For the most part our Manitoba ancestry had
all began with two players, Joseph and Francois Desjarlais that had trekked out West and had settled within the French
communities of Manitoba, to begin our bloodline and from within the small French communities that had been situated along
the AssiniboineRiver forty miles west of what
is now the City of Winnipeg, and following the collapse of the fur trade. And the
family had spread out geographically,and from west to east, from Poplar Point then east to Baie St. Paul, and then further
east to St. Francois-Xaviere, where many had laid roots. And some had ventured further north and into the settlement of St.Laurent Manitoba the situated along the shores of Lake Manitoba, and and including Eriksdale and Lundar.
And I say this with tongue in cheek; the wine industry owes a lot to this man named Philippe Desjarlais. Grandpa
had six sons,and three of them, Eugene, Eddie, and Wilfred had shared his favorite pastime and sport, drinking wine.
I had to join the Air Force to learn that sport.
Philippe had been the product of four wars if we count the Boer War, and including
the depression of 1929,and followed by the dirty thirties. And true to the personage of his époque and milieu,he had
not aspired to the greatness of those in some history books, but he is nevertheless pivotal because without him, we would
not be here today. So in all ways possible, that in itself is greatness.
And earlier I had dubbed my grandfather as "old Philippe," which is because I had
never known my grandfather as other then a very old man. And I remember that he had smoked hand made cigarettes until they
had been so short that they had gone out and had stuck to his lips. His fingers had been stained a dark brown almost black
from the nicotine of the cigarettes.
Ya, he was old but he had an innocence and a strength that about him that had been deceiving, perhaps not a strength
but rather stamina. And he had a certain naivety about him and a certain charm, and therefore an innocence. And he had been
skeletal he had been so thin. Yet after all these years I have only one memory that stands out glaringly.And I remember that
moment as though it were only yesterday.
On that day he had walked
over to our house in the dead of winter, and all the way from Uncle Eugene's and over to
our place in St. Boniface. And I think that it had taken him the better part of the day. And when he had showed up his eyes
had been watering and so was his nose, it had been cold and I remembered that he had frozen his ears. But that hadn't
seemed to bother him, because he had that inner strength that I was talking about earlier. And when grandpa came to visit,
it was to stay.He hadn't a home of his own anymore.
And Grandpa was an early riser. And I remember that he would get up and boil water to make a pot of tea. He would
put sugar in his tea and clink his spoon against the inside of the cup as he had stirred his tea. And he had done that forever.
And it used to annoy my sister Rita, the little Witch...it never bothered me, because it had been a sign of life, and I had
found that comforting as I lay and feigning asleep on the couch..
But the day that I remember so vividly and even though it was so long ago,and I too am an old man today, had been they day
he had so wanted to stay, yet my father had turned him away in the dead of winter. Grandpa had spent the afternoon and into
the evening with us, and I thought he was going to stay with us,but my father had not let him stay. And we were
all in the kitchen, my mom was doing the dishes, I was there, and so was my dad and grandpa. My father had helped him into
his coat at the kitchen door and then he had taken grandpa's hat and had torn out the lining. Remember that grandpa had frozen
his ears? And Grandpa had looked on and had laughed, and he had glanced at me, and I could see that he was silently pleading
with dad so that he could stay. And I watched that unfold. But my dad had ignored him,and dad had put the hat on grandpa's
head and had pulled the hat lining over his ears and then he had turned him away. And grandpa hadn't argued, and when the
door had closed behind him grandpa had been out in the cold again, and walking back to Eugene's's.
And as I look back
to that day, I shudder to think what had been going on in grandpa's mind. He had no home, nowhere to call his own, and I was
maybe five years old at the time, yet that image really bothers me, and I was powerless to do anything. It was cruel.It
had seemed that no one had wanted Grandpa anymore? And that memory is forever etched into my mind, and forever and a day.
And as I recall grandpa's eyes had always watered, I guess you could have called them rheumy eyes. And he had always
wiped them with the filthiest of handkerchiefs that I had ever seen. And when he wiped his eyes he would always force the
lower lid down, it was pretty gross. And over the years those lids had stayed like that, droopy, and showing the pink under
layer of the lower eyelid.
