maternal grandfather Eugène Desgroseilliers (1900-1960) was Chief of Police in Hearst, a small northern Ontario community. I’ve always wondered how he got this position. He was a farmer when he married in August 1925 [1], but soon changed occupations and moved to law enforcement. I asked my mother if she knew how this happened (what qualifications did he have, what training did he receive), but she could only speculate that he was hired because he was so tall – Eugène was 6’ 7”.

Eugene Desgroseilliers as chief of police
Eugène Desgroseilliers, centre, with unidentified men (ca 1927)

Based on photographic evidence, Eugène probably became chief of police around the time his daughter Mariette was born in December 1927.

Eugene Desgroseilliers with his daughter Mariette in 1928
Eugène Desgroseilliers and his daughter Mariette (1928)

Eugène served as chief of police in Hearst from about 1927 to about 1936. He appears on a voters list for that community in 1935; his occupation is “town police”. [2]
Eugene Desgroseilliers on the 1935 list of electors for Hearst Ontario
Eugène Desgroseilliers (entry no. 102) on the 1935 list of electors for Hearst, Ontario (

In 1936, Eugène and his family moved to Rouyn, in northwestern Quebec. He continued with his police duties there and later in the nearby villages of Duparquet and Cadillac. In about 1940, Eugène became ill with double pneumonia and lost his job as police chief.

I’ve tried to find more details about my grandfather’s time as police chief in Hearst, but I’ve not been successful. For example, I corresponded with the Town of Hearst, who transferred my request to the local police force. In turn, the Hearst police department forwarded my request to the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police). Unfortunately, my grandfather was not in their “various OPP alpha-listings which go back to the 1920s”. [3]

I also hoped to find what happened to the medal Eugène was awarded for being “the youngest chief of police”, according to his daughters. They remember this medal, but they can’t recall what it looked like, when their father received it, or what became of it.

For now, the only sources I have about my grandfather Eugène’s years as chief of police are the above photos, an entry in a 1935 “list of electors”, and the memories of my Mom and her sisters. I’m not giving up hope, though, that one day I’ll find documentary evidence of his work and of his having received a medal for it.


1. “Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1801-1930”, digital images, ( : accessed 16 March 2010), entry for Eugene Desgroseilliers – Juliette Beauvais (written as Eugene Desgroseilliers – Juliette Beauvais, indexed as Eugene Desg Desgroseillien – Juliette Beauvais), 18 August 1925; citing Archives of Ontario, Registrations of Marriages, 1869-1928; Toronto, Ontario Canada: Archives of Ontario; microfilm series MS932, reel 740.

2. “Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980”, digital images, ( : accessed 30 March 2016), entry for Eugene Desgroseillier (written as Eugene Desgroseillier, indexed as Kugene Desgroseillier), page 817 (stamped), entry no. 102; citing Voters Lists, Federal Elections, 1935–1980; R1003-6-3-E (RG113-B); Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

3. Claudine Locqueville, Adjointe Administrative Assistant, Ville de/Town of Hearst to Yvonne Demoskoff, email, 24 March 2010, “FW: Police force of Hearst”; privately held by Yvonne (Belair) Demoskoff, Hope, British Columbia, 2016. Claudine forwarded the exchange of emails between the James Bay Detachments of the OPP and the OPP Museum in Orillia, Ontario to Yvonne regarding the possibility that her grandfather Eugene served with that police force.

Copyright © 2016, Yvonne Demoskoff.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Yvonne. I have lots of info for you. My Dad, John Bies, was hopping freights from the west through Hearst in 1930 when he was thrown off the train by CNR policeman Tiggan. He hung around for two days, finally walked 20 miles to Mattice but when waiting to board the train there he was again chased out of town by Tiggan and the Hearst Town police who he referred to as "the long one Desgroselliers".

    I have been researchig Hearst history for ten years, heve written many stories and have tons of files, including a listing of all the town police from day one in 1922.

    Your Dad was the fourth town constable from Dec. 19, 1927 to Feb. 20, 1928. Appointed Police Chief from Feb 20, 1928 to Dec, 27, 1934. and again fromAug. 19, 1952 to Feb. 7, 1953.

    Hope that helps fill in some blanks. Ernie Bies, Ottawa