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Auriat-Lamoureux Family History
My name is Felix Auriat and I am extremely happy to give this account of the circumstances that brought my grandparents to Saskatchewan in the early 1900’s. Since my grandparents were amongst the earliest settlers of the community of Saint-Front, this will also provide an opportunity to detail the settlement and development of this community.
The center of this parish, the hamlet of Saint-Front is situated on Section 19, Township 39, Range 15 and Section 24, Township 39, Range 16, west of 2nd Meridian 40 kilometers north of Quill Lake and halfway between Naicam on the west and Rose Valley on the east.
Until 1910, these townships were entirely under the control of government except land belonging to the Hudson Bay Company, C.N.R. or schools. After the survey in 1908, the land was offered for settlement. In 1910, Mr. Emile Gilliard and Mr. Edmond Lamoureux came to the area and chose their homesteads. Soon after, Edmond wrote to his cousin Arthur Lamoureux (my grandfather) to come and join him.
My grandfather, Arthur Lamoureux, is a descendant of Louis Lamoureux. Louis Lamoureux is believed to have come from Normandy in France as a young man. The first recorded appearance of Louis Lamoureux at Quebec was at the church of “Notre Dame de Quebec” in the presence of Msgr. De Laval. This was on the 3rd of June 1664. The occasion was the gathering of confirmees of the church. It was noted that he was 25 years old. He had arrived in New France in 1663. It is believed he was completing his contract of 3 years to work in the service of a landowner. On the 2nd of January 1666, Louis received a land grant in the seigneurie of Notre Dames des Anges, near Quebec City. Soon after Louis left his first farm near Quebec to move to the new district of Longueuil on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. At this location in 1668 Louis met and married Francoise Boivin.
Francoise also came from Normandy in France. Francoise Boivin was one of what was known as “Les Filles Du Roi” the King’s Daughters. That term was applied to a large group of women, about 850 in all, that were sent over from France to become wives of the early bachelor settlers. Most of them came from the province of Normandy and Ile de France that included the city of Paris. Many of these young ladies came from orphanages, converts or just young women without a family. In XVII century France, any young woman who did not have a dowry was in a bad way facing a life of drudgery. The officials of the day saw to it that the King’s Daughters leaving for New France were equipped with an appropriate dowry. They were given a sum of money, a small hope chest that contained items such as sewing needles, white thread, stockings, one thousand pins, scissors, a pair of gloves and two pounds of silver. On arrival in New France, the ladies were provided with some clothing suitable to the local climate. The men settlers eagerly awaited the arrival of the new women. The selection of a partner was soon made. When a selection had been made, the newly married couple was given fifty more livres (pounds) to buy provisions. They also received an ox, a cow, two pigs, a pair of chickens and two barrels of salted meat.Louis and Francoise’s first child, Jean-Baptiste Lamoureux was born September 14, 1669. They would have 10 more children. I am a descendant from Jean-Baptiste making me a 10th generation Canadian. Eventually some of the Lamoureuxs would settle in Saint Hyacinthe, Quebec. Arthur’s father, Moise, followed his older brothers Jules and Olivier to the American West. Jules had run away from home at the age of 12 working as a cabin boy on a Mississippian steamboat. Eventually he ended up at Fort Laramie where he met and married Elizabeth Woman Dress Gingrass in 1864. She was a sister of Chief Gall one of the principal leaders of the Sioux at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. By 1870 Moise had joined Jules and Olivier in setting up a 6,000 head of cattle ranch near Lander Wyoming. Jules ended up being the second mayor of Lander. An interesting historical note has it that one of Jules’ daughters, Dora, a popular young lady had as one of her beaux an enterprising young fellow by the name of Butch Cassidy.
In the early 1880’s Moise came back to settle on a farm near Saint Hyacinthe. My grandfather, Arthur was born in 1885. He attended several business colleges including one in Belleville, Ontario. He worked at several firms in Montreal but always longed for the rural way of life, so when Arthur received the message from his cousin Edmond to come to Saskatchewan he jumped at the opportunity.
