History and Heritage

Little Mary’s Hostel

Historical novel based on 'Profiles de femmes', unpublished, of Laurette Paquin (1920-1999)

Montfort in its debut "may have seemed like an ordinary little village, but its site suspended on the side of our beautiful Laurentians must have been the inspiration for a great painter. Facing a pristine lake of crystalline clarity, it offered an unprecedented pastoral landscape to its peaceful and undisturbed inhabitants. In a straight row, as in a game of Monopoly, you could see the Church, the presbytery, the hotel, the general store and some 30 houses. Erected on a promontory was a building called the orphanage, a grey house ...inhabited by children with neither father nor mother." Set apart from the other houses, there was also a large, magnificent white house with two columns at the entrance and an enormous fireplace.

In Scotland, Mary, only sixteen years old, left home seeking America's hopes. On the passenger ship, the cute little redhead was noticed by an older smooth-talking gambler. This French-speaking man also spoke English; he had the captain’s ear and Little Mary quickly became the darling of the crew.

It was perhaps at the game table that Mary’s new companion had made the acquaintance of Mr. Brown, a wealthy importer of fine fabrics of Scottish origin. A friendship had soon taken place between them, while Mr. Brown found an affinity with the young Mary. "It would seem that he made them an enticing offer, as well as inviting them to settle in his village, Montfort, in the big house with columns...

Mr. Brown's proposal was accepted and a wedding soon took place with great pomp; Mary became Mrs. Paradis, with Mr. and Mrs. Brown as witnesses. They also hosted a wedding reception to which all the village was invited. The wedding photo was displayed on the sideboard of the Inn, a kind of cupboard in two overlapping sections. It cannot be said that this couple had much in common regarding language, religion or education. A gambler’s life also had a lot of ups and downs. Only one daughter, Marie-Louise, was born of this union and she never revealed much more about the relationship between her parents.

Much later, for Laurette as for her brothers and sisters, occasional visits to the hostel would be most disorienting. There were all kinds of objects from the four corners of the world and her grandfather could tell the story attached to each one. In her forties, Grandmother Mary wore her red hair tied in two plaits around the head. That low profile little woman proved to be a lady of iron, forged by life. Her maxim was "get up and go" and she had learned to rely only on herself. Telephone and electricity had arrived by this time, while sawmills and other projects brought their share of workers to the village. Mary transformed the large house into a pension-hostel for these workers to stay during the week. There were six rooms upstairs, each with one, two or three beds. She administered this large family with ease. The rules were posted everywhere, and in good French for an English speaking person:
'' 1. No women in the rooms
2. No drinking
3. Smoking in the living room
4. Bath every week "

The men were permitted to smoke their pipe only in the living room, a large room with several rocking chairs placed in front of the fireplace and tables for playing cards or chess. And above all, there were spittoons in all right places. What an unpleasant chore to clean these spittoons. The bath was taken on Saturday afternoon. The stove worked hard to fill-up the boilers; hot water was then poured in the wash tub. The latter was placed in a corner of the kitchen; a thick curtain ensuring privacy. In the evening, all would meet in the living room to tell the stories of their day.

Several times per year, Mary received a brown envelope from Scotland with a cheque or money order for which she gave little explanation. She then went to the bank in Saint-Jérôme, and then did some shopping. On her way back, she stopped by her daughter, Marie-Louise, bringing fabrics, wine, butter, maple butter, sweets and tea. She then approached one of Laurette’s sisters who, due to polio, had atrophied legs and was confined to her chair. She offered her what she needed to knit and embroider, telling her: "My little girl, learn to work; you'll need to earn a living later on. She also gave her some coins and added: Don’t throw your money away; save it and give it to no one." Grandmother was right and the future was going to prove it; at the time, one could make a profit with needles and crochet hooks.

At the turn of the century, the Inn would not be short of clientele. In addition to the railway, roads became suitable for vehicles and some tourists seeking fresh air and farm fresh products ventured up to the Laurentians.

Marie-Louise lived her youth in Montfort in this hostel’s special environment. She took care of the chickens and eggs, but she refused to eat chicken when it came on the table... She was close to her father, who brought her books from everywhere and described for her the boxing fights he was so fond of. She frequented the residents rather than the young people her age. She sang for them, accompanying herself on the huge piano standing in the living room.

With her pretty dark hair and complexion, she envied "blonde girls with their white porcelain figure, which was very fashionable". For her own children, however, Marie-Louise was by far the most beautiful. Her favourite animal, "The dog", never strayed from her; when she left for her marriage, the dog refused to stand guard anymore until it could join them.

Indeed, at the age of seventeen she fell in love with a Norman, newly arrived in the country and who, looking for construction work, had ended up in Montfort. She soon married the nice Out lander and they settled at Lac Marois, today Sainte-Anne-des-Lacs, which was at that time but a collection of "small modest houses built on fields of rock farmed by the inhabitants”.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the hostel received more vacationers and retired nuns, a clientele that was less demanding than the workers. Around 1925, a tragedy would mark the life of Mary; "her husband went out in the morning with Mr. Brown to hunt deer and never came back. They brought her back his body at the end of day". While accidentally falling, he had received the discharge of his gun in the chest.

Mary, who had helped many people in taking care of their dead, was to get the reverse. The remains used to be laid out on boards held up with sawhorses and covered with sheets; the coffin was used only during the funeral.*  The exposure lasted two or three days to allow visits and prayers. Feeding and sometimes hosting relatives and friends who came to pay their last tribute were part of the obligations.

Then, life resumed its course at the hostel; but P'tite Mary remained very affected. "And it is at that time that she happened to meet a man who knew how to take advantage of her state of... vulnerability.” Helpful, "he became indispensable and acquired an influence and some sort of authority over her". She probably then signed a paper which gave him a share of the hostel. Later she came to her senses and made a plan which, taking advantage of a few days of absence of her suitor, annulled this commitment and thus got rid of its beneficiary.