I wasn't going to school yet I was maybe five or six years old, and I would always sit beside him and on
the floor at his feet and we used to talk. And please, don't get me wrong by what I am writing here; because those are the
only strong memories that I have of him, and I am certainly not pronouncing a judgement on my grandfather. But I will say
this, I didn't like what my father had done that day. I truly loved my grandfather.I remember that he had spoken Saulteaux
or was it Michif, but whether or not he had been fluent I couldn't say? I don't remember. And I used to talk to him and he
would listen to me. I have some more vivid memories of grandpa but they are mine, and I'll keep them to myself. And I had
spoken to my sister May and I had asked her what grandpa had been like when she was young? And she had said that
he used to go over to the house in the morning and get her, and then they would have breakfast together at his place. And
that's what I like to hear, the good stories.
I don't know what grandpa's dreams had been as a young boy, but we all have dreams and we all hope that when we grow up people
will be proud of us. But what happens when that man runs out of time, and he realizes too late, that it is too late? Where
do old men go when they have nothing, and they no longer dream? I don't know if Grandpa Philippe had been a
happy man in his late years, but I'm certain that he had been when he had worn a younger man's clothes. And I'm certain that
he had been happy when he had a wife to hold everything together for him, and he still had young grandchildren that loved
him, because towards the end I had truly felt sorry for him. And even today, and so many years after that night in the kitchen,I
can still see him as he had stood in the kitchen that night when Dad had sent him away. And I remember that he had taken grandpa's
old hat and had torn the lining out so that it would cover his ears, and grandpa had stood smiling and laughing and pleading
with his eyes, and even I could see that yet that had gone unheeded and for grandpa there had been nothing to change the inevitable.
And dad had put that hat on his head and had pulled it down over his ears while grandpa had laughed, and looking pleadingly
into Dads eyes and hoping for a reprieve that never came, although he hadn't begged.That would have been overkill. And once
again I see him turned away and I hear the door close behind him and once again grandpa is alone and on the road, and out
in the cold, and homeless and alone. And that is the last vivid memory that I have of grandpa, and it kills me, and it won't
go away. I mean it isn't there all the time, but as I did this rewrite I came across it again, and once again that feeling
of shame is there. Philippe had obviously had good points along with the bad, like all of us, but unlike us he did not have
the luxury of an education or of good fortune. Maybe you are inclined to say that he got what he deserved? But no one deserves
that, no one. And today I feel privileged that I have grandchildren, and the oldest one is going on twenty-five, and that
I still consider myself a young grandfather. And I am very fortunate to have good health, and I age well, like an old wine.
But Grandpa too had been young once. And as a young man he too had caught someone's eye, and they had fallen in love and been
married and they made babies. And I'm certain that he had happy times with his children too, and I hope that those memories
had carried him through to the end. I'm sure that he too had loved his grandchildren. And the story of him, that May had shared
with me had made me feel somewhat better, and I hope that there had been more of those stories buried in time, yet if no one
puts them to pen, they will die untold... Rest in peace grandfather, I love you. And maybe we will meet again someday.
Out of the union of Antoine Desjarlais and Marie Chartrand was born Philippe Desjarlais.Born 01 May 1874, Poplar Possen (Point)
Married 17 May 1904, St. Laurent, to
Lagimodiere, daughter of
Louis Lagimodiere and Marie Bruneau
Died 28 Jan 1962, Winnipeg
Philippe had been one of the fortunate so I am told and had a job, and when
work had been so
scarce after the dirty thirties. I think he had done something with the Royal mail? Had he done that all his life? I remember
my older brother saying that he
was the sheriff. I remember my Dad saying something that I didn't believe at the time and had said so, right to his
face. But he had insisted and said it had been true. What had it been that Dad said?
He had said that he had eaten skunk once, when he had been young. Okay, let's think about
that a moment. For me to eat skunk, I would have to be starving, what about you? So then, had Philippe fallen on some
hard times? Were they starving?
That whole line of thinking and those questions are moot, because they had survived. But it makes you wonder. And before I
leave this paragraph I
will now mention the connection we have to Louis Riel. Grandpa Philippe had married a Lagimodiere. Our connection to Louis
Riel is through our Grandmother's maternal side and the family name Lagimodiere.
Julie Lagimodiere was Jean-Baptiste Lagimodiere's sister. She, Julie, had married
Louis Riel senior, and they had a son named Louis. That son had been "the Louis Riel of the history books," and the leader
of the Métis nation. It has been said that Louis Riel had lived a Nomadic lifestyle. But from reading the history, I
think that he had lived his life one step ahead of the law.
And out of the union of Philippe Desjarlais and Marguerite Lagimodiere were
beautiful children. And they are listed below.
1.UnknownBorn 23 Dec 1904,St. Laurent
Died24Dec 1904,St. Laurent
2.Marie EleonoreBorn 13Nov 1905,St. Laurent
Married 30 Jun 1932,St. Laurent, to
George Allen, son of
Fredrick Thomas Allen and
Elizabeth Jane Berry
Died03 Apr 1935,St. Laurent
She was the mother of Don Desjarlais 1926
4.AdélardBorn 14 Nov 1909Pointe-des- Chenes
5.WilfredBorn20 Sep 1911St.
Married Dorothy Gauthier
Died16 Dec 1978Winnipeg
6.RemiBorn01 Oct 1915St. Laurent
Died24Jan 1916St. Laurent
Married Helen Fleury, Qu'Appelle Valley
notice by this registry that there was no mention made of Cousin Don; I called him Uncle Don. I include him here.
Don Desjarlais was the son of Marie
Théodore Desjarlais is my father and he was the oldest of the five surviving boys.
sister Eleonore had been two years older then he. My father I had never known as a young man. I am the second
last of a family of eight, five surviving. All those before me had been born in St. Laurent. And the youngest that I can remember Dad he had already been forty-two years old. We weren't close. He had
been very close to my brother Maurice, but Maurice had been a lot older then I.
I used to ask Mom about Dad, what had he
been like when he was younger and what had he
done before he had moved the family to St. Boniface? She had told me that when Dad had been a young man he had gone
to work for a construction company that was building roads in Manitoba. During the early 1920's
not many roads had been paved outside of the city, so he had done
that for a while.
been a loner or had he a circle of friends? I don't know. But I would lean towards believing that he was a loner, because
if his married life gives any
indication of what the man was like, he never strayed far from home, and I too had been a loner.
As a young man mom
had said whenever he had gone over to visit her that he had always had a little bag of candies but that he had been
too cheap to share any of them with her brothers. He had courted Josephine Barron for a few years before he had finally
won her heart and they had finally got married. They had finally tied the knot the 07 Oct 1931 in St. Laurent.
had been born in St. François-Xavier in 1914 the year of the beginning of World War One. She was the lovely daughter
of Louis-Charles Barron and Beatrice Lafreniere.
Théodore had been
the most ambitious of the five sons and a hard working man. But he never knew his true worth so therefore he had been
exploited. He was a tightwad, a product of the depression and I've heard said a strict disciplinarian and sometimes brutal
a young father, so my sister's would have me believe, but I had never seen that side of him. But, he was consistent. And
whenever I had asked him for a penny the answer was always no. And after a while I had just stopped asking.
Remember earlier I had
wondered about Grandpa's dreams, well Théodore had dreams and he had ambitious dreams and he had worked towards his dreams.
He had begun to better himself
however he could and it had begun when he had saved enough money and he had moved the family out of St. Laurent and had moved to St. Boniface. This is where Theodore had been head and shoulders
above his brothers, he had ambition.
in St. Boniface he again saves his money and finally has enough to buy a house. I
remember that house very vividly. It had sat on the empty lot across the street from where we had lived and it had been
in two pieces.
And as a very young child I remember coal
oil lamps and wood burning stoves and having to bring water into the house by pail, and a house full of people, some sleeping
on the floor. I remember walking around from Uncle to Uncle getting a small sip of their beer. Yeah, those were the
In the very beginning we didn't have electricity
but why did you need electricity, for lights? We had coal oil lamps and candles for light. Think back to the late thirties
to early fifties, what was electric powered back then? Actually, lots of things were electrical; I just don't know what
they were back then, the radio, electric light bulbs?
to iron clothes were of the type that one put on the wood stove till they got hot, and they had been very heavy, and
the hair curler was also heated on the stove.
the fifties where we lived we didn't have running water nor sewage, but we never had, so we did not miss any of those things
then. And where we had lived then had been the country, what we had called the sticks.
Dad had been able
to look ahead and had planned with the future in mind. I know that in the beginning that house hadn't been much, but
Théodore had seen it as possibilities, and over time it had become quite comfortable. And he had filled that house with everything
needed to make it livable, and I mean filled, there was too much
stuff in there.
Initially we didn't
have any furniture, and we had needed beds and mattresses, I don’t know how he had
done it but he had. And a little at a time, and over time, the house had become our home. The house that had been in two
pieces had been turned into our home
and that is where Théodore and Josephine had raised their family.
We were not rich
but we were not dirt poor. He owned his own land and his own house and he had always made sure that we had good food,
a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs. I know that we were not fancy dressed, but everyone of that time had dressed
the same. Maybe we hadn't been rich, so what, we had been happy?
families is relative to the top dog, and the following excerpt shows just that; there had been an argument between our
parents and I think with Eugene and his wife, Bilish and his wife and mom and dad, and it had ended with someone saying,
'oh you people are too big shots for us', or something similar. Imagine that; we were big shots! Ya, I guess we were!
