GENEOLOGY as taken from copy by “Willy” Lambert’s research 2006
Transcript by Germaine-Gregoire-Nachtegaele
On May 11, 1777, Nemry Vassaux and Marie Agnes Merveille were married and resided at Bohan, Belgium. His date of passing is unknown but is believed to have occurred between 1793 and 1812. His wife died June 11, 1824. Descendents were six sons and one daughter who all lived and passed away in Bohan, Belgium except son Jean Basptiste Vassaux, who died in St. Thomas, Guatemala. (There is a possibility of distant relatives in Guatemala).
Jean Baptiste Vassaux’s Geneology
There are records that Jean married Ann Marie Brouet, from Orchemont, Belgium in 1792. From this union six sons and five daughters were born between 1813 to 1837.
Continuing in lineage, Elisabeth Vassaux born 13-09-1819 was one of the daughters. She married Hubert Lamotte and had six children, five daughters and one son, Donatien. He, Donatien Lamotte who emigrated to Canada, settling in Grand Cleaiere, Oak Lake, Manitoba, and married Jeanne Arnould (a Canadian).
From this family, my mother’s mother (my grandmother, one of the five daughters) Leocadie Lamotte married Seraphin Vany (my grandfather – we have photos of this couple). My mother – Marie Vany and father Nestor Gregoire with my brother Paul returned to Belgium in Nov 1927, returning January 1928 to visit Leocadie (age 83, born in 1845 and passed away July 1, 1928). Marie had not seen but corresponded regularly with her mother Leocadie, since 1897 when she and her first husband – Edmond Lambert, had immigrated to Canada to first reside in Oak Lake, Manitoba with her uncle Donatien Lamotte.
From the union of Marie Vany and Edmond Lambert, four children, three daughters – Lea, Jeanne, Juliette, and one son Alphonse Waldor were born.
Children of Marie Vany and Edmond Lambert
LEA – daughter born Deleau, Manitoba – August 16, 1903.
JEANNE – daughter born Deleau, Manitoba – April 23, 1905.
JULIETTE – daughter born Deleau, Manitoba – September 20, 1907; died 1910.
ALPHONSE – son born Deleau, Manitoba – November 27, 1908.
NOTE: Genealogy records indicate two daughters named Jeanne born in Saskatoon district and died at an early age. However no mention anywhere else, to my recollection has ever been made of this.
Edmond Lambert died in Meacham, Saskatchewan – December 25, 1910.
No date was actually recorded when Marie Vany Lambert married Nestor Gregoire (photos available) but it is presumed that nuptials took place in Meacham, Saskatchewan in 1911. Of this union, six children were born – three sons and three daughters.
Children of Marie Vany Lambert and Nestor Gregoire
PHILOMENE – daughter (name sake of Nestor’s mother – maiden name Clarival)
Born: May 04, 1912, Meacham, Saskatchewan. Married 1932; died 1986.
JOSEPH LEDOVIC – son (named after Joseph Pirot, godfather)
Born: November 07, 1913, Dana, Saskatchewan. Married 1937; died 1972.
GERMAINE MARGARET – daughter (named after Margaret Darras, godmother)
Born: February 24, 1916, Cudworth, Saskatchewan. Married 1935.
LOUIS – son, born April 28, 1919 at the Bentley Farm, Price, Saskatchewan. Married 1943
CLAIRE – daughter, born on the farm in the North Battleford District, June 16, 1921.
Married June 11, 1946; died June 01, 1980.
PAUL – son, born October 16, 1924 on the farm N.B. District. Married October 18, 1944
History of Marie Vany Lambert and Edmond Lambert
Edmond and daughter Juliette (3 years) died. Edmond from Le Grand Mal (epilepsy) December 25, 1910, and Juliette from scarlet fever, September, 1910. The couple moved from Deleau, Manitoba to the village of Meacham, Saskatchewan prior to 1910.
Early Childhood of Marie Vany
Returning to Marie’s early childhood days, I remember hearing her recounting the incidents shared with her siblings, three brothers Jules, Joseph, Louis and five sisters- Jeanne, Claire, Clothilde, Neome, and Therese. These were all the memories that were implanted in my mind. Portraits or even photo snaps were very minimal, though to this day, I regret the loss of their correspondence through letters exchanged over the years. They would have been so helpful at this time but somehow they have been mislaid or destroyed.
From a very industrious and hard-working small farm in Daverdisse, Belgium, Marie’s father Seraphin, was a carpenter by trade. Farming a very small acreage (hectares) was not sufficient to support the family of nine, so her mother Leocadie, was involved with tilling and tending the farm consisting of cattle, pigs etc. The older children were no doubt involved in helping with work on the farm, and the younger ones (my mother included) were responsible for herding the cows, and feeding the chickens. At four years of age she was already quite capable of turning the heel of a pair of socks with knitting needles. She would recount that an elderly friend (a teacher) asked her to knit socks (4) for his dog, which she forthwith produced. They ended up tacked to the outer wall of his house as a souvenir.
Later on, at fourteen years of age, Marie was employed, as a housemaid at the home of an army general. The everlasting chore of polishing the brass and silverware was classed as the proverbial tasks relegated to a “Cinderella”. It seems the family parrot (no doubt obtained from the Belgium Congo, Africa) was very observant and in no uncertain terms would remind her of her obligation to his welfare. Naturally, he must have needed to have his quarters kept (in his bird like brain) in meticulous order. One of his other talents was his ability to swear like a trooper in French.
Three sisters, Jeanne, Clothilde, and Claire had joined an Order of teaching Nuns “Filles de Marie”, in Redu, Belgium. Marie’s older sister, Neomie was married to Joseph Champion who resided in Redu, Belgium, where they raised their family. Three of their children we kept in contact with through correspondence and a visit. One was Valentine, a daughter, who immigrated to Canada with Marie, Nestor and thee year old Paul upon their returning to Canada from Belgium in 1926. After working in North Battleford, in the household of Dr. Hamlin, Valentine married Gabriel Puech from St. Walburg. Another sister, Gabrielle (never married) remained in the village of Redu, Belgium. Cony and Germaine had the occasion to meet and visit with her when we traveled to Belgium in 1983. Albert, their brother became a missionary and was stationed in the Belgium, Congo.
Jules Vany, eldest brother and his wife Marie Lepropre, farmed in Carlsbourgh, Belgium raised a family of five sons, Fernand, George, Norbert, Joseph, and Leon, and their three daughters, Clothilde, Louise and Marie Jeanne. Fernand and his bride Julia Rezette accompanied Marie and Nestor on their return from Belgium in1926. Julia’s brother, Armand and Valentine Champion also returned with them .to Canada. Later, in 1929, the reminder of the family, except Clothide who remained in Belgium, boarded the ship in Anthwerp Belgium to Canada and visited the Gregoire family, staying with them on the farm, until all were settled in Canada. Brother Joseph, who had lost a leg, and Louis, remained in Belgium, raising their families there.
Nestor Gregoire, born in Haut Fays in 1885, at 21 years of age having laid his widowed mother to rest in early 1906, immigrated to Canada, to join his brother Joseph, who had immigrated earlier. Nestor had never known his father, who had died when he was an infant. Dire poverty was their lot, as he related how he and his mother had to scour the countryside to gather whatever fuel, be it dried cow pies, or limited firewood to keep them warm, as sea side Belgium’s weather could be very damp and cool.
Arriving in Canada in the spring of 1906, he obtained employment in the Trail, B.C. coal mines. He found the conditions very difficult, which affected his health, so he made a move to join his brother in the area of Meacham, Saskatchewan. Here he joined several Belgium settlers, some even from his native town of Haut Feys. Several of these were Joe and Lea Pirot, Normands, Hochets, and Eli and Maggie Darras. It was at this time that he met and married the widow Marie Vany Lambert. Being an enterprising young man, he was soon in his own business, operating a livery stable, using horses and a democrat (this was prior to the motor car) to transport new immigrants in their search for cheap land to settle on and bring into production. He then turned from the livery, and started buying grain from these settlers and plied the flourmill trade.
The family moved several districts from Meacham to Dana, then on to Cudworth. He found that farming was becoming quite a lucrative occupation, having to pay $2.50 per bushel for wheat, so he ventured into another move, this time into farming. By now, Nestor and Marie had a family of six to care for, with Lea, Jeanne, Alphonse from Marie’s first marriage to Ed Lambert, and Philomene, Joseph and Germaine (me) from this present union. In 1918 they loaded up all their effects – horses, democrat, as well as the flour mill equipment and boarded the train, arriving at Prince, Saskatchewan to take up residence at the rented Bently Farm, located S W of the village of Prince. Some of the new wonderful neighbors, Gaites Rogers, the Nylanders, and McMillans to name a few were there to lend a helping hand. Nestor and Marie were amazed that the neighbors through that $2.00 per bushel of grain to feed the horses was not deemed a luxury. The house was constructed out of logs, with a sod and tarpaper roof, which was not the best of accommodations, so in 1920 one more move was made to the Dean place situated along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. The farm land was quite rocky and hilly but afforded a most scenic view.
Looking to purchase farmland, a half section of CPR land became available in 1921, so another move was made. Being raw virgin soil, very heavily wooded, necessitated many hours of hard labor to bring the acres to production. The poplar trees were put to good use, first chopped down by axe, and then piled up to cure. A crew of men to man the sawing outfit was organized, first by Stub Blais from Delmas, and then Harry Iverson from Meota. Sometimes, it took two or three days, to produce a pile of stove length wood, which gave the growing family a challenge to pile it up in great columns to be used in stoking the cook stove and heaters. There were no TV or computers to occupy the extra hours and the telephone and radio were not as yet common especially in the rural areas.
A two-storey house was hauled by mover Jack Jolly from North Battleford, and later a barn was built by George Strong to shelter the horses and cattle from the long cold winters.
Being ten miles for the town of North Battleford, one did not drive in too often so purchases were made in quantity. Because bread was a major staple, flour was purchased in 100 pound bags. Often wheat was taken to the mill and exchanged for flour. Many loaves of bread were baked in the old Homesteader range oven. The large garden provided most of the vegetables, which were mainly canned or salted for winter storage. Rhubarb, along with the berries of Saskatoon, pincherry, and chokecherry were used to make jams and jellies as well as the desserts. The wild cranberries that grew along the banks of the river a short distance from the farm were made into delicious jelly, and syrup.
By the light of the coal oil lamps, the children would be found doing their homework seated around the long dining room table, while our dad stoked the heater with logs to keep the cold winter frost at bay. Our mother would be knitting socks or mittens to keep a supply on hand. It was not unusual for a sock to be started after supper and dishes, with it being completed before retiring for the night. I can almost visualize and hear the steel knitting needles clicking and flying around the rows, resulting in a pair of woolen articles to keep the family stocked.
As previously stated, the family consisted of nine children, with Lea as the eldest. She was born August 16, 1903 in Deleau, Manitoba. The name was given by her namesake godmother Lea (Theiry) Pirot. At an early age, she had some affliction, which resulted in one leg being amputated. To my knowledge, the cause was never divulged. At my early age of 8 years, I was almost 13 years her junior. I found her very soft spoken and gentle. One personal reflection I have of Lea involved our hair, as a bobbed style was not in vogue and while the older girls could wear theirs in a bun, the younger ones had to have it parted in the middle or on the side and braided. Lea was my choice to comb my hair as she had a very gentle touch.
Due to her handicap, she had to use crutches. She was delegated to help as best she could with light house chores and assisting in the kitchen. The record shows she had attended Cudworth school, and had already terminated her education prior to the move to Prince in 1918.
I recall the attention given to her by a neighbor’s son George McMillan who would usually call on a Sunday afternoon. Sometime later another suitor, Mike Pain appeared on the scene. He had been hired by Nestor as a hired hand and was considered a good worker. He had also worked for a neighbor Elishe Brooks. Evidentially, a relationship developed between Lea and Mike and must have become serious, which was not to her parents liking. This resulted in a time of much stress, as his past was unknown, and he was not of the preferred Catholic faith. As a child of 8, I witnessed a terrific confrontation that took place, resulting in a very sad backlash. As an act of defiance, the following morning, Lea packed her few personal belongings and left, accompanied by Mike Pain never to return again. To this day, I am still overcome with sadness at the memory of the circumstances that lead to this family tragedy. It has always been my wish that a possible trace to her whereabouts and life could become a reality.
The second oldest child and daughter of Edmond and Marie was Jeanne, who was born April 23, 1905 in Deleau, Manitoba. It is recorded that she attended school in Cudworth, which more than likely was terminated at the age of 14, or Grade VIII, as required. Jeanne had a more aggressive personality and the outdoors was more to her liking. Upon reaching her teen years, she became very adept at handling an outfit of horses, hitched to a discus and harrowing the fields, or hauled a wagonload of grain with a team of horses. Riding horseback was a daily occurrence for Jeanne; bringing in the cows for milking, or whatever other chore had to be done on the farm.
At the age of 18 or 19 it was not uncommon to have the neighbor’s sons showing attention to the young girls of the district. Since this was before the advent of the motor cars, distance was a major obstacle, so courting between the nearest families of the Brooks and McMillan often took place. I can remember George McMillan a soft spoken quiet man, playing the violin, to attract Lea’s affection, and Norman Brooks, the only son of the elite English family having his eye on blond Jeanne. She had been nicknamed “Blanche” which in French meant white or fair.
At the age of 19, Jeanne was able to get employment as a housemaid, for a prominent family, the Iver Iversons who had seven boys and four girls. They farmed in the Fitzgerald District which was near the village of Meota. Located 20 miles NW of North Battleford, it was a center for shopping and recreation. The Iverson’s, Mary and Iver, were of Norwegian ancestry, and along with four other siblings had immigrated to Saskatchewan, from Minnesota, USA. Mary, a hard working woman was of German descent, and as was their custom, a long dining room table was always laden with food. Music and dancing was always encouraged and the Gregoire family was often invited to attend. This formed a great part of the recreation enjoyed by the families. It was not uncommon for both households when gathering, to move the furniture to the sides of the room to allow for more space to enjoy dancing old time waltzes, polkas and drills.
Leading to another important event in the Gregoire family, in 1926 Marie and Nestor along with two and a half year old Paul decided to return to Belgium and visit her mother. Marie had maintained a regular correspondence with her parents. Her widowed mother Leoeadie was 82 years old and was now in failing health had expressed her desire to once again see her daughter, whom she had not seen since Marie had immigrated to Canada. They departed in December 1926, boarding a ship that landed in Antwerp, Belgium, where they were eventually reunited with Marie’s mother, her sisters, and brothers. Three of her sisters, Jeanne, Claire, and Clothilde had joined the sisterhood “Daughters’ of Mary”, and two sisters, Neomi and Therese* had married and raised their families close by. Brothers, Jules, Joseph, Louis (and Paul)* farmed or were laborers and had raised families at, or near Daverdisse. Both mother and siblings were delighted to have Marie back with them for that short time. Shortly after Marie and Nestor’s return to Canada, her mother passed away; pleased to have had her wish realized.
Meanwhile back in Canada, Jeanne had returned home from her employment to take over the responsibility of running the household, with Alphonse was in charge of the mixed farming chores. Five siblings, all being of school age – Philomene, Joe, Germaine (me), Louis and 6 year old Claire, were all left in Jeanne’s care. As the saying goes, “When the cat’s away the mice will play,” as many house parties were enjoyed with the Iverson, Corbeil and Doom families. However, unbeknown to the siblings, another event caused a stir. Following a very cold spell an animal froze at one of the straw stacks, and this information was relayed to the parents in Belgium, by a neighbor uncle. This necessitated the urgency to return to Canada in haste, and curtailing the remainder of the time they had planned to spend with the relatives.
Upon Marie and Nestor’s return, Jeanne resumed her job of housemaid. She had kept a “close” friendship with one of the Iverson’s sons, having kept company with him for several years, but eventually they parted, each choosing other partners. It seems like the old proverb, “Birds of a Feather flock together”, and possible to the parents liking, she chose as a partner, a 27 year old, recently immigrated Belgium – Julien Haegebaert. He had joined an uncle (Flemish Belgium), who was a longtime resident in an adjoining district of Metropole. They married January 20, 1932 and set up a household on a mixed farm, a short distance from the home place, raising a family of six children, four boys and two girls. Later they established a dairy enterprise, which their sons continued to operate after they retired and moved into North Battleford. Later on, Jeanne and Jules had an opportunity to visit relatives in Belgium and enjoyed their city life, especially their grandchildren and friends. They celebrated 50 years of married life, with Jeanne passing away at age 84, in 1989, and Jules in 1991 at age 91.
Following in line a little sister, Juliette, was born in 1907 at Deleau, Manitoba. It seemed that she was not long for this world as at age three, during an epidemic of Scarlet Fever she succumbed to the illness and is possibly buried in Meacham along with her father who died later in the same year, 1910, and who was also buried in Meacham.
One year after Juliette was born, a son, Alphonse Waldor was added to the family on November 27, 1908, at Deleau, Manitoba. It was reported that he was a very gentle, happy little boy, especially when his older sisters would offer him a bread and sugar soother. The family with three children, left Marie’s uncle’s farm in Deleay, Manitoba and made a move west, arriving in Meacham, Saskatchewan. Here, joining a group of Belgians in the community, Edmond was hired to work in the livery. Other Belgians in the area were the Hupet, Vandales, Darras and Gregoires. Not being able to pronounce the French “Gregoire”, Gregory is the name found in the history of the village of Meacham, signed by Nestor, and his brother Joseph, the blacksmith, who was a returned WWI veteran. Their signature, along with their business, was needed to officially declare Meacham a village in 1912.
Alphonse was very easy to satisfy, having an obliging quiet friendly nature. Being about two, at the time of his father’s death, he only remembered what he had been told. There is a record of Alphonse attending school in Cudworth prior to the move to the Bently Farm, near Prince, Saskatchewan. From the Bently Farm, a move was made to the Dean Place, where it is recorded that he attended classes at McMillan School. Actually, yours truly, a beginner at 5 years of age, and Alphonse, were the only two left going to school at the McMillan School, as Philonene, and Joe were attending the boarding school at the Delmas Convent.
Two incidents that I remember concerning my early relationship with Alphonse involved going to school. The first involved walking to school and being carried piggyback by him, either because my gait was too slow for him, or I had run out of energy and would not walk any further. The second, being too excited to eat a good breakfast, I was hungry before the noon break, and would “borrow” from his syrup lunch pail, and devour a good portion of his sandwiches. Alphonse would not object too much, possibly recommending a few extra sandwiches for my lunch pail! Growing up on a farm necessitated everyone’s participation, of which Alphonse did his share. Often it required driving an outfit of horses, at times tandem, which required two sets of reins or driving lines. He was also very capable and adept at riding horseback. I recall and can almost still hear the sound of a gaily decorated team of horses, with spangles, bobbles, and bells. The drivers, which were high spirited horses, were hitched to the cutter, and speedily covering the approximately ten miles to North Battleford and back in record time.
Alphonse was very mechanically minded, and later on was delegated to running the Red River Special Separator, for the unusually long harvest season. This job resulted in threshing for many neighbors and sometimes for thirty days depending on the weather, Alphonse was on the job, greasing and oiling the separator first thing in the morning, and often late in the evening to prepare for the next day’s work.
Alphonse made many friends including many young women. He would say, “I love ‘em and leave ‘em”, which was probably right as he had a few “girl friends”, some of who were – Florina C., Nora I., Bernadette H., and Mary P. Socializing was his specialty for which he was much appreciated. He had a natural ability for music and played the accordion and the mouth organ by ear. He was also in demand for calling square dancing and being an adept floor manager.
Settling down after meeting his future wife, Georgina Markley, who was a school friend of mine from C.O.C.J., they were married January 1935. They took up farming, renting the McFarlane Place, with some help from home. Times were tough during the first few years, with drought, and poor commodity prices, so they gave up and moved to B.C. with their first child – red haired Georgina (Micky) who was born December 29, 1935. Son, Albert followed, born on November 17, 1939 in Duncan, B.C. Alphonse was running a service station at the time that Robert (Robbie) was born in Victoria, January 21, 1941. Al, the traveler, was a tire salesman, traveling along the Island Coast. Later returning to North Battleford, he set up the Lambert Tire business. He was community minded and served on the North Battleford City Council as well as being an active member of the local Lions Club. During their stay in North Battleford, their residence was located on the upper floor of the tire shop along 100 St. but, it was not long before the West Coast was calling again. Leaving son Albert to run the Tire business, he and “Dude”, moved to Surrey, B.C., where they moved into a beautiful home, with a very impressive sculptured landscaped yard. It bordered along the local golf course, with a tee off adjacent to their backyard. They spent their retirement years exercising their green thumbs and traveling.
On June 13, 1984 Alphonse passed away, following a courageous battle against cancer, and was buried in Langley, B.C. Georgina left their beautiful home and moved into a senior’s complex, and later into a condominium. Son, Robbie, had been involved in a near fatal truck accident earlier, was rendered a paraplegic and had been in an assisted living complex in, died in Langley B.C.
The next part of this Saga returns once again to Marie Vany Lambert’s earlier life following Edmond’s death in 1910. Finding herself widowed, without any insurance and few accumulated effects, Marie experienced a very difficult period, having to provide for her growing family. Being of a very industrious nature, she put her cooking talents to use and began taking in boarders. She also started doing laundry for the throngs of railway employees in the area, and was able to eek out a living and keep the proverbial “wolf away from the door.”
Just about this time Nestor came upon the scene. He and others were involved in the Livery business, transporting by team and democrat, the new settlers who were seeking out viable land, upon which to take out title and establish residence. Some of these early settlers were the Hupet, Vandales, Darras, Pirot, and Normands. A close relationship developed between Marie and Nestor, leading to marriage in 1911 in Meacham. The exact date is not recorded but, a 25th Anniversary was celebrated in 1936, on their farm in the North Battleford district.
Here, Philomene (Nestor’s mother’s name) was to see the light of day, with her older step sister Lea as godmother. As related by Nestor, Philomene had inherited her short stature from her maternal grandmother, Clarival. She started walking at 8 months of age and it was stated that she could walk under the dining room table, without bending her head. Apparently, at some point in early life she was afflicted with rheumatic fever, leaving her with some physical weakness, which later affected her heart. However, she seemed to give her best with household chores, never complaining, even when the task called upon was the incessant job of washing dishes.
The family moved to Dana, Saskatchewan, which lasted only a short time, then again another move to Cudworth, Saskatchewan. Here, Nestor was involved with some associates, in managing a flour mill, buying grain and milling flour. In 1918, the family boarded the train with all their effects, landing in Prince, Saskatchewan. Here, Philomene started school in the McMillan district. For a time, both she and her younger brother Joseph boarded at the Convent in Delmas, Saskatchewan. Later on, she returned to complete the required Grade VIII at McMillan School.
Philomene remained at home to help where ever needed as her older sister Jeanne, had taken outside employment as a housemaid, or hired girl as it was also called. Due to her affliction resulting from the rheumatic fever, she tired easily, so busied herself with needlework, knitting and joining in activities and socializing with the other young people. She enjoyed dancing and going to the local exhibition which cost a princely sum of 50 cents admission. As for beaus, nothing was too serious until she met a recently arrived gent from Belgium – Jerome Fransoo, a brother in law to Cyril Bruynooghe, who was well acquainted with her parents Nestor and Marie, and a relationship developed.
With very little fanfare Philomene and Jerome tied the nuptial knot, August 19, 1932. Being harvest time, the young couple took up residence with the Bruynooghe’s, where Jerome was employed, and helped with the harvest. In 1934, they wanted to establish their own farming operation and purchased the Wm George farm. Here five children were born – Cyril 1935, Nestor 1939, AnnMarie 1941, Elizabeth 1948, and Joseph 1950. All attended the local rural elementary McMillan school and went on to complete their high school education and chosen professions.
Both Philomene and Jerome enjoyed their life on the mixed farm, making many friends and taking an active part in their district. In 1969, they retired from farming and made their home in North Battleford. Both passed away in 1986 – Philomene on November 2, and Jerome on December 26 and were laid to rest in the City Cemetery RC Division. The farm remains in the family with grandson Michael, his wife and family presently residing there.
Returning once more to Marie and Nestors’ history, another move was in store. To continue in the Livery business the village of Dana offered the opportunity for more settlers to establish homes. Another couple, Eli and Maggie Darras also made the move and settled there, became friends with the family. Here, on November 7, 1913, Joseph Ledovic saw the light of day. A Mr. and Mrs. Ledovic Normand (related to Joe Pirot) who were operating a store and had been acquaintances with Marie and Nestor for some time, stood up as Godparents for baby Joseph, hence passing on the name Ledovic to their godson.
Joe was a shy quiet boy, with long curly hair (there aren’t any pictures to substantiate this) which no doubt caused much envy with his older sisters. Later on while growing up on the farm, his talents bent more toward using brawn, which he had inherited from his father. Wielding an axe, you could find Joe splitting the green poplar fire wood, in preparation to pile it in long rows. Also, in his quiet way, having become the owner of a fiddle (violin), one could hear Joe playing by ear such popular tunes of the day as “Polly Wally Doodle; Swannee River; and Old Black Joe”.
School wasn’t Joe’s favorite pastime or activity. Reading and spelling especially, he found difficult to master. His younger sister (Germaine), an avid reader blessed with good retention, would try to console him for his efforts, by promising, that when she would became a teacher she would “offer her assistance”. It is not sure that he accepted this offer too kindly.
An accident happened later that could have resulted in a tragedy. As most young boys, one of Joe’s favorite pastimes was using a 22 rifle to shoot gophers, squirrels crows etc. So seated on a landing leading to the upstairs, older brother Alf and younger sister, me, Germaine, were approached by Joe, as he was checking the 22. “Is this thing loaded?” he asked of his older brother. Before Alf could answer, Joe pulled the trigger. You can understand the shock they experienced as the bullet whizzed past Alf’s ear, leaving a punctured hole in the wall. While a tragedy was averted, a lasting impression was left on the trio, and to this day I have always had an aversion and respect for all firearms.
After, acquiring his grade 8, Joe worked on the farm with his dad until he was ready to branch out on his own. Nestor had purchased a nearby neighbors farm “The Hamilton Place”, as it was called from an elderly English pioneer, who had raised a family of sons -Jim, Bill, and Nathan and had decide to retire. This provided a home for the new couple, when Joe and Irene Nachtegaele, a neighbor’s daughter, were married. Together they raised a family of six daughters and two sons. They spent their time on the farm, until Joe’s sudden death from a fatal heart attack, in his sleep, at the age of 59 December 7, 1972. He is buried in the NB City Cemetery RC Division.
Back to the year 1915, after two years spent in the village of Dana, an opportunity presented itself and the wanderlust once again caught Nestor and Marie, and a further move was made. As more and more settlers were drawn to this good grain producing area, the need for disposal of the harvested crop by the few elevators in the area was very limited. The chance of operating a flourmill became available when the neighboring progressive town of Cudworth, decided on opening a new flourmill and was bartering for the top grade of Marquis Wheat. Nestor decided to take the plunge, and once again moved all the families’ personal belongings, household effects, and horses and democrat via CNR to set up shop in the village of Cudworth, which was located a few miles North of Dana. Again, some of the partners made the move, and soon a lucrative business was established. This was apparent, because a new house to accommodate the growing family was built. A two story square structure with a full length veranda, and a hip style roof, provided a much improved abode. Nestor continued with the livery business during WWI and a successful business was established, resulting in the purchase of a McLaughlin Buick being added to the horse drawn transportation.
A new member was added to the family February 24, 1916, when a baby girl arrived. She was baptized in Bruno, Sask and given the name Germaine Margaret. This was quite different from the name on the baptismal certificate, as recorded by the German priest Rev Edward Benning which was “Germaine Margaretha Gregory”. This did not seem to upset the blue eyed blond baby girl as there was no record of any problems with babysitting, as there were several older siblings. The precious couple of Eli and Maggie Darras were quite pleased to stand up as godparents.
As things prospered, so did the price of wheat and Nestor found himself having to pay $2.50 a bushel to the farmer’s, with a dollar purchasing a large amount of goods. So, as stated in my previous accounts, the Gregorie family once again pulled up stakes in 1918, and loaded lock stock and barrel all their belongings on the train, moving to land in the NW part of the province near Prince, Sask. Trying his hand at farming, a new venture was begun with the renting of a half section of land from a Mr. Bently in the Prince District.
The house, which was built of logs and had a tarpaper thatched roof, proved a decline from the one they had just left in Cudworth. When it rained, the entire roof leaked, making it necessary to place pots everywhere to catch the water. One incident recounted by Marie, were the many times that garter snakes, who resided in the thatched roof would descend to the warmth below, and scare the beejeepers out of whoever was stirring food on the range. It was here that brother Louis was born in 1919.
Striving to own a parcel of land was really Nestors’ objective, but when one more rental property became available another move was made. The Dean Place, located along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River became their new home. This provided a beautiful scenic view of the river banks, rolling hills and flowing river, but the rocks and light sandy soil wasn’t exactly the choice they had anticipated. In the mean while a half section of raw wooded virgin land became available, and Nestor made the purchase.
For a growing family, the Dean Place was an ideal space to spread out and explore. It had a large area to plant and harvest a garden, which provided work for all to do. Water was hard to come by, as the 60 ft well was dry and was a constant source of worry as it had to be kept covered at all times. The rhubarb, horseradish, and pigweeds grew in abundance along with the Saskatoon berries, chokecherry, and pin cherries. For entertainment and pastime, the young ones would literally roll down the river hills. How we escaped from being bruised black and blue from all the rocks was sheer luck.
At age five, I was more than anxious to join my older sibling in attending school I was told that books were my passion, and was always anxious to read to anyone who would listen. Though my dad had never spoken of ever having had any schooling in Belgium, his curiosity was soon aroused, and he would try to sound out the English version. Sometimes he would be baffled by the extra letters needed to form some words. For example, a brief verse from “Hey Diddle Diddle”, when the word “laughed” from the line “when the little dog laughed”, he would question the need for the “g” and “h”. Why not just “laffed”? Mathematics was his métier, and was a trait I feel I have inherited from him.
I have a recollection on my first day of school of having my long blond hair combed and braided, my face and hands scrubbed to the limit by my eldest sister Lea. This is an image that remains with me to this day. Another memory involved my early schooling and my first teacher, Mrs. Herb Mitchell, who was a delightful motherly lady, and to whom I must have taken a great deal of liking. Having only one daughter, red haired Nellie, whom I was somewhat envious of, as she always seemed to have such pretty clothes and was so friendly and thoughtful. I recall that both Nellie and her mother would drive the two or three miles to McMillan School with a highly spirited horse, and someone would have to restrain him at the bridle, and hastily hop into the buggy, or the horse would be gone, which brings to mind the saying “on the bit”.
At this time, only Alf and I were attending McMillan school. Both Philomene and Joe were at the Delmas Convent, a boarding school in preparation for their First Communion. A distance of two and a half miles was often walked and as Alf was in the later years of elementary school and I a beginner, the distance often seemed to overcome me. Always the kind big brother, he would load me on his back, resulting in a piggy back ride. At times being too anxious to get to school, I would hurriedly eat my breakfast, which resulted in hunger taking over at first recess, and I would then consume the contents of both syrup pails before noon. Alf did not allow this to happen too often I am sure.
Stubbornness, one of my faults, was often to my determent. One such event occurred when having to walk through the spring thaw, when sloughs, which filled in low spots, often flooded the road. On this occasion, not wanting to take Alfas’ advice to walk around the slough, I waded right down the middle, and on arriving at school was soaked to the skin. Taking me to the teacher age, kindly Mrs. Mitchell had me change the wet garments and replace them with one of Nellie’s stylish outfits. Even though they were somewhat larger, the long red stockings, as opposed to the beige knitted variety that I had, left me brimming with a sense of vanity. This raises a question – does one suppose that a child would go through such an ordeal on purpose?
With an attendance of about 30 students ranging from grades 1 to 8 in a single roomed school, discipline had to be meter out justly. Recess, one in the morning and a second in the afternoon would lessen the tension. Noon hours, after a hurried lunch, were spent playing games such as, Pump Pump Pull Away; Anti-I -Over; Hopscotch or baseball.
