Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday, June 30th, Deep into Family History Territory

In the last two days, we’ve seen most of the towns where my Canadian ancestors lived and died.  The Cloutiers began their stay in America in 1634 when Zacharie Cloutier and his fellow craftsmen were contracted by the French government to bring their skills to the construction of France’s New World, which would later become Lower Town in Quebec.  The Gagnes followed in 1643.  When their work was finished, they brought their families over and founded new homes up and down the Saint Lawrence Seaway and on an island in its middle (Ille d’Orleans).  

For a hundred years, Cloutier and Gagne families populated the area.  Both families moved from the original family home at Chateau Richer, just outside Quebec, to towns they established along the Seaway.  Led by the Gagnes in 1760, and followed by the Cloutiers in 1810, they both eventually moved southwest to St Joseph de Beuce.  There in 1847, Emerentienne Cloutier and Joseph Gagne were married, the first blending of the two families.

In California, the Bear Flag Revolt had begun.  In the mid-west, my Norwegian farm ancestors were sailing across Lake Michigan, on their way to North Dakota.  In Cumbria, Northern England, my father’s great-grandfather was working in the iron mines along a railroad linking the area with Liverpool. 

But three generations later, a Gagne granddaughter would marry the descendant of the first recorded European born in America (On the Mayflower in the harbor), and my family would become one of the very few who could claim to have helped found two countries.

Tomorrow, we’ll visit the original ancestral home at Chateau Richer.  Later this week, we’ll be following the family timeline to St Joseph de Beuce and Disraeli.  Toward the end of our trip, we have a special visit with my aunt Kitty, who shares this ancestry with me.

By the way, I mistakenly posted a link to the wrong album for the House of our Ancestors Museum yesterday.  Sorry guys.

Here’s some of the photos taken where we stayed last night: Monday evening

And a link to the Google Map I’ve been keeping of the trip: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=z6QvBOdNCx-Y.kdoS9VMjtwSY.  The green icons are where we've been, red is where we're headed.

By the way, the Women's World Cup Semi-Final (USA vs Germany) has just begun.  Go USA!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday, June 28th, Quebec


Two days into this, everything is going very well.  We spent Saturday visiting Quebec's Old Town, with most of the time spent walking, touring, and learning about the Lower Town section where my ancestors put in their indentured contract service ensuring the survival of the early colonists.  While I was happy to learn a few years ago about how enthusiastic were the French residents of Montagne au Perche (they put up stain-glass windows, and plaques in the Church picturing the accomplishments, and funded a history museum dedicated to the group), I wondered if anyone over here even knew about "Company of 100".  And more importantly, would anyone be able to provide me with more information on the 400 years of family history in this area?

Canadians are very proud of their early settlers, and the role that French beaver trappers, carpenters, and farmers played in establishing their New World.  The research we've done, both before we arrived, and while we've been here, has allowed us to connect with locals who have improved our knowledge of my Cloutier and Gagne family history considerably.  In particular, two resources should be recognized for their invaluable help so far.

The first is the Musee de la Place Royal in the main square in Lower Town.  They provided an excellent tour which gave us a sense of what life was like in the area in the 1600 and 1700's.  Special recognition to Jean Louis Nouvell, who looks pretty good for his 300+ years, and related to us his insights into marriage, merchanting, civil defense, and public hygiene.

The second is the Maison de Nos Aieux in Sainte Famille on the Ille d'Oleans.  Laurent Bernier and Marie-Pier Grenier provided me with an enormous boost to my understanding of Gagne, Gagnon, and Cloutier family history on the Island and surrounding areas.

Before we return to finish the work of discovering more about my ancestors, we'll be heading up to the Gaspe Peninsula for a few days.  It is so beautiful out on the edge of the Canadian eastern coast, that we have to go back after many years to check it out again. When the main museum in Chateau Richer (on the northern Saint Lawrence Seaway coast east of Quebec) opens for the season on Wednesday, we'll be back to visit and query staff.  It's the main residence of my family for 300 years, and contains most of our historical documentation.

And for our recommendations on where to dine in the area, we are especially recommending Chacon Dingue (the name means "Silly Pig"), for a nutritional, yet fast food experience on a restaurant-row street (McGuire Street) in Quebec.  I had a small seafood pot pie, with a salad containing sliced tomatoes, watermelon, feta cheese, and dark grapes.  Pat had a large poached salmon salad with vegetables.  The atmosphere was cheerful and the service was prompt.  Best of all the parking was free, and right out front.

For more photos taken yesterday and today, click on Saturday, June 27th, Quebec and Sunday, June 28th, Ill d'Orleans.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Friday, June 26th, Quebec


After breakfast at the hotel, we took the shuttle back to the Airport, where our car rental company picked us up and took us to their office to get our car.  On the road after photographing all the scratches, we headed north to the scenic drive along the St. Lawrence Seaway.  Stopping at a small diner in Maskinonge, Pat left her purse under the table.  It was about an hour and a half later when we discovered it missing, and our race back to the diner was very white-knuckled.  Passports, her wallet, and plenty of less crucial but important stuff inside, we were hugely relieved retrieving it.  Forgoing the rest of the coast, we made a beeline for our hotel in Quebec.

Tomorrow, we head into the Old Town area of Quebec.  It is full of my family history, and I made a photo of the Google Map containing our stops.  The hotel shuttle will drop us off at the Hotel Frontenac, and we'll try walking the places noted.  The Metro can get us back to the Hotel later in the afternoon, and I'm really looking forward to this part of the trip.

We'll be here in Quebec until Monday, and have planned day trips up the north-eastern side of the St. Lawrence, and out to the Gaspe Peninsula.  Should be lots of photos in the next post.



Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thursday, July 25th, San Francisco Airport


We're off to Quebec via Montreal, exploring my ancestry again.  In 1634, Zacharie Cloutier and Xainte Dupont joined 98 others sent by the French government to found the New World.  As you learned in earlier posts, my ancestors sailed 12 years earlier on the Mayflower to found their own version of the new world, escaping religious persecution.  This set of relatives had agreed to a contract which provided land for their building trade skills and willingness to risk everything in a journey full of promises and no guarantees.

We're in the SFO Airport, awaiting an 11:40am flight to Montreal, where we'll stay the night, and pick up a rental car tomorrow morning.  I have the locations of towns between there and Quebec, and then east and south of Quebec where they ended up for the last four hundred years.  I am so appreciative of Pat's willingness to endure my historical curiosity, and her great companionship and support in these many adventures.

Hope you all enjoy the trip too.  I'll do my best to make it entertaining as well as educational.