- Train at Newaygo & 16 Îles
- Montfort popularity
- The steam locomotive sandbox
- The railway turntable
- CN's water tower pump
- The miseries of the Montfort train
- CNR's Water Tower
- History of the Montfort Railway
- The Algonquin in winter
- The Pays-d’en-Haut: our heritage?
- An MRC’s Fund for Culture and Heritage 2018; call for projects
- The sky of the Weskarinis
- The Montfort Pavilion
- «La Mémoire» on Wentworth-Nord
- Wentworth-Nord's Heritage
- Families of Montfort in 1901, 1911 and 1921
- Map of the Laurentians, 1897
- The Irish in Wentworth-Nord
- Colonization roads of Montfort
- Huberdeau: the legacy of Montfort
- Little Mary's Hostel
- First steam train
- The last train
- Montfort Leduc
- The origins of Montfort
- Municipality of Wentworth-Nord
Train at Newaygo & 16 Îles
We learned from the receptionist at the Pavillon Montfort that the crowds were very strong there the day after New Year's Day 2020.
Groups of tourists, mainly from France, put on snowshoes and set off to conquer our trails. Conditions then seemed ideal and hopefully the current warming will not affect them.
Meanwhile and lees idyllic, many locals would hop on their roaring snowmobile pacing up and down Lake St. Francois=Xavier.
How did the tourist learn about our beautiful corner of paradise? Wouldn't it be important to get all visitors to fill out a short questionnaire or to interview several to find out where they came from, what brought them here and what they came to get there?
If the present is a guarantee of the future, this trend should be accentuated. Montfort will become a known and appreciated destination in our Laurentians.
By Carl Chapdelaine
The steam locomotive sandbox
A photo of a steam locomotive of the Montfort colonization railway was posted in the Pavillon Montfort1 Mr. Gérard Chartier tells us about the funny dome on the top of the locomotive; it is in the shape of a German soldier's helmet of the 1st and 2nd Great Wars. It has a delivery pipe on each side that goes down to the wheels. "Do you know what it can be used for?" Well; it is a sandbox that the driver operates to drop some on the rails and allow the wheels to adhere better if necessary.
The friction of the wheels against the rails is minimized by the use of steel; which allows the locomotive to pull heavy loads. But, for moving off with a heavy convoy or going up or down a hill and probably in winter, the driving wheels of the locomotive need more grip. Since the beginning, the steam locomotive has been equipped with various sanders2 to bring the sand right onto the rail by gravity. The sandbox contains calibrated and dried sand.
On the pictures of large locomotives, we often see many of these domes whose base must marry the cylindrical shape that support them. It is not obvious to the layperson whether it is the steam dome or sandboxes. (But in America, locomotives would only have one, according to Wikipedia, and it could be above the steam dome to be heated. Newer models could use air pressure rather than gravity.) And Mr. Chartier has not yet explained to us how we could fill these...
- That which appears on the leaflet "Wentworth-Nord: de grands espaces" and on the large panels deployed at the beginning of October.
- Locomotive sandbox: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandbox_(locomotive)
With Google Translate and Linguee.
By Carl Chapdelaine
The railway turntable
The current Park of la Plaque tournante, in Montfort, recalls the existence of such a facility of the Canadian National for the turnaround of the locomotive when a convoy ended its trip to this village. Mr. Gérard Chartier remembers how the engine used for this wheelhouse operated. He was driven by the steam of the locomotive to reorient; the latter being connected to the engine by a hose. He had seen the operation many times.
The details of the operation of such a hub can be found in Wikipédia and elsewhere. It is explained that there was first a circular pit (about 4 feet deep at Montfort). A steel bridge, balanced on a central pivot in the pit, could be oriented in all directions. A mechanism made it possible to align the rails on the exit lane and to lock them in this position.
If, at the ends of the bridge, were steel wheels that traveled on a circular rail around the circumference of the pit, we had there the continuous girder design (three points design). It was the standard design and the one used in Montfort. This distributed the weight of the locomotive with its tender rather than seeing it fully supported by the center pivot (cantilever or center balanced design). On a continuous girder design model, the operator had to move the locomotive forward or backward to balance the weight of the whole on the bridge. There was also an articulated model (center hinged); so that the weight of each of the two sections (spokes) of the bridge, from the central pivot, could be rebalanced to prevent an excessive load be more on one end than on the other. On the Montfort's turntable, the biggest locomotives, with their huge wheels, would use the full length of the bridge.
At Montfort, the mechanism of rotation of the turntable was actuated by a pneumatic motor (i.e. compressed air), fed by the locomotive which was on the swing bridge. "The operator of the turntable was connecting a pipe connecting the air compressor of a steam locomotive to the engine of the turntable ..." Trains are fun
Some operators of the Montfort turntable could let the young people get on the bridge to give them a special experience on this improvised carousel and thus prefiguring the current vocation of this place. To achieve their ends, the young people sometimes had to rather take advantage of a moment of inattention of the operator by hiding behind the locomotive.
A visitor at the Montfort Pavilion, during the last weekend of culture days, showed Mr. Chartier a photo that revealed a small section of the village's hub. There would be nothing to draw from it; but we could perhaps reconstitute the whole with the help of this photo.
With Google Translate and Linguee By Carl Chapdelaine
CN's water tower pump
At the time of the steam locomotive, what could make the pump propelling water into CN's water tower at Deer Lake? Mr. Gérard Chartier searched in his memories without being able to retrace exactly the answer. But he knew there was no electricity in this facility. It could not therefore be an electric pump or running on diesel; only the power of water should be in question.
It is perhaps after descending into the vault under the vanished cistern that he finally found the explanation; then the appropriate terms in the dictionary. It was a hydraulic ram pump. There’s nothing left of this pump in the vault today.
It can be deduced that the water arrived under pressure through the pipe coming out from the bottom of the visible part of the dam located at the Lake Chevreuils outlet, on the other side of the railway with respect to the water tower. The elevation between the ground where it was located and the level of the Lake being less than one meter, and the pump being in a vault of more than one meter deep, it should therefore already be under the water level of the Lake, raised by its dam.
A little like the cycle of a piston engine, a valve closes suddenly in this assembly that constitutes the hydraulic pump and where the pipe ends. Water coming under pressure then gives a water hammer on the valve, as when closing a valve that is not equipped with an absorption device. It is this kinetic energy that raises this water in the tank by a vertical pipe, equipped with a non-return valve. Then the pressure returns to normal and the spring valve opens so that the cycle can start again. This device therefore does not make any use of fossil energy or other; it may be the green energy sought today. The maintenance costs of the hydraulic pump are also minimal. At the time, the presence of a lake or a river favored this type of installation. Wikiwater.
