Friday, 27 July 2012

Was Joseph dit Letard dit St.Onge the legitimate father of
Magdeleine dit Letard St. Onge dit McTavish? And who was Magdeleine's birthmother?

Magdeleine
It is difficult to locate details regarding Magdeleine dit Letart St. Onge dit McTavish. This posting will reveal the data available and it will also discuss some of the stumbling blocks to her true identity.

Magdeleine was described as a native woman with red highlights in her hair. She spoke Cree, Michif (a language based on Cree and French), English and French [I am searching for the source of this description]. Based on the information that I have collected, Magdeleine was "Métis," meaning that she descended from a mixed heritage First Nations and European. Before we review her ancestry, let's look at her marriages.

Magdeleine's first husband was Charles Lacombe and he is listed as a voyageur in the Notary Book of Samuel Adams employed by the company W.H. Putuff of Mackinac on June 28, 1816. Although I have yet to confirm the following data from primary sources (such as birth and marital certificates), I would like to share this plausible story that describes what may have happened to Magdeleine's first spouse and first child:
Madeleine married Charles Lacombe about 1820 on Drummond Island, MI. Their daughter, Madeleine, was born about 1823 on Drummond Island, MI. Charles Lacombe, who was a voyageur, died about 1825. Their daughter Madeleine Lacombe later married Louis Langlade on 10 May 1842 at Penetanguishene, ON and they would have 11 children.
Her second husband was Antoine Lafreniere whom she married on August 17, 1826 at Drummond Island, MI.  Although we have many details regarding her children with Antoine, it is very difficult to determine exact Magdeleine's heritage and date of birth.
(Some of the data below was revealed in the last posting dated July 13, 2012, so please be patient as I attempt to add some insight and new sources.)

It is believed that Magdeleine's "parents" were:
  • Katrine-Genevieve Vasseur (born about 2 July 1792 St. Ignace, Mackinac County, Michigan). Her birth record states:
  • Sex:    F
    Birth:   ABT. 2 JUL 1792 in St. Ignace, Mackinac Co.
    NATI:  Metis
    Notes:
               Godparents were Antoine Adhemar St. Martin and Genevieve Blondeau. August 15, 1799, by us the undersigned priest, the ceremonies of Baptism were supplied to Genevieve, privately baptized by Laurent Bertrand, born July 2, 1792, of jacques Vasseur and of Madeleine, an Outawa, his lawful wife. The father was present and signed with us. The godfather was Antoine Adhemar St. Martin; and the godmother Genevieve Blondeau, his wife, who signed with us.
  • Joseph dit Letard St. Onge birth certificate is recorded by the PRDH at the University of Montreal as:




    Individual

    # 314014

    JOSEPH LETARD STONGE

    Father : JOSEPH LETARD STONGE

    Mother : VERONIQUE BISSONNETTE
     
    Birth: 1781-08-29

    Baptism: 1781-08-30  Boucherville, QC
Joseph's parents were married 24 November 1766 (their marriage is registered in the Quebec Vital and Church Records Drouin Collection 1744-1772, image 222) and Joseph had 10 other siblings.

Katrine-Genevieve and Joseph probably wed in Michilimackinac, MI. Their marital certificate, according to St. Anne's parish in Detroit Michigan, states:
Joseph Letard dit St. Onge dit Latour, son of Joseph Letard dit St. Onge and Veronique Bissonet, married Katrine Genevieve Vasseur, daughter of Jacques Vasseur & Madeleine Ouiouiskoin about 1810.
Gabriel Richard, priest.
jac Vasseur; Bd. adhemar; adhemar St martin
[The "dit Latour" added to Joseph's name on his marriage certificate may indicate that he was an illegitimate child, but I have yet to confirm this.]
When Katrine-Genevieve married Joseph dit Letard St. Onge about 1810, three of their children were also present:
  • Amble dit Letard St. Onge
  • Genevieve dit Letard St. Onge
  • Joseph (Jr) dit Letard St. Onge

All family members were baptized at this time. Soon thereafter, four more children were attributed to this marriage:
  • Magdeleine dit Letard St.Onge born 1801-11 Mackinac Island, MI.; married Antoine Lafreniere and died 6 December 1883 at St. Leon, MB.
  • Touissant dit Letard St. Onge born about 1815, and died 1881.
  • Marie Louisa dit Letard St. Onge born 1822 and died 23 April 1908 at Britt, Parry Sound, ON.
  • Marie Veronique Marguerite dit Letard St. Onge born 25 July 1825 at Drummond Island, MI.
Although Katrine-Genevieve Vasseur has been linked to Magdeleine dit Letard dit St. Onge dit McTavish as her biological birthmother, it is difficult to prove as factual for several reasons:
  1. There are no official birth records available for Magdeleine.

  2. It is stated on several unofficial records that Magdeleine may have been born as early as 1801, but Katrine-Genevieve would have been only nine years old and unable to physically conceive children. And if Magdeleine was born even five years later, why wasn't she present at the marriage of her parents and baptized with the other family members?

  3. There is a theory that suggests that Magdeleine's birthparents and two siblings died in a boating accident.  According to some Internet geneaologists, Magdeleine's family drowned in 1814 in a boating accident with Donald McTavish, first cousin of Simon McTavish and in charge of the Fort Astor (today known as Astoria, Oregon) NWC post at this time. Although he was involved in many NWC trading posts across Canada, I believe this story is ficititous as Donald drowned while trying to cross open waters with an open boat to reach the Isaac Todd, a British ship, anchored near Fort Astor.  However, it is possible that Magdeleine's true birth family died or became unable to care for her and Katrine-Genevieve adopted Magdeleine.

  4. There is another story that claims Simon McTavish, the principal director of the Northwest Trading Company, must have been Magdeleine's father.  While he  operated the Michilimackinac post prior to the 1790's and he was known for keeping "country women", he was a well-established businessman more than 500 miles away in Montreal by 1793. He owned a store, flour mill, saw mill and bakery and he also possessed large parcels of land, including a home in which he raised four children with his 18-year old wife until his death in 1804 according to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online created by the University of Toronto. It is extremely unlikely that Simon was her father.  "McTavish" was a common name for many voyageurs and thus, it is impossible to determine Magdeleine's birthfather.

  5. Is it possible that Katrine adopted Magdeleine because Katrine's sister Marie Louise (born 1787, married in 1804 and date of death unknown) had died? Or did Katrine adopt a friend's daughter?

  6. Why does Magdeleine add "McTavish" as her surname in the 1860's when she signed her son's marital record? Is it possible that Magdeleine's birthmother had an illegitimate child with a furtrader/voyageur and Magdelaine only learned about it later in her life? Did she start using it because she reunited with her true father or did the  stigma of her illegitimacy evaporate? Perhaps, she may have even been proud of her McTavish heritage....
     
Here is a document that will answer at least one of the questions:  I recently discovered the following death certificate for Magdeleine taken from the parish records at St.Leon, Manitoba:
This record declares that she died on December 8th, 1883 at the age of 82 and thus, this primary source officially extinguishes the theory that Katrine-Genevieve Vasseur was her birth mother. (The notation located in the lower left hand corner refers to the fact that Magdeleine's gravemarker is absent at the St. Leon cemetery.) 

Magdelaine's Grandparents

Now, let's examine Magdeleine's grandparents (Katrine-Genvieve’s parents). They were:
  • Madeleine Ouiouiskoin of the Outawas Nation (more commonly known as Ottawa First Nations of the Ojibway) born about 1769 at Lac Court Oreilles, Wisconsin
  • Jacques Vasseur born ____ of Montreal and married 5 August 1799.
This is a photo of their original marital record at St. Anne's Church in Michigan:



Below is their official marriage and baptism registration between jacques Vasseur and Madeleine of the OutawasNation as recorded in the 1695-1821 Register of Baptisms of the Mission of St. Ignace de Michilimakinak, MI:


This is a valuable piece of our ancestry as it notes:
  1. Jacques Vasseur of Montreal, likely a voyageur;
  2. Madeleine's ties to the Outawas Nation, also known as Ottawa, which is of the Ojibway group of First Nations; and
  3. Genevieve, about seven years old -- this is our Katrine-Genevieve born in 1792 who's birth certificate states that she is Metis (as demonstrated earlier in this posting).
Here is the list of Jacques and Madeleine's children (some of these children are vaguely referred to in the above registration) were:
  • Marie Louise Vasseur born February 1787; married Joseph Gautier dit Caron on 1 July 1804 at Michilimackinac, MI.
  • Louis Vasseur born 15 June 1790 probably at St. Ignace, MI.
  • Katrine-Genevieve Vasseur born 2 July 1792 at St. Ignace, Mackinac County, MI.; married Joseph dit Letard St.Onge
  • Joseph Vasseur born 8 August 1797.
  • Jacques Vasseur III born 8 January 1799 at St. Ignace, Mackinac County, MI.(It is noted in his record that he was privately baptized one month after his birth).
  • Jean Baptiste Vasseur born 1801 and baptized by missionary priest J. Dilhet on 18 July 1804.
  • Andre Vasseur born 1802, and baptized by missionary priest J. Dileht on 18 July 1804. According to The Ontario Historical Society Papers: Papers and Records, Volume 3, Andre Vasseur became a landowner of Lot 84, Concession 1 in Tiny, ON and later moved to Bruce Mines, ON where he died (date unknown).
An interesting note by the Ontario Historical Society Papers is the claim that Jacques Vasseur, [believed to be either Madeline's spouse or her son Jacques Vasseur] died at Pinery Point, ON when he was killed by an Indian.
Jacques asked the Indian to shake hands with him, and while reaching for his hatchet with the other hand discovered his arm was broken. He is buried on the Gidley farm (Antoine Lafreniere's property at Tiny, ON).

Next week: Revealing Antoine Lafreniere's birthparents

Friday, 13 July 2012

A Clear Path to Antoine Lafreniere and

our Metis Heritage


After a two month break, I have decided to approach our family ancestry by reviewing what we know for certain about our Metis heritage beginning with Helen and Ulric Livingston (more details of all siblings and their beautiful families will follow at a later date).
  • Helen Marie Marguerite Langevin - born Oct. 6, 1897 in St. Alphonse, MB
  • Ulric Livingston (born Michael Liversant) - married on Jul. 2,1917
They had 10 beautiful children:


Back row: Mickey, John, Doreen, Archie, Gerald, and Bernie
Front row: Pat, Marguerite, Helen, Francis, and Eileen

Helen's parents were:
  • Marie Clara Lafreniere born Feb. 15, 1863 in Penetanguishene, ON
  • Joseph Langevin born January 20, 1857; and married Apr. 6, 1891 at St. Leon, MB.
Below is a Langevin family photo taken in 1920. Marie Clara and Joseph, along with their 8 children, are included (their children's names are highlighted):


Back row: Nora, Leo VanColeart, Jack Grandison, Joe Langevin, Mary Langevin, Anthony Langevin ("Tenny"), Blanche Langevin, Arthur Langevin, Ernest Langevin
Middle row: Anna VanColeart, Marie Clara Langevin; Lea (Langevin) Grandison holding Noel; Helen Marie Marguerite (Langevin) Livingston holding Eileen; Ulric Livingston holding Marguerite, Joseph Langevin
Front row: Ralph Grandison, Edgar Grandison, Archie Livingston

From Doreen Livingston's account:

In a letter written to Helen, daughter of Joseph and Clara, I submit
the following paragraphs, excerpts from same, to show the closeness
of these relations throughout their life time:

"We went on a trip (from Estavan, Saskatchewan) on the first of the
month to Melita, Brandon, Oaklake and Souris (Manitoba) in our new
Chevrolet car."

"We went to Melita to see your Aunt Lenora," (where they stayed and
spent the night). "____ , two of the Desaunier boys, sons of
Marie Rose Alba Lafreniere from St. Pierre were there with a cousin
of theirs, a Prefontaine boy."

"On Sunday, we took another trip to Radville and visited your uncle
Arthur and Victoria (Labossiere) Lafreniere."

Lovingly Mildred and-Tenny (Anthony Langevin)
***************************************************************

The parents of Marie Clara (Lafreniere) Langevin were:
  • Marie Maurice born 13 October 1842 at Batiscan, QC.
  • Ovide Benjamin Lafreniere born 26 June 1837 and married on 11 June 1858.
 


They had 17 children (as provided by Doreen's notes):
  1. Marie Virginia born April 23, 1859; married (1) J.B. Bourdeau; (2) W.Hamilton; and (3)Max Macaffrey. Died 21 November 1923.
  2. Marie Jeanne born 27 January 1861; married Arthur Laroche on January 23, 1883. Died 2 July 1949 at St. Pierre, MB.
  3. Charles Ernest born 8 February 1862; died 8 February 1862.
  4. Marie Clara born 15 February 1863 at Penetanguishene, ON; married Joseph Langevin on 6 April 1891. Died 3 February 1936 in Brandon, MB.
  5. Louis Napoleon born 26 December 1864; married 28 November 1894 at Altamont, MB to Ermelinde Menardi; died 6 July 1936 at St. Boniface Hospital, and buried 9 July 1936 at St. Leon, MB.
  6. Joseph Magloire born 20 October 1866, Lafontaine, ON; married Philamise Poulin 8 January 1889. Died 26 December 1936.
  7. Marie Olive born 27 October 1868; married Gustave Rougeau on 4 June 1888. Died 8 June 1938.
  8. Rose Delima born 24 September 1870; married Michel Parenteau on 5 November 1902. Died 3 April 1915.
  9. Marie Leonore (Louise Elenore) born 1 July 1872; married Jerome Langevin 22 April 1890. Died 5 November 1945. (Note of interest from her niece Helen Livingston - nee Langevin, "Aunt Lenore was a large woman with flaming red hair. She was a victim of epilepsy.")
  10. Victoria Emelie born 26 June 1874; married (1) George Heizler (or Heasler) 12 December 1898; (2) ______Furnish. Died 18 February 1943.
  11. Marie Josephine born 20 April 1876; married Francois Guillard 20 October 1911. Died 28 June 1936.
  12. Marie Rose Alba born 14 March 1878; married 12 June 1901 Josephat Desaulnier. Died 20 February 1956 at St. Pierre, MB.
  13. Olea Marie born 29 April 1880 at St. Leon, MB (first of the Lafreniere, O.B. children to be born here); married Pacifique Lalonde at Norman, ON on 20 August 1901. Died 21 May 1971 at Kenora, ON.
  14. Marie Louise Madeleine born 13 May 1882. Godparents, Louis Napoleon and Clara. Died 5 June 1904.
  15. Marie Delia born 18 March 1884 at St. Leon, MB. Died 2 August 1885 at St. Leon, MB.
  16. Joseph George Arthur born 3 February 1886;married Victoria Labossiere 8 April 1907. Died 30 August 1954 at Radville, SK.
  17. Thomas Antoine born 6 December 1888;married (1) 14 November 1911 Helen Moreau (born 22 April 1894 - died 12 September 1920); (2) Yvonne Cote. Died 22 October 1940.
From ancestry.com, here is a photo of Marie Maurice and Ovide Benjamin with 5 of their children.


From Bernie Livingston's collection, here are more of the Lafreniere children are pictured below clockwise: Pacific Lalonde and Lea; Louis and Joseph in fur coats; Thomas; Victoria; and middle picture: Louise and Josephine.


During the first part of 1878, Ovide-Benjamin Lafreniere and his wife Marie Maurice of Lafontaine, Ontario, arrived at Emerson along with eleven of their children in the Pembina Mountains in Manitoba to settle on section 32, district 4, alignment 8, to farm and to clear the land.

Other relations of O.B. Lafreniere also settled in the Pembina Mountains near St. Leon, MB. Marie Maurice Lafreniere was known to suffer with rheumatism and asthma. On the fiftieth anniversary of the wedding of Ovide-Benjamin and Marie-Maurice, they were honoured by 250 of their fellow parishioners at St. Leon, Manitoba on 27 June 1908.

