Sunday, May 21, 2017

Church Record Sunday: Marie-Antoinette Chouart and Her Godchildren

Marie-Antoinette Chouart (1661-1731) was the daughter of the famous explorer and coureur de bois Médard Chouart, sieur des Groseilliers. She acted as godmother on several occasions to local French and Aboriginal children.

Stained glass window baptism

The first time was on 1 May 1674 in Trois-Rivières, when Marie-Antoinette was only 12 years old. (She turned 13 three weeks later.) She was godmother nine other times, from 1674 to 1717, when she was 56 years old.

Marie-Antoinette had five godsons and five goddaughters.

All were French, except Louis Ouramanampek, an Aboriginal.

Four of five of Marie-Antoinette’s goddaughters were named after her.

All the godchildren were infants at their baptism. The two exceptions are Marie Antoinette Barabbé in 1674, whose baptism record doesn’t mention her age, although she was likely a newborn or only a few days old. The second exception is Louis Ourmanampek, who was an adult when he received the Sacrament of Baptism in 1674.

Here is the list of Marie-Antoinette’s godchildren:

Godchildren of Marie-Antoinette Chouart

Marie-Antoinette could write her name. She signed seven of the ten baptism records. In the example below from 1697, we can see her beautiful, easy-to-read, balanced signature (indicated by the red arrow): “Marie antoinette choüard”.

Baptism record of Marie Catherine Jolive 1697
Baptism record of Marie Catherine Jolive [11]


Image credit: CCO Public Domain, Pixabay.

1. “Actes”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH), ( : accessed 14 August 2009), Adrien Senegal, Baptême no. 87758.

2. “Actes”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH), ( : accessed 14 August 2009), Marie Antoinette Barabbe, Baptême no. 87762.

3. “Actes”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH), ( : accessed 14 August 2009), Louis Ouramanampek, Baptême no. 87764.

4. “Actes”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH), ( : accessed 14 August 2009), Marie Antoinette Verger, Baptême no. 19435.

5. “Actes”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH), ( : accessed 14 August 2009), Marie Antoinette Lorry, Baptême no. 19451.

6. “Actes”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH), ( : accessed 14 August 2009), Jean Baptiste Delpesche Belair, Baptême no. 19508.

7. “Actes”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH), ( : accessed 14 August 2009), Marie Antoinette Desoye, Baptême no. 19512.

8. “Actes”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH), ( : accessed 14 August 2009), Marie Catherine Jolive, Baptême no. 41812.

9. “Actes”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH), ( : accessed 14 August 2009), Pierre Bouchard, Baptême no. 43009.

10. “Actes”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH), ( : accessed 14 August 2009), Charles Reaume, Baptême no. 13993.

11. Notre-Dame (Montréal, Quebec), parish register, 1695-1699, no page no., no entry no. (1697), Marie Jolive baptism, 25 September 1697; Notre-Dame parish; digital image, “Le LAFRANCE”, Généalogie Québec ( : accessed 17 May 2017).

Copyright © 2017, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday’s Faces from the Past: Maurice and Raymond

Maurice and Raymond Belair 1971

Here’s a wonderful photo of my late father Maurice with my brother Raymond.

Raymond looks about 14 months old, so it’s probably July or August 1971.

I think I took the picture (or maybe Mom did).

I have a few vague memories of that day: the weather was good and we obviously decided to take snapshots of ourselves. (There are other similar photos in the series.) Could it have been Dad’s birthday, August 2nd?

He and Raymond posed in the driveway of our rented duplex on the corner of Main (now Belanger Avenue) and Wilcox in Timmins, Ontario.

Whatever the occasion was, I love this picture. Dad is happy, Raymond is so cute, and it’s one of the few examples of them together in a photograph.

Copyright © 2017, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Religious Certificate

My late father Maurice received this document, a Certificat d’Instruction Religieuse (Certificate of Religious Instruction) 78 years ago today, on 18 May 1939.

Religious Instruction Certificate of Maurice Belair

As a Roman Catholic, Dad learned his Catechism at school. (His first teacher was his mother, Julie, who taught him his prayers as a young child.) When it was time for his Profession of Faith, he and the other prepared students went to their parish church, Ste-Agnès (in Fauquier, Ontario), where family, friends and possibly members of the congregation gathered. After Father Arthur Doyon asked the children questions about their faith, they recited the Nicene Creed, a prayer symbolizing our Christian Catholic faith.

The Profession de Foi (Profession of Faith) is “a public act by which personal belief is outwardly manifested in the form of a recital of a creed giving witness to the community of the authentic belief by the person in the teachings of the Church.” [1]

In the early 1970s, the typical age for this Catholic rite of passage was 13-14 years old. I was 13½ when I made my profession of faith in June 1972, but Dad was only 11½ years old when he made his.

The certificate measures approximately 22 cm x 30 cm (9” x 12”). Years of folding has left it wrinkled. Cellophane tape residue remains on a tear (8 cm/3”) in the top right-hand corner. The writing is readable, but faded. I think the certificate was kept rolled up in Dad’s dresser when I was growing up, and at some point, it was put in a frame. Mom gave it to me after he passed away.

In the lower left-hand corner are fields for entering dates of one’s Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, and Scapular. Only the last one, Scapular, is filed out. [2] I know Dad was baptised (1927) and confirmed (1935), but I don’t know when he did his First Communion. Dad and the teacher who prepared the Certificat probably didn’t know the dates, so left those spaces blank.

I have transcribed the text; bold italic passages indicate hand-written portions:

Paroisse de Ste Agnès
Fauquier, Ont.

d’Instruction Religieuse

Nous, soussigné, certifions que Maurice Bélaire [sic]
a subi avec Satisfaction l’examen final sur le catéchisme,
et a fait sa profession de foi et ses promesses de vie chrétienne.
En foi de quoi, nous lui avons décerné ce certificat.
Ce dix-huitième jour du mois de mai de l’an
mil neuf cent trente-neuf.

Baptême le … 19 … 
Première communion le … 19 … 
Confirmation le … 19… 
Scapulaire le 18 mai 1939

(Signed) Arthur Doyon ptre curé

My translation:

Parish of St Agnes
Fauquier, Ont.

of Religious Instruction

We, undersigned, certify that Maurice Bélaire [sic]
has undergone with Satisfaction the final Catechism exam
and has made his profession of faith and of promises of Christian life.
In witness whereof, we have awarded this certificate.
This eighteenth day of the month of May of the year
one thousand thirty-nine.

Baptism on … 19 … 
First Communion on … 19 … 
Confirmation on … 19 … 
Scapular on 18 May 1939

(Signed) Arthur Doyon [parish priest]


1. Reverend Peter M. J. Stravinskas, editor, Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia (Huntingdon, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 1991), 787, “Profession of Faith”.

2. A scapular consists of “two small pieces of cloth, about two and a half by two inches, connected by two long cords and worn over the head and resting on the shoulders”. Stravinskas, Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia, 868, “Scapular”. The Scapular that Dad received would have been a devotional one for lay people, not the kind worn by those in religious orders.

Copyright © 2017, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Joseph Desgroseilliers, Accidental Train Death

90 years ago today – on May 8, 1927 – Joseph Desgroseilliers was killed when his car was hit accidentally by a train. He was 59 years old. [1] He was a husband and a father, as well as a businessman and a pioneer of St-Charles, Ontario. [2]

Joseph was the eldest son of Pierre and Flavie (Lepage) Desgroseilliers, my maternal great-great-grandparents. He was born on 20 January 1868 in St-Chrysostome, Châteauguay County, Quebec. [2] An elder sister and eleven younger brothers (including my great-grandfather Albert) and sisters completed the family.

Joseph Desgroseilliers 1927 death registration
Joseph Desgroseilliers' death registration, top portion (
Joseph Desgroseilliers 1927 death registration
Joseph Desgroseilliers' death registration, bottom portion (

Joseph's death registration (bottom portion) gives the cause of death as “Accidental Automobile hit by train”. A local history book of St-Charles, Ontario where he lived, gives slightly more detail in French: “fut frappé par le train no 1, près de la gare de Warren” [was hit by the train no. 1, near the station of Warren]. [3]

Warren, Ontario, Canada
Warren, Ontario

Joseph’s funeral took place in St-Charles’ parish cemetery on 11 May 1927. His brother Albert and his son-in-law Vital Brisson were present as witnesses. [4]

He was survived by his wife Azéline (née Lemieux) and their five surviving children, the youngest one being 13-year-old Lionel.

Photo credit:

Wikipedia contributors, "Markstay-Warren", Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ( : accessed 7 May 2017).


1. “Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1938, 1943-1944, and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947”, digital images, ( : accessed 7 May 2017), entry for Joseph De Groseilliers (written as Joseph De Groseilliers, indexed as Joseph De Grossillier), 8 May 1927; citing Archives of Ontario, Registrations of Deaths, 1869-1938; Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Archives of Ontario; microfilm series MS935, reel 350.

2. Lionel Séguin, Historique de la paroisse Saint-Charles (Saint-Charles, Ont., 1945: 231-232); digital images, Our Roots ( : accessed 18 June 2013).

3. St-Jean-Chrysostome (St-Chrysostome, Quebec), parish register, 1868, p. 2 verso, entry no. B.8, Joseph Desgroseilliers baptism, 21 January 1868; St-Chrysostome parish; digital images, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968”, ( : accessed 7 May 2017).

4. Séguin, Historique de la paroisse Saint-Charles, 231.

5. St-Charles Boromée (St-Charles, Ontario), parish register, 1909-1967, p. 75 stamped, no entry no. (1927), Joseph Desgroseilliers burial, 11 May 1927; St-Charles Boromée parish; digital images, “Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967”, ( : accessed 7 May 2017).

Copyright © 2017, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Church Record Sunday: Charles Gagnon’s 1797 Baptism Record

Today – May 7 – marks the 220th anniversary of the baptism of my maternal 4x great-grandfather, Charles Gagnon.

Eldest child of Charles Amable and Thérèse (née Poitras) Gagnon, Charles was born on 2 May 1797. He was baptised five days later in the parish church of St-Roch-de-l’Achigan, about 60 km (37 miles) north of Montreal. [1] Charles had five brothers (Joseph, François, Jean-Baptiste, Pierre, and Toussaint) and one sister (Marie Marguerite Thérèse, who died young). [2]

1797 baptism record of Charles Gagnon
Charles Gagnon's 1797 baptism record (

My transcription of Charles’ baptism record above (original lineation indicated by / ):

Le sept mai l’an mil sept cens quatre vingt dix sept par nous sous / signé prêtre curé de la paroisse Saint Roch a été baptisé / Charles né du deux du present mois du légitime mariage de Charles / Gagnon habitant de cette paroisse et de Marie Therèse Poitra. Le / parrain a été Charles Gagnon et la marraine Anne Poitra qui / avec le pere ont déclaré ne savoir signer
[signed] Raizenne ptre

My translation of the record (original lineation indicated by / ):

The seven May of the year one thousand seven hundred ninety seven by us under / signed parish priest of the parish of Roch was baptised / Charles born of the second of the present month of the legitimate marriage of Charles / Gagnon resident of this parish and of Marie Therèse Poitra. The / godfather was Charles Gagnon and the godmother Anne Poitra who / along with the father have declared they could not sign [their names]
[signed] Raizenne [priest]

In October 1823, Charles married his distant cousin Marguerite Ducasse, also from St-Roch, by whom he had nine children. He died possibly in 1860 in Russell County, Ontario.


1. St-Roch (St-Roch-de-l’Achigan, Quebec), parish register, 1797, p. 8 recto, no entry no., Charles Gagnon baptism, 7 May 1797; St-Roch parish; digital images, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 6 May 2017).

2. “Dictionnaire”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH) ( : accessed 2 May 2017), Charles Amable Gagnon – Thérèse Poitras Turenne, Famille no. 75859.

Copyright © 2017, Yvonne Demoskoff.