She said to her stepson who had land in Prévost: "Come quickly with your father and your brothers. Take the large hay cart and tools. You will pull down my hostel and save what is still useable. It will preferably need to be carried out at night." "No sooner said than done. They demolished the house and left with all materials that the cart could contain." "Work bees were common when there was an emergency; in a few days only, with the help of the men of that village, her house was built" on Morin street, where it still exists. Then there were celebrations. Mary only lived there a few years before taking her last breath at sixty years old.

* Being on the boards: trestles supporting boards were raised, and a white sheet hung down to the ground. Black pennies were placed on the eyelids and... empty boilers were placed under the boards...Some wakes for the dead sometimes brought some un-Catholic booze! https://www.patrimoine-beauceville.ca/cimetieres-1765 

Carl Chapdelaine (English corrections by Sarah Humphrey) Published in 2014 ALSFX Spring Newsletter.

The origins of Montfort *

In the winter 1880-1881, a group of citizens from Montreal expressed their intention to buy some lots somewhere in the Northern Townships. Their project followed the patriotic movement of colonization earlier associated to the famous ‘’Curé Labelle’’ and combined the intention of creating an orphanage there. Lord Rousselot, priest of the Notre-Dame parish of Montreal and “apostle of the orphans and forsaken”, supported the initiative.

So, three scouts ventured in the forests of these townships, in search of a favourable place. After much searching, they arrived in the north portion of Wentworth’s Township, registry eleven, in dense forest. There, close to where would later be the mill and the orphanage, they estimated to have found a place sufficiently close to Montreal, and especially to Saint-Jérôme. The ground, though rocky, appeared acceptable to them and the forest abounded in trees of good quality, an already precious resource at the time.

In Montreal, in the two months that followed and using an approximate map of the territory, about sixty brave men bought the first lots from the government, lots that the majority of the persons had never yet seen. That would be sufficient to plan for the making, one day, of a parish “which they initially agreed to name ‘’Notre-Dame of the Lakes’’ considering the many lakes in the vicinity.

By itself, the project of an orphanage was already not an easy task and as well required an appeal to the generosity of donators and to the devotion of those who were going to be involved in the day to day operation. Deprived of parents, these children would not be abandoned to wander in the streets of the city; they would rather grow in a healthy, French speaking catholic environment, under the benevolent eye of their protectors. Trained for the agricultural world and associated tasks, several, at adult age, would occupy this territory for their community (as planed in the mind of Curé Labelle’s followers).

After much solicitation, the government granted the funds needed for the survey of the land and the opening of a colonization road which, “starting at Morin’s Township would have to cross those of Wentworth and Montcalm to join the Red River in the Arundel Township”. It would be the shortest route from that river to Saint-Jérôme.

The pioneers then converged to the Wentworth Township, at the foot of the lake dedicated to the apostle of the Indies and Japan (Saint François-Xavier). They started clearing the land; masons and carpenters bustle about; mills, sawmills and the right wing of the orphanage took shape. It was already the fall of 1881 and, needing a saw and shingles mill, etc, Mr. Joseph Bureau (the explorer of the colonization road) discovered a water concentration point on lot No 6 of registry eleven. Dwellings are built there one after the other to shelter these new parishioners.

On August 24, 1883, accompanying a group of orphans, two fathers and six brothers of ‘’La Compagnie de Marie’’ arrived from France to head the new establishment and to take charge of the agricultural orphanage. It is in honour of the founder of their community that the parish would finally take the name of ‘’Notre-Dame de Montfort’’.

One decade later, the railway, having already reached Saint-Sauveur, would also take the direction of this new village. Two hours and a half would soon be enough to reach the place. Meanwhile, this successful project of colonization would also have generated the creation of an agricultural establishment on the Red River, in the Arundel Township which, established on more fertile grounds, could later accommodate part of the young people trained at the orphanage, thirty miles away from it.

*The major content of my article mainly comes from: «Orphelinats Agricoles de Notre-Dame de Montfort», published in Montreal, in 1883 and can be viewed at the following link: http://www.archive.org/details/cihm_02187

By Carl Chapdelaine

Translation by Edna Schell ( ?)

Published in l'Association du lac Saint-François-Xavier, Spring 2010 Newsletter.

Gérard Chartier's old stories

- Drama at the general store

Mr. Gérard Chartier, ninety-one years old on this day, has a good memory for old events. He even remembers what happened before he was born...

On the corner of rue Principale and chemin des Montfortains, where the post boxes now stand, there used to be a general store. It had belonged to Mr. Williamson, the owner of the sawmill below, who had succeeded his father. Mr. Reid, of Scottish descent, had taken over the business. He was an important figure here, known, among other things, as a lender and a donor to the poorer families in the village. However, as some owners failed to repay their debts, many of the houses around the lake fell into the hands of their creditor.

But fate was not to be kind to the Reid family. One day, sometime around 1920, two hunters entered the store where the shopkeeper was at his business. Did they need to buy some hunting gear or simply pick up their mail, since the place already served as a post office? One of the two men was carrying a loaded rifle, or perhaps checking its mechanism. Inadvertently, he fired a shot that echoed throughout the building. With shock, Mr. Reid screamed and collapsed; a bullet had gone through both his legs.

The whole neighborhood rushed to the scene, and first aid was administered. Given the seriousness of the wounds, it was quickly decided to call on hospital services in the metropolis, despite the remoteness. A hastily chartered train left Montreal to pick up the injured man, which was certainly the most appropriate means of transport to reach the village directly. The injured man was transported to Montfort station in what the locals called the cab, Mr. Joseph Dionne's bull-drawn cart, a photo of which has already been published.

Mr. Reid was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital, where you can imagine the urgent attention he required. The medical team was able to save one leg, but gangrene set in and the other had to be amputated. The prostheses of the time had not yet benefited from the technological deployment of those of today, or even from the advances generated during the Great War of 14-18. The survivor inherited a wooden leg and, after many months of convalescence, had to use a cane to walk. Customers would see Mr. Reid again in his shop, with his wooden leg held firmly to his body by a leather splint.

Much later, another tragedy would befall the family. Mr. Reid's elderly and visually impaired sister thought she was walking along the railroad tracks, as a locomotive noisily approached. Instead, the poor woman was standing directly on the track and had no chance when she was struck head-on by the behemoth.

- Hotel inauguration

It was with great fanfare that it was decided to celebrate the inauguration of a hotel in Montfort - the second in the village's history, it seems. People flocked to the event, whether by train, horse-drawn carriage, on foot or sailing on the magnificent Lake Saint-François-Xavier. The boat, once equipped with oars, was now powered by a motor.

It was now evening, and two boats, apparently from Newaygo and without lights, were heading for the gathering place. Whether it was a false move or a technical failure, they collided violently. Four people on board were thrown into the water. Left to their own devices, none of them made it to shore. Despite cries for help, no one was able to rescue them in time, and they drowned in the lake.

How were the bodies fished out? Did we have to wait for them to surface, assuming the water wasn't too cold to prevent this? Were divers called in?

Mr. Chartier recalls that the remains of the victims were displayed in the barn of Mr. Constantineau, André's father, which had been carefully converted for the circumstances. The tragedy had a direct impact on many families and will be remembered forever. The inauguration of the hotel had turned into a nightmare.

Doesn't the reminder of such a dramatic event underline the fact that, in a municipality whose main feature is the importance of its many lakes, safety in terms of boating, water sports, swimming, child supervision near the shore, and so on, must take on particular importance?

The variety of activities on the lake has increased and new users, sometimes unaware of the dangers, have appeared; what about the new challenges this poses to foresight? Before issuing any vignettes, shouldn't all users venturing onto a lake be required to receive the appropriate instructions and know how to swim, so as to at least stay afloat; or, failing that, be equipped with the indispensable flotation jacket? Shouldn't lifebuoys be available at strategic points, and even on all docks and motorboats, to be able to come to the emergency assistance of shipwrecked persons or swimmers in danger?

From someone else’s memory and with some extrapolation; by Carl Chapdelaine
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) & Linguee

Winter among the Algonquins

While the Weskarinis of our Laurentians, nomads, took the Lièvre, Rouge and du Nord rivers at the beginning of the summer season to meet up along the Ottawa River and trade with the Hurons or Europeans, they took the opposite route to spend the winter on their hunting grounds, in survival mode.1 To travel on the frozen rivers and lakes, they traded the canoe, which allowed them to navigate these same rivers and to portage, for the toboggan, which was used to transport their luggage, and snowshoes to walk in the snow.2 " The men went ahead to break the trail so that travel was easier for the women and children."3
"At this time of year, the Algonquians* hunt small and large game. It is easier for them to hunt big game such as moose because they move slowly in the deep snow. ... The Algonquians eat mostly meat. In the winter, they disperse into small bands so as not to hunt in the territory of other bands. As soon as there is no more game in one place, they move to a place where the hunting is better. In one winter, the Algonquians move their camp several times and do not stay more than 15 or 20 days in the same place.4 But, if a forest fire has destroyed a territory, the bands cannot live off hunting there for several years.5
For these hunting activities, they used arrows, spears, knives and traps. "The time of activity was limited by the reduced length of days in winter, although hunters often left and returned at twilight times."5 The arrival of colonization changed the Algonquin way of life as they became increasingly dependent on the fur trade.6
"An extended family of about thirty people needed about sixty adult moose weighing at least 340 kg to live during the winter. ... Pagwadj aïaâ (steak) was enjoyed and pagwadjawessi (cipâte) was cooked. ... It is also known that the Algonquins made soups thickened with corn flour with the broth from the cooking of their game or fish..."7 The latter was exchanged with the Hurons, during the summer season, for skins.
Cervid skins could also be used to cover their winter wigwams, which were smaller than their summer wigwams, and women used them to make clothing. Carnivores, such as wolves, were eaten only in times of famine, but could also be hunted for their fur. "7 In winter, capes were worn.6
One could fish under the ice, if available, or a river could be used, but dried fish was mainly provided for during the summer.
*A group that also included Innu, Cree, Abenaki and others. Algonquin | the Canadian Encyclopedia 

  1. Climate and First Nations
  2. https://www.anishinabenation.ca/en/the-toboggan-and-snow-shoes/
  3. The Algonquians
  4. LES ALGONQUIENS vers 1500
  5. https://www.erudit.org/en/journals/raq/1900-v1-n1-raq06439/1082183ar.pdf
  6. https://www.alloprof.qc.ca/fr/eleves/bv/histoire/les-autochtones-d-amerique-du-nord-notions-avanc-h1067
  7. https://www.quebecuisine.ca/?q=la-cuisine-des-algonquins
By Carl Chapdelaine

First Nations Winter Solstice

Human beings have probably always been aware of this period, at the end of December, when the sun, like at the beginning of summer, seems to be undecided in its course and as if on pause, hence the term of Latin origin, solstice or sun stop. At noon, in the northern hemisphere, it is at its lowest point on the horizon. These are also the shortest days; a state that will take a few days before the reverse trend is visible. The Romans celebrated this period with the Saturnalia, a festival that became associated with the return to light and was set for December 25 in the 3rd century BC.  Saturnales romaines

For practicing Christians, Christmas and New Year's Day are above all days of religious commemoration. But Santa Claus has replaced the Magi; electronic gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh. And it doesn't often occur to us that Pope Liberius' choice of December 25 for the birth of Jesus or Christmas has a direct link to the winter solstice and the Saturnalia. In any case, for some as for others, it is an opportunity to celebrate. Futura sciences

Certainly closer to nature than we are, the First Nations paid close attention to the starry sky; we can even speak of Aboriginal astronomy. For example, the Anishinaabek, a North American forest people including the Algonquins, the Outaouais and the Ojibwés, saw a loon (Maang) in the stars of our Little Dipper.  Parcs Ontario    Ojibwemap     Native Skywatchers  These nations marked time with traditional ceremonies, a task that was essential to the conduct of their main activities. The apparent play of the sun, the moon and the stars, which the urbanized humanity does not manage to observe very well any more, could serve them well as watch-calendar. Days, months, seasons or years, as in all civilizations, were defined according to the rotation of the earth around the sun or the moon around the earth.  Radio-Canada: mythologie autochtone

For the Amerindians, the solstice, which some people called "the Sun standing still", materialized at the beginning of winter, "an important moment of reflection and communion. They went to sweat lodges*, and it was also an occasion for pipe ceremonies, gathering and feasting." Le monde au naturel  But it was also, for many, the beginning of the dead season. The Algonquins could call the December full moon "the full moon of the long nights".

And when did the year begin? This varied according to civilizations or religions. Caesar chose January 1st for his "Julian" calendar, based on the solar cycle, which establishes a 365 day year; and the Church followed. GEO  For our First Nations, and "although the types of calendars vary from tribe to tribe, almost all tribal calendars begin in the spring; for Native people, spring symbolizes the beginning of a new year with the birth of new plant and animal life. Lakota Moon Calendar  Isn't this also the calendar of our seasonal vacationers, that the thawing of the lake and the return of the good weather will soon bring back to their summer cottages? But, according to the ASTROLab of the Mont-Mégantic National Park, "for the Amerindians of eastern Quebec, the year began in the fall". The Amerindian sky  

*A purification ritual, "sweat lodges were already used by prehistoric men in the temperate and cold regions of the Northern Hemisphere". Les tentes à sudation

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) & Linguee

By Carl Chapdelaine

Dance to the moon

After spending part of the summer on the lower Great River (the Ottawa River), where she was about to reach the majestic Magtogoek (the walking path, now the St. Lawrence River), Tête de Huard had returned to his camp on the lake, which the French would call Saint-François-Xavier.  He was not with his daughter, Trout agile; for the past five years, she had been with the family of the man she had met at the summer camp. The Algonquin, unlike the Iroquois, lived under a patriarchal regime. They already had two boys and a daughter, of whom Tête de Huard and his wife were most proud. They would help ensure the survival of the Weskarinis, who had been decimated by the diseases brought by the Whites and by wars with their better armed traditional enemies, the "Bad snakes".

As a nomadic people living on land that was unsuitable for farming, the Algonquin had little practice in cultivating the soil. Instead, our man spent the week hunting with his cousin's band. The Canada Geese and White Geese that were passing through had partly paid the price. Many beavers had also been trapped along the streams that flowed into the Lake and its tributaries. "The watersheds (?) were the basic units of traditional land management, serving as territorial boundaries for families, bands and tribes" (Wikipedia).  Nothing would be lost of the beaver, whose flesh was prized. In the next summer, the skins of these rodents would have great value in exchange for the tools and weapons the French possessed. They would keep some of it to make winter clothing. 

They had also managed to kill two moose that a warrior had seen in a dream. The latter would ensure that the small band would have ample food supplies for the coming weeks. In addition, their wives and daughters "traditionally responsible for domestic chores, children, making clothes, gathering or preparing animal meat" (Wikipedia) might well garnish the dishes that would be shared during the Moon Dance Festival, the one that happens around what the white people call the Autumn Equinox. This hunt, along with the spring hunt, was the most fruitful, but the Algonquin would continue this activity throughout the winter with their snowshoes on. Fish, fresh or dried, would not fail to complete the menu.   

The "Moon Dance in honour of Grandmother in early fall" was part of the Algonquin ceremonies to mark the times. Tête de Huard would take time to perfect his make-up; to adjust his ceremonial dress and distinctive headwear feather. He would often ask for the "talking stick" during the feast, which would bring the whole group together, thus avoiding the cacophony that could result from the absence of any rules; anyone would then have to raise his hand to be allowed to interrupt him. (Couldn't this custom replace the current rules that govern our municipal sessions?) Only the cry of the loon, which would be late in following the geese, could be accepted as derogation... He would not speak for more than a pipe smoking (half an hour). He would evoke the highlights of the hunt. He would thank the master-spirits who guided them to the animals to be killed, while blessing the protector of each warrior. And then, one would sing around the fire while playing the drum.

For a few days, the forest landscape of hills and valleys all around began to display a splendid color palette where reddish hues would dominate. Then the leaves would accumulate on the ground. Would winter be mild or difficult? You had to rely on Grand Manitou and make sure you had plenty of food, firewood, hides and other necessities to prepare for it.      

  By Carl Chapdelaine

Sources : Fall 2010 Newsletter

Translation with DeepL & Linguee.

Heritage at risk?

In the Heritage dossier of its latest issue of La Mémoire, the Société d'histoire et de généalogie des Pays-d'en-Haut presents the work of Mrs. Christiane Brault, who has returned to the Board of Directors as DG. "In the last two years, I have conducted inventories of buildings of interest, traced the history of people who have marked our landscape and unearthed unpublished documents".

There have already been many calls for photos, stories of old Montfort families, anecdotes, etc.; they have largely contributed to the notoriety of the famous Newsletter of the Lake Saint-François-Xavier Association, whose disappearance is regrettable. Didn't Mrs. Brault follow the same approach, which she says allows us to reappropriate "a missing thread in our history and that of our ancestors"?

Aren't we aware that without an active and constant willingness to search for our past, without a collective effort to safeguard our houses or other heritage buildings, the stories of our ancestors or their photo collections, we risk letting a page of this history disappear forever?

In this last issue, Mrs. Brault focused on the presentation of several presbyteries in the region; those that have not been able to remain on their feet until today, as well as those that still exist. Their use had to be redefined, often as community centers as for churches of Wentworth-Nord. Today, the one in Sainte-Lucie-des-Laurentides, a superb building on Chemin des Hauteurs that has become a bed and breakfast, is for sale.
 Du Proprio

Translated with DeepL.

ByCarl Chapdelaine

The forgotten past

We were able to see the interest of Montfort residents in the history of its colonization or even a more recent past; it should not be less for the whole of Wentworth-Nord. Remarkable and praiseworthy efforts of authorities and enthusiasts have left us a few collections of photos and articles on history; not to mention the scholarly historical and genealogical publications of our national Fernand Janson... Mayor François Ghali has also let us foreseen, in August 2018, the possible creation of a small museum of ancient artifacts, taking advantage of the legacy of tools from the late municipal councillor Alary.

However, it is obvious that, as the years go by, part of this past is being erased forever. Pictures certainly lie dormant in precious albums owned by the descendants of the municipality's early settlers or in their own collections. For them, they may represent only a personal interest; they may well be buried with their owners on the last day of their lives.

The search for the route of the old Montfort colonization railway is one that has prompted several initiatives. Of course, the transformation of part of this route by the Aerobic Corridor is of a great help. Articles, published in La Mémoire, by the Société d'histoire et de généalogie des Pays-d'en-Haut and accompanied by current or archival photos, thus retraced the relocation of Montfort Junction. This research was coupled with all the appeal of the steam train and the entire infrastructure that goes with it here.

The life of the Orphanage, at the source of the birth of the village, aroused as much interest, if not more. The stories of the Montfortians may have been a valuable source of information here. The route and shape of the pipe feeding the old sawmill at Deer Lake, which we ourselves have studied, even became part of the analysis required by the inspection of the dam on Lake Saint-François-Xavier, which had been leaking lately.

We were given the opportunity to reproduce by hand the layout of the settlement roads on the Municipality's current main road network, using old plans published by Mr. Janson and a current topographical map. It was therefore of great interest to us to recently receive from Mr. Chris Teron, a vacationer at Lake Notre-Dame, in a property owned by his wife's family for 110 years, the announcement that he had surveyed the land, with GPS support, almost the entire route of the old road. It is a section leaving the current Route 329 and going to Laurel.

Among other sections of this settlement road, the one bypassing the head of Lake Saint-François-Xavier in the strip separating it from its tributary, Lac-à-la-Croix, no longer exists. That is where they now had to concentrate their research to complete this route and called for help. Without any precise documents at our disposal, we are of no help to them. Some long-time residents at the Lake and in the area may have in mind or otherwise have some information that could guide our passionate researchers. The old trace of this section may still exist on some private or public cadastral plan.

Whether for this project or for any other project that will help us retrace the past for future generations, don't be stingy with your old documents; leave a copy with a historical and genealogical society or any other entity that could immortalize them. Whether it is about what lived on the land or in the lakes, as the volunteers at CIEL so passionately encourage us to discover, we must not let it disappear forever...

By Carl Chapdelaine

La Mémoire from the SHGPH

This week saw the publication of the spring 2020 issue of La Mémoire, by the Société d'histoire et de généalogie des Pays-d'en-Haut; a publication that is always very much appreciated. For all those interested in the genealogy and history of this corner of the country, its colonization, the birth of its towns and villages, its institutions, its families and many other titles, the venerable collection of these Mémoires must be an invaluable source of information. They could be compared to an encyclopaedia that is still in development, thanks to the work of enthusiasts.

But the SHGPH is not only that. Located at the Chalet Pauline-Vanier in Saint-Sauveur, currently closed due to the Covid-19, it has archives; thanks to its invaluable volunteers, it organizes conferences; it undertakes research; it initiates projects throughout the region, some of which have involved Wentworth-Nord. If its website does not offer La Mémoire in Reading, it is hoped that, with some superior help, this treasure will one day be available to all Internet users.

Readers who live in the region, and even those who, like the undersigned, are just passing through, can enjoy the old photos, stories and anecdotes that fill the pages of this quarterly magazine. Unlike other scholarly publications, La Mémoire is designed to be easy to read, attractive in its presentation and short, yet content-rich articles. In each issue, there is bound to be more than one that will arouse your interest, whether it be the history of the steam train, the birth of the resort or, in the present, the story of the Curé Labelle, the former presbyteries, a blacksmith, etc., or the Aboriginal presence.

An article that appeared in the June 2005 issue, by the late André Tisson, is reprinted by Ms. O. Pinard in this publication; it dealt with the Sainte-Lucie-des-Laurentides-Doncaster 17 Mohawk Indian Reserve. The existence of this reserve was personally unknown to us until recently. But where did it come from? That's quite a story, and this article will tell you.

The family of young André Tison lived a mile from the reserve. The Mohawk guardian allowed the boy to go fishing for brook trout. He had taught him that the reason they were so small was that they reproduced among members of the same family. The article describes the birth of the first reserve on Mount Royal; the missionaries had managed to attract Indians from different tribes to this mission and had built huts for them. But the brandy sellers were prowling around and the protected people had to be taken away from their appetite. The reserve was found at Sault-au-Récollet, on the banks of the Des-Prairies River; then near Lac des Deux-Montagnes; then, with the help of the federal government, from Oka to Sainte-Lucie-des-Laurentides-Doncaster 17. The latter, a Mohawk hunting and fishing area, remains almost uninhabited.

But don't be fooled here by our shortcut with its rounded corners, get the magazine or borrow it from the Wentworth-Nord library, which must have a copy.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)


By Carl Chapdelaine

321 Chartier Street

History of the building located at the 321 Chartier Street
Wentworth-Nord (Montfort)

On April 2, 1891, the missionaries of Mary of Notre-Dame-de-Montfort obtained by Letters Patent, lots 5 and 6 in the 11th rank. Lot 6 includes a large part of the village of Montfort today and lot 5, located further east, is a wooded area. 

Félix Cyr, born in the Mirabel area, is the son of François-Xavier and Sophie Kavanagh. The "Cyr" family is one of the pioneering families in the Montfort sector. In 1881, François-Xavier and Sophie are settled near Lake Pelletier in the 4th rank with their 6 children. On January 27, 1890, at the age of 22, Félix Cyr married Malvina Forget at the Notre-Dame-des-Nations parish in Montfort. This couple is among the first to get married in Montfort. Indeed, the building of the orphanage opened its doors in June 1885. In the autumn of 1900, Felix already has a family of 5 children. He decides to buy land to eventually build a house.

It is Father Armand Bouchet, Senior Priest in Notre-Dame-de-Montfort, who deals with real estate transactions. The land sold - 74 feet front by 208 feet deep - has no building, however, Felix must build a house or dependence within 2 years. Despite the abolition of the seigneurial regime of New France in 1854, the missionaries of Mary behaved like lords by demanding to be paid in perpetuity an annual rent of $3 on a capital of $75, at 4% / year, and this, as long as the buyer has not paid back the principal and interest in one amount! But Felix Cyr will not keep this land long.

In the summer of 1902, sawyer Ferdinand Migneron buys this land; but there is no mention of whether there is a house or an outbuilding on it. Seven years later, Marie Elmire Leclaire, of Montreal, acquires the land on which there is now a wooden house. Ferdinand Migneron continued his route towards Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts. Marie Elmire is renting the house to the Montreal tramway operator, Désiré Vézina, for a few years.

On August 15, 1914, Marie Elmire died, and her husband Édouard Thomas Lachambre, as heir, took over the house. Édouard works in Montreal as a manager. In the winter of 1915, he took a second wife, Ernestine Cloutier. In doing so, Edward gives his wife Ernestine the house located on the village road in Montfort.

Two years later, Ernestine sold her Montfort property for $100 to Albertine Labrecque, the wife of Montreal lawyer Arthur Zénon Morin. This land no longer has any construction! What happened? There is no doubt that the fire quickly made the pioneer hut disappear. At the instigation of Mrs. Labrecque, it is built a second home, possibly in 1918-1919. This is the house we can admire nowadays with an addition on the west side. On June 10, 1941, at the resale of the house, all the furniture is included, minus a plan(?), a library and a spinning wheel.

In 2019, this house will not be far from 102 years old.
By Fernand Janson
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Société d’Histoire et du Patrimoine des Trois Villages

(Montfort, Laurel et Saint-Michel de Wentworth)

Roads and Cross

Wood cutting in the area of Montfort in the 1850s? 

With the help of this plan it is possible to see an old road that followed the line of divisions VII and VIII of the Township of Wentworth. This road started from Morin Township just north of Lake Anne and entered Wentworth Township in a westerly direction to Lake Theodore in the Laurel area. Today, the road to Lake Gustave could be the beginning of this old forest road?  A

Another forest road from the township of Morin crossed Range X in a westerly direction. B It continued its course north of Lake Sixteen Islands. A branch near Lake Chapleau was heading south, skirting the Black Lake from the west, and ending up north of Lac Argenté. Maybe the French Canadian pioneers of the Laurel colony had used this forest road to get to their lots? Today, a part of this forest road would correspond to Jackson Road?

First patented letters issued for rank VIII :

Rang Lots Surface (Acres) Date Propriétaires
VIII 6 A ½ est 82,5 1846-10-08 Catherine Buley, widow of Charles Buley
VIII 10 A 1/2 ouest 84,5 1845-07-10 John Gray
VIII 13 A ouest 100 1846-08-24 Francis Kerny
VIII 14 A ½ est 100 1845-04-15 James Dowlan
VIII 14 B ½ ouest 100 1845-09-15 John Barry
VIII 15 A ½ ouest 94,5 1846-04-01 Andrew Smith
VIII 17 B ouest 100 1845-07-23 John King

South of Lake St. François-Xavier, the plan indicates a sign, a cross! Is it likely that someone died there? Unfortunately, for now we have no idea who this cross could match. However, this story has persisted because just south of Lake Saint-François-Xavier, there is a small lake that bears the name "Lac à la Croix"!
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By Fernand Janson

Société d’Histoire et du Patrimoine des Trois Villages

(Montfort, Laurel et Saint-Michel de Wentworth)

373 Principale

History of the building located at the 373 Principale

Wentworth-Nord (Montfort)

The global economic crisis of the 1930s is an economic and social shock that leaves millions of unemployed, homeless and needy people in Canada. The "dirty 1930s" hit few countries as hard as Canada because of its dependence on exports of raw materials and agricultural products and a devastating drought on the Prairies. The loss of jobs and incomes across the country leads to the creation of social assistance and various grassroots movements. In addition, it forces the government to play a more active role in the economy.1

The Laurentians are not spared from this crisis. In the village of Montfort, the County Council of Argenteuil has no choice; it must sell hundreds and hundreds of small lots at the auction for unpaid taxes. People who have money benefit from buying lots. Walter Reid is one of those. In the 1930s, he acquires a significant amount of lot in the ranks 10 and 11 of the area of Montfort and becomes one of the most important landowners of the village.