Note: Mr. Chartier also has an explanation for the operation of the turntable. Is the steam of the locomotive the source of the needed power? To be continued…
By Carl Chapdelaine
The miseries of the Montfort train
This information and anecdotes from the past are from Peter Murphy's second article in a series of three, entitled "Trains up North", for Canadian Rail.* Old photos illustrate the article.
The first railway line, three feet wide and joining Lac-des-Seize-Îles in 1895, had evidently required the Montfort Colonization Railway Company to break through a lane in the forest. It is said that the stumps and roots were used to partially fill the depressions along the way. This would be the source of multiple subsidence of the soil that we would see later, after the wood would have rotten.
Because of the tight curves and steep slopes to cross, the section of the rail from Morin Flats to Sixteen Islands Lake was at least difficult to navigate; even for a narrow gauge train, said more suited to this type of terrain. The difference in level between Chevreuil Lake and Saint-François-Xavier Lake remained a challenge; even once inaugurated the wider railway standard. On December 7, 1897, the train, this time from the Montfort and Gatineau Colonization Railway, would go as far as Huberdeau on these new tracks. But in 1902, the bankrupt company was to be bought by the Great Northern Railway Company of Canada, which merged to become the Canadian Northern Quebec Railway (CNorQ).
Freight was almost entirely made up of sawmill wood, to which would be added some ore for a certain period (probably between 1916 and 1926 for the transport of china clay). But this cargo, like the passengers, was originally to be transferred to CPR trains at the (Old) Montfort Junction, in Saint-Sauveur; a delay and costs that made the whole operation and products uncompetitive. A CNorQ own section was later built from Saint-Jérôme to Saint-Sauveur to join the line going to Huberdeau; and the company undertook at the same time to build one towards Montreal. While waiting for this extension to the Big City, the passengers would take the CPR train from the Place Viger station, in the metropolis, to get to the (New) Montfort Junction, in Saint-Jérôme, and switch on the CNorQ train for Huberdeau.
In 1919, the company obtained a promise of subsidy to extend the railway to the Gatineau River. It was planning to use the 9 miles of private track of the Canadian China Clay Company's mines, through St-Rémi-d'Amherst, which it had partly redeemed or rebuilt. But the 2.33-mile section of Lake Remi was deemed non-compliant with the standard required by the government, which withheld its grant. It was only when the railway became the property of the Canadian National Railway that the latter brought, in 1926, this route to the required standards.
The previous year, the CNR had built its own route between Saint-Jérôme and the Terminal Tunnel, on Lagauchetière Street, which will become Central Station and where all CN trains will converge. The train could then cross without transshipment the 93 miles that separated it from Lake Rémi.
Memories of the time of the first Montfort train are rare. But some patriarchs have told stories to make hair stand on end. The old father Ducharme, a Montfortain, praised for his part the qualities of promoter of Curé Labelle, who had managed to implant the agricultural orphanage of Montfort in a "desert of rock", where one would not even think to have a kitchen garden...
The Huberdeau branch was going to be in a "sand desert" instead. During the winter of 1912-13, when the train was the only link between this place and the rest of the world, a snowstorm blocked the way for more than a month, depriving the orphanage of food and other essentials. The Fathers would then make sure to make enough provisions in the fall to no longer have to live such a situation.
In the 1940s, double headed steam engines were the rule. Each locomotive was operated separately; it required great coordination and extreme vigilance. The engineer of the second locomotive of a convoy which left Lac-des-Seize-Îles suddenly actuated the whistle of alarm. Always on the alert, he had seen that a driving wheel of the lead locomotive was coming out of its axle. The team of technicians, probably from the Angus workshops in Montreal, took two days to repair everything on site. The lead locomotive had previously been detached and the train had been able to move back to its starting point.
The first locomotives used were light; they were better suited to accentuated curves, light bridges or trestles, such as Newaygo's. After the purchase by the Canadian National, the locomotives were more powerful.
Until trains are equipped with air-brakes, «the brakemen had their work cut out for them, especially down the steep grades on the southbound runs». «While the trains were always operated in a safe manner, passengers frequently complained of the slow speeds on the northbound runs, the time wasted in doubling the hill at Lac Chevreuil and Montfort and the lengthy stop for water at Lac Chevreuil. The prolonged station stop at St. Jerome was another irritation. After detraining and entraining passengers, the train would move ahead a short distance to load unload express.»
At Montfort, we did not really wonder when, but rather, if the train would arrive; and its approach, with the cloud of steam and noise, did not go unnoticed. Everything was then done smoothly. «The helper engine was cut off the head of the train promptly, some of the cars were also dropped on the siding and the remainder were hurried on toward Lac Remi.»
The most enthusiastic passengers were undoubtedly the skiers of the 40s and 50s. However, the trains were so crowded that some had to be content with the baggage car. The return of these exhausted ski enthusiasts was done in the same conditions. In summer, the clientele of the weekend was different.
Motor car was changing the game. And even the arrival of diesel, which did not have the constraints of the steam engine, would not shorten the length of the journey enough to ensure the maintenance of the customer and therefore the service; especially after the opening of the Laurentian Highway.
Summary by Carl Chapdelaine
With the use of Google Translate and Linguee
CNR's Water Tower
Mr. Gérard Chartier describes what he thinks he remembers of this water tank that fed the steam locomotive at the water station of Deer Lake outlet, not far from the little blue bridge. His brother has a picture. This location benefited both from the proximity of the lake and the railway. The distance between the Montreal station and the water tower probably also corresponded to the capacity of the locomotive's water tank, explains Mr. Chartier.
The four concrete bases that supported the feet of this huge metal tank (galvanized steel?) are still visible on the edge of the Aerobic Corridor. There is also the concrete vault, more than a meter deep, located under the tank and housing the pump that drew water from the lake to the tank.
An articulated pipe was coming out of the tank (the precursor of the Canadian Space Shuttle Arm probably ...) By handling it with a rope, the driver, mounted on the bridge of the locomotive, above the wheels, placed the spout on the opening of the water compartment. Could there have been tenders with a water tank (car attached or fixed to the locomotive and having a coal compartment and possibly a water tank)? (The Spadina water tower in photo, with greater pressure, used an underground pipe that fed a pipe-pole near the track and by which the locomotive was located.)
Between the base and the tank perched on its four feet was a cockpit with a charcoal furnace to heat the water in the winter and prevent it from freezing. There was a station, farther on the way out of the little Blue Bridge, where, in the winter, the employee in charge of feeding the furnace lived. (We could not find any trace of it.) The train could leave there or pick up passengers.
Some young people climbed the ladder to get on the top of this water tower. But as its roof protruded from the wall of the tank, you were forced, like a mountaineer, to lean heavily backwards to get around this ledge; M. Chartier could not risk it.
There were 1,800-gallon locomotives; others of 2,500 gallons. Sometimes two locomotives pulled large convoys. Occasionally, the train had to be split in two in order to overcome the difference in level between Lake Chevreuil and Lake Saint-François-Xavier; or two trains were following one another. In the first case, the locomotive then descended the slope backwards to pick up the rest of the cars. The locomotive’s wheels could too often spin in the slope; wearing rails and steel wheels. During the weekends, at that time, hundreds of visitors were taking this railway line, says Mr. Chartier.
There had probably been a wooden water tower before; certainly enclosing a huge metal tank. You can see such a water tower in Sainte-Adèle old station on the photo (attached), posted near the bridge that spans the last section of Lake Chevreuil. A similar poster might remind us of the existence of our water tower at the place where it rose so majestically; it would also be a good part of a heritage circuit.
One end of the pipe that was certainly feeding the water tower of Lake Chevreuil from the outlet of this lake, which passed under the railway, is still visible at the foot of the small dam. The latter raises the level of the lake and probably ensured the smooth running of the system.
With Google Translate and Linguee
By Carl Chapdelaine
History of the Montfort Railway
(Report on the presentation of Mr. Claude Martel, held at the Montfort Pavilion on May 26, 2019.)
It is in the context of his academic research that the geographer-historian Claude Martel has built up an impressive historical database of Quebec's railways. Over the years, he would add many analyzes and historical records, along with cartographic collections and photos. Aware of the duty to transmit the results of his research, he and another geographer, Yves Fréchette, founded the Quebec Railways Historical Research Institute.
The presentation of the history of the Montfort railway by our speaker is therefore only a chapter of this quasi-encyclopedia of the railway in Quebec.
Since the beginning of the colony, the waterway was the main means of transporting goods. The emergence of the railway in the country in the years 1826-27 opened up much more practical prospects for the transportation of wood, grain, butcher's animals, milk, etc. And while the rivers were frozen in winter, the railway would eventually be open year-round. The Post would be quickly associated with the deployment of the railway across the country. (In 1987, the old relocated and restored station of Arundel took over this post office function.)
The Champlain & St. Laurence RR, financed by the owner of the Montreal brewery, John Molson, will be the first railway company in Canada. Its Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu - La Prairie line was designed to bypass the Richelieu waterway linking Lake Champlain to the St. Lawrence River in Sorel. It greatly reduced the duration of the traffic between Montreal and New York. Then there is the Grand Trunk Railway, which connects Montreal to Toronto. The Montreal Northern Colonization Railway Company, whose purpose was to connect Montreal to Saint-Jérôme, would be at the origin of the "Train du Nord", as the famous Curé Labelle called it. It will later be bought by Canadian Pacific Railway.
Unlike today, there were many small companies at the time; but with limited financial capabilities. And as you can already see, in the world of rail, English was the norm.
The choice of the width of standard railways for trains and trams takes us back to antiquity. It was going to be, as in Europe, 1,435 millimeters, that is 4 feet, eight inches and a half (4'8½''). And why this dimension? It was copied from that of the Roman road; to allow then the circulation of the chariots. (But there were larger ones, for more stability, and narrower ones.)
The Montfort railway was created with the obvious purpose, among other things, of francophone and catholic colonization of the territory south-west of the already colonized Saint- Jérôme – Labelle corridor by the Train du Nord. It would start from the first Montfort junction, at Piedmont (Saint-Sauveur), to connect there to the Train du Nord a railway that would go to Huberdeau (Arundel) and Lake Rémi. It was first with 3' spaced rails or what was called an economic railway. The Montfort Colonization Railway Company was going to take advantage of the passage of a Témiscamingue railroad to standard size to recover the necessary equipment for its own railway. This narrow gauge, explains Mr. Martel, with the small locomotives and wagons that would use it, was actually more suited to a hilly area and a winding course. This railway would be very important at the time when Montfort was a much bigger village than today. There was even a theme song for the "Montfortaine", on the air of the Marseillaise.
In 1895, the train was already going to Sixteen Island Lake. Freight transport was critical to the profitability of the company, and there was still a desire to cast a wide net. But the line was still not profitable; while there was thought of extending the railway to Lac Simon and the Gatineau Valley. The Montfort & Gatineau Colonization Railway would replace the original company; however, it would be bankrupt in 1902. The Great Northern Railway of Canada, which would link Rivière-à-Pierre (a station on the Québec – lac Saint-Jean line) to Hawkesbury, would purchase the track and equipment. Then it would merge to become the Canadian Northern Quebec Railway.
Given the 3-foot spacing of the tracks, the transshipment of goods at Montfort Junction, where the Petit-Train du Nord (CPR) tracks were of the standard type, was still a problem. The narrow-gauge tracks were also associated with a standard of 56 lbs; much less than that of standard tracks. It was quickly considered to adopt the standard gauge; that was done in the summer of 1897. In 1907, the company developed a track (13 miles) between Saint-Sauveur and Saint-Jérôme. The Montfort Junction will be moved to the southern suburbs of Saint-Jérôme, where the new railroad crossed the CPR’s tracks of the same standard. The right of way of a section of the old narrow section is still visible in Piedmont (Saint-Sauveur).
The company's railroad has no proper link through the North River Valley to go directly to Montreal; but it has one that joins Joliette. One must make a detour to the east to reach the big city (at Hochelaga). It will take 5 hours to get from Montreal to Arundel by train. For the traveler, it may be more advantageous to transfer on the CPR train at its junction with that of Montfort.
The train schedules show the large number of stations or flag stops that existed at the time. It is that the era of vacationing has begun; we first see the Anglophones of West Montreal to initiate the movement.
With the First World War, three large companies went bankrupt, including the Canadian Northern Quebec Ry. The government must take-over by creating the Canadian Governmental Railway, which will become the Canadian National.
The speaker now introduces us to the "railway operation" aspect of his subject; with the type of material used. We are at the steam locomotive; different sizes identified by the number and size of the wheels. There are passenger cars, first and second class; then the baggage car; not to forget the box cars and flat cars for freight. The locomotives are fueled with wood; then to coal. There were water stops, water stations, water tanks, usually at the stations, or some tank ponds for the locomotives. At the orphanage of Lisbourg (Montfort), they took water from the pond which also served as a pool for orphans.
The "economic activity" aspect follows the previous presentation. The train runs first from Monday to Saturday; reflecting the importance of freight activities. From 1915, with the rise of the resort and leisure travel, appear the weekend trains. In 1927, the "Petit Train du Nord", with its "snow trains" transports hundreds of amateurs per trip. Among the most popular stations then, there are Saint-Sauveur, Shawbridge and ... Montfort! There is also a summer schedule; with multiple stops. The Montfort line is then said to be the most picturesque in Eastern Canada.
With the beginning of the thirties, following the economic crisis, a rationalization of the traffic is essential. Fewer trains but appears the train going on Friday night and returning Monday(?). At the beginning of the 1950s, the popularity of the automobile and the bus, with the deployment of the road network, signaled the hour of the decline of the railway. The daily service disappears; while remains that of the weekend. The closure of the orphanage of Montfort, decreed in the mid-1950s, will precipitate the end of the Montfort railway, as the decline of the village itself.
As for freight, we are mainly talking about wood and some mining products. The diesel locomotive will succeed the steam locomotive; but this type of train will prove poorly adapted to the Montfort railway.
Mr. Martel slips a word about the need for siding and/or rail yard near the stations, for some turntables or, failing that, turning triangles (Y) to allow reorienting the locomotive. These last works sometimes required feats of genius; like to build a Y on a river, for lack of a more suitable place (in Huberdeau?). The only turntable of the Montfort railway was located at the site of the current park that bears this name, in Montfort. The train must also take into account the speed limits to be respected in the curves and the unevenness to be crossed.
Few original stations still exist today; that of Lac Rémi is one of the rare exceptions.
Note: Given the breadth of the content of the presentation, we apologize for having presented only some specific points.
By Carl Chapdelaine
Google Translate and Linguee
The Algonquin in winter
Nomadic, the Algonquin of our regions would have plenty to do in adapting to the transition from summer to winter. Today, we can see that our camping, reflecting our interest to relive a bit like once in nature, and some of our sports equipment inherited from their practices. With the onset of the cold season, they leave the bank of watercourses where they were gathering together during the summer season and where they were engaged in fishing and picking, to enter by family groups in the forest *.
More meat eaters than sedentary Indians, they hunt small as big game to feed, clothe, make their wigwams (among the tribes living further north), snowshoes, some tools and weapons, etc., or store beaver and other fur-bearing animals skin for fur trading with Whites. In the spring, in fact, several would paddle down the Red River and its tributaries to camp near the mouth of the "Petite-Nation" River, on the banks of the Ottawa River, where they would engage in commerce with other Aboriginal peoples and then later with the French coureurs des bois and voyageurs.
"The clothes that wear the Algonquians are very practical because they keep warm and they are durable. When it is very cold, the Algonquians carry a long overcoat made of seven or eight beaver pelts." But bear fur that they hunted during their dormant period was also popular for making capes (sleeveless clothing). Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment (CINE)
Their wigwams were like large cone or dome-shaped tents. Smaller than among semi-nomadic populations or than the Iroquois’ longhouses, they were easily removable. When moving, they took the bark of birch or stitched skins panels that covered their poles frame. They would eventually reuse this last when they would return to the same place. In winter, they repel the snow against the walls of the wigwams for better isolation and covered the ground with balsam fir branches. They traded canoe and paddle for toboggan and snowshoes. The toboggan allowed them to carry wigwams and other luggage and probably continue to embark upon the frozen surface of the water courses.
With the use of Microsoft Translator and Linguee
By Carl Chapdelaine
Loon’s Head and Agile Trout (tale)
The Pays-d’en-Haut: our heritage?
If the heritage of the Pays-d’en-Haut was the legacy we had left from those who lived there before us, should we not avoid to limit it to the after-colonization of the territory by Europeans? We know that Aboriginal people, our Indians, were in fact across the continent. Closer to home, Samuel de Champlain had identified six groups of Algonquin (Anishinabek)1, the Weskarinis (people of the deer3), or Petite-Nation, who lived along the River to which he gave the name and others tributaries of the Ottawa River. Have some not even been able to live at Lake Saint-François-Xavier, "in their birch houses or their tents"?
Lakes, rivers, and other elements of the landscape of our Laurentians had names in the Algonquian language before be renamed in French or English, recalls Serge Bouchard in his story «Les lacs»*. While indigenous population collapsed or was assimilated, it is also in fact an entire civilization that was pushed into oblivion. We had, among other things, replaced their beliefs and deprived them of all power in creating this country. More recently, the nomadic Algonquin were stationed in reserves, permanently losing their lifestyle, their traditional livelihoods, their land, their water courses... Sparse in a pervasive multiculturalism and drowned in a rampant immigration; unable to find refuge in the rapid evolution of our way of life, will not this hardly surviving people disappear forever?
Today, while we seek to recognize the mistakes of the past and to appreciate the values of this civilization, should we not rush to act accordingly and try to revive this heritage? Indeed, if one was able to gather, even fairly recently, the words of aging Algonquin and teachings of their own elders, these sources of information are increasingly scarce.
So, after having long ago frenchified and already exhausted the directory of the names of saints of the Church to replace the Quebec’s unknown or often unpronounceable water courses names, authorities have more recently backtracked. In recent decades, the Commission de toponymie du Québec (Quebec Toponymical Commission) carried out, with the help of band councils, a large inventory of 'Place names of the Algonquin1, an important part of their culture and most represented in the Quebec Aboriginal nomenclature. So much we know today of Long Lakes (Kakinogama), Round (Kawawiekama), Square (Kakake), Deer (Wawacikeci Sakaikan), Bear (Mako), Beaver (Amik), Heron (Asaki), Walleye (Oka), Grey Trout (Nemego), Duck (Cibib), Loon (Mungo), Raven (Kakagi), Ouareau (in the distance), Silver (Coniya), Black (Kamakatewakamicik), At the cross (Kamanitcociwicipatik Sakaikan), etc., all these names and many others populated the geography of these nomads who were sailing in the water-courses in birchbark canoe and were portaging in the mountain passes to cross between watersheds. And if some lakes, like many of our cities, provinces and even the naming of Canada by Jacques Cartier have more or less kept their native name, so we can at least know what they mean. "Temis", as in Témiscouata or Témiscaming, it's deep, etc.
The old names of multiple Lakes and other entities are even now known to us. But such an inventory applies where still live representatives of these nations, in six reserves and three Native institutions; that is well beyond the Pays-d’en-Haut, in the High-Laurentians, in Mauricie and in Abitibi. It seems to us unlikely that we can do the same here today.
Should we all just fish out aboriginal artifacts or find those in archaeological sites to place them in rare museums? Isolated in their reserves, the Algonquin still know their native language. And if they still live a bit like their ancestors, should we not rather copy their daily live in three dimensions and recreate it in these museums? It will remind us what were the Pays-d’en-Haut before us and that an entire nation could live there.
To learn more about the Weskarini, "these people (for Champlain) who travel north of the Ottawa River, between the du Nord, Rouge and the Petite-Nation" Rivers, you might want to get the story of Jean-Guy Paquin, "Au pays des Weskarinis", on which the summer 2018 edition of La Mémoire, from the Société d’histoire et de généalogie des Pays-d’en-Haut, gives you an overview. (The author has a website.) There will also be the 2018 presentation of the Aboriginal celebration Kwei-Kwei** at the Parc régional de la Rivière du Nord, in Saint-Jérôme, on September 29 (or 30).
By Carl Chapdelaine
* The description that we have learned of the "life" of a lake can also be found in his story; but without the use of any technical term. (In French)
** An event probably initiated by a French immigrant, Mr. Vincent Drieu, welcomed by the Indian Roger Echaquan and founder of Kwei-Kwei Quebec.
- La toponymie des Algonquins
- Patrimoine culturel de la MRC d’Antoine-Labelle Fiche no.11 : La présence amérindienne
- La MRC de Papineau: Historique de la région de Papineau
- Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation
- Names of Aboriginal Origin
- Algonquin History in the Ottawa River Watershed
- The end of the Algonquin forest
Were there any Algonquin at Lake Saint-François-Xavier at the time of colonization, at the end of the 19th century? The stories of the Montfortian fathers do not seem to us to mention their existence. How could this place have kept its Native American original name if none lived there at the time of colonization? Wouldn’t it have instead been named by newcomers who could also have borrowed it from elsewhere? Thus, a multitude of tiny lots, later so-called orphaned, had been purchased somehow by correspondence or in some sort of lottery, by future Americans owners maybe, or even coming from Michigan, and wherein most had never made such a long trip to settle at the Lake. Closer to home, two American sisters-companies, the Newaygo Forest Products and the Newaygo Timber Co, were in operation in the middle of the 20th century near Hearst, in the Northeast of Ontario; but were they already existing at the beginning of that century and would they have then come around?
Moreover, according to a resident of long date of the hamlet, it was written at the time, on a poster of a logging company: "No further we go"; the words being attributed to the translation of a Native American directive indicated as "Newaygo". But the resemblance here between the Algonquin and English words which could be "No-way-go" leaves us perplexed...
There seems to be no administrative entity or specific boundary to this hamlet; and yet it was an official stop between Montfort and Laurel-Station on the Canadian National Railway line of Montreal - Huberdeau - Lake Rémi.
Upon our arrival in Newaygo, in 2003, we were told that a narrow strip of the Lake shoreline was once reserved to the Indians as passage; but that, following the increase in the level of the water of the Lake, this last was necessarily under water. It seems most likely that the entire region was more or less deserted by the Algonquin since the middle of the 17th century, following the invasion of the Iroquois who had pushed them back into the current Upper Laurentians. Besides, those who could still live in the forest would have more recently been billeted in reserves and more or less assimilated to leave all forest to logging companies. At the beginning of the 19th century yet, there are still some coureurs des bois, like Stephen Jake Beaven in the surroundings of Arundel who lived from hunting and trapping and who was trading with the Indians. Roads, such as the Chemin des Iroquois, lakes and others, reminded the Aboriginal past in the Laurentians.6 But, apart from Newaygo and Lake Tamaracouta, it is difficult to find any Native American name on our map of the Pays-d’en-Haut.7
The Commission de toponymie du Québec recalls that Samuel de Champlain had "identified six groups of Algonquins on his travels, (including): the Weskarinis [Those of the Petite Nation] attending the watersheds of the Red River, of the Lièvre and of the Petite-Nation. The Commission explains that "their toponymy is largely dependent on nomadism... (and) ... includes the set of knowledge on the natural environment, traditional activities (hunting, trapping, gathering), objects of material culture (canoe, toboggan, snowshoes, clothing, embroidery, wickerwork, etc.), and even human beings and the spirits that inhabit their spiritual universe." "It uses the prominent features of hydrography (passage, rapids, confluence, river mouth) and of topography (portage, slope, cliff)". "In short, Algonquin toponymy is a live and pervasive portrait of that people in the West and the South of Quebec." "In Quebec, the Algonquin language... is the most spoken of three indigenous languages, the other being the Iroquoian and Inuit (inuktitut) language." "It is also, among Native American languages, one that is the most represented in the Quebec toponymy. ... (These) languages are made of images... all (belonging) to nature.
"In Quebec, several names are deformations of Amerindian expressions resulting from misinterpretations or uncontrolled deviations. Thus Kazabazua, in the Valley of the Gatineau, is a place name from the Algonquin term Kitché-Badjiwane for something that rushes into the ground. In this case, it is a small river that passes under a stone rise." Tamaracouta (Lake), near Mille-Isles, also seems of Algonquin origin. According to "Histoire du Québec", the name indicates the concentration of tamaracks (larch of America) near a body of water (couta).8
1. Toponymie des Algonquins
2. Newaygo County
3. Michigan State University
4. Courthouses.co, Michigan, Newaygo County
5. The Canadian Encyclopedia
*Exact wording : The hamlet nearby the Lake where the Chief’s boy had a Rainbow Trout’s fish bone in his throat…
An MRC’s Fund for Culture and Heritage 2018; call for projects
The MRC des Pays-d’en-Haut is announcing that, for the eleventh year, it has a Fund of $ 30,000 to help cultural and heritage projects. The prefect, Mr. André Genest, recalls that "culture is essential to the development of the territory..."
"Applications will be analyzed in the light of specific award criteria. Thus, projects submitted must conform to one of the six directions of cultural policy of the MRC, testify of significant outreach, contribute to the cultural development of the territory of the MRC des Pays-d’en-Haut, and demonstrate that they are structuring and that they represent a contribution to the cultural vitality." For more details: Fonds-culture-et-patrimoine
The deadline for the filing of an application is February 22, 2018. Financial assistance may not exceed $ 2,000 for the category "cultural project and heritage" and will correspond to a maximum of 50% of the total cost of the project.
The people and groups involved in the field of culture or heritage of Wentworth-Nord could certainly identify and propose projects that meet the criteria of the program. To qualify, they should probably be first at 50% financially supported by the Municipality (If in agreement with the municipal vision...) or any group with the necessary funds.
The issues of regional interest are not lacking. For one, Monfort and its orphanage are loaded with history; local genealogy has to be investigate; as the development of the resort; the juxtaposition of francophone and anglophone cultures. etc.; all themes likely to be the subject of a presentation by an historical and heritage circuit*, the publication of a collection, the presentation of a mural, the creation of a web site, the inventory of headstones, the identification of a style of local architecture for permanent residences and cottages, for landscaping around these or for the whole village, a collection of old stories, or other.
Projects by our artists should not miss more.
*This project has already been presented in last June by la Table de concertation des Arts et de la Culture de Wentworth-Nord and was awarded $ 2,000.
Among the dozens of projects receiving $ 2,000 from the Fund in 2017, let us also mention: 'Memories from here', by the Société d'histoire de Sainte-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson et d'Estérel, and 'Sculptures collectives végétales', by Échelon des Pays-d'en-Haut.
