Ovila Tourville (1885-1950) and the Gas Main Leak

The first time I went to Europe, I was quite young and still living at home with my parents. While abroad, I had noticed that all the people I visited were using gas ranges for cooking and I really liked that.

Several years later, when I would discuss my dream house with anyone, I would no doubt tell them that I sure would love to have a gas range. But as soon as the “G” word was uttered, I was in for my mom’s advice which would be given to me with the same alarmed tone of voice: “Oh no! This is not a good idea. Your father always said he was scared of gas, something happened when he was younger.”

I heard that story so many times!

Well, guess what? I have found in a Montréal English-language newspaper an article about a broken gas main. And who reported the trouble? My grandfather! Here how it goes:

GAS CAUSES HEADACHES

Bordeaux Street Residents Find Main is Broken

A leak in the gas main on Bordeaux street opposite the home of Ovila Tourville, 4725 (sic) Bordeaux street, was the cause of Tourville and his wife and six children arising with severe headaches at 6.10 yesterday morning. Neighbors also complained of similar trouble.

Tourville immediately notified the Montreal Light, Heat and Power, Consolidated and an emergency crew went to their aid. All victims recovered upon reaching the open. The house was aired and no further trouble was experienced.

Men set to work to locate the trouble and at 2 o’clock in the afternoon the main had been repaired.

The Gazette, Montreal, Wednesday, October 12, 1938, page 11

Once again, this is further evidence—if needed—that there is no end to the treasures historical newspapers may contain. If I could read about this—minor—event which happened in an eastern Montréal French working-class district in an English-language newspaper (!), you could find anything about your relatives. Search all newspapers!

And no, I still don’t have a gas range. There is no gas main in my neighbourhood. I should have checked before buying. Some Tourvilles I know would love it here though.

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