The Ulric Livingston Family PART FOUR: Ulric's Life
|From The Columbian newspaper dated June 30, 1967 in celebration of their 50th Wedding Anniversary|
Ulric Livingston was born 23 October 1890 at Bay City, MI; wed Marie Marguerite Helene Langevin, daughter of Joseph Langevin and Clara Lafreniere, on 2 July 1917 at Scott, SK; and died 7 May 1977 at Holy Family Extended Care Home in Vancouver, BC.
Ulric Livingston was originally named "Michael Liversant" on October 23, 1890 in Bay City, Michigan born to parents Joseph Liversant and Albina Robillard. As stated on his certificate of baptism, Michael Liversant was baptized on 26 October 1890 by Father J.B. Schrembs with his parents Joseph Liversant, Albina Robillard and godparents Olivier and Caroline Liversant in attendance at the Church of St. Mary in Bay City, Michigan. For reasons unknown, Michael's name was later changed to Ulric and his nickname was "Nellie". The photo below, courtesy of Noel Livingston, is Albina with husband Joseph and daughter Rose Anna.
When Ulric's father Joseph died at age 42 of tuberculosis on 5 August 1892, Ulric's mother Albina, with the assistance of Father F. Schrembs, admitted the four youngest children to a Roman Catholic orphanage, St. Vincent's Home, in Saginaw, MI less than one year later on 11 April 1893:
- Nellie (Ulric) Livingston aged 2
- Albert Livingston aged 9
- Alma Livingston aged 7
- Leo Livingston aged 5
According to Doreen's notes:
When Ulric was old enough to work (at age 9), he was "adopted out" to various farmers looking for cheap labour by his adoptive parents. He was only able to attend school until the age of 14. Unfortunately, it was about this time when, he often related, that he ran away from the harsh treatment he received at the hands of the half-witted son of his adoptive parents. Thankfully, he was protected by the police to whom he ran, who kept him safely in a cell for the night and then paid his fare to Freeland, Michigan where he stayed with his sister Rose Law (who would later become Mrs. Eddington Lee. With Rose's help, he returned to school for a short period of time. (Years later, by happen-chance, Ulirc's wife Helen (nee Langevin), read an item in a newspaper telling of the axe slaying of his last adoptive parents by their son.)
|Ulric's Perfect Attendance for the month of February 1905|
Between 1906 and 1911, Ulric had various occupations. At the age of sixteen, Ulric worked in a sawmill where he wrote, "I was struck on the head (by a flying piece of wood). The doctor put stitches in my head and I ran right back to work," which was indicative of his tenets to work and not to pamper oneself.
In June 1908, he worked on a farm with horses near Freeland, MI, and helped drilling water wells in Appleton, WI. As a labourer on the longest ore docks in the world in Green Bay, WI, he accidentally dropped his hammer into the water while banging spikes into the dock. The foreman immediately fired him and told him to go and pick up his pay and leave. While on his way to the paymaster, another foreman rehired him to chop a hole in the ice of the frozen lake. As the story goes, he finished chopping the hole in the ice, but he accidentally dropped a crowbar through the ice. He was fired again and fortunately, he was rehired on another job. According to Ulric, he worked in 6 camps in and around Michigan and Wisconsin during the winter of 1910.
In 1911, he proceeded west and worked on a sewer project in North Dakota. It was here where he made enough money to immigrate to Canada. He likely crossed the American border at Noonan, North Dakota and into Canada at Estevan, SK. [Unfortunately, I could not confirm the location as a search of the database Border Crossings: From the U.S. to Canada, 1908-1935 proved futile as it only contains the list of immigrants who registered through port cities. Thus, it is my belief that Ulric's immigration into Canada was unregistered and that no record exists.] After crossing the border, Ulric then travelled more than 700 kilometres to his brother's, Leo's, near Hayter, AB [I am certain that there is a story of adventure here that we are missing and if anyone knows more about it, please share it.]
By 1912, he applied to the Provost Land Registry Office for a homestead located about 12 miles south of Mackin, AB. Ulric's mother, Albina, worked as a housekeeper for a priest at Scott, SK, which was just 2 hours east. Perhaps on one of his visits to his mother's, he met his future bride Helen Langevin. In 1915, Ulric built a homestead closer to his mother and wed Helen in Scott, SK on July 2, 1917 at the age of 25 in the presence of his mother, and Helen's father, Joseph Langevin.