With the use of Microsoft Translator
The sky of the Weskarinis
You may improve satisfaction and slight disappointment at the same time when, new comers to Lake Saint-François-Xavier, you admire this splendidly starry sky that your Montrealers’ eyes don’t often have the opportunity to contemplate. It emerges here as a new part of your environment. Your concern comes about the darkness, which is the best for the observation of the stars, on a moonless night, but which is not yet here total. The lights of Morin-Heights and the glow they leave in the distant sky never seem to turn off. There are also all close, those that several residents of the Lake leave on guard all night.
But if you go to bed with the chickens, you may tend to miss the show; especially when you need to reach the end of a dock at night to enjoy the sky at 360 °. And it doesn’t make it any better if you almost forgot all of your meagre bases in astronomy, so that to find the Great and the Little Bear, or even to identify Venus or the Polar Star, makes you already contended. So when will you relive this fascination that goes back to the night of time and, closer to us, at the time of the Algonquin of the tribe of the Weskarinis, who inhabited this territory before the arrival of Europeans?
We no more need the stars to guide us, and the mysterious side they could represent to ancient peoples has largely been unveiled. We can therefore imagine the importance the night sky could take in the minds of these people. The North or Polar Star is very close to the point of heaven in our hemisphere which is in line with the axis of rotation of the Earth, or north celestial pole. Because of this position, it seems motionless, while the entire sky appears to turn around it. Located on the same axis, the north celestial pole also tells us the Earth's or geographical North Pole. The Polar Star was therefore, at all times, a way of orientation, and we can thus imagine the importance it was taking for nomadic populations.
Many legends are born on the planet from the fabulous interpretation of the night sky. Aboriginal people, who lived in harmony with nature, were well aware of the celestial phenomena and explained them in their own way; they took an important place in their culture. They had already identified constellations, often representing animals, including that of the bear, and myths were associated with them. The position of the stars served as calendar and landmark in the determination of certain seasonal activities. «The Algonquin call the Milky Way the Pathway of the Souls and see it as the trail taken by the dead as they travel to a place that we cannot know. Each star of the Pathway of the Souls is a home fire of the departed, and each night, while they sit around it on their long pilgrimage telling stories, they look down upon us and see our home fires.» Communication between mortals and the spirit world was thus made possible and spiritual leaders knew well its workings.
While sharing the Algonquin mythology, the Weskarinis also had their stories in own on the sky of the Laurentians. Thus, they called the full moon of January the Wolf Moon; because it was the best time to hear them howling. For them, the colors of the setting sun and the position of the head of the bear seemed to indicate the change of seasons. These tribes’ mythology has been largely lost or changed since the presence here of the Algonquin, that could go back to the time of the pyramids, underlines The Ballyhoo.
Regardless of the sensations that invade you contemplating the sky of the Laurentians when all the stars are lighted, the idea that First Nations were able to establish a pan of their culture, while using it as a compass or otherwise, could add to your emotion.
With the use of Microsoft Translator
The Montfort Pavilion
- Multifunctional Center
o The recreational and community Pavilion of Montfort, under the authority of the MRC des Pays-d’en-Haut and managed since May 1st, 2015 by the Coop des 4 Pôles, is one of the access points to the Aerobic Corridor Park, this ' 58 km recreational trail between Morin-Heights and Amherst’. While its lobby is used freely for many years to accommodate residents and visitors, it now offers more services through the year-round presence of one staff.
o The new recreational activities offered by the co-op, with the rental of canoes and kayaks, following the construction of a community dock and gateways, as well as bikes, among other things, helped consolidate the Pavilion in his role. And that's not counting the nearby presence of the important Viking canoë-kayak Club.
o New features are grafted to the multifunctional centre, such as the boats washing station.
o It is simultaneously, as the St. Michel Pavilion or the Laurel Community Centre, a meeting room for the municipality of Wentworth-Nord. The meetings of the City Council are held at this location once all three months, not to mention consultations or presentations, election meetings, or even possible referendums. The MRC is also holding its own monthly meeting of the Council of mayors in the Pavilion, alternately between its 10 constituent municipalities.
o Many events organized by local organizations or other from the Montfort sector, as these famous Pot Luck, and that contribute to the social life of the community, benefit from the presence of the Pavilion.
o The information role here has never ceased to increase. To the availability of maps of the region and multiple information leaflets, was added the free offer of access to the Internet.
o The Center also hosts the Montfort art gallery perched in the rear balcony of the old church. In that small space, the gallery embraces the challenge of bringing together the latest works of local artists, as is the case with the current exhibition, showing their imagination and their often invaluable talent.
o Board paddling, yoga now and other classes provide the Pavilion a development of its activities, while surrounding occasionally turns into kindergarten.
o The old church also remains a place of worship.
- In the correct location
o The Montfort Pavilion serves residents of the main lakes and roads in the northeast area of the municipality.
o It is located before the arrival to the village by the Montfort Road. Visitors to enjoy a canoe trip on Lake St. Francois-Xavier or biking on the Aerobic Corridor, as well as those who are enjoying the slopes of ski and snowshoes trails in winter, so do not have to go through the village when they can enjoy parking their cars around the Pavilion. In this sense promoting recreational tourism is unlikely to increase traffic in the village of Montfort, or even to the dead end of the Newaygo road. One can compare the situation to that of some villages on the nearby East Coast of the United States or at the Mont-Tremblant village, where you leave your car at the entrance; an asset for our Chief planner.
o The opening of the Lake-Thurson Road however, with parking in construction, as already the opening of a parking lot on the Aerobic Corridor, close to the Park of la Plaque tournante, lead the visitor through the village, which is due to increase traffic of cars upon. It should not be so in the future, but any expansion of parking should rather only be allowed in the vicinity of the Pavilion.
- The future of the Montfort Pavilion
o Facing controversy in front of the recreational and touristic promotion pursued by the MRC and the municipality, and now subject to opposite opinions in the adoption of the revised municipal urban Plan and in the election campaign, what will be the evolution of the role and activities of the Pavilion? Where is the expansion plan heard of from Mayor Genest? Murky waters to navigate through for the Board of the Coop des 4 Pôles and its new Executive Director, Ms. Nymark, which should soon hold a consultation session in the same Pavilion.
With the use of Microsoft Translator
«La Mémoire» on Wentworth-Nord
A new edition of «La Mémoire» (Été 2017, no. 143), the journal of the Société d’histoire et de généalogie des Pays-d’en-Haut (SHGPH), has just been published. It is largely dedicated to the Municipality's heritage. This initiative was announced at the meeting of this spring, in Laurel, of representatives of the SHGPH with the Wentworth-North’s Heritage Committee and municipal authorities involved in this field.