My grandfather liked to record his activities. I am very fortunate to have several of his notebooks, including the ones from his early years in Saint-Front. In one of the notebooks he wrote down his list of supplies which he brought with him to Saskatchewan.
On May 26th, 1911 Arthur along with his friend, Rodrigue Beaudry, who would accompany him to Saskatchewan gathered up the necessary supplies from various stores in Saint Hyacinthe. Here is the list:
Work harness for horse 25.00 Tent 26.75
Harness for a buggy 16.50 6 hens, 1 rooster 3.75
Groceries 9.70 Tools 29.43
Mattress and spring 6.50 20 bags .60
100 lbs. Salted lard 11.00 Harness repairs .50
2 bushels peas 3.00 Matches .14
Axe handle .10 Oats 12.75
Lantern .75 Hay 7.63
Lumber 57.65 Windows 1.00
Door 2.50 Coal Oil .06
Tea Kettle .15 Bullets .60
Drill with Bits 1.55 Pillows .80
Shoes 2.45 Stove 7.00
Pitch Fork 1.00 Yoke .30
Saddle 14.00 Horse wagon 35.00
One Arabian mare 155.00
On June 1st, 1911 they loaded all of their supplies on the train and headed for Saskatchewan. The fare was 29.10 and 127.10 for the freight. The nearest train station to Edmond’s homestead was Quill Lake. However there was some misunderstanding in the directions given to Arthur by his cousin Edmond, and in the confusion they got off the train at “Gull Lake” not “Quill Lake”. Thus started my grandfather’s Saskatchewan adventure, 400 kilometers cross country from his destination with only a horse and wagon as transportation. Eventually, after several weeks of journey, Arthur and Rodrigue would arrive. On August 3rd, 1911, my grandfather would file for his homestead: Northwest quarter Section 9, Township 39, Range 15, West of 2nd Meridian right beside his cousin Edmond who had the Northeast quarter.
At about the same time, the spring of 1911, my grandmother Victoire (Montes) Auriat would arrive in the area. Her father, Florian Montes had originally brought his wife and young children from St. Front in the province of Haute-Loire, France, to live in Haywood, Manitoba in 1893. It was here that my grandmother Victoire was born in 1895.
The Montes family name has an interesting origin. Before the French Revolution of 1789 the family carried the name De Chataille. They were part of the French nobility. During the French Revolution all people of noble blood were being persecuted so the De Chataille family fled to Spain. There they changed the family name to Montez so that they might be able to eventually return to France. Upon their return they kept the name but with the spelling of Montes.
In 1911 Florian Montes would once again take his family and move them, this time to the area that would take a familiar name. Mr. Montes would name it Saint-Front after the name of the parish in France where he had come from. It honored Saint Frontus, disciple of St. Peter. Saint Frontus was martyred in the second century. Soon after, in the company of his fellow colonists, he erected a cross on a hill on the west portion of his son’s homestead located on Section 19, Township 39, Range 15. This would later on become the site of the chapel. Thus started the community of Saint Front.
In August 1911, Father D. Gamache came from Kuroki to say the first mass for the young parish in Mr. Emile Gilliard’s house. Father Gamache came back in the spring of 1912 saying mass in Mr. Florian Montes’s house. He came again in the fall of 1912, also the spring of 1913 and the fall of 1913.
On account of the increasing population the colonists decided to build a chapel on five acres donated by Mr. Montes where the cross was located. Each parishioner was to help according to his means, some hauled the lumber, while others worked, or gave money. Part of the rough lumber was bought at the Knudson Saw Mill that was situated 16 kilometers north of Saint Front while shingles and finishing lumber were bought in Quill Lake. In November 1913, a building measuring 20 feet by 30 feet was put up. A single ply of wood and a ply of black tar paper composed the walls, there were six windows, a few planks for seats and a table for the altar. Finally on December 8th, 1913, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception Father Gamache said mass for the 3rd time in 1913. But in what circumstances – a storm was raging with biting cold. Hastily they installed a stove, but, since no hole was left on the roof for a chimney they put the stovepipe through the upper part of a window; however the wind blew the smoke back into the chapel. The seventeen parishioners got as close as possible to the stove and assisted mass in a cloud of smoke.