What a croc!
But the thing is,
Dad was ambitious, his brothers not so much, and he had earned his way, on his own, and had bought a house, his brothers
hadn't, and never did.
And I remember Dad
saying that he had walked everywhere when he had been a young man. He had worked at the yards...Union Stock-Yards, he was
a cattle man. And in the early fifties the yards had closed because of hoof and mouth disease. He had gone into Winnipeg looking
for a job, and had walked every where he went. He got a good job at Eaton's. Mom liked that, because he had worn a suit. But
soon as the Yards reopened he went back to being a yard man. He walked everywhere, and sometimes if it had been too far,
and around the neighborhood he would bicycle, in fact he had with me once, sitting on the bar, and he was taking me
to a movie. I remember that I had been scared shitless of that damn old noisy bus, I don't think I got in; in fact I'm
He saves up his money
again and one day he bought a car, it had been a 1936 Chevrolet. I had
thought that it was beautiful. It was shiny jet black, and with white wall tires. And you could hardly hear the motor
when it had been running. It had
been a beauty. He used to let me steer it sometimes.
And considering the environment
that Dad had grown up in and the role model that his father had played, our father had turned out pretty good. I think
we were a happy family and that we had lived well, thank you Dad.
the backyard one summer evening in 1986 shortly after our father had passed away, we had all gathered outside
in the back yard and had
been talking and laughing. We had been laughing at what it had been like when we had been young. While we had lived it,
it hadn't been funny, but in retrospect it had felt healthy that we could laugh about the good old days. It hadn't been
long since Dad had died and Mom had been sitting behind us and listening to our jokes and to what we had been saying and
she hadn't thought it funny. And she had finally spoken up, and said, "You know, we did the best that we could."
been disrespectful, without any intent. We were simply talking, we children, but mom felt badly that we had felt that way.
We were only joking. Mom has
since passed away, and I say this from the bottom of my heart, we love you Mom, and I'm very sorry, and I'm certain
that I speak for everyone when I
say that we didn't mean to hurt you.
will close this segment off by saying, that when you stand before a beautiful sunset that bursts into vivid red and
orange colours, and the edges of the
wispy clouds are edged in brilliant white from the sun, it just isn't as beautiful if you have no one to share it with,
and that my friend is
one definition of loneliness.
And out of the marriage of Théodore Desjarlais and Josephine Barron are born eight
beautiful children. They are listed below.
1.MayBorn 1932, St. Laurent
Married, St. Boniface, to
Renaud, son of
2.DorisBorn 1933, St. Laurent
Married, St. Boniface, to
Maurice Gobert, son of
Gobert and Mouta Baert
3.MauriceBorn 11 Nov1935St.
(1) Married Jul1953,St. Boniface,
Ilene Carpenter\McNeal, daughter of
Horace Carpenter and Alice Blanchette
Carol, daughter of
Died11 Nov1992,Vita, Mb (hunting),
a heart attack
4.RitaBorn 1937 St. Laurent
Married, St. Boniface, to
Toupin, son of
M. Toupin and
Bernard Toupin died 1993,St. Leon
Oct 1939,St. Laurent
6.AuroreBornJul 1941 St. Laurent
Died12 Sep 1941(age 3 months)
Our little Angel
7.*RoyBorn07 Mar 1944St.
Married 25 Feb 1967,BagotvilleQC, to
Andrée Gobeil, daughter
Charles-Émile Gobeil and Yvette Villeneuve
Andrée 28 Oct 1994
St. Hubert, of cancer
Oct 1945St. Boniface
MarriedSt. Boniface, to
Stuart Pearse, son of
Desjarlais name now sprouts off in two directions with Maurice and Roy. Maurice has two sons by a second marriage, one named
Brent who is around 50 and Craig who would be roughly 44 years old at the time of this writing.
Roy's son Mark has married and has two children, both of them girls so the Desjarlais name of our lineage
in Quebec ends with Mark. The name
is now in the hands of Brent and Craig that both live in Winnipeg.
From the union of Roy Desjarlais
and the lovely Andrée Gobeil are born two beautiful children. They are listed below.
1.NathalieBorn30 Apr 1967,Chicoutimi
Married,15 Jul 1995St. Hubert, to
Taillefer, son of
Alain Taillefer and Lise Lamontagne
2. *MarkBorn 05 Jul 1970St. Boniface
Married,02 Nov 1996 St. Hubert, to
Jocelyne St.Pierre, daughter of
Rolland St.Pierre and
Both Mark and Jocelyne work in Banks. They had met while both had worked at the Bank of Montreal. They had a short two-year courtship and married.