A first section deals with the birth of the Municipality. A second, under the signature of Mayor Genest, is titled; "The notion of landscape». A third traces the religious heritage, with three churches, reflections of an era and an architectural style. A fourth, entitled 'Characterization of the buildings of interest', aligns photos of old houses, mainly at Montfort, with description of their evolution over the years, if is the case, as well as of their history.
Moreover, one article speaks also of the Janson's family and its origins, as well as of the involvement of Mr. Fernand Janson in research and presentation of the heritage and regional genealogy.
During the initial meeting, an exhibition in Wentworth-North, using the historical material collected at that occasion, had also been promised for this summer. You can probably find this edition at the library of the Municipality, or get it at the office of the SHGPH, in Saint-Sauveur (Chalet Pauline-Vanier). SHGPH
On the 20th of March, a meeting of the Société d’histoire et de généalogie des Pays-d’en-Haut (SHGPH)’s Heritage Committee was held at the Municipal library with citizens of the Municipality concerned about the remembrance of this heritage as well as with municipal leaders. The purpose of this meeting was the collection of old photos and evocations of the past to, among other things, produce a next issue of the Société’s publication, La Mémoire, which will be dedicated to the heritage and the collective wealth of Wentworth-North. Among these are of course the creation and development of the village of Montfort along with its agricultural orphanage.
The collection was successful and will also be used to produce an exhibition of the "Treasures of the Municipality", as soon as this summer. The collaboration with the locals has also helped orienting the SHGPH towards the avenues to be given priority. The Société took advantage, in 2016, of financial support from the MRC’s cultural fund program, which allows it to move forward with its project of «enhancement of the Municipality of Wentworth-North’s heritage and landscape».
Through this initiative, a new Wentworth-North’s Heritage Committee could become the preferential interlocutor of the SHGPH and promises of collaboration were exchanged. This new Committee appears on a photo taken on March 20th and published in La Mémoire, hiver 2017, no. 142. There are Mrs. Hélène Fortin and Mrs. Line Chapados, Mr. Yves Léveillé and Mr. Fernand Janson, who has already published the results of his research on the first families of Montfort and other historical facts, as well as Mr. Alex Piché and Mayor André Genest. Now, don't ask what this Heritage Committee can harvest for you, but rather what you can provide them with...
Contact: Mr. Fernand Janson (firstname.lastname@example.org) Carl Chapdelaine
PS: Maybe a wall panel of historical representation at the entrance of Montfort?
Families of Montfort in 1901, 1911 and 1921
In his newsletter "Le Contact", from the Société d’Histoire et du Patrimoine des Trois Villages, Mr. Fernand Janson has published very instructive data on the first families of Montfort. Mr. Janson indicates that "Out of the nine families established at Notre-Dame de Monfort in 1881, four still live in Montfort in 1901. These families are: Michel Prud'homme/Constantineau, François Cyr, Eustache Leduc and Joseph Charbonneau.» He even follows them in a few generations. We know of many descendants of these families today.
Censuses of Canada1 were an invaluable source of data on the population of the village. They would then, in addition to the fathers’ and mothers’ names as well as of their children, give their place of residence, gender, month, year and place of birth, their origins, their nationality, their religion, their occupation with their revenue, and even if they could read and write. For the censuses of 1901 and 1911, you have access to all these details by internet; but the work is strenuous and some pages seem impossible to find or needing many tries.2 For 1921, Statistics Canada has entrusted to Ancestry.ca to present these digitized data; and it seems to be a good thing when you see the presentation. However, the comparison with the two previous censuses is difficult. It is work for genealogy enthusiasts or those who descend from these families.
Subscribing to Ancestry.ca to access the 1921 census is free; but you still have to give your person's details.3 (On their Homepage, choose rather the "Search" page, then, in their "Special Collections" column: "Census & Voter Lists", and finally "1921 Census of Canada".) In «Browse this Collection», Look for district of Argenteuil, and then sub-district 18 for Montfort or 24 for the orphanage to get out all the pages. When you zoom in, the names, the titles of the columns and the rectangle where the hand is positioned immerge typed.)
1. The first Census after Confederation took place in 1871; the second in 1881, etc.
2.Census 1901 (In the 'advanced search', try with Argenteuil --> Wentworth --> Tassé, on the PDF document.) Page 1 : Chales, Charbonneau, Poulin, Gervais, Dionne, Plouffe, Maillé, Lafontaine, Tassé, Paquin, Chisdom, McEvans?, MacGuire?
Page 2 : Tassé, Beauchamp, Desjardins, Forgette, Lacroix, Paradis, Laporte et Corbeil.
Census 1911 (In the 'advanced search', try with Argenteuil --> Wentworth --> Watchorn, on the PDF document.) Page 1 : Constantineau, Corbeil, O’connor, Leduc, Robert, Bélanger, Forget, Millette and Tassé.) Page 2 : Cleary, Neill, Watchorn, Boyd, Hall, Hammond, Letts, Crestwell, Conlin and Brown.)
Map of the Laurentians, 1897
The railroad layout
At the height of Lake Chevreuil and Lake Saint-François-Xavier, the layout of the Railroad of colonization of Montfort seems to have been corrected by a simple black line. While it spun almost in a straight line, to the South of the first when arriving from Morin Flat, and North of the second after crossing between these two lakes, with a sure stop at the orphanage, the pencil line makes it now heading towards what we know today as the Aerobic Corridor. It allows it to cross Lake Saint-François-Xavier on the trestle bridge between the Montfort and Newaygo basins. Maybe the track had actually changed its route to better follow the Lake’s borders and serve the current Newaygo area. The Montfort colonization railway company had well refitted the tracks, precisely in 1897, to replace the spacing of 3 feet from the "economic railroad" by the new standard of 4' 8½". On this occasion, the "Montfort junction" had moved to southern suburbs of Saint-Jérôme, where it was able to make the connection with the track of the same spacing of the CPR1.
The map shows that our Railway of colonization line goes up to Arundel, route still used by the Aerobic Corridor.
The map also indicates that a road, for the most part disappeared, was leaving the current Chemin des Montfortains, passing by North of Lake Wheeler, then between Lac-à-la-Croix and Lake Saint-François-Xavier. From this last point, either it went directly toward Grand Lac Noir (following the limits between lots IX and X). It bypassed Lake Noir by the North before pointing down in joining Laurel, with a section apparently not existing anymore, while a branch line reached the passage between the Sixteen Islands Lake and Lake Laurel. Either it joined, by perpendicular bifurcation, a road west of the Newaygo basin, in direction of Laurel-Station and which last section seems to be a current road reaching this last place.