From then on the priest came every two months to his new mission. The parishioners took each their turn to get and take back Father Gamache from either Quill Lake or Clair. The first midnight mass was held in 1917. There were 3 violinists and a choir. My grandfather Arthur Lamoureux was a member of the choir.
Meanwhile my grandfather, Francois Auriat was also making his way towards the community of Saint-Front. He was born in Limoges, France in May 1887. As a young man he went to work in a store in Paris. At the age of 20 he went to work in a fur outlet located in Berlin, Germany. It was here that he first learned about Canada as most of the furs came from Canada. He was soon called back to France to fulfill his 2 year compulsory military service. However with the winds of war in the air as soon as he got his discharge in September 1910, he booked his passage on the ship “the Sicilian” bound for Montreal. From Montreal he took the train to Winnipeg. He then went to Treherne, Manitoba where he gave lessons in French to the manager of The Bank of Commerce for 6 months. In the spring of 1911, he moved to Humboldt, Saskatchewan, to work on a farm. For his work on the farm he was paid with 4 cows, a heifer and a pony. Grandfather Auriat, with his animals, proceeded to walk to Saint-Front, a journey of around 90 kilometers. The trip took three days. He spent the first night in Mr. Hoffman’s barn at Annaheim and the second night at Spalding. Francois Auriat filed for his homestead on the Southeast quarter of Section 24, Township 39, Range 16, the quarter just across from Mr. Montes’s quarter.
Besides farming grandfather Auriat also worked at fur trapping, fishing and at the Knudson Saw Mill. He also found the time to catch the eye of his neighbor’s lovely daughter. On June 29th, 1914 Francois Auriat married Victoire Montes. This would be the first marriage performed in the community of Saint-Front.
My grandfather Auriat would often tell this story of his early pioneering days. It was a cold foreboding November morning. The Northeast wind announced a winter storm for which good sense meant staying at home besides a warm fire. After having brought in enough water and firewood to last until the next day, grandfather started to worry whether he had enough hay for the cows and his horses. He had the summer before cut the wild hay that grew by a marsh a distance from his farm. He had raked it and left it to dry in small stacks along the edge of the marsh. He worried that the snowstorm would block the trail that led to the marsh so he hitched his horses to a sleigh on which he fastened a rack to transport the hay back. Keeping the biting wind at his back he eventually got to the stacks and started loading the hay on the sleigh.
Suddenly the snorting of his horses broke his concentration. Turning around to see what had bothered them, he saw approaching from the south a great bay horse slowly shuffling its feet as it walked into the driving, biting, bitterly cold wind and snow. Grandfather went to investigate and it was then that he saw the horseman, dressed in a thick fur hat and a long buffalo hide coat, walking besides the horse which served as a shield against the wind. The horseman on foot quickly explained that he was lost. He was a member of the Royal NorthWest Mounted Police detachment located in Wadena, 60 kilometers to the south. He needed to tend to some affairs in Saint-Front. Grandfather indicated to him the worsening storm and offered that it would be better if the officer stopped for food and shelter at his place. Grandfather hooked the reins of the horse to the hayrack and motioned to the exhausted officer to lay down on the hayrack.
As soon as they arrived at grandfather’s place, grandmother quickly heated a bowl of stew while the officer took off his enormous stiffly frozen coat and large leather boots. He was a tall, thin young man around 20 years old, certainly no more than 21. As he slowly warmed himself by the stove, he told my grandparents that he was originally from Ontario and that this was his first posting having recently completed his training at the academy in Regina. He soon fell asleep after his long grueling journey. The next morning the storm had cleared and grandfather brought the officer to Saint-Front. Grandfather never again saw the brave young horseman, upholder of the law in this region of sparse people, terrible roads and bad weather. Later on grandfather heard that the officer had volunteered for the Canadian Expeditionary forces and had given his life on the battlefields of Europe in the Great War of 1914-18.
Even though he had chosen farming as his profession, Grandfather Lamoureux put to good use his business college training. He kept extensive records of his financial transactions and business dealings. Fortunately some of his notebooks have survived to this day and provide a unique firsthand insight into pioneer life.
Grandfather Lamoureux would often make the 40 kilometers trip to Quill Lake, the nearest town, to sell his grain and to buy supplies. It would take two days to make the round trip with his wagon and team of horses. On April 10th, 1914, he took such a trip and recorded it like this:
Delivered 31 bushels of oats that sold for 25 cents a bushel.
Here is his list of expenses for the trip:
Films with velox paper .75
1 pound of tobacco .25
Board at the hotel 1.45
Stable for the horses .75
30 pounds of chop .30
Bread and drink .50
1 pound of peanuts .20
Get horse shoed .50
Pool room .75
Soon after this an entry in his notebook shows Grandfather Lamoureux ordering 13 pairs of shoes from his father living in Saint-Hyacinthe. There was a shoe factory located in Saint-Hyacinthe. This was his order:
6 pairs of low shoes at 2.25 each
6 pairs of high boots at 3.50 each
1 pair of 12 inch shoes at 3.25
He sold the shoes for 3.00 and the boots for 4.50. The people who bought from him were a who’s who of early Saint-Front; Aime Prevost, Jules Kaye, Jean Bertoncini, E. Knapp, J. Sauvageot, M. Gendron, G. Rossignol, Larson.
During the winter months he would bring back coal oil from Quill Lake and sell it to the settlers for 30 cents a gallon. He would also transport bags of flour from Quill Lake for a commission of 25 cents a bag. In 1914 he grew potatoes and in the fall he sold them for 1.00 a bushel. His customers included F. Dubreuil-3 bushels, Andrew Skolas-7 bushels, B. Hunt-5 bushels, Esdras Beaudry-2 bushels.
In 1916 Grandfather Lamoureux had cleared enough land to be able to buy some machinery. He bought the following:
From J.Bird in Quill Lake a seeder 25.00
From P.C.Roberts in Clair a binder 75.00
A fanning mill 12.70
A harrow cart 3.00
From S. Barbrige 2 sets of harness with halters 80.00
From S.B. Sare a democrat 37.00
Once spring arrived, most of the settlers would pay their tax dues by working on road construction in their area. Grandfather Lamoureux would be the one organizing the work details and keeping track of the hours that each settler contributed. He would eventually serve two terms as councilor for the Rural Municipality of Ponass Lake (1917-1921) and
During the summer of 1922 Grandfather Lamoureux spotted, while attending church in Saint-Front, a charming young widow who had just recently moved into the area. Her story also is fascinating. My grandmother, Aglaee (Brisson) Lamoureux was born November 23rd, 1893. She was living at Notre-Dame de Lourdes, Manitoba. On January 7th, 1908 Aglaee was married to her first husband Gabriel Nivon. She had just turned 15 years old. They soon had 3 young children to care for. They were having a difficult time making ends meet so when Gabriel heard from a relative about the potential riches and wealth to be made in Brazil, he decided to take his family and seek his fortune there.
In April 1916, they boarded a train in Winnipeg for New York where they boarded a ship bound for Brazil, a perilous journey during the war years in water infested by German submarines. They located near Belem at the mouth of the Amazon River. In 1920, a son Albert was born. In 1921 grandmother’s husband caught pneumonia and died soon after. Grandmother Aglaee was alone in a strange, foreign country with 4 small children. With the help of her family back in Canada she decided to come home and so on July 29th, 1921 she and her 4 children boarded a ship for the return journey to New York where they once again took the train to Winnipeg.
In the spring of 1922 my grandmother decided to visit her sister and husband Marie-Joseph and Jeremie Dufault who had taken a homestead near Saint-Front, Saskatchewan. Arriving in Saint-Front my grandmother filed for her own homestead near her sister’s place.