The couple resided at this homestead until a severe drought forced them to move. When Helen and Ulric drove to the old homestead on their 50th Wedding Anniversary, the barn that Ulric had built before his marriage was as sturdy as the day he built it in 1915.
In 1919, Ulric and Helen moved to Brandon, MB and worked on a farm for the winter months.
|Ulric in 1921|
Ulric taught himself the building trade from a book and though he would turn his hand to any job to support his family, carpentry was his trade. He provided several homes for the family, building one in Oak Lake and later one in Flin Flon in 1927. He also remodeled other houses throughout the years to suit the needs of his family. The following was heard from various oldtimers in Oak Lake at the Centennial in 1982: "If there was work to be had, Ulric would be doing it. If there wasn't, he'd make it." Some of his occupations included cutting ice from the frozen river in the winter and storing it in a barn under sawdust to sell to housewives in the summer; logging and cutting wood to householders; cutting shingles and roofing; shooting mink to sell the pelts, and farming on the farm that he rented called "Parson's Farm."
In 1927, he left the family to go to Flin Flon, MB to work and to build a home for the family. The winters were extremely cold, the house was not properly vented, and Helen said that she worried about the children as they slept in the upstairs rooms where the water dripped from the ceiling. This was the reason that Helen gave for sending the four eldest girls to Sifton Convent over a period of three years.
Ulric sent the family back to live in Oak Lake, MB in 1933-34, rented the family home and purchased another which he proceeded to raise and build more rooms under, even while the family lived in it from October 1934 to October 1936.
In 1936, he travelled to Vernon, BC to look at an orchard for sale. Ulric decided to move the family to Vernon, BC and, along with other families, invested in the orchard, but it proved to be an unfruitful adventure as it was unproductive.
Here is the "Flin Flon to Vernon" adventure as written by Ulric's eldest daughter Marguerite at age 17:
After much consideration, Dad gave up his job in Flin Flon, MB and purchased a fruit farm in the Okanagan at a town called Vernon.
The day of our departure, October 14, 1936, dawned dull, dreary, and raining, thus adding to sorrow of leaving our good friends in Flin Flon. Despite this, we left in high anticipation as to what the future holds in store for us in the fruit lands of sunny Okanagan.
The morning after our departure, we arrived in Dauphin where we spent a four hour wait for the bus. We looked up an old friend, thus passing the time more quickly (Alice Sumpter, an old friend from the convent). Leaving Dauphin at noon, we reached Brandon at the home of our aunt late that afternoon. We spent a weeks visit there and thinking we would leave for Vernon soon, our decision was to charter a bus to Oak Lake and spent the remainder of our time at the farm home of another aunt and uncle.
The supposed short visit on the farm was extended from October 20th until December 5th, the delay being spent patiently and otherwise. Thanks to the "neighbours" and other friends in town our long stay was brightened considerably by many kind invitations and visit from them.
Dad and mother went to Winnipeg November 28th and spent a week with relatives. They purchased a 1934 Chevrolet and after interviewing our agent, Mr. Vezina, they returned to Oak Lake December 1st.
Late Friday night December 4th, we received a phone call from Pierre Vezina telling us to leave as soon as possible. Consequently, we busied ourselves making hasty last minute preparations, intending to make an early start the following morning.
We were delayed however by the extreme cold. The thermometer registered 35 below zero. In spite of a few hours delay in starting the car, we finally bid farewell to our relatives and friends in Oak Lake and started on our long journey.
We travelled south to West Hope, North Dakota and arrived there shorlty after noon. On discovering we were to be delayed until Monday, we made ourselves at home at the Gateway Motel and became acquainted with several nice people there. We met a very good friend the parish priest of West Hope who enteratined us, helping the time go faster. Monday afternoon, December 7th, we again gathered our belongings and after bidding adieu to our newly made friends, started on our way. The weather was slightly warmer than the previous days and traveling was more pleasant.
Shortly before arriving in Minot, North Dakota, we experienced our first slight mishap - a blow out which took a half hours time to repair. We arrived there at 4:30 pm however and while going through the city commented on the beauty of the place nestled in the hills. At 6:30, we drove into a place and remarked on its likeness to Minot, because although it was quite dark, the way the city lights shone, indicated that it was situated among the hills. We stopped at the nearest filling station and inquired as to our whereabouts. Imagine our surprise and chagrin to discover we were again in Minot. We had travelled over 80 miles in a circle!
We dined in Minot Cafe and decided in spite of this delay to get to Williston as we had previously planned. This new situation gave us a good idea of the monotony and danger of travelling at night. We arrived at Williston, North Dakota after midnight and welcomed the comfort of the Great Northern Hotel. The following morning we attended mass At St. Josephs Church, as Tuesday December 8th was a holy day. After breakfasting in the Great Northern Cafe, we started out again.
A few hours travelling brought us to Montana and we welcomed the change of scenery as we travelled westward. Our first stop was Glasgow where we stopped for lunch. Again on our way, we travelled as quickly as possible, as we were very much afraid of the weather. On arriving in Havre Montana, we were informed that the day before they had had an 18 [inch?] snowfall. We were advised to change highways here from No.2 to No.29 as No.2 westward was closed. At the Up and Up Cafe, we ate our supper in Havre as our intentions were to make Great Falls without stopping again. The roads were quite slippery from the recent snowfall thus progress was quite slow.
After getting stuck climbing a hill, we finally got some chains, thus easing the high tensions of our nerves as we were very much afraid of slipping in some ditch or over a cliff. Being at night our imaginations were in full working order. However we again travelled until after midnight and the Hotel Stevens in Great Falls put up a bunch of very weary wanderers that night.
As early as possible Wednesday morning December 9th, we left Great Falls, and still going south we took highway 91 which took us to Helena. Here we again changed highways taking number 10 westward on which our first stop was Missoula, Montana. Here I blush with shame remembering Missoula where we experienced something very humiliating which I shall not relate here but at some future time when the memory is less fresh in our minds, we may tell it to anyone and laugh it off. (A later date: After eating, we discovered to our dismay, we had lunch in a saloon!) After eating this hearty meal in Missoula felt more like continuing our journey.
Shortly after dark, we met a large truck, the driver not dimming his lights blinded Dad, who was at the wheel. We struck something dangling on the side of the truck but we both kept on going. At our next stop, we noticed two foot long cuts in the fender. However, we kept on travelling. We were in the state of Idaho and in a few hours arrived in the state of Washington.
On nearing Spokane Washington as we travelled through the mountains, we observed many airport beacon lights. We noticed a small grey sack which looked very much like a hornet's nest falling to the ground and Archie said that it was a flare bomb used by airplanes travelling at night. We felt a sharp impact as it hit the ground directly behind the car. Dad and Archie jumped out and found the packsack tied to the back of the car ablaze! We were thankful we escaped with only a few of our blankets and pillows burned, as the flare could have struck the gas tank which was only a few feet from where the packsack was tied. We were very lucky to have even noticed the thing.
We arrived at Spokane about 2:00 am and put up at the Pedicord Hotel, the largest hotel we had been in, but it was very comfortable. There were individual telephones in each room, and not knowing how they operated, Frances lifted the receiver and immediately a clerk answered. she put it back as quickly as she could not saying anything.
When we went to the garage to get our car, the attendant told us of the abdication etc. We were very much ashamed of Edward the 8th and considered it a disgrace to have been informed by a yankee.
We left Pedicord as soon as possible Thursday December 10th and tried to travel as fast as we could. We were delayed by the slippery roads and found we were barely able to move along at a crawl. We also had trouble with the chains as the set we bought were singles and broke easily on the paved roads. We even had to borrow a piece of fencing along the road to wire them up.
At 4:30 pm, we arrived back in Canada. Here we all breathed a sigh of relief to be in our country again. We struck Canada at Grand Forks, B.C. - the wrong place of course and we had to travel several miles on a trail (after travelling almost 1000 miles on paved roads). We finally got to the road and found it as bad as the road we had just left, as it was mostly washboard.
Several miles from Penticton, we got stuck in the middle of the road and Dad told us that the small clock for registering oil showed us that we didn't have any and that he could smell the motor burning. Finally, a car came along and shoved our car, also offering to help us out of our difficulty, but fortunately for us, a truck drove up and offered to tow us. Now we understand what towing is, as we were towed for over eight miles. We did sit at high tensions then expecting the bumper to be jerked off at any minute. We again smelled that burning odor and finally discovered it to be the brakes getting too warm as we were travelling down hill so much and around hairpin turns and being at night, we were unaware of it. However, we stopped at the nearest garage for oil and discovered that we had plenty and the towing was unnecessary.
Arriving at Penticton, we learned that the ferry at Kelowna only ran in the daytime, so we took rooms at the Three Gables Hotel, after our day experiences slept like logs.
It was our luck to travel the rest of the journey in the daytime so we saw what the country around home was like as Penticton is only 70 miles from Vernon. At Kelowna, we had to wait almost an hour for the ferry, but we enjoyed the wait as we spent our time looking around us. At noon, we arrived in Vernon and we were thankful to say "all present." The eight of us in a five passenger car after our winter trip of 1600 miles. We then awaited the arrival of mother and the three youngest who arrived by train a week later. All home at last.
Ulric bought into the Belgian Orchard in Vernon along with 25 other families and lost everything! Purchasing chickens and a cow, vegetables by the hundred weight and living in the bunk house on the orchard kept the family going. There were trees to be pruned which provided work for Ulric and son Archie, but when spring came, they went off to wherever they heard there might be work.
Ulric sold the car, purchased an older model, rented a house for the family and sent money home. The older girls worked and gave their wages to Helen to help keep the home together. The family saw little of their father during these years.
In 1938, Ulric purchased a house in Vernon and remodeled it to suit the family. When World War II began, Ulric went to work in Trail where he bought a house and sold the Vernon home.
In 1943, he moved to New Westminster and bought a home which he then sold to the nuns of the Poor Clares Monastery, and remodelled it to suit their needs.
|1015 London Street, New Westminster, BC|
Ulric bought six homes between 1943 and 1964, and their last home was located at 926 13th Street [which he purchased from his daughter Marguerite's husband Ted Reinitiz in 1969 for $6,500.00].
Helen and Ulric had 10 children (I have omitted details as requested by some family members. Watch for future blog postings from those who would like to share more about their lives):
1. Archie Oliver Joseph born on April 18, 1918 at Rosenheim, AB. He joined the army in August 1940 and he landed with the Canadian Forestry Corps (C.F.C) in Inverness, Scotland on August 13, 1940. The following is an excerpt taken from an online forum that described the activities of the C.F.C.:
The C.F.C. had a very positive impact on the Scottish Highlands. The men became active participants in local functions, from fund raising to staging Christmas parties for the local children. Many times scrap wood mysteriously fell from lorries to land beside individual homes in need of fuel. During their stay in the Highlands, the C.F.C. cleared an estimated 230,000 forest acres in Scotland and in doing so they contributed to the urgency of reforestation in post war Scotland. But at the same time it demonstrated more efficient cutting and clearing techniques, which was adopted by Scottish forestry in post war years. A notable tribute to the C.F.C. was paid by Laura Lady Lovat when she stated, "you Canadians may be cutting the Scots firs of the Highlands, but in Highland hearts you are planting something far more lasting".Archie later transferred to the Royal Canadian Engineers where he worked as a topographical surveyor. While in Europe, Archie met Ingeborg (Kit), in Brussels, Belgium in May 1945. During the war, Kit and her mother suffered near starvation. They were kept alive by obtaining poor quality food purchased from black marketeers. Archie and Kit wed on July 9, 1945 and they moved to New Westminster, BC in 1946.
In 1950, they moved to a broken down farm near Langley where they spent 7 years as poultry farmers and they adopted two children: Linda and Rodney. Due to poor health, Archie decided to move the family to Vancouver and he earned a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of BC (UBC). In 1962, he became a teacher at North Bend, a small community located across the Fraser River from Boston Bar in the Fraser Canyon. Two years later, he transferred to Hope, BC where he taught French at the high school for 6 years.
Kit also earned a teaching certificate from UBC and the family moved north, where both Kit and Archie taught at a two room school in Edgewood, BC on the Arrow Lakes for 5 years. Archie was principal and teacher and Kit was the only other teacher on staff for 5 years. Then, they moved 2.5 hours further north to Mackenzie where Archie taught for one year and Kit taught Kindergarten for five years. When the couple retired in Prince George, Archie became a Grand Knight in the Knights of Columbus, and Kit helped at O'Grady Catholic School. Eventually, Archie and Kit returned to the Lower Mainland where Archie died on May 18, 1996.
2. Marguerite born on August 3, 1919 at Brandon, MB and (1) married Ted Reinitz on August 14, 1939, and (2) married Jack McDowell in 1967. Marguerite and Ted had six children: Virginia, Wayne, Keith, John, Jean, and Bruce. Marguerite was well known for her lead foot and her love for travel, making regular trips to the Lower Mainland in record-setting time. After Jack died of a heart attack in 1971, Marguerite earned her nursing certificate and worked at the Trail Hospital on the Extended Care Ward. By example, she regularly instilled a lesson that we all should follow: God placed us on this planet not to serve ourselves, but to serve others. She retired in 1984 and died in December 2009.
3. Eileen Marie born on October 15, 1920 at Oak Lake, MB and married Charlie Harrison on October 16, 1951. Eileen and Charlie resided in an area of Castlegar once known as Kinnaird. Charles was born in Sheffield, England on August 22, 1906 and immigrated to Canada in 1920. Eileen and Charlie had 4 children: Michael, Catherine, Philip, and Stephen. After retiring from Cominco, he became caretaker of the Kinnaird Community Hall until October 31, 1984. Charlie died in 1988.
There were many family gatherings at the Harrison's. Eileen was rated the best cook in the family and many nephews and nieces headed for the cookie jar upon entering her house [some of us are still wondering how to replicate her recipes]. Eileen was also famous for her crafts, including Raggedy Anne and Andy dolls and striped wool socks. She loved to help others, including cleaning the church linens of St. Rita's Roman Catholic Parish for more than 30 years. She was blessed with 89 years of life and died on September 11, 2010.
4. Frances Albina born on April 28, 1922 at Oak Lake, MB and married Cecil James Penney on July 25, 1940 [died 1965] and (2) Carl Osing on December 19, 1967 [died 1997]. Frances and Cecil had 8 children: Sharon, Charlotte Ann, Kathleen, Gerald, Eileen, David, James and Anne. After Cecil died in 1966, Frances and her second husband sold their large home on top of the mountain in 1981. They bought a condominium in lower Rossland. Frances was employed by School District #11. Frances loved huckleberry-picking, camping, and gold mining. She was a longtime member of the Sacred Heart Catholic Women's LEague and the Rossland Legion Ladies Auxiliary. Carl retired from Cominco on July 2, 1982. He was presented with a life membership to the Rossland Legion for his many years of service. Sadly, Francis was diagnosed with a brain tumour and lived for several years in a Rossland care home until she died on October 2, 2006. Carl died shortly thereafter.
5. Estelle Mary Doreen born on February 12, 1924 at Oak Lake, MB and married James Donald Moore on October 12, 1947. Doreen and Don had 5 children: Janet Edith, Donna Eileen, James Thomas Ulric, Daniel Gerald, and Patrick Francis Joseph. Doreen died November 22, 1998.
The following is from Doreen's 1984 account of her family history:
After 37 years of marriage, Don and Doreen are still trying to merge their interest. It is due to his support in Doreen's interests that this family history has been undertaken. Doreen's interest in her family and geneaology led to a trip to Oak Lake, MB during the Centennial celebrations. When the oldtimers in Oak Lake knew that Doreen was looking for family history, there were many stories about Ulric and the things he did for his young family. [Doreen's discovery of Metis ancestry have led many of us to learn more about our family history].
Don was the president of the Castlegar-Robson branch of the Royal Canadian Legion in 1984 and 1985, and Doreen worked as the secretary for the branch for 4 years. Don retired in November 1983. He was also a board member of Homemakers in the Castlegar district. In addition, he curled twice a week.Doreen was president of the Catholic Women's League for several years and a volunteer for hospice and Meals-on-Wheels. She enjoyed her garden, baking bread, and sewing for her family. She embraced the usefulness of computers and loved surfing the Internet. She died November 26, 1998.