The game of baseball required that all the students would be called upon to form teams. Shoes with copper toes were the answer for football which saved the toes from wearing out.
I can also remember school and family picnics held in summer, by the creek which was located about one and a half miles from the school. Here we would take part in races and games, which would then be followed by homemade ice cream. Another memory involved Christmas Concerts. Everyone was included and expected to participate. It was a time of much excitement with the acting and performing before one’s parents. I, having recited a poem or verse at the age of five or six, without any blunders and not being shy, I recall being hoisted up in the air by Mr. Herb Mitchell, the teachers’ husband, and being praised for being a little “Ham”.
I attended McMillan school for my first eight years with the exception of one year when Philomene and I boarded at St Vital Convent, in Battleford in order for me to make my First Communion and she attended to keep me company. Some teachers who taught at McMillan School during that time were Elma Holmes; Hester Ross; Miss Mackenzie; Miss Ferguson and in my grade eight year Mrs. Skelton. Most boarded in the homes of neighbors while some stayed at the teacher age. I remember some of my long time school friends who attended with me, they were Emily Wyman; Jeannie MacLean; the McMillan family of Alex, (Sandy) and Dan; the Rogers family; the Johnson girls, Augusta and Rose, as well as the Nylanders, and many more who all were part of our growing years. Upon reaching their grade eight, which was the last elementary grade year, this saw Emily, Auguata, Ralph McMillan and Willie Lehman (recently moved into the district) having to take their final department exams in the Prince School. This marked a major accomplishment, as many young people quit following or preceding this milestone to help on the farm.
Nineteen twenty nine was a very important year as I enrolled in the newly opened high school, my Alma Mater, the Convent of the Child Jesus, in North Battleford where the Sisters of the same name taught. I joined over forty other girls, who came from all over the province of Saskatchewan, with many from as far away as Williams Lake and Vancouver, B.C. as well as from Manitoba. We became the first all-female boarding students at the convent. The wearing of uniforms was mandatory and we had two; one for Sunday and one for every day. It was also required for the females to cover their head upon entering the Chapel or Church with a white tam for Sundays and a navy one for daily use. The head Sister Superior of the Order was a large stature strict lady by the name of Mother Gabriel. Several other nuns were also on staff. My classroom teacher was Sister Bridgette from Ireland, and my piano teacher was Sister Bernadette. Lay teachers were also on staff to fill positions. Later, boys were accepted, as boarders from beginners to thirteen years. Male day scholars were also allowed up to grade eleven. The first class of six girls to graduate occurred in 1932.
Aside from classes we were encouraged to participate in sports such as basketball, and baseball. The ball diamond was located across the 12th Avenue with the school located on 104th Street. Of the two sports, my choice was baseball, with back catcher as my chosen position. This I played without the use of a mask. Having to wear glasses due to eye strain, during a game, a misguided tip or foul ball struck me between the lenses and knocked them to the ground, breaking them. I managed without glasses, until much later in life, my vision required bi-focals.
Life at the Convent has many memories. Going for walks in groups all dressed in our uniforms, sometimes for two or three miles, was almost mandatory. On one occasion, we encountered another group of young people headed in the opposite direction. Guided by two psychiatric personal, the group were heard to ask us as to “when had we gotten out”? This created quite a jovial attitude with our group, but must have also caused us to wonder what they thought we were all about. Another memory involved our meals, which were always wholesome and adequate, but we always looked forword to the “goutties” or afternoon snack, which was a peanut butter or jam bread slice. Bed time and morning rising was always at an appointed time, and as silence was the rule, we adopted sign language to communicate, always wary of not getting caught by the appointed nun on duty.
In 1931, after attending the Convent for three years and having achieved a very high successful grade eleven report, regretfully my formal education came to a close. My older sister, Philomene, had married, leaving my mother without help. I felt duty bound, to assist at home, but at the same time sad at having to leave behind the many friends made throughout the years. There always seemed to have need of extra hired help to do the work on the farm. This required a large garden to provide the necessary food and with no electricity, much of the work had to be performed by hand. At sixteen years old, I now embarked on a new direction in life. With the poor economy and farm prices being so deflated, my goal of training in the field of Education had become somewhat quashed. Some of my school mates, who had taken the plunge and continued on to become teachers, were relegated to having to board with families of the school district, and teach for minimal salaries, sometimes not being paid. This was not an encouraging situation.
Staying home helped me no doubt to develop housekeeping skills. Understandably, it was difficult missing the companionship of the friends that I had made at school, but life goes on. It didn’t consist of all work, as some recreation presented itself in good time. Lacking the present day forms of entertainment (computers, TV, internet etc), good roads winter and summer, along with family cars, one had to improvise as best we could. Country schools seemed to be the center of action for the community meetings, picnics and dances. This kept the families at home more and in closer contact with neighbors. In the summer season, ball teams formed and included anyone who wished to play, and in the winter, hand flooded areas became the local skating rinks.
Located on the south side, across the Saskatchewan River from our farm was the village of Highgate, which had a large population of young people. Ballgames and dances were two well attended activities in which we took part in. To avert the long distance through North Battleford (by car was 14 miles), other methods of transportation were used. The distance across the river was much shorter. In winter, a horse drawn sleigh or walking over the river ice, and in summer a canoe was used. In the small space afforded by most one roomed schools, loud speakers weren’t needed. The violin, guitars, accordions and mouthpieces were quite sufficient to provide the toe tapping music. Some of the remembered friends from these times were the following families – the MacIntyre, Chasse, Ferguson, Jamieson, Lusignant, Pousache, and Walelins to name a few. On the north side of the river the Gregoire, McMillan, Weidendorf, and Schlickerman families were close friends again naming just a few. Many friends have passes on, but to those who remain, the memories of the good times are still cherished.
At the age of 19, having met the love of my life, a handsome mature fellow Belgian Cornelious Nachtegaele, we were married in the winter of 1935, moving to his farming homestead located on section 23-45-16, which was about six miles east of my home. Here we ran a mixed farming operation and raised six children, four daughters, Sylvia, Betty, Denise, and Karen as well as two sons Maurice and Leo, who is still operating the farm. We were involved with the local school community of Glenrose, where the children took some of their elementary schooling. We lived on the farm until the last of our six children, Karen (who was 11 years younger than the Leo) started school, at which time we purchased a house in North Battleford. We enjoyed traveling, taking a trip with Sylvia and her husband Wilf Hinz to Belgium, visiting many of the relatives still living there. We also took several bus trips to many parts of Canada and the U.S. including Alaska. Coney continued helping Leo on the farm and enjoyed going out there until his death at the age of 87 which occurred on January 11, 1992. As for myself, I have continued to live in my own home in the city, supported by my family and friends and enjoy taking an active part in church, card playing and dancing as well as traveling to Yuma.
Continuing on with the family of Marie and Nestor, Louis was the next in line. Barely had the family settled in the afore mentioned Bently log house, when Louis was born, April 28, 1919. Very little was reported good or bad of his early childhood years. However, with the next move to the rented Dean Place, as formerly stated, what could have been a tragedy was thankfully averted. Supper in the one story log house had most everyone at the table at the same time. This being the autumn months, darkness came early, and one or two coal oil lamps gave very limited light. Upon checking for baby Louis, we found his place empty. This began a frantic search by everyone calling and looking everywhere. Of much concern was the 60 foot deep well near the house, and the river which was close by. Finally to everyone’s relief, in the darkened parlor, curled under a chair, sound asleep was the little bundle, oblivious to all the anxiety the family had endured.
Louis was never far from Nestor’s heels, following his dad where ever it took them. It was reported that the long hours out in the fresh air all day often would find Louis asleep and on occasion placed in the seeder box to rest. On one occasion, Louis and his dad were surveying the wheat crops that were soon to be harvested, when a car approached along the road. A gunshot startled them. Their faithful collie dog had a bad habit of chasing cars, and met his fate from the shot which had been done on purpose by the disgruntled neighbor boys. Louis was also an avid horseback rider having learned very early from his older siblings.
Another move was made approximately two and a half miles away to the recently purchase half section located 23-45-16 W 3rd. Here, another event occurred that could have been tragic, involved Louis, his older brother Joe and me. A fun thing to do was to slide down the hay stack, and on this occasion a large clump of straw avalanched with Louis vanishing. Frantically, scrapping away the straw by hand at first, and then by pitch fork, he was rescued. On another occasion the same three little culprits, were involved in another near misfortune. This time, Joe who was already capable of driving a team of horses, had backed up the horse drawn wagon loaded with oats, and had gone into the granary. Why Louis and I were in the wagon is unknown, and being left with a team of highly spirited horses hitched up was an accident waiting to happen. Louis, upon giving the “giddup” sound caused the team to charge causing a dreaded runaway. The driving lines were dragging along the ground, giving the horses’ free reign. The runaway team and wagon landing in the bush nearby, with the wagon box overturned, leaving two very scared little individuals underneath, who emerged without any serious bodily injuries, but no doubt very shaken. Thankfully the horses harness became entangled and they were forced to stop.
As to schooling, Louis boarded at COCJ as his siblings had, in order to receive his First Communion. At this time it was co-ed, with the cut off age for boys to attend at twelve. Returning to the farm, he was enrolled at McMillan school where grades one to eight were taught. With approximately 30 pupils, the teacher had to be a good disciplinarian to maintain order. The proverbial strap was something to fear, and only used as a last resort. However, two little mischievous boys, one of them Louis and a friend Albert, would find themselves as punishment, under the teachers desk. One doesn’t acquire lot of education under those restrictions, or, does one?
After completing Grade 8, help was needed on the farm, and fourteen years of age found many young boys and girls curtailing their education to help at home. Conscription was enforced in WWII, but consideration was given to farm boys to help with food supplying etc. and were given exemption from duty, which was the case for Louis. He remained on the homestead, following Nestor’s passing away in 1942. Louis married Therese Hebert on November 18, 1943, and raised a family of two boys, Emile, and Dennis as well as two girls, Louise and Gail. They lost an twin infant daughter Grace, at birth. They retired to North Battleford leaving the farming operation to their sons.
The next in line was sister Claire who was born June 16, 1921. at the two story farm home. The house had been moved from North Battleford by mover Jack Jolly. It consisted of three bedrooms on the upper floor, with a kitchen, dining room and parlor on the main floor. Dr. Hamlin, of French origin was called to attend the birth, and I can still see him arriving carrying a black satchel. The young siblings were told to go outside and play, when soon baby cries could be heard, confirming the probability that the doctor’s satchel must have contained this precious gift. In later years, Dr. Hamlin became my family doctor, and confided to me that he had almost lost my mother, who had hemorrhaged profusely at the birth of this baby girl.
Claire was a rather delicate, quiet, trusting and lovable little sister, who had long wavy brunette hair. The earliest picture of her at about age four, shows for the first time all the girls in the family with a bobbed hair style. The photo was taken of the entire family of eight, at Spencer’s Studio, sometime prior to Marie and Nestor sojourn back to Belgium in 1926. One incident involving Claire and myself comes to mind. Due to a bout of Tonsillitis, which seemed to affect the younger members of the family, it was deemed necessary to perform surgery with both Claire and myself being hospitalized to undergo this ordeal. Recuperating in adjoining hospital beds, my little sister couldn’t be consoled. Her cries, partly due to pain and the feeling of abandonment, because parents were not allowed to stay, were heard throughout the ward. No amount of appeasement seemed to console her, until some ice cream was recommended, which seemed to speed up the healing process. However, Claire seemed to be left with a more delicate state of health.
At about the age of six, Claire attended classes at the local McMillan school. Our neighbor’s, the Sandy McMillan’s seemed to have children corresponding in age to our family. Six year old Lorne would have been the lucky one to match up with Claire. The presiding teacher selected the little pair to perform a duet at one of the Christmas concert called, “Little Jammy Face”. This found them sitting side by side on a bench, and recalling the first line, “Dear Little Jammy Face, I love you so” stole the show. Shy blushing Claire had to live down the resulting teasing. As stated previously, timidity was one of Claire’s traits. Though she was fond of small animals, like puppies, kittens and chicks, she had a dislike for the bossy gander who seemed to think he was the yard boss. One episode involving this bird must have left a terrifying impact on Claire. As she was returning to the house, this aggressive scoundrel accosted her. Leaving her black and blue, as his beak pinched her arm, and at the same time flapping his great wings which almost enclosed her in the attack. It was a long time before she would venture outside by herself, and no doubt felt very little regret when he met his waterloo in the roaster.
Apart from a brief stay at the boarding school at COCJ, Claire attended the local school with her brothers Louis and Paul, completing her grade 8. Not having learned to ride horseback, Claire preferred the comfort and safety of the buggy, whereas Paul, whose second nature was riding horseback, could be found guiding from the saddle. This scene must have caused quite a laugh to anyone observing this event. With all of the older sisters leaving the family to marry and setting up their own households, Claire chose to remain at home and was an invaluable help to mother. She helped with the household chores as well as gardening and milking cows, along with anything else that had to be done, faithfully doing her share.
Being of a quiet, pleasant nature, Claire had a similar group of friends. Still having two single brothers at home, this attracted a few friends from both genders to visit. One particular young man from Edmonton, Lee Farley who was visiting with friends in the neighborhood, and lived several miles away, would brave the weather, riding horseback, to spend an afternoon visiting Claire. It seemed that nothing of a serious nature resulted from the visits as each went their individual ways.
Nestor, having been left with a weakened heart condition, no doubt a result from the heavy smoking succumbed from a massive heart attack at the age of 58, on June 11, 1942. Widowed once more, and remaining on the farm for a short time, Marie made the decision to move to the North Battleford in 1944. Claire accompanied her, having acquired a job at the local hospital as a nurses’ aid which was administered by the Sisters of Providence (now Battleford’s Union Hospital). Claire worked for a number of years at the hospital.
She was married in 1946 to Jules Liebaert, and moved to the Mayfair district where Jules had taken over the farm from his parents who had moved to be closer to the city of North Battleford. The couple proceeded to operate a mixed farm. Remaining childless for a time, a decision was made to adopt. Eleven months old Angie came to the family in 1961, followed by Peter in 1963. Unfortunately, after a series of illnesses, Claire passes away June 1, 1980 at the age of 59.
I have no recollection of the arrival of the last addition to the Gregoire family, until returning from the Convent at St.Vital’s in Battleford, at the age of 8, where along with my sister Philomene, we had been boarding for a year in preparation for my First Communion. We were rarely allowed to come home. Born October 16, 1924, Paul was a happy little blond baby, who loved cats and puppies. One huge gray tom cat was his favorite. Often they could be found asleep curled up together on the cushion that covered dad’s captain armchair in the dining room.
At about two years of age Paul accompanied our parents Marie and Nestor on an overseas voyage in 1926 to Belgium, which was their first trip back since arriving in Canada. Corresponding regularly, it was learned that Marie’s mother Leocadie was failing and at the age of eighty one it was feared that she would not live much longer. They departed in late November, leaving Jeanne and Alphonse in charge of the farm, as well as the family of five school age children. As recounted previously, to fill the long winter nights dancing and house parties were the pattern and good food and occasional liquor was shared. The latter wasn’t too available except possibly a jug of wine or an odd mickey provided by the more hardy individuals. As also recorded earlier, the loss of a steer, found frozen following a very bitterly cold spell, and reported to the parents in Belgium, had them returning home much earlier than planned.
Accompanying them on this return voyage, passage had been reserved for a nephew Fermand Vany and his wife Julia who were recently married and a niece Valentine Champion, along with little Paul, who had been the subject of much delight from the relatives during their stay in Belgium. They were very sad in seeing them leave. It seems a couple of little boys aboard ship, took a liking to little two year old Paul, and sought to have him as a playmate. However upon returning home, the family become quite ill, the victims of an epidemic of Red Measles, which had been contracted on the voyage with little Paul suffering the effects of the carrier virus. The severity of the disease caused the older family members to become quite ill with a very high fever. Imagine the consternation felt when the “Quarantine” sign was nailed to the door. In those days that meant a twenty one day confinement.
Paul was a bright little fellow, quick to learn with the advantage of all the knowledge picked up from his older brothers and sisters. Babysitting was no problem as there was always someone available and willing to do the job. I recall one instance, which could have been tragic, that took place when cries of “fire” were heard from the upstairs where Marie had been nursing wee Paul. From the vantage point of the upstairs window, she could see the stack of straw located adjacent to the barn ablaze. Apparently some pranksters as a Halloween trick had purposely set the mound of straw on fire and had fled the scene. Luckily, it was a windless night and the surrounding buildings were saved.
As was the pattern with his siblings, Paul started school at McMillan’s and also attended COCJ and St. Charles Scholastic. Here the OMI Fathers of St. Mary’s Province provided a boarding school for boys. This building had previously been erected in 1876 as Government house for the North West Territories. It was later purchased by the Fathers from the 7th Day Adventists in October 1931.
Leaving school in 1939, Paul spent the next few years assisting on the family farm. It was during this time that he would witness the sudden passing of his father June 10, 1942. It was a Saturday afternoon, while preparing to do chores, Nestor literally collapsed in Paul’s arms and died from a massive heart attack.
The method of farming with horses had not yet progressed to the point of using a tractor. Therefore the need for extra horses meant the usage of a stallion for stud services. Employing a driver, the stallion owners would have him travel to the farmyards for this purpose. So it was that the acquaintance of Cyril Bruynoogh was made as he had been hired as steward for this purpose with the Gregoire farm as one of the stopping places. Having remained single, at age twenty-eight, Cyril returned to Belgium to find the girl of his choice, Sylvia Fransoo. They were married there and shortly after set sail for Canada, purchasing land in the Highworth district. Here they raised a family of five children, two boys and three daughters. The twin girls, Ester and Madeline were the first born followed by Cony, Mary and Paul.
It seemed inevitable that eventually, more than a casual acquaintance between the two families would materialize into something more personal. Hence, Paul and Madeline started dating, and an incident, which could have been serious, if it hadn’t been so hilarious, occurred during the courtship. They accompanied Cony, Germaine and five of their children all packed in our small 1941 Willies Sedan, to Jackfish Lake where we shared a picnic along the beach. Never had we ever encountered such hungry mosquitoes rendering their vengeance to the bare flesh. Loading everything and everyone into the car to escape their fury, we were shocked to find the vehicle immobile. The car had been parked too close to the water’s edge and was stuck in the soft sand to the wheel hubs. The men tried applying twigs branches weeds, and even Cony’s leather coat as well as a blanket under the back wheels to no avail. With darkness setting in, the question as to what to do became more urgent. They decided that if they could get a few planks from the near cabins and place them so as to dislodge the vehicle might solve the problem. Pitch darkness made the search very difficult. Finally almost tripping over some protruding boards, and trying to dislodge them, they were taken back by a harsh voice accusing the two of trespassing. Peering through the darkness and somewhat recognizing the individual as a local business manager of a city lumber yard, they held their ground and proceeded to explain their plight. Being a fairly understanding person and accepting their explanation he offered assistance, which was much appreciated. To be sure, a sigh of relief was felt by all as not to have been marooned in a closed door vehicle to avoid being bitten to death by the myriads of flying and biting insects.
Madeline and Paul’s friendship developed to serious thoughts of marriage, but the parents on both sides considered the two twenty year olds too young to marry. They finally took their wedding vows, October 19, 1944. They set up farming on the McFarlane Place raising a family of seven children, five boys and two girls. For a period of time Paul was an elevator agent at Hamlin before retiring to the city in North Battleford. At the time of writing, they will have celebrated their sixty second wedding anniversary.