The Bangle Files: #28 | A Twenty-Year Gap

Remember John Bangle and Louise Couvillon? The last we heard from them, they were both serving a sentence in a Montréal prison during the course of the month of October 1820. If you are like me, you are no doubt brainstorming about what happened to them.

Continue reading

The Shoemaker: Charles Tourville (1828-1879)

Anyone looking out for his ancestors having lived in the city of Montréal during the second half of the twentieth century cannot ignore the great resource that is the Lovell Directory (available online on the BANQ Website). This valuable research device helps us knowing people’s whereabouts between censuses. Continue reading

The Bangle Files: #6 | The Loyalist

BANQCollaboration, that is the key word. I don’t remember exactly when I “met” Judith Bangle Persin online for the first time. However, I do recall the days when I was searching through the notarial records of Terrebonne at Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec while, at the other end of the continent, she was looking through microfilms she ordered from her Family History Center. Continue reading

#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #19 Josephte Cantin (1799-1857)

The burial register of Montréal’s Notre-Dame Church contains very laconic entries. However, sometimes, we are in for a surprise, such as the reading of the one of July 3, 1857 regarding Josephte Cantin. Continue reading

#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #18 Octave Tourville (1826-1902)

Spending so many years investigating about Mathieu Hubou’s descendents, I certainly came across some people who clearly stand out from the others. Octave Tourville is one of them. Continue reading

From the Archives: Petit Manuel des associés de l’Union de prières et de La Bonne Mort (1873)

Was one of your ancestors a member of the Union de prières et de La Bonne Mort [Union of prayers and of the “good death”]?

Founded in 1851 in Montreal, this association’s objective was to prepare their members for the after-life and help them save their soul. In 1873, it has no less than 50,000 members. Continue reading

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #12 Charles Tourville (1818-1847)

The advantage of doing one of your ancestors’ descending genealogy is that you get to learn about people you would have never heard of precisely because they didn’t have any descendants. Then, why write about them? So many reasons I think. To get the whole picture. To have everyone accounted for. And to learn about history. History and the family history.

Charles Tourville is one of those persons. His burial record dated July 19, 1847 (found under the name of Courville) states that he died at age 29 in Montreal and that he was a policeman.

I was digging in La Minerve newspaper recently and Charles Tourville came back to my mind. I thought, and what if he died in the line of duty?

I was looking up for an entry after July 18, date of his death, and though I couldn’t come up with anything, I kept reading articles about the immigrants, the Sheds, and sick people. A quick check at the dictionary made me realize that 1847 was also the year of the typhus epidemic in Montreal brought by the Irish emigrating to Canada. Unlike the 1832 cholera epidemic, the civil population was not affected by the typhus so much but the immigrants living in the Sheds, the religious community members taking care of them, and the policemen on the front line were victims of it.

1847 Typhus

Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, La Minerve, Thursday, July 22, 1847 — TRANSLATION: A fourth member of the Grey Nuns Congregation died last night. Sister Marie Rosalie Barbeau, known as Sister Marie, passed away at midnight at the age of 44 years, 7 months and 18 days old. Sisters Bruyère and Caron are most likely to die and 16 other nuns are still bedridden. Another policeman died Monday and eleven others are off work owing to illness. More than 1500 immigrants are close to death in the Sheds but as reported by the Ministry confident that all this is nothing but business as usual: “Everything will be fine”.

Charles Tourville’s name does not appear in the newspaper but it has to be him. That Charles Courville is surely « our » Charles Tourville as he died only six months after his marriage to Sophie Lemire, dite Marsolais, on January 11, 1847 at Notre-Dame Church of Montreal, and that Sophie gave birth to a son, Charles (hereafter for ease of reference, “Charles Jr.”), on October 30, 1847, in Montreal. The baby is said to be the son of the « late » Charles Tourville, carter of Montreal. When Charles [Jr.] died on January 31, 1849, he is once again identified as the late Charles Tourville’s son, carter of Montreal. At the time of his marriage  Charles Tourville was a carter from the parish of Montreal, like his own father.

Being born on January 18, 1818 in Mascouche from Charles Tourville and Marie Pauzé, he was indeed 29 years old at the time of his death in 1847. Furthermore, I couldn’t find any Charles Courville born near the date of 1818. A lot of Tourvilles are identified as Courvilles in the church records; sometimes the « T » looks like a « C », sometimes it might be the priest who made a mