My grandmother lived at 411 Smith Street, her parents lived there before her, my grandmother was born in 1896, her father Arthur in 1854, his father Firmin in 1818, his father Henri in 1782, his father Charles in 1742, his father Joseph in 1707, his father Robert III in 1678, his father Robert II was baptized at St-Nicholas d’Aliermont, Normandy, France on October 3, 1644. He arrived in Canada around 1665 … and his father Robert was born in St-Nicholas d’Aliermont, Normandy, France in 1601.
“Upon Robert’s arrival in Canada around 1665 he became an indentured servant as a blacksmith to Guillaume Thibault. After serving the required three years to pay off his passage, he married a neighboring farmer’s daughter, Marie Gobeil in 1668. Marie was the daughter of Jean Gobeil and Jeanne Guyet (both from Niort, Poitou, France), and had been born in Château-Richer in about 1655.
Robert and Marie signed their marriage contract before notary Claude Auber on September 30, 1688. Several weeks later, their wedding was held at Château Richer, where the presbytery and manor house for the seigneury were located.
On October 28, 1699, Robert obtained possession of seven arpents of land in the parish of Sainte-Famille, Île d’Orléans, where he and Marie would raise their family.
Sainte-Famille was the first parish on l’Île-d’Orléans, a small village that still commands a spectacular view of the entire Beaupré coast of the St. Lawrence River.”
I am reminiscent of my heritage after driving by my grandmother’s old house recently and the cemetery where she, my grandfather, great grandparents and my father are buried .. an old French-Canadian cemetery.
She lived in a predominately French-Canadian neighborhood. She always emphasized that we were French-Canadian … not French … not Canadian … French-Canadian.
My grandmother spoke French and I have been told by my mother that it was done mostly when they didn’t want the children to know what they were talking about.
My grandmother played the piano, she had an old upright at her house on Smith Street, I remember her playing and us children dancing … she also listened to Polkas on Sunday morning from her old radio, we would dance to that too.
My grandmother believed in ghosts, or at least she lead us to think that because when we would spend the night at her house there was one under her bed and in the closet … or was it a disciplinary tactic to get us to stay in bed. But when the house was sold after her death the story is told of a conversation a repairman had with a nice young girl in the stairway who wore old-fashion clothes.
My grandmother would bake pies, cinnamon rolls and Christmas cookies, we would help.
When my mother was a child she would walk to the church school a few blocks away as I’m sure her mother did before her. My mother relates her fear of cats to this walk, at one time she had to repeatedly walk by a dead and decaying cat on a wood pile on the side of the path on the way to and from school .. fearing its sight every day.
The priest at the church/school demanded that the children used their old French surnames or he would not marry them in the church, thus Chartier instead of Shorkey … my grandfather went by the last name Shorkey, the Americanized version, apparently a spelling closer to the French pronunciation.
My grandmother was at our house frequently when we were young, she would watch us when my parents would go out … she was probably the adult we were closest to aside from our mother and father. She was easy going and let us get away with things our parents did not, but by no means was she a pushover … her disciplinary threat of choice was her shoe, she would remove it and wave it in the air threatening to spank us with it if we didn’t do what we were told … she never hit us with the shoe or anything else, but when she threatened us with it we knew we had pushed her to her limits and stopped whatever it was she didn’t like.
When we were young we called her Nanie, when we got older we called her Granny … Granny was a cool lady.