In October 1937, Walter sold a plot of 721 square meters to John F. Gilbey. Walter puts a rather special clause in the conditions of sale. It requires: "... not to erect buildings unless they are finished and painted in neat style on the outside and each building must have a front porch and no four bare walls will be allowed! It is for this reason that this building now has a beautiful large gallery on the side of the Principale.

The construction of this house began in 1938 at the instigation of Mr. John F. Gilbey.

By Fernand Janson

1. Encyclopédie Canadienne
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Société d’Histoire et du Patrimoine des Trois Villages

(Montfort, Laurel et Saint-Michel de Wentworth)

188 rue Principale

Historique de l'immeuble situé au 188 route Principale
Wentworth-Nord (Montfort) 

This building is located at 188, Route Principale in the Montfort sector. The year of its construction is not easy to determine. There are two possibilities.

Pierre Forget, known as Latour, frequents the area of Montfort since at least 1883. On February 23, 1884, he had his first son, Pierre Joseph Albert, baptized at Notre-Dame-des-Nations (Montfort). He is a day-worker. On April 9, 1883, Pierre Forget married Dorsina Hébert in St-Sauveur-des-Monts. This couple will have a large family. The 1901 census tells us that this household lives in Montfort with their 8 children.

In 1904, he bought a first piece of land between the public road and the railway. In 1909 he bought a second lot contiguous to the first, but this time he had to build a house within two years. These lands are grouped and give a length of 220 feet on the side of the railway.

In 1946, the Municipal Corporation of Argenteuil puts this land on sale, for unpaid taxes; without specifying if there is any building on it. Walter Reid buys the land for $ 91.18. At that time, the prescription on a building (land with or without a house) seems to be of 10 years, because it is only in 1956 that the building is released.

The following year, on April 27, 1957, Walter Reid sold this building, on which there are other buildings, to Edward Gutwin.
The question to ask is: Was the building we see today built by Pierre Forget, known as Latour, in the 1910s or by Walter Reid in the years 1946?

Par Fernand Janson

With the use of Google Translate and Linguee

Société d’Histoire et du Patrimoine des Trois Villages 

(Montfort, Laurel et Saint-Michel de Wentworth)

Eustache Leduc and Agnès Matte's house

Historique de l'immeuble situé au 60, chemin Old Settlers Ouest
Wentworth-Nord (Montfort)
(Eustache Leduc and Agnès Matte’s house)

On January 16, 1849, at the age of 23, Eustache Leduc firstly married Éléonore Guenette of Saint-Janvier (Mirabel). Unfortunately, on February 20, 1851, Éléonore died as a result of her second delivery. With a new born on the arms and a young child of barely a year, Eustache does not have much choice; he must find a nanny and a mother for her children. Seven months after this tragedy, he married in second marriage, Aurélie Cyr in St-Janvier. Eustache Leduc and Aurélie Cyr will remain in St-Janvier until 1860. The following year, they settle in Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts where they will have 7 children. In the early 1885, this couple settled in the north-eastern part of the Wentworth Township (Sector of Montfort), more precisely on lot 3 in the 11th rang (river lot). They are building a house in the woods not far from Lac Pelletier. In the fall of 1891, Aurélie Cyr died at the age of 59. She had given birth to 14 children ... On February 17, 1893, Eustache Leduc married, as his third wife, Joséphine Hotte in Montfort. She is widow of Moïse Lavictoire. Eustache will live another ten years before dying in 1903 at the age of 77 in Montfort.

The Patriarch, Eustache Leduc, was not alone in this isolated forest. His brother Jean-Baptiste Leduc lives on lot 2 in the 2nd rang and his son, Eustache Leduc, lives on lot 1 in the 11th rang just on the border of Morin (Morin Heights) and Wentworth (Montfort) townships. Eustache Leduc marries Agnès Matte, February 8, 1875, in Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts. At the 1881 census, this couple already has three young boys. This family will also be very productive for the "race" with their 16 children ... In 1908, after more than 25 years of hard work, Eustache passes the torch to his son Josaphat. He gives him the gift of the house, the land and all the livestock. The mother of the family, Agnès Matte, gives up the soul in 1910 at the age of 55 and will be buried in the Montfort cemetery.

Two years later, Eustache secondly marries Cyrilda Forget in Saint-Adolphe-d'Howard. He will be buried in Ferme-Neuve in 1923 at the age of 71. As for his wife, Cyrilda Forget, she died November 15, 1936 in Ste-Agathe-des-Monts at the age of 72 years.

Josaphat Leduc, the eldest of the family, was born on November 5, 1875 in Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts. He married Alexandrine Lafantaisie in 1907 in Montfort. This home will have two girls and a boy. Josaphat is not made for agriculture. On October 16th, 1911, three years after having received by donation the farm of his father, he sells everything: house, barns and outbuildings at "Compagnie d'immeuble Richelieu", represented by Antoine Hurtubise. This one will leave its name to a road which crosses Morin Heights and the Wentworth Township. 

However, there is no street name for the "Leduc" family. This branch of the "Leduc" family, in addition to colonizing part of the Montfort sector, has also become a pioneer of Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts, Saint-Adolphe-d'Howard, Saint-Faustin, Saint-Jovite,  Ferme-Neuve and ...
The house we see in this picture is the descendant of the house of Eustache Leduc and Agnès Matte. It does not look so much like a pioneer home. It had to undergo many renovations. According to the assessment roll of the Municipality of Wentworth-Nord, it was built in 1889. According to Mr. Plante, the current owner, it was built in the early 1900s. According to the 1881 census and the line of titles, the original square was built in the early 1880s.