The Rivière à Simon
The route of the Rivière à Simon is not the one found on today's maps. It rather corresponds to the Jackson Stream, with its source at Lake Anne. This stream heads towards Lake Echo before joining the current Rivière à Simon, through Lakes Daïnava and Seale2. According to the map of 1897, the Jackson Stream had to be the first section of what is then referred to as the Rivière à Simon. Would the cartographer have been wrong? The choice of the right tributaries to determine the main course of a river is not always obvious. Or would rather, the building, in 1900, of the great dam at the foot of Lake Saint-François-Xavier, tributary of the current Rivière à Simon, have changed its flow making it the main watercourse, relegating the Jackson Stream to the rank of simple tributary?
Principal Lakes North of Montreal, 1897 (.pdf)
The Irish in Wentworth-Nord
Historians relate that the first colonizing families being established in the 1850s, in the Northwest corner of the Township of Wentworth, which became Laurel, came from Ireland. They called their place 'New Ireland'. A century later, the entire sector in an L shape, to the West and North of the Township, from St. Michael to Montfort, became Wentworth-North.
The great famine of 1847 in Ireland had occasioned this exceptional flow of Irish immigrants in Quebec. But Irish blood also flows through the veins of many inhabitants and cottagers of the municipality, who do not necessarily descend from these pioneers, as the undersigned...
Colonization roads of Montfort
[Click to zoom the image] In his Société d’Histoire et du Patrimoine des Trois Villages "Le Contact" newsletter, summer 2008, Mr. Fernand Janson publishes an old subdivision plan around Lake Saint-François-Xavier.
You can see on the attached topographic map of today approximate reproduction of two existing roads at the time, crossing in long rows 10 and 11. Originally forest access roads, explains Mr. Janson, row 10's one allowed to go to the agricultural Orphanage of Notre-Dame de Montfort. It could thus be reached from Saint-Jérôme, passing by Mille-Îles. It was "before the construction of the great road of colonization, the future Road 364 West. It was also used to go to Laurel, passing West of Lakes Noir and Argenté.'' This road became the Jackson and des Montfortains Roads; while its western branch is now missing.
Concerning the road going through row 11, it headed East, towards Saint-Sauveur and, to the West, will become route Principale towards Laurel.
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.
You wiil soon be able to reach Arundel and Huberdeau by the Aerobic Corridor.
Little Mary's Hostel
At the end of 19th century, Montfort had only 30 houses which were well aligned with the Church, the presbytery, the hotel, the general store, and, farther away, the orphanage. There was also, a way apart, a nice, big white house with columns at the entrance. This would become the hostel of Little Mary.
How the redhead of sixteen years, could have left her home in Scotland and ended up in this new village of the Laurentians? What role did Mr. Brown, an importer of fine fabrics, have to play in this? Mary’s wedding photo, now known as Mme Paradis, which shone on the sideboard of the hostel, would have much to tell about this story. Fortunately, Laurette Paquin, the granddaughter of this Scottish woman, Mary, made her childhood memories come back to life through this story.
Mary was going to transform her large house into a pension-hostel for workers on weekly agreement basis. A description of this environment and the life at the Inn brings us back a century. The hot bath was taken on Saturday afternoon, in in a corner of the kitchen encircled by thick curtains. The men were okay with this ritual.
Then Mary lost her husband, a victim of a hunting accident. The body would be exposed in the house, as was the ritual of the time. It would be laid out on boards dedicated for this purpose and covered with a sheet. Mary, having learned to rely only on herself, continued to run the Inn until the day when another adverse event made her fate fall over again. Mary would then leave Montfort and ... move with her Inn!
You will discover this story, true or not, of Little Mary and her Inn in our spring 2014 Newsletter.
First steam train
The Montfort Colonization Railway first steam train would have arrived at this village in 1894; the route was starting at the "Montfort Junction", then north of Shawbridge. It was a narrow-gauge (3 ft) railway known as «chemin de fer économique». The attached photo, dated 1895, should reflect this situation.
The two locomotives dedicated for this service, as well as cars and other specific equipment, possibly came from the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Region where this type of narrow gauge railway had just been replaced by a standard gauge one.
But as soon as the 1897, the Montfort Colonization Railway Company, which would change its name for the Montfort & Gatineau Colonization Railway Company, hoping to reach the latter region via Huberdeau, made the same move and converted the tracks to conform to the standard in use in the East of the country, with a gauge of 4 feet 8 inches and half.
Following this standardization, the Montfort junction moved to southern suburbs of Saint-Jérôme where the railway was able to make the direct connection with the CPR tracks.
Source: The Montfort Story, O.S.A. Lavallée, Canadian Rail, number 135.
More from Canadian Rail: Montréal - Montfort - Huberdeau:http://www.exporail.org/can_rail/Canadian%20Rail_no284_1975.pdf.
The last train
Route 34 : Frenieres - Lac Remi; see in: Quebec& Labrador Railways - SL 150 ; Passenger stations & stops; Canadian National Rly (1-53). route 34. http://www.railwaystationlists.co.uk/pdfcanada/quebecandlabradorrlys.pdf (p. 8)
Abandonment of the route: «This arrangement would be similar to that covering the abandonment two years ago of part of the National's picturesque Montfort Subdivision in Quebec. The adjacent photograph (p.273: close to end of document) shows a passenger train following the shores of Lac St. Francois Xavier between the villages of Montfort and Newaygo.»
http://www.exporail.org/can_rail/Canadian%20Rail_no160_1964.pdf Photo - P.Ganley
Last train (diesel) to Montfort. see picture of the steam train and the account of the last voyage p. 91: 'Farewell ': http://www.exporail.org/can_rail/Canadian%20Rail_no134_1962.pdf
Memories I have collected from Mr. Jean-Louis Levasseur, orphan at the orphanage in the late 40’s and son in law of «Montfort Leduc», first baby boy to be baptized at the village (1883). In «Lake St. François-Xavier Newsletter», Fall 2010 (in French only; translator welcomed).
«The steam train arrived on Fridays. Among luggage, there were reels of film; the broadcasting took place on Fridays evenings for the public of the village and on Saturdays evenings for the orphans. It had repeat broadcast on Sundays when the weather was bad. The train was leaving on Mondays. There was also theatre and concerts. The Alouette quartet3 was welcomed, as was the young prodigy Gérard Barbeau, boy treble famous here and abroad.» Gérard Barbeau sings Tristesse from Chopin (Etude Op 10 No.3); YouTube
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’’ (François-Xavier-Antoine Labelle), St. Jérôme parish priest, and combined the intention of creating an orphanage there.
So, three scouts ventured in the forests of these townships, in search of a favourable place. They arrived in the north portion of Wentworth’s Township, in dense forest, at the foot of the lake dedicated to the apostle of the Indies and Japan (Saint François-Xavier). 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”.
The pioneers then 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 discovered a water concentration point. 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’’ (Monfortains) 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.
Sources: The major content of this article mainly comes from: «Orphelinats Agricoles de Notre-Dame de Montfort», published in Montreal, in 1883 and can be viewed at the following link: