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Story lll

 




 



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
Assiniboine River 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



                                 Marguerite
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 born eight
beautiful children. And they are listed below.



 



1.  Unknown                          Born 
23 Dec 1904,  St. Laurent



                                              Died  24  Dec 1904,  St. Laurent



 



2.  Marie Eleonore                Born 13  Nov 1905,  St. Laurent



                                              Married 
30 Jun 1932,  St. Laurent, to



                                              George Allen, son of



                                              Fredrick Thomas Allen and Elizabeth Jane Berry



                                              Died  03 Apr 1935,  St. Laurent



                                            
 She was the mother of  Don
Desjarlais  1926



 



3. *Théodore                         (Follows)



 



4.  Adélard                            Born 14 Nov 1909  Pointe-des- Chenes



 



5.  Wilfred                             Born  20 Sep 1911  St. Laurent



                                            
Married   Dorothy Gauthier



                                            
Died  
16 Dec 1978  Winnipeg



 



6.  Remi                               Born   01 Oct 1915  St. Laurent



                                            Died   24  Jan 1916 St. Laurent



 



7.  Leoni                              Born



                                            Died



 



8.  Eugene                           Born



                                           
Married  Helen Fleury,
Qu'Appelle Valley



                                            Died



 



I
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
Eleonore Desjarlais. 



 



Théodore
Desjarlais is my father and he was the oldest of the five surviving boys. His
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.



 



Had he
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.



Josephine Barron 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 as
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.



Once established 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 good days.



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?



The irons 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. 



 



So, in
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?



 



Everything within 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 quite sure.



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.



 



And in
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."



We had
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.



 



And I
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.  May                               Born 1932, 
St. Laurent



                                           Married, 
St. Boniface, to



                                           Paul
Renaud, son of



 



2.  Doris                             Born 1933, St. Laurent



                                          Married, 
St. Boniface, to



                                          Maurice Gobert, son of



                                          JJ
Gobert and Mouta Baert



 



3.  Maurice                        Born 11 Nov  1935  St. Laurent



                                          (1) Married 
Jul  1953,  St. Boniface, to



                                          Ilene Carpenter\McNeal, daughter of



                                          Horace Carpenter and Alice Blanchette



                                          (2) Married         Transcona, to



                                          Carol                      , daughter of



                                          M.                   and             



                                          Died  11 Nov  1992,  Vita, Mb (hunting), 



                                      of a heart attack



 



4.  Rita                              Born 1937  
St. Laurent



                                          Married, 
St. Boniface, to



                                          Bernard
Toupin, son of



                                          M.         
Toupin and       



                                          Bernard Toupin died 1993,  St. Leon Mb 



 



5.  Hector                         Born
Oct 1939, 
St. Laurent



 



 



6.  Aurore                         Born  Jul 1941 
St. Laurent



                                         Died  12 Sep 1941  (age 3 months)



                                         Our little Angel



 



7.  *Roy                            Born  07 Mar 1944  St. Boniface



                                         Married 
25 Feb 1967,  Bagotville QC, to



                                         Andrée
Gobeil, daughter of



                                         Charles-Émile Gobeil and Yvette Villeneuve



                                         Andrée
28 Oct 1994 St. Hubert, of cancer



 



8.  Muriel                          Born
Oct 1945  St. Boniface



                                         Married                         St. Boniface, to



                                         Stuart Pearse, son of



                



 



The
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.  Nathalie                   Born   30 Apr 1967,  Chicoutimi



                                       Married,  15 Jul 1995   St. Hubert, to



                                       Claude
Taillefer, son of



                                       Alain Taillefer and Lise Lamontagne



 



 2. *Mark                        Born 05 Jul 1970 St. Boniface



                                       Married,  02 Nov 1996 
St. Hubert, to



                                 
     Jocelyne St.Pierre, daughter of



                                       Rolland
St.Pierre and Noëla Poulin



 



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.  Jessie                         Born  03 Apr 1997  LaSalle PQ



                                         Baptised



                                         Married



 



 



2.  Ashley                        Born  11 Apr 1999  LaSalle PQ



                                        Baptised



                                        Married



 



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.



Hey,
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.



And
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 out of 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 the
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 Air Force.



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
Recruit School in St. Jean as a Drill Instructor. But I had already been course loaded on the
following Electronics Course in
Clinton Ontario 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
Camp Borden, 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 RCAF
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
7:00 a.m. with a scramble to intercept, and flying hadn't stopped
until
midnight. 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 rich environment.



The women of the Saguenay had lived within a very fashionable and style
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 25th
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 four hundredth
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.



Times fly’s
my friends. And what is really interesting, those townships that are mentioned
within the
Quebec portion of our genealogy still exist today.



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 we
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-Gothic Church 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.



 



I'll be looking for ya,



Roy



 



 



 Copyright 2003 by Roy CJ Desjarlais



 















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