By Fernand Janson

With the use of Google Translate and Linguee

Société d’Histoire et du Patrimoine des Trois Villages 

(Montfort, Laurel et Saint-Michel de Wentworth)

François-Xavier Cyr and Sophie Kavanagh

History of Pioneers (Wentworth-Nord-Montfort sector)

François-Xavier Cyr, Sophie Kavanagh and Cyrilda Forget

François-Xavier Cyr was born on December 18, 1848 in St-Janvier. On July 22, 1867, at the age of 19, he firstly married Sophie Kavanagh of Ste-Scholastique. After a few years living in the Mirabel area, this young couple is seen in Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts in 1879. Two years later, in 1881, François-Xavier Cyr, his wife Sophie Kavanagh and their six children settle in the northeast sector of Montfort. The establishment of a sawmill for the construction of an orphanage near the outlet of Lac Saint-François-Xavier has attracted several loggers, including the Cyr family. François-Xavier Cyr builds his house on lot 4 in the 11th rank, not far from Lac Pelletier. In 1851, his sister Aurélie Cyr married Eustache Leduc in St-Janvier. This family will become its neighbors.

After giving birth to seven children, Sophie Kavanagh gives up the ghost on June 3, 1882, at the age of 41. She will be buried in St-Sauveur-des-Monts. She seems to have died after her last delivery at the beginning of May! Her children are between 14 and 2 years old. François-Xavier Cyr does not have much choice; he must find a new spouse. On April 13, 1885, he married his second wife, Cyrilda Forget, in St-Sauveur-des-Monts. Cyrilda Forget was born in St-Sauveur-des-Monts on September 26, 1864. This new household will have nine children.
One of François-Xavier's sons, Félix Cyr, takes over the family farm. He married Malvina Forget on January 27, 1890, at Notre-Dame-des-Nations, Montfort. Félix and Malvina are among the first couples to marry in this new parish. This household will have five children. Malvina Forget is one of the pioneering families of the Laurentians. She was born on January 29, 1869 in Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, to Toussaint Forget and Arthémise Bélec. On October 25, 1886, she firstly married Adrien Prud'homme in St-Sauveur-des-Monts.

In 1893, the pioneers of the townships of Morin, Howard and the village of Montfort no longer feel alone on their wooded lot ... they now hear the train going to Montfort.

Felix Cyr knows very well that he has no future on a land that is not conducive to agriculture. In the early years, he decided to sell: house, barn and other buildings to another pioneer family of Montfort, Adélard Forget and his wife Marie Louise Tassé. But even Adélard Forget does not keep the farm for long. He resells the whole, on November 4, 1912, to Antoine Hurtubise representing the " Compagnie d’Immeubles Richelieu " for an amount of $400.

In the early 1900s, François-Xavier Cyr and his second wife, Cyrilda Forget, moved to the township of Howard. François-Xavier dies there on September 7, 1907, at the age of 58 and will be buried in the local cemetery. His widow, Cyrilda Forget, secondly married Eustache Leduc on April 9, 1912, in St-Adolphe d’Howard. Eustache Leduc is the son of Eustache Leduc and Aurélie Cyr, the very sister of François-Xavier Cyr. The pioneer families are tight-knit. Cyrilda Forget died in 1936, at the age of 72, and her Eustache Leduc died on April 12, 1923, in Ferme-Neuve, at the age of 71.This branch of the "Cyr" family, in addition to having colonized part of the Montfort sector, has become a pioneer of Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts, Saint-Adolphe-d'Howard and ...

                                                                                                                                             By Fernand Janson

With Google Translate

Société d’Histoire et du Patrimoine des Trois Villages 

(Montfort, Laurel et Saint-Michel de Wentworth)

Note: See the strong ties forged between villagers and orphans in Montfort: ALSFX's 2010 Fall Newsletter

Pierre Bélanger and Angèle Cyr

History of Pioneers (Wentworth-Nord-Montfort sector)

Pierre Bélanger was born on December 16, 1833 in Laval. On August 1, 1854, he married Angèle Cyr, of Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, in Saint-Janvier. This couple will have no less than ten children. These are born either in St-Jérôme or Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts. Like many other pioneers in the village of Montfort, they do not necessarily live in the Township of Wentworth. Several settled nearby, either in Morin Township or in the Township of Howard.
Pierre Bélanger found a lot available east of Lake Chevreuils, close to the border with Wentworth Township. He has lived here with his family since the early 1880s. That is since the construction of the sawmill at the outlet of Lake St. François-Xavier. This sawmill was blessed by Father Rousselot of the parish of Notre-Dame de Montréal and by the Curé Labelle from Saint-Jérôme.

Of all the children of Pierre Bélanger and Angèle Cyr, three will colonize this countryside.

After marrying Marguerite Alarie in Saint-Faustin, Norbert Bélanger settled in the Montfort area in 1890. No doubt that he participated in the construction of Canada's first agricultural orphanage. This household will have at least four children.

Xénophon Bélanger was born on December 29, 1873 in Saint-Jérôme. On December 1, 1893, he married Marie Joséphine Forget in Montfort. From 1894 to 1910, this couple will have nine children who will all be baptized at the Notre-Dame-des-Nations parish in Montfort.

And finally, Marie Bélanger marries Joseph Forget on February 6, 1888. This couple will have fifteen children.

In addition to colonizing part of the Montfort sector, this branch of the "Bélanger" family has become a pioneer of several other Laurentian villages.

                                                                                                                                             By Fernand Janson

With Google Translate

Société d’Histoire et du Patrimoine des Trois Villages
(Montfort, Laurel et Saint-Michel de Wentworth)