Author G.S. Andrews of Metis Outpost: Memoirs of the first Schoolmaster at the Metis Settlement of Kelly Lake claims that Metis families flourished in the Pembina region with enough trees to build log cabins, fuel and fence rails for vegetable gardens. They had grazing rights on the open prairie and played an active role in the fur trade dominated by the Hudson Bay Company. They had semi-annual buffalo hunts and relied on other game in the region also, such as moose. Their main sources of transportation were the Red River home-made two-wheeled carts along the plains, and their birch bark canoes along the rivers. In addition, birch trees were utilized to craft snowshoes and toboggans during the winter.

Photo of Red River Cart in Pembina, North Dakota from the collection of the
State Historical Society of North Dakota

To follow our Metis heritage, we must examine Ovide Benjamin Lafreniere's parents next. They were:
  • Antoine Lafreniere (born 16 October 1799 in Maskinonge, QC)
  • Magdeleine dit Letard dit St. Onge dit McTavish (born between 1801-11 Michilimackinac Island, Michigan) of Metis descent.
In the early 1800s, Antoine Lafreniere was residing with his parents and siblings [a reminder:  Antoine Lafreniere's parents and siblings will be discussed in a later post] northeast of Fort Michilimackinac, a busy fur trading post between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. at Drummond Island (see the map below). In 1812, the United States declared war on the British Empire and American soldiers attacked various areas of Lower and Upper Canada. During this war, the fort was it is possible that some of our ancestors assisted the British.
The British military post at Michilimackinac was transferred to the United States in 1796 by mutual agreement, and the forces stationed there retired to St. Joseph Island, where a fort and blockhouse were erected. From this latter post, at a subsequent period, issued that famous volunteer contingent of one hundred and sixty Canadian voyageurs, accompanied by a few (30) British regulars with two field pieces, under Captain Roberts, who effected the recapture of Mackinaw for the British.

This occurred on the 16th of July, 1812, the first year of the war. In a subsequent attack by the Americans to recover the post the Canadian voyageurs gallantly assisted in its defense. Mackinaw was again restored to the United States according to treaty stipulations in 1815, when the British garrison found refuge on Drummond Island, in proximity to the former post of St. Joseph. The Canadian voyageurs still preferring to follow the fortunes of the British flag, with one or two exceptions, removed with the forces to Drummond Island. On the completion of the treaty surveys, Drummond Island proved to be in United States territory. Thereupon the British forces, under Lieut. Carson, commanding a detachment of the 68th Regiment, withdrew to the naval station at Penetanguishene, which event occurred on the 4th of November, 1828. ("Canadian Archives," 1898, p. 553.)
The above description is an excerpt from The Migration of Voyageurs from Drummond Island to Penetanguishene in 1828 published by the Ontario Historical Society about how the voyageurs remained loyal to the British forces.



This map is from The Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History edited by Helen Hornbeck Tanner

When Antoine met and married Magdeleine on August 17,1826, he was a voyageur employed by the Northwest Company post at the British Fort Michilimackinac (also known as Mackinac).
Marital record of Antoine Lafreniere and Magdeleine from St. Anne's parish, Detroit MI
Missionary priest and author Edward Osgoode Brown described voyageurs as "hardy adventurous men who live on meagre fare, row their boats all day or carry packs of 100 pounds on their backs...and then spend their nights in music and dancing" (from Two Missionary Priests at Mackinac).

At the end of the document, "Antoine Lafreniere" is listed as one of the voyageurs and he is described as a "cooper" (also known as a barrelmaker). As part of concessions for the war, Canada rescinded claims to Drummond Island and it became part of the United States territory.  In 1834, Antoine and his wife Magdeleine were granted a land allotment of "Park lot No.18", approximately 20 to 40 acres on Pentanguishene Bay in a Simcoe township called Tiny, which was located several hours southeast.