So it was that in church she also spotted a tall and handsome man, Arthur Lamoureux. In the fall of 1922 grandmother went back to stay with her parents in Manitoba. Arthur and Aglaee corresponded during the winter. In the spring of 1923 Arthur took the train to Winnipeg and on March 21st, 1923 Aglaee and Arthur were married. This is my grandfather’s account of the trip:
March 19th, fare to Winnipeg 13.15
March 20th, meal 1.00
Haircut and Shave 1.00
Watch Repair 10.00
Street Car fare .05
Cigar and Candy .50
March 21st, Marriage License 3.60
Marriage Ceremony 7.00
Wedding Ring 6.50
March 22nd, Train fare 26.30
Grandfather and Grandmother Lamoureux made their home on his original homestead. On January 27th 1925, my mother Josephine Lamoureux was born.
My mother’s recollections of her youth often center on her journeys to and from school. The school that she attended, Barrier Lake School, had been built in the summer of 1919. The first teacher was Miss Lillian Muzzy. Some of the first families to attend were the Dewhursts, Sares, Hunts, Roberts, and Cowells. The school would close in 1963 with over 170 different students having attended. The school was located 4 kilometers northeast of my grandfather Lamoureux’s homestead. Even at seven years old my mother made the trip by herself, riding on horseback in the fall and spring and in a toboggan pulled by a horse in the winter.
Mother would have 4 different horses during her school years. First there was “Pete”.
It was very old with stiff legs that made it difficult to walk and would cause it to fall down often. One such event happened in the spring of 1933. It was a beautiful morning on the way to school. Mother was riding on Pete in the company of a neighbor boy, George. George was about 5 years older than mother. On a dare by George they decided to cut across a slough instead of following the road. The water was about 2 feet deep. George had a young fast horse so he easily raced across. Walking in the soft muddy bottom of the slough Pete got to the middle, suddenly fell to its’ knees and refused to budge. Mother was terrified especially for her new pair of shoes that she was wearing. She stood up on the saddle, took off her shoes so as not to get them wet, and started screaming for help. Meanwhile George stood on the far side laughing his head off. Mom jumped into the water, holding the shoes in one hand and the reins in the other, to try and help Pete up. Luckily her screaming had got the attention of a man who was cutting wood nearby. As he came over, Pete had managed to regain its feet and mother led it out of the slough by the way they had entered. However the saddle had twisted and was hanging down under the horse’s belly. The man put the saddle back on and helped mother back onto the horse. They made their way around the slough and finally got to school, very late. Poor Pete looked like a drowned rat. Everyone was laughing with George laughing the loudest. Mother still remembers the sound of the laughter but she is still proud of the fact that not a drop of water got on her new shoes. She remembers Pete getting stuck often in snowbanks during the winter.
Her next horse was “Tony”. It was partially blind so any noise would scare it. One time coming home from school, they met a car. Tony, scared by the noise, stopped dead in its’ tracks sending my mother flying up over its head. However she hung on to the reins as she picked herself up. Now came the difficult part, getting back on the horse. Her legs were still too short to reach the stirrups so she had to find a fence that she could climb on or a ditch with sides steep enough that she could lead the horse into and then jump on it. Both options had their drawbacks. Climbing on a barbwire fence while holding a skittish horse’s reins in one hand is scary at best. Using the ditch meant that mother had to hang on to the horse’s mane with both hands as it lunged and jumped up the side of the ditch resulting in a wild heart stopping moment. “Dolly” and “Bill” were the other two horses.