6. Gerald Gerard Joseph born on October 4, 1925 at Oak Lake, MB and wed Effie Jean Haggarty on January 13, 1948. Gerald was serving in the Royal Canadian Navy when he met Jean. Gerald and and Jean had 3 children: Brian, Gregory, and Colin. Gerald and Jean resided in Fort Saskatchewan, AB. Gerald was superintendent of the chemical plants at Sherritt Gordon and retired on January 1, 1984. Gerald and Jean travelled extensively in their truck and fifth wheeler trailer. Jean was well known for her wonderful hospitality and love of family. Jean died on March 11, 2009 and Gerald died on February 5, 2010.
7. Ulric (Mickey) Joseph born on September 13, 1928 at Oak Lake, MB and married Caroline Radowski on April 26, 1952. Mickey and Carol had 5 children: Judy, Eric, Vernon, Gail, and Heather. Mickey and Carol lived in Edmonton. Mickey took up floor covering as an occupation and later carpentry. His hobby was gold mining and building machines for separating gold from other minerals. Carol enjoyed driving school bus for children with developmental disabilities. She also spent alot of time managing the rental of the their duplex. She enjoyed oil painting and macrame. Mickey died on January 11, 2012 at age 83.
8. Patricia Clara Ann born on March 22, 1931 in Flin Flon, MB and married Kenneth Schmidt on August 11, 1952. Pat met Ken, a merchant seaman of Middlesborough England, while teaching in Powell River. They met during the Christmas holidays in 1950 at the New Westminster's Seamen's Club. Shortly after they wed, they moved to Chase, BC where Pat taught for 3 years. They only moved to Chase (actually to the Neskainlith reserve near Chase) after Ken was hit while riding his bike to work in New Westminster when their first child, Frances, was still a baby. Ken came so close to dying that Archie & Kit offered to adopt Frances, but he survived, and Pat went back to work to support them while he convalesced. Although, of course, even while convalescing, Ken pitched in -- child care, cooking, wood-chopping, and he probably wandered into the one-room school fairly often to see if he could help there as well!
Pat and Ken had 12 children: Frances, Joel, Elizabeth (adopted), Tina (adopted), Christopher, Miriam, Mary, Rachel, Leona, Miles, Hilary and Kathryn. Pat shared her skills in music, crafts and cooking with her children while Ken maintained the garden and home repairs. They loved attending concerts and taking long walks. Ken always had a love for helping others. Ken found employment at St. Mary's Hospital and later Woodland's School. Then he joined the B.C. Penitentiary where he worked for 25 years as Food Services Officer until he retired in 1980. Ken died on July 20, 2000.
Tina, now deceased, as is my brother Chris. And my parents only
9. John David Joseph born on October 13, 1932 in Flin Flon, MB and married (1) Joan Graham on October 22, 1955 and (2) Betty Born on July 12, 1982. They had six children: Diane, Graham, John, Mark, Paul and Gerald.
10. Bernard (Bernie) Pascal Joseph (aka "Brat Baby") born on May 12, 1936 in Flin Flon, MB and wed Wendy Strachan on June 2, 1962 at St. Peter's Church. Bernie worked at Lafarge Cement including Comptroller of the concrete division until his retirement. He is well known for his love of old cars and vintage wit. Bernie and Wendy had two children: Robert born 10 April 1963 and Gail born 25 July 1964.
|Helen, Ulric and boys|
|Marguerite, Helen, Francis, Doreen, Pat, and Eileen|
|Helen and Ulric with their children at their 50th Wedding Anniversary|
|Doreen, John, Bernie, Marguerite, Gerald, Frances, Pat, Eileen, Mickey, Ernest (Helen's youngest brother), Archie|
Ulric died May 7, 1977 at the age of 86, and Helen died at the age of 87 in 1984. At the time of her death, Helen had 50 grandchildren, 53 great grandchildren and 3 great great grandchildren. I know that this number has grown exponentially and thus, I am handing this over to other family members to tell their stories. This is a lovely living legacy and we all look forward to your contributions.
With love, Deborah (Bodnar) Nowak
(daughter of Virginia and Leo Bodnar; granddaughter of Marguerite; great granddaughter of Helen)