Mark is a sports enthusiast and plays hockey and baseball and shoots a
mean game of golf. Both he and his wife have risen in the ranks at the
bank and are both supervisors. Mark works within the International Money Market, at the Bank of Montreal. They have bought themselves a home in St. Hubert, and about ten minutes
drive from where I live.
From Mark Desjarlais union with Jocelyn they have had two beautiful children, and they are listed below.
1.JessieBorn03 Apr 1997LaSallePQ
2.AshleyBorn11 Apr 1999LaSallePQ
And surprisingly I have returned to the place of origin of the 'deGerlaisse' name. In point of fact where I live
is twenty minutes from
Varennes, and about two hours from Louiseville, RDL. The reality of that is very poetic, and surprisingly
very unintentional. In fact it is
not until just recently that I had discovered that the names of the places where our ancestors had been born, had been
a long ways from the Riviere-du-Loup
on the Quebec-New Brunswick border, and that had got me thinking. Understand this, I
had thought that we had been
from the town of Riviere-du-Loup. But
when I had checked the map, the names of the towns had been from places within Quebec,
and within close proximity to the town of Louiseville. So, after I had studied the map of the areas mentioned
I had discovered that the river that had flowed through the town of Louiseville
had been named 'Riviere-du-Loup'. And that is the reason that the genealogy records always write the name; Louiseville,
RDL. And afterwards everything had fallen into place. And what's more, the townships mentioned in the Quebec part of our ancestry still exist today. They are just a few minutes drive from where I live. I was pleased
of that and I have since visited the place.
you know something, I like who I am. I get up in the morning happy, and I feel blessed by what I have. Yet truthfully speaking,
I am the product of my past
experiences, and some of the things that I had done when I was young were crazy, but it is my karma, and it is
who I am today. And I do not hold
grudges, and I never met a man that I didn't like; I read that somewhere once. Okay, here we go!
I am a seventh son, born of a family of eight. And although I do not have six
brothers that were born before me, I am nevertheless, the seventh son. I had not been a healthy and robust
baby so I’m told. And I had spent some time in a hospital as a very young child, something serious enough to
have warranted hospitalization although not life threatening.
during my growing years I had been a dare devil type individual, and I had loved
to climb trees or run around on the rooftops of garages. I had
been easily influenced it would seem and I hadn't shown much common sense while growing up, and had sometimes even been
troublesome. I was once caught by the
police for breaking windows, aged eight, and the two that I was with squealed. That’s the term we used when I was
young. It had been a neighbor's garage, seven or eight windows out of a total of a dozen, I think, maybe a total of
ten altogether, yeah maybe closer to twelve. And man that was fun. And we had broken them quite innocently, while
target practicing with our newly made slingshots. When the cops came my father had displayed no sense of humor
at all, and whammed me up the side of the head. They were small windows, five by ten inches, and later I was out there
with Dad as we had repaired my handiwork. And the Clausen boys didn’t even help. And that garage had been
across the lane from their house. Now this was the thing with my father, and this was like clockwork whenever he got mad,
as in this particular situation. He
swore. I mean he swore a blue streak. It was a litany; imagine this, ten jezuz to one Christ, if you know what I mean?
And that wasn't all, I was
always in shit. Then once
again at age ten, the police came over collecting children from the neighborhood. We
had stolen the rubber O-Rings outof those old cardboard boxes in the field not far from home. We didn’t
hide the fact, and they saw us, and they hadn’t said anything. But the o-rings had been used for connecting
small sewer pipes. They called the cops. That day we had to lead the police over to where we had hidden the stash
in the woods. But we hadn't
hidden anything, we had taken the rubber o-rings and had joined them into a long bungee cord thingy, and we had tied that
between two big trees. It
was a swing, of sorts. And when the police officer saw that he had looked over at us and asked, okay, but how does
it work? So we had each got
to show him, and got our last ride on the swing. We had jumped up and grabbed
the cord and crouched as low as we could to the ground and jumped up. The cord had flung us upward and on
the downwards swing we had retracted our legs to get real low on the downswing and then we would push off again
for the upward swing. That thing could really hum! And this was way before bungee cords!