Below is a list of Antoine and Magdeleine's children:
  • *Olivier Lafreniere born 31 March 1827; married (1) Delima Moreau and (2) Olive Maurice 26 November 1866 at St. Croix, Lafontaine, ON; and died 19 February 1899 at St. Leon, MB. 
  • Antoine Lafreniere born about 1828.
  • Josephte Lafreniere born about 1830.
  • Henri Lafreniere born June 1835 at Penetanguishene, ON and married Elizabeth Moreau on 26 April 1858.
  • Marie Lafreniere born about 1836 at Penetanguishene, ON and died on 7 June 1865 at St. Croix, Lafontaine, ON.
  • Ovide-Benjamin Lafreniere born 26 June 1837 at Penetanguishene, ON; married Marie Maurice on 11 June 1858 at Pentanguishene, ON; and died 10 July 1917 at St. Leon, MB.
  • Zoe Lafreniere born 17 August 1839 and married (1) Touissant Moreau on 26 September 1864 and (2) Joseph Vautrin (date unknown).
  • Julie Lafreniere born 11 May 1841 at Penetanguishene, ON; married ____Labissoniere date unknown; and died 22 October 1877 at St. Croix, Lafontaine, ON.
  • Charles Lafreniere born 16 May 1843 at Penetanguishene, ON; married Marie-Lucie Brausseur on 9 February 1866 at St. Croix, Lafontaine, ON; and died 13 September 1903 at St. Leon, MB.
  • Theophile Lafreniere born about 1844 at Penetanguishene, ON and 13 September 1903 at Penetanguishene, ON.
  • Louise Lafreniere born 5 June 1845 at Lafontaine, ON and married Laurent Anthime Pilon in 1863; and died 1882.
  • Victoire Lafreniere born about 1847 at Penetanguishene, ON and married Ovila Rondeau date unknown.
  • Virginie Lafreniere born 30 March 1850 at Penetanguishene, ON; married Joseph Brasseur date unknown; and died 29 May 1925.
  • Auguste Lafreniere born about 1851 at Penetanguishene, ON and died 3 July 1864 at St. Croix, Lafontaine, ON.

Antoine Lafreniere and his wife Magdeleine

Based on Odile Martel's Pionniers de la Montagne Pembina*, Antoine and Magdeleine's son Olivier and his own son were amongst a group of settlers who founded the town of Saint-Leon in Manitoba, about 100 kms southwest of Winnipeg.  It was described as:
St. Leon was a small place located near a round lake founded in 1870. This town had a unique start in that it was initially built at the south end of the lake, but it disappeared a decade after the arrival of early settlers. The town was moved to north side of the lake for reasons unknown, but perhaps due to flooding.
(*Please note: In 2009, this book, written in French, was available by contacting: Comite du Livre, Saint-Leon, MB R0G 2E0 for $65 plus $5 shipping. I do not own a copy nor have I tried to obtain one.)

Several years ago, this blog creator was handed an orange 90 paged duotang labeled Le Montagnard du Saint Leon: Gravsioons les collines (loosely translated "The mountains of St. Leon: climb the hills"), which was written in French and compiled in January 1979. It is a collection of historical documents, and letters related to the families of St.Leon to mark its centennial celebration. It is at this time that I would like to acknowledge and thank my son, Thomas Nowak, for translating some of this important historical primary source.  The following letters from Antoine's son, Olivier Lafreniere, demonstrate the care that was taken to pick the appropriate location for the St.Leon's first parish, and the song-writing abilities of Olivier's brother Charles.



Pembina Mountain (Montagne de Pembina)

January 17, 1878



To His Grace Monsignor Taché, St. Boniface.



Monsignor
I have promised to find you a lot (place) of wood for the church, but these last few days I have not had the time to search for it.  It's been 2 days since we started looking, M. Lapierre and I, and it is difficult to finder a section all in wood, but in section 14 township 5 place (rang) 9 we found the SW quarter well-wooded.

We have talked among ourselves, and all the inhabitants here would like me to ask of you permission to commence to build a small chapel.  We will give, M. Charbonneau and myself, 1.5 acres each in section 35 township 4 place (rang) 9.  This would then find itself in the present centre of the parish and in a beautiful place.

I am your very humble and very devoted servant.

                Olivier Lafrenière



Fifteen months later, Olivier wrote a follow up letter to the Monsignor:

St-Leon, April 20, 1879 
To His Grace Monsignor Taché



Monsignor


Allow me to address myself to you again to talk to you about the church.  I have received a letter from Rev. Father Gladu who told me that the lot owned by the Hudson’s Bay Co. is not for sale and that you desire that we work well together to find another suitable location for building the church and that we should write to you on this subject; but I believe it is difficult to get along well now because the group of the parish who is found in the northwest of section 3 insist that the church must be made within section 3 and that the ground is suitable, but in this we ask ourselves if this would be working together for choosing the suitable location.  The group of inhabitants who are in the southeast of the parish say that as we are not going to have the church on the lot of the Co. that it is at least at my house, and it is the place that is the most central and I will confirm that it’s here that will make the least disputes and if we would take the voices that would have it here because we are more numbrous and with a large difference, at least a mile and a half of marsh south of the small lake of section 3 and nobody of this side can avoid it without travelling 3 miles in passing north of the lake, and while on the other side there is not more than 2 or 3 who would have to travel around this marsh and they are closer; all the others are to the north and have well-built paths.

I am going to try to inform you of the sections the furthest away; it’s the section 4-5-9 of the west, and to the north it’s the section 20-5-9, and to the south section 6-4-8, and to the east it is section 28-4-8.  I hope that you will forgive me if I am a little long on this letter, but I was begged by all of this side to give you all these explanations because were it only myself I would not make a large difference; only that I would like there to be as few disputes as possible, because for making something we need that everyone put in a hand.  We ask again for a delay of a few weeks for deciding the thing so that all the arrivals are well-placed and we ask you as well your advice on how that we must next act; if we must decide by elections or otherwise.

Our school goes very well and we hope that that will make a large goodness in our young colony and from this we must give much recognition to Reverend Father Gladu for having us obtain something so grand.

Accept, sir, the feelings of respect and loyalty of your very humble and very obedient servant.

                        Olivier Lafrenière


Antoine donated land to build the town's church and Olivier developed his second lot into village lots. Olivier's brother Charles Lafreniere wrote a song/poem to describe his feelings about moving from St. Leon, MB from Lafontaine, ON:

It was in the year of '82
That I took off for this part of the country.
Thinking I could improve my lot.
Alas, I was duped.

I left on April 11th
With my family and all my trunks
Vulnerable to all the risks
On the Chicago Central Line.

In this country of great reknown
That gave us such hope
There is no risk to indebtedness
Why, we'll even give you a line of credit!
A few cents here, a few dollars there
It melted away like butter in a frying pan.
That's the idiom in Manitoba.
But I say it's worse than frost or hail

In December of that same year
I was struck by an evil curse.
I was on a foolish course
Where I nearly died.
I stabbed my eye on broken tree branch
As I was hunting in the brush
So, I had to stay on my back
During the precious sowing season

How many honest people have lost
Their land, their horses, their machinery
And left more than half-naked, To work in the factories.
Some went to Dakota, Leaving unpaid debts behind
Others left in great haste
Further still among the Yankeed

If I ever made enough money
I'd go back to Lafontaine
To rejoin my extended family
And I'd stay, that's for sure
Closer to the church and to the convent
Much closer to God's church.
The future of my children
Would be much less in doubt.

To compose this song
A man named Charles Lafreniere
At home on a winter's night
Made up these verses to occupy his time
Surrounded by his children
Telling them his sad,- sad tale
They listened most attentively!
And cherish it forever.
According to Doreen's notes, Charles' travels are described as:
Conditions which confronted these Settlers into virgin country: From the first stage of their journey leaving St. Croix, Ontario to Chicago by the newly built railway, unfamiliar experiences had to be faced. Then, from Chicago to Fisher's Landing where they travelled by boat on the Red River to St. Boniface, Manitoba. The third stage of their journey was almost overwhelming. Travelling bv Red river carts, pulled by oxen, over rough ground and through sloughs across the plains. Unprotected from the mosquitoes and scorching winds brought misery to all the travellers. To augment their meagre diet they trapped small game and prairie chickens, in snares.
[According to Google maps, this is a road distance of 2,387 kms.!]


As unveiled in the previous blog posting dated May 17, 2012, Antoine's parents were Antoine Charles Lupin Lafreniere (born January 10, 1762 in Maskinonge, QC) and Marie Josephe Banhiac Lamontagne Beaulieu (born June 4, 1766 in Louisville, QC). On his birth records, Antoine's father is recorded as a "terrien" (perhaps interpreted as "farmer"?).

In a separate posting, I will describe Antoine's parents further, but for now, let's turn to Antoine's wife Magdeleine dit Letard dit St. Onge dit McTavish and her First Nations descendants.  (Please bear with me as the documentation is sparse.)


Magdeleine dit Letard dit St. Onge dit McTavish and her First Nations descendants


Magdeleine dit Letard dit St. Onge dit McTavish's parents were:
  • Katrine-Genevieve Vasseur (born about 2 July 1792 St. Ignace, Mackinac County, Michigan).
  • Joseph dit Letard dit St. Onge (I am searching for data) 

This is Katrine-Genevieve's birth record:




  • Sex: F
  • Birth: ABT. 2 JUL 1792 in St. Ignace, Mackinac Co.
  • NATI: Metis
  • Note:
    Godparents were Antoine Adhemar St. Martin and Genevieve Blondeau. August 15, 1799, by us the undersigned priest, the ceremonies of Baptism were supplied to Genevieve, privately baptized by Laurent Bertrand, born July 2, 1792, of jacques Vasseur and of Madeleine, an Outawa, his lawful wife. The father was present and signed with us. The godfather was Antoine Adhemar St. Martin; and the godmother Genevieve Blondeau, his wife, who signed with us.

    Gabriel Richard, priest.
    jac Vasseur; Bd. adhemar; adhemar St martin

    Magdeleine's mother Katrine-Genevieve wed Joseph dit Letard St. Onge about 1810.  Their children present at the wedding ceremony were:
    • Amble dit Letard St. Onge
    • Genevieve dit Letard St. Onge
    • Joseph (Jr) dit Letard St. Onge
    Katrine-Genevieve, Joseph dit Letard dit St. Onge and their three children were baptized on the same day. Four more children are attributed to this marriage:
    • Touissant dit Letard St. Onge born about 1815, and died 1881.
    • Magdeleine dit Letard St.Onge born 1801-11 Mackinac Island, MI.;married Antoine Lafreniere and died 6 December 1883 at St. Leon, MB.
    • Marie Louisa dit Letard St. Onge born 1822 and died 23 April 1908 at Britt, Parry Sound, ON.
    • Marie Veronique Marguerite dit Letard St. Onge born 25 July 1825 at Drummond Island.

    Katrine-Genvieve’s parents were:
    • Jacques Vasseur
    • and Madeleine Ouiouiskoin of the Outawas Nation (more commonly known as Ottawa First Nations of the Ojibway).

  • Below is their official marriage and baptism registration:

    1695--1821: REGISTER OF BAPTISMS OF THE MISSION OF ST. IGNACE DE MICHILIMAKINAK, MI. August 5, 1799, after one publication of bans, with dispensation from the two others, between Jacques Vasseur, son of Jacques Vasseur and of Madeleine Gatien, a native of Montreal, of the one part; and Madeleine of the Outawas Nation, baptized the same day, there being no opposition whatsoever thereto, We, the Undersigned priest, received their mutual consent and gave them the nuptial benediction and legitimized five children whom they acknowledged, namely: Marie Louise, about eleven years old; Jacques, about nine and a half years old; Louis, about eight years old; Genevieve, about seven years old; and Joseph, born on the eighth of the month of August 1797. The whole in the presence of Pierre Queri, of Augustin Hamelin and of others who signed with us.

    Gabriel Richard, priest. P. Thierry, witness; Madelaine, + her mark; August Hamelin; Jac Vasseur.

    Children of Jacques Vasseur and Madeleine Ouiouiskoin were:
    • Marie Louise Vasseur born February 1787; married Joseph Gautier dit Caron on 1 July 1804.
    • Louis Vasseur born 15 June 1790 probably at St. Ignace, MI.
    • Katrine-Genevieve Vasseur born 2 July 1792 at St. Ignace, Mackinac County, MI.; married
    • Joseph Vasseur born 8 August 1797.
    • Jacques Vasseur III born 8 January 1799 at St. Ignace, Mackinac County, MI.
    • Jean Baptiste Vasseur born 1801.
    • Andre Vasseur born 1802 and died at Bruce Mines, ON (date unknown).

    Next week:  Was Joseph dit Letard dit St.Onge the legitimate father of Magdeleine dit Letard dit St. Onge dit McTavish?