One of the most memorable and traumatic events occurred in the winter of 1936. Riding in the toboggan, it was a bitterly cold afternoon with its fast approaching darkness brought about by the short days. Mom had tied the reins together and looped them around her neck so that she could put her freezing hands in her coat pockets to try and warm them up. As the toboggan crested a small hill, it lurched forward, becoming unhooked in the process and sliding into Dolly’s hind legs. The horse jolted forward dragging Mom headfirst over the front and slamming her into corner of the toboggan. Luckily the reins slipped over her head allowing the horse to run free. With tears in her eyes and a throbbing pain in her left side my mother ran after the horse all the while shouting after it to stop. Eventually the horse came to a deep snowbank and stopped. Mom caught up to it, led it back to the toboggan, hitched it up and resumed her trip home. Her father and the hired hand saw her as she approached and ran to help her. Her father, trying to evaluate the extent of her injuries, had her move her side and arm. Even though it was painful, she managed to have some movement so her father concluded that it must be only severe bruises. Mother missed a week of school and would always have an ache in her left side till this day. Interestingly nearly 50 years later in 1984 my mother had a fall and while having x-rays done it was noted that she had suffered broken ribs on her left side as a youth. The pain of that long ago winter ride had finally been fully explained.
Soon after their marriage, grandfather and grandmother Auriat sold their original homestead and acquired another one, this one the SE quarter of Section 17, Township 39, Range 15,W of 2nd Meridian. Their neighbor was now Grandfather Lamoureux who had the homestead right across the road from them. Here they would raise a family of 12, 10 sons and 2 daughters. My father Germain Auriat was born December 17th, 1920. The Second World War would be an especially trying time for the Auriat family as 4 of the sons would volunteer to serve their country. Albert Auriat was in the artillery and served in the Italian Campaign, being wounded in the fighting around Monte Cassino. Paul Auriat was an engineer involved in the training of troops. Jean Auriat and Marcel Auriat were members of the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment that was a part of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France in June of 1944. In the morning of June 6th their company landed on Nan Red Beach and attacked the fortified town of St. Aubain. The next morning while attacking a German Radar Station located nearby at Douvres, Jean Auriat would make the ultimate sacrifice, being killed in action serving his country. He is buried in La Delivrande War Cemetary in Douvres, France. In his honor the government of Saskatchewan named “Auriat Island”. It is located in northern Saskatchewan in the middle of Cree Lake (58*28’N, 106*32’W).
On August 3rd, 1949 my mother Josephine Lamoureux and my father Germain Auriat were married. Together they settled on the NE quarter of Township 39 Range 15 W of 2nd Meridian, the quarter just north of Grandfather Auriat. It was here that I was born in 1950. Eventually when Grandfather Auriat retired from farming in 1956 my father and mother acquired his land and moved our home there so as to be by an accessible road when I started school. From our farm located 1.5 miles south and 2 miles east of Saint-Front we could see the steeple of the church located on top of the hill. In the winter I would go to school with a horse and toboggan crosscountry across the snow covered fields always using the steeple as my guide. My Grandfather and Grandmother Auriat were now living in Saint-Front, having built a house on the southern edge of the village. They had a small barn to keep some chickens in their backyard. A bush separated their yard from the fields to the south. My Dad cut a small trail through the bush so that I could get to grandfather’s place without going through Saint-Front. Each morning when I arrived, grandfather would help me stable the horse and in the evening he would help me hitch up and start off on my return home.
One of those early morning toboggan rides to school would provide me with a memory eerily similar to the one that occurred to my mother 20 years earlier. It was very cold so I had wrapped the reins around my wrists. I trusted my horse to follow the trail on its own so I snuggled up into the blankets that I had wrapped myself with. Suddenly a snow grouse exploded from a snowbank right besides the trail. The whirring noise and flying snow and feathers so spooked my horse that it took off at full gallop. The toboggan veered off the trail, hit a snowbank, tipped on its side and sent me sprawling face first into the snow, hanging on to the reins for dear life as I was being dragged forward. The inside of my clothing quickly became filled with snow as it entered through my collar and my sleeves and my face stung from the snow and ice particles hitting it. After a while the horse tired and stopped. I righted the toboggan, went back and picked up the blankets and lunch kit and eventually arrived at school. Fortunately except for sore wrists and shoulders which soon passed, I was not the worse for wear. To this day I still enjoy the solitude and quiet that a trip to the countryside brings.