I had joined the Air Cadets and because of that training and discipline
I had endured that stage of my development. Growing up I had been a little scrapper and I would never run from a fight,
which had meant that I got beat up often, but I had also won my share of fights, and it had given me a reputation. But
it had been that tough guy shit that had had pushed me into harms way when I had been thirteen. The sucker was Billy Culleton,
and he had lived three houses away from home. He was a bad bugger. He used to break into houses and steal stuff. He sucked
me in, he said you don’t
have to do anything, just come with me. Are you chicken he asked? You just stay outside and watch for anyone coming. You
just have to watch he said. It had
seemed so innocent at the time. Well, I went to court for that too, and I was put on probation for eighteen months. I had
to report to my probation officer every week. And I had been an Air Cadet remember, so my dad says we have to tell your commanding
officer. They’ll kick you out, but you’re going to tell them. So he drove me over, and we spoke to the CO,
and he had told my father that the
discipline that I would learn in the military, although I was only a cadet, would straighten me out. And the Squadron Leader
didn’t kick me out, and I had
cleaned up my act.
I had been a top cadet and I had quickly moved up
through the ranks and in my third year I had been awarded my "Wings" after having successfully completed my pilot training
the summer of 1961.
And I can truthfully say that the years that I had
been an Air Cadet are the most memorable and enjoyable years in my young life.
My last high school girlfriend before I had joined the Royal Canadian
Air Force in 1963 had been named Maureen and she had been very pretty and a nice person. I had been going out with her
when I had joined the Air Force. And actually, my joining the Air Force had been a strange twist of fate, a fork in
the road it would seem. In twelfth grade my marks had dropped and the school principal had me into the office,
and we had spoken. He had been a nice man, Mr. Slater, and he really had my best interest at heart. And he had suggested
that because I had as good as failed the year already, I might as well quit the school year and return in the fall and
try again. The
Principal had even got me a job as 'Office boy' at Great West Life, in Winnipeg.
And here is where things get surreal. The
following day I had been walking from home to the bus stop and heading over to Great West Life when I had bumped into a
buddy named Roger Kirouac. It had been
a school day so I had asked him what he had been doing out of school? Roger
had said that he had been kicked out of school and that he had just joined the Air Force, and that had been something that
I hadn’t even considered, till that moment. Anyways, to make the long story short, and instead of going over
to Great West life, I had gone over to the Post Office in Winnipeg, and accompanied by Roger, and I had joined the Royal Canadian
No one at home had thought that I would pass the
physical examination, but I did, and on the 25th March
1963 I had signed
my contract. And when I got home the recruiting center called. I had signed my name wrong. So I had to go back and sign a
new contract. Our name had become Anglicized from being in Winnipeg. We had spelled our name DESJARLIS, but on my birth certificate
it had been spelled DESJARLAIS. And I had left home that Easter Weekend. I had boarded the train and had left to home to
commence my basic training.
And while the family had been surprised that I had passed the
physical, I had been even more surprised that I had passed the rigorous physical training at boot camp. They worked us
hard. But in truth, I had done so well that I had been up for the top recruit. And in the end, I had competed against one
other Airman, the representative from the other flight. And following the competition everyone had said that I had won,
but the prize had gone to the other Airman. It had been fun anyway; just being chosen had been good enough for me, because
I had known that it had been a title of little worth. No
trophy, no certificate, and after the competition had been over, no one had even shaken our hands. End of story.
But what had pleased me more had been the fact that
I had been asked to remain at the RecruitSchool in St. Jean as a Drill Instructor. But I had already been course loaded on the following Electronics
Course in ClintonOntario along with the vast majority of my Squadron. And that fact had swayed my judgment at the time, because I had preferred
to remain with my mates. So I had turned down the offer, and that had been another
fork in the road.
And in retrospect, there had been so many things that
had happened throughout my life that had shaped my character and made me into who I am, yet the choices I made had been
spontaneous and not well thought out. So many things had pointed me into a certain direction, which had shaped my future
yet I hadn’t been wise enough to think before I leapt. And I hadn't given it much thought at the time, it just happened.
And today I realize that we are all the sum of our past experiences, and what hasn't killed us along the way makes us
makes stronger? But they hadn’t told us that, we had been drilled
to expect things on the short term, the longest being our initial contract, which had been five years. And it’s only
today that I see that I have short
changed myself. Had I been better in school, if I had understood those bloody formulas in chemistry, algebra, and physics,
my future would have taken another road. But I had the knack of always getting the wrong answer, and I had fallen behind.
And I gave up.And that had been my first fork in the road.
And what if I had accepted that position as a Drill
Instructor in St. Jean? And at times like these and in retrospect I wonder why I had turned that down. If only I had known. Because
once in Clinton I had learned to hate
Electronics with a vengeance. There had been so many bloody formulae, it was pure math, and I had felt as though I had
been right back in high school again, and learning algebra and the powers of ten prior to beginning course. I hated it.
And I hadn't understood the concept any better, and I hadn't done well. But I had finally convinced the RCAF to
give me another trade and that wasn’t easy. And I had been posted to CampBorden, to begin training as an Air Traffic Controllers
Assistant, a good fork in the road. So I had left Clinton and been posted to RCAF Station Centralia for on the job training. And ATC had remained my
profession until I had retired from the Air Force in 1988, and after having served twenty-six years of loyal service
to my country. But I have
gotten way ahead of myself.
My first posting following graduation had been to
Station Bagotville, in November of 1964. My first day in Bagotville had been spent in an air raid shelter, because
I had arrived during war-games. Bagotville had been an exciting place, it was an Air Defense Command Station, and had been my
first posting as Staff. It had been an Air Force Station with fighters, and two squadrons of F101 Voodoos and a squadron
of a faker force that flew CF100s.
Flying in Bagotville had begun at with a scramble to intercept, and flying hadn't
stopped until . The Control tower had been a very hectic place, and things had happened fast, and
no plane or vehicle had moved anywhere on the tarmac, taxiways or the runways, without authorization from the tower.
I had loved it. And a day had never gone by when there had been
less then three in-flight emergencies. We would hit the crash bells and advise all concerned what the emergency had been,
and then we had watched the sky. But most of the in-flight emergencies had been popped circuit breakers or burned out
indicator lights, but they all had been treated as real.
And RCAF Station Bagotville had been nestled within the mountainous
region of the Saguenay valley, and you could open the drapes on the windows in your room and see the fir trees lined up
outside, and through
them I could see the snow-capped mountains. And I could throw open the windows and smell the pine trees and brisk fresh
air. It was great! I was finally doing
something I liked.
And Bagotville is where I had met the girl
that would become my wife, and it is where we had our first child, a daughter that we had named Nathalie.
Bagotville is situated one hundred and thirty-five miles north of Quebec City. It is the bastion of French culture, and during
my arrival in 1964 it had neither English radio nor Television. That had been a culture shock. But Bagotville and Chicoutimi had turned out to be
a young man's paradise. There had been more
beautiful woman in the region then I had ever seen in my short life. And in Air Force terms, Bagotville had been a target
The women of the Saguenay had lived within a very fashionable
conscious upbringing. You would never see a women wander out of the house unless she had been properly coiffed and suitably
dressed. The women there had been the personification of femininity, and also, and most importantly, they hadn't spoken
English. And was that a good thing? Not at all. And at the time I
had thought that everyone in Canada could speak English. But here is the thing; the women had outnumbered the men six to one.
In the beginning, at the age nineteen and just out
of high school, I had tried to keep close ties with home, and I had written often. But the reality of my situation had
been made clear to me one
day by an older Airmen, I think he was twenty-one. We used to call them the old guys. While you are away, life in Winnipeg continues without you.
Your friends move on to new to function
properly one has to disassociate himself with the past. If I hadn't severed my past life from my present life I would
have always been thinking about what was going on at home, and would have been very homesick. The facts of the matter
had clearly shown me that joining the Air Force had meant that I had left my youth behind. My real life, therefore, had
begun just after I had turned nineteen, and when I had suddenly realized that I couldn't go back, didn't want to go
back, because going back would mean taking a step backwards. And besides, back home everything had changed. They too had
moved on. Besides, I had no real home, no bedroom of my own to sleep in, just a couch in the living room, and unsupportive
parents. And my old friends had new friends, and I had realized that my old girlfriends were just that, “old girlfriends,”
and they too had moved on. Everyone moves on, life moves on, and so had I.
I had met Andrée for the first time at a Saturday night dance
at the Airmen's club on the Station. She had been there with her sister Michelle and the couple that had brought them, their
neighbours Gilles Jouvet and his wife Christiane. I remember that I had danced with her and had tried to speak to
her but she had not been able to speak English, and my French had been terrible at the time. Remember that at the time
I had still thought that I had been English, if you know what I mean?
That had happened in the spring of 1964. And I lost contact with
that girl as quickly as I had met her, and I hadn't seen her again for about a year. I had no idea how old she had
been at the time, when we
had met I mean, and had I known, I would not have been pleased. When I had first met her she had been fifteen years old,
I had just turned nineteen. Have you seen my pictures when I was nineteen? When I was nineteen I had looked like sixteen, and
when I look at pictures of me from that time I have to laugh. I remember that I didn't even have to shave!
