Happy Birthday to Me!

On this day, awhile ago shall we say, I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba to my beautiful mother, Sheila Joy Richard Phillips and my father Edmond Guillaume Daniel Beauchamp. I was a bonny wee lass, here in the arms of my maternal grandmother, Jane Smith Phillips.

Babe in Arms

I was a bit fussed over, being the first child of a couple who were head over heels. Both had a rough childhood, my father being the victim of polio when he was young and losing the use of his right forearm. My mother was shipped off when she was 16 from the farm to the city.

Not many years ago, I came into some photos of my childhood through an aunt. The first I had seen. On the back of each was the scratchy handwriting of my father, who died at 45 from a heart attack. On this one, he had written “Yolande says ” Hey Dad! Look at me, I’m dancing.”

On the back of another photo, he had written, “This was a proud day for Mom too in her bright red taffeta dress”. It inspired me to create this picture of Mom and I. She just looks radiant. What they were celebrating I don’t know.

There were many hard times ahead of them but on this day I want to say thanks to Mom and Dad for making me the person I am today. You taught me hope and determination and love of family. Thank you.

The Wood Runners

By 1721, the very lifeblood of New France, the fur trade, was on the brink of disaster. The market in France was glutted and fur shipments were no longer being accepted. The King (Louis XIV) had tried in many ways to establish industry in the colony and control it to his benefit but had largely failed, at times because of lack of materials, at times lack of industriousness on the part of the colony itself. Various monetary systems were tried, even to the point of creating “card money” yes, literally marking playing cards with a stamp.

It did not take long for some of the men in the colony, who became known as the “coureurs des bois”, already hardened by the fur trade, to start trading for themselves. They knew they would have to compete with the Indian fur traders and to this end, ventured further inland looking for new trapping grounds thus stimulating western exploration. The royal reaction was to turn these men into outlaws and create trading licenses. Each license allowed the departure of two canoes loaded with goods. Only one canoe was allowed afterwards bearing 3 men and 400 pounds of freight. The licenses were sometimes sold for the profit of government and sometimes given to widows of officers, the hospital or other people in need.  At times, they would be sold privately to merchants or voyageurs. The licenses were valid for a year and a half, with each canoeman sharing in the profits which could be considerable, providing you didn’t drown first.

The bane of the fur trade was the running off of the young men into the woods, at one time 800 disappeared following the call of Daniel Dulhut. The fear was that they would not resettle and help to build the colony. The way of life was one of adventure and freedom, many adopting the ways of their native brothers. Unlike the natives though, they had a better capacity for the brandy which was part of the trading deal. An inebriated Indian could always be cheated in an unfair trade deal.  It was considered to be one the “tools of the trade”. The reason this continued was the fear of losing the young men to the English traders or driving them away from the Church.

The King had ordered that whipping and branding be given for the first offence of trading without a license and being sent to the galleys  for the second offense. Nothing the intendant Duchesneau did could prevent the debauchery and lawlessness. Therefore, siegneuries were abandoned, wives left behind and children ran about in the streets as men gathered and disappeared into the forest. They could be gone for years out of the reach of the law. Montreal  was the headquarters for the fur trade. When a party of “coureurs des bois” returned, the settlement would turn into a place of revelry and debauchery. The men would bedeck themselves in a blend of French finery and Native decoration, always with a sword at their side, the women following suit. Of course, after the celebration was over, confessions were heard and penances issued for the Church could not afford to lose any more souls.

One of the most famous coureurs des bois was Daniel Greysolon Dulhut who was a noblemen and career soldier from Lyon, France. His mission was to create a peace between the western Indian tribes and the French while fortifying areas that were under threat by the English and Iroqouis. To this end, he fortified the fort at Michillimakinac, Michigan and built Fort William on Lake Superior and later, Fort St. Joseph. He made an enemy of the intendant Duschsneau for disobeying the orders of the King and was slandered by La Salle in order to gain a monopoly on exploration rights for New France. In spite of this, he was able to secure the authority of New France in the Great Lakes area. He died in Montreal in 1710, leaving a part of his fortune to Charles Delauney who had cared for him. The city of Duluth, Minnesota is named after him.

It is likely that at this point, the ending of the 17th century and with the rise of the coureurs des bois a new nation started to form in New France, that of the Metis as they took  “country wives”, women they had children with but did not marry. Eventually, the coureurs des bois would fade away and in their place came the “voyageur”, a man whose business it was to legally transport goods up into the “pays des haut”.

There were several voyageurs in the family of which I would like to find out more. For now I will just list some. Francois Beauchamp, Michel Beauchamp, Joseph Beauchamp, Antoine Beauchamp, Pierre Beauchamp, Augustin Beauchamp, Hubert Beauchamp and Jean Beauchamp, very likely the son or grandson of our original settler. There were also voyageurs in my grandmother’s family (Daigneault), Richard Daigneault was one of them. Below are some maps of the fur trade hub lakes taken from a book by Eric Morse, Fur Trade Routes of Canada/Now and Then.

Fur Trade Routes Out of Lake Athabasca

Lake Superior Fur Trade Routes E. Morse

Lake Superior Trade Routes

Lake Winnipeg Fur Trade Routes. Eric Morse

Lake Winnipeg Trade Routes

Sources included but not limited to :
Francis Parkman, The Old Regime in Canada
Francis Parkman,  Pioneers of France in the New World
Canada: The Fur Trade at Lachine
St. Boniface Historical Society-Voyageur Contracts 
PRDH-University of Montreal
Genealogy Quebec
Ancestry.ca
Virtual Museum of New France

The Infant Colony

I am  enjoying Francis Parkman’s “Pioneers of France in the New World”.  Though his writing may seem at times slightly archaic, there is no doubting his mastery of the metaphor. In the book, he describes New France as a head (king, noble and Jesuit), under which “the lank lean body would not survive“. Conversely, New England was “strengthening and widening in a slow and steadfast growth, full of blood and muscle, a body without a head“.

Of New France he says  “Even commerce wore the sword, decked itself with badges of nobility, aspired to forest seigneuries and hordes of savage retainers.”  That is a little strong but it does give the gist of things. Without support the feeble colony simply would not survive. The restrictions placed on immigration and commerce would not allow for the expansion New England was experiencing, where a man could go as far as he was able without interference. Albeit, he wasn’t going to get much help. One gets a sense that the people were simply pawns in the game of European expansion.

However, pleas for help did not fall entirely on deaf ears. In 1665, Louis XIV decided to once and for all stop the terrorist raidings of the Iroquois who from the beginning, had no idea of anyone actually settling on the land, or passing it on into perpetuity. Trade with them you may, but own the land no. He also decided to get serious about governance of the colony and cancelled the charter of the One Hundred Associates. Then he created the Sovereign Council out of the old Council of Quebec which would have jurisdiction over justice, police, roads, finance and trade.

In 1665, the St. Sebastien arrived in Quebec. On board were  Prouville de Tracy, the commander-in-chief of the troops, Sieur de Courcelle, the governor, and Jean Talon, the Intendant of justice, police and finance. There were soldiers, settlers, laborers and supplies for the starving colony. The great Jean Baptiste Colbert, Louis’ minister of finance had sent a letter of instructions with Talon on how to deal with the Church and State, the West India Company who would be their trading partner and how to deal with the Iroqouis.

Tracy led the troops in a major attack on the Iroqouis and held them in defeat until peace was made. That in itself is a harrowing story. He returned to France in 1667, leaving  Remy de Courcelle as governor and Talon as intendant. With peace estabished, Talon was able to go ahead with his plans to build New France. He conducted the first census of Canada, showing Montreal at the time as having 3,215 European residents. Quebec the largest had a population of 2100 people, Montreal 635 and Trois Riviers, 455. (from Stats Canada).

Land that had been initially granted to the Jesuits was forfeit to the building of houses for new settlers who would be granted land, food and tools as well as payment for clearing the first two acres in two years. In return, they must clear the next two acres in 3-4 years for new arrivals. With Jean Beauchamp, arriving in 1666, one would suppose that he took advantage of this offer.

The King had declared that all young men were to be married by age 20 and girls 14 or 15, with severe penalties for those who avoided the state, such as loss of hunting and trapping rights. Here, it is possible that Jean’s sister Marie who died at 14,  may have died in childbirth. Within a year Jean was married to Jeanne Loiselle, the contract below. Note the name of Marguerite Bourgeois (Bourgeoys) on the contract. Jeanne was the first student at the first school established by the Sister in Montreal. The marriage record I have previously posted.Mar. Contract J. Beauchamp

There was financial reward for having children, 300 livres a year for the first 10 and 400 livres for 12 or more. This was a successful action.  In 1665, there were 3,215 settlers, and 533 families. After three years, the population had grown to 6,282 settlers and 1,139 families.

When Jean and Jeanne were married she would have been 17 years old and he 22. She did not have a child until 1699 but it did not live.

Death of Jean's 1st child 1669.JPG

You can see at the bottom she was attended by a master surgeon, so a fortunate girl. Another child, Marie was born the next year. As I have no landing record for Jean I do not know what he may have been engaged to do when he came but most of the family seem to have been primarily habitants. There are several notarial acts for Jean, mostly in the form of land transactions and a few donations to his children. On May 4, 1700 he passed away in Pointe Aux Trembles after settling his debts having enough money to gift his priest, Father Chaigneau 200 pounds. Jeanne died on October 4, 1708.  Interesting that Jeanne had 3 priests in attendance!

Death of Jean Beauchamp -1700 prdh

Death of Jeanne Louiselle Beauchamp pdrh 1708

The Move to Pointe Aux Trembles

While I grapple with  Louise Dechêne’s “Habitants and Merchants in Seventeenth Century Montreal” and the fact that my SEO is absolutely defunct let us look at some of the information that is actually available on my family in Quebec. It really is like putting an enormous puzzle together.. By that I mean which son of a son of a son do you descend from? They may also all have the same name, such fun!  Again, the websites of PRDH and Nosorigines are very helpful in piecing the family units together, providing you have the correct start point .That being said, I have a running account with Ancestry which helps pull information together.

What do we know about Jean Beauchamp, considered a pioneer in Montreal along with his brother, Jacques? (Why the oldest brother, Pierre is never mentioned I do not know.) He was baptized at the church of St. Marguerite in La Rochelle, a maritime city in Aunis, on the east coast of France.

La Rochelle having an ancient history of exporting salt and wine, later as a point of migration to the New World. It was also home to a majority of Protestants until put under siege by Louis XIII. The boys grandfather had come from the hamlet of Nanthieul de Bourzac in France, a little to the southeast of La Rochelle, closer to Perigieux .The name Jean Beauchamp is listed as a Huguenot ancestor on the American website of the National Huguenot Association. Their maternal grandparents, Elie Roullett and Marie Barbonneau were married in the Protestant Temple in La Rochelle. The father, Michel, was a gardener in Ville Neuve a new town built for the Protestants after the siege. However, we see no evidence to date of the brothers  signing a document of “abjuration”, which they would have had to do to live in New France. That does not mean it doesn’t exist.

According to the Tanguay dictionary, Jean arrived in 1666 and married Jeanne Loisel the same year. I hope by now you have realized that most documents were written phonetically causing unknown upheaval in the genealogical world.

capture

Jean was an engagé , contracted to labour for 3 years until he was granted land on which to farm. Where they stayed during that time is unknown, though Jeanne had been raised at Marguerite Bourgeouy’s school. Perhaps she stayed there until he was settled, since the first child did not arrive until 3 years later. That child did not survive but 7 others did. From the PDRH (Research Program of Historical Demography-University of Montreal) website:

jean-beauchamp-jeanne-loiselle-family-1666

One can go from there to find the family which is wonderful. This record is known as a “union” on the website. We can see above that the couple moved to Pointe aux Trembles sometime before the birth of the child Jean, in 1676. It is the oldest rural parish on the island of Montreal.  A fort had been built there in 1670 to protect the eastern side of the island from the Iroquois. The village was established in 1674 inside it’s walls.

P aux Tr on old map.jpg

Old Map of Montreal showing location of Montreal to Point aux Trembles

The Supulcians were the seigneurs of Montreal and owned most of the land on the island.In the early days of Pointe Aux Trembles, a priest traveled to the home of Francois Bot to say mass on Sundays. Then in 1674, two churchwardens were elected to make arrangements for the building of a church. In her book, Louise Dechenes tells of the unbridled enthusiasm of the settlers for the new church, promising to contribute to the financing and building of it, which they did …to a point. It took the intendant’s threat of a lawsuit to get the church finished. When that was done, the priest needed a house and a collection would have to be taken for that. In the end, many priests ended up using their own money to build. Religious though they claimed to be, the settlers were not willing to give up their hard earned money on non-critical items. Tithes and seigneurial dues went unpaid for which the clergy hesitated to sue, since that would alienate an already unruly parish. When the church was finally established, the settlers were intent on running the parish which caused even more trouble. Still, they became attached to their curé and realized that “the parish” signaled a forging of a new community where they could create the society they longed for. Jean Beauchamp was among those who participated in the blessing of the new church.

 

The Eyes of a Little Girl

While I look for my ancestors, my mind often goes back to my childhood days. Those memories take on a dreamlike quality, parts as clear as a running stream and others hazy and filled with uncertainty. I spent very little time with my grandparents which makes the memories all the more poignant. My father’s parents lived in a little bungalow on Horace Street in Winnipeg, Manitoba. My grandfather carried in him all the talents and abilities of his French Canadian ancestors. He was a carpenter by trade and a “cultivateur” at heart. The long back yard of the little brown tiled house was beautifully green with  Caragana bushes around it. In the spring, they would be filled with robin’s nests and the delicate blue eggs inside.

alfred-and-rose-1945-copy

Alfred and Adelina (Rose Daigneault) Beauchamp 1950’s

At the back of the house was a coal shed and at the top of the house in a little attic was his room. It smelled like tobacco because he ground his own through a grinder. The grinder sat on a little table which was beside the small, square window that looked down over the yard. A huge sunflower swayed in the breeze beneath the window, just within arms length. At times a head of it would be sitting on the table and grandpa would show me how to get the seeds out. The tart smell of tomato came from the seedlings he had planted in cans which also sat on the table. There was a simple dresser beside his bed , the drawer of which was filled with beer caps.

Downstairs, in my grandmother’s cozy kitchen, there was always a pot of soup in the soup burner at the back of the stove. It was a special spot where the pot could be sunk in and kept warm. I remember him telling me to always have a pot of soup going, barley was the best. He would show me one day how to make it. He did not talk much when I was around. He had that old habit of dropping by at the corner pub after work to meet the men and would often come home when I had been put to bed on the couch. There I had been crouched in fear of the pot-bellied stove , it’s embers casting strange shadows on the dark walls.

I would wait for a while and then slowly walk to the kitchen doorway. I would find him sitting like a statue at the table in the dim light, sometimes drinking tea, sometimes not. He had the old habit of pouring it into his saucer first. On such a night, I summoned up the courage to talk to him. I asked him if he would put the hair back onto the much coveted china doll my cousin and I always fought over. To this he smiled and made an examination of the doll’s head and put her on the table. In minutes, my grandmother was out of her room, tired and cross. She shooed me back onto the couch. The next day the brown-haired doll was sitting on the table waiting for me, that was until my cousin came over and the fight started again.

The house in St. Boniface was very close to the Seine River which froze over in the winter. On some visits my brother and I would trudge through the deep snow down to the river and just start walking. The trees hung with ice along the snow crusted banks. Eventually, we came upon the framework of a teepee up the side of the left bank and scrambled up it. We wondered about it, wondered what it would have been like to live in one, having no idea that that is exactly what many of our ancestors did.

One day, after I had just started school down the road from my grandparent’s, I came upon a man walking slowly in front of me. He looked different. His hair was in long, black braids and he had a colored sash around his middle. He wore a buckskin jacket and his skin was dark coppery brown. Being precocious, I asked where he was going and he pointed to my grandparent’s house. I asked him his name and he said “Daniel”. I was mystified. I do not remember interacting with him in the house but the next day when I came home he was up on the roof mending shingles. I suspect that he was my grandmother’s brother, Louis Daniel Daigneault. It remains to be seen.

My grandmother, Rose Daigneault was born in St.Boniface in 1889. In the 1901 Census of Canada her father, William lists the family as Red under the Color column. For the main part, they lived their lives as French Catholics. Her mother, Virginie Cyr’s family extends back to the Lagimodiere family and thence to Riel. She was much loved by the family but I did not feel that from her. I think she did not appreciate being saddled with her half Irish grandchildren when she was older. She was very strict with me and did not talk much. I remember my hair being scraped back from my head into tight braids and being sent out to find my way to school in freezing weather when I was just 6. My mother had to work you see.

I do remember her giving a lovely tea party for my birthday one year where we had a turtle race. All the boys who had turtles brought them. I was dressed very prettily in the flouncy nylon confections of the 50’s but for the main part I felt abandoned. My first communion was a terror for me. St.Boniface Cathedral was a looming castle. My father was a wreck. I begged him to not make me go into the confessional box but there was nothing he could do. My grandmother sat with the cousins and made no move to help. Somehow I survived as we all did. It was surely a preparation for life.

cousins

Sibs and cousins. Me 3rd from the right 1960

Checking and Rechecking

There is ample warning from professional genealogists to check and cite the source of your records correctly. Therefore, I try to find my own records as much as possible rather than using someone else’s tree for the same family. It is rather frustrating when you find that they are for the main part accurate but I still feel better about at least checking things. You run into problems most times because of naming patterns. The son being named after the father for instance. That can also be a help because names tend to run in families. There is also a problem created by indexed records which may contain errors through transcription and the interpretation of at times illegible handwriting.

Like most people with the Beauchamp name in Quebec, I knew the pioneers in the family were Pierre, Jacques and Jean. Comparing trees, I saw that I had the wrong line going fairly far back. At that point I had to start checking and double checking to see how many people had the same line going. That would be the line connecting to Damase my great-grandfather. So I would use them as a framework and check each person as I went. Then I hit the Joseph’s in the family. Not fun. There is the name they were called and the name they were baptized with. I was thrilled to see a whole family of voyageurs. I had found records of two brothers I know are in my family,  Jacques and Pierre Beauchamp who were voyageurs. Many men had to supplement their income by transporting goods and furs along the rivers of New France.  They were two generations back and one of them was called Damase.

There are, of course, many resources for Quebec genealogy which you can find at Cyndi’s list.  Ancestry is so good at joining things up for you, the index and the original. That is a help because if you are able to actually read the original you will get extra information. So, by looking at the orginal baptismal records, I found out that the two Joseph’s were called by their second names of Theophile and Isaac . Then I started cross-checking with the records at PRDH from the University of Montreal. That is a paying site as well but with a little information you can save some money by looking for the union or family of two known ancestors. They have been kind enough to list the couple with their parents, date and place of marriage along with their children’s information. That costs 17¢ (providing you know who you are looking for). Pretty cool! Then you can go from there.There is also a tree at Nos Origines, another site that is fairly well done. So you can see I am right in the middle of it now. What fuels me? The history of the place and times my ancestors lived in and knowing I am part of that. And the memory of my grandparents.