And the months flew by. I hadn't seen Andrée again until about
a year later, and during that hiatus I had practiced the language of Moliere. But the truth of the matter was
that there had
been so many available girls that I had sort of played the field, and that had been something totally new to me, and it
was easy because there had been so
many girls. They would come over to my table and ask me to dance. Can you believe that? Yet when I saw her again that chemistry
thing zapped me. It's weird, but when you meet the right girl that will happen. And we kept bumping into each other,
and when I had been at the hotel Commercial she would always come over and sit at my table. I admit it, I felt good about
that, because I couldn't get her out of my mind. She had such a beautiful smile, and she had actually liked me. I already
loved her! I hadn't told her yet, but I would, eventually.
And I didn't have a car yet so we used to walk, over to the restaurant
from the hotel, and we’d have, 'un demi-club et un coke' and I remember that clearly. And I would walk her home.
Then I'd walk to the edge of town and hitchhike back to the base.
Then one day I had bought a 1958 Chevrolet
impala, in 1966, and with wheels I had mobility. Now I could go into town when I wanted
to, and I could drive around with Andrée and park, and neck. Gasoline had sold for 0 .43 cents a gallon. I would drive
up to the pumps and say, put in two dollars worth of high test, please. Can you believe it? And with that two dollars
of gas I could drive around all night.
We had married the
February 1967, during a
snowstorm, and we had been together for twenty-seven years, and most of it happy. We had two children, and two cars, a
dog, two houses, and the mortgages.
We had been planning for our future years, and growing old together. But those dreams would never be realized because my
beloved Andrée had died in my arms the 28th Oct 1994.
I can't talk about myself anymore. So ends my story. When my son
takes up the genealogy later he can add his impressions of me, and I'm certain that he has many.
And to change the subject; Quebec is old; it had celebrated its
anniversary in 2008. Quebec is the oldest province in Canada although the Maritimes would dispute that fact.
The thing is, everything had begun in Quebec with Jacques Cartier in 1534, and in 1608 Quebec the walled city came into being, and
then civilization had spread out to
include the Maritimes and Louisiana.
Quebec had begun with Jacques Cartier in 1534, and now the
year is 2015.
my friends. And what is really interesting, those townships that are mentioned within the Quebec portion of our genealogy still exist
Some of those townships are on the North shore of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Louiseville for
instance, is on the north shore of St. Lawrence Seaway. And while some of those townships are on the south shore, Vercheres, Varrennes, and St. Ours, for instance, so they are merely
a stones throw away.
And if we were to travel east from Montreal and follow the north
shore of the St. Lawrence Seaway, we would use route 138 heading in the direction of Quebec City. We would travel through all the townships of our ancestry.
Route 138 was 'la premiere route carrosable au Quebec' and that means that it was the first navigable
road of Quebec. Route 138 is one of
the most scenic routes available in Quebec and is in continual sight of the majesty of the mighty St. Lawrence Seaway.
The road travels through all the actual Seigneuries, which are
famous for their ancestral homes that have been restored in every detail. These ancestral homes are particularly evident
within the beautiful Seigneuries of Lavaltrie and Lanoraie. And it is interesting to note that these agricultural farms
are still arranged in the old style French Feudal system, and facing the river. Those houses are the exact same houses
as were those of the first colonists.
And today the main crop grown is tobacco. And as
continue further east we enter into the town of Louiseville RDL, where was built the Church of St. Antoine-de-Padeau. The town of Louiseville you will recall is where
Jean-Jacquet deGerlaisse had lived and died.
In the immediate area at Pointe-au-Lac, at the
mouth of Lake St.Pierre, is home to
the old mill 'Le Moulin de Tonnacour', a three hundred year old building completely restored. And as we continue east we
enter the town of Trois-Rivieres.
At Trois-Rivieres we will cross the St. Lawrence
on that spectacular iron latticed bridge and take route
132 in the direction of Montreal. And a Neo-GothicChurch inspired by the Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal announces our arrival at Sorel. Sorel is known for its Maritime docks and is famous for its 'Fruits
de mers,' and its boat cruises to the many small-surrounding islands. And once again on route 132 south from Sorel we will enter the peaceful
valley and the township of St. Ours, and continuing south we will enter the townships of Contrecoeur and Vercheres.
I hope that you Desjarlais out West have enjoyed your walkabout
through our ancestry, and if you ever have the chance and would like to visit our ancestral homes come on down, I'll put
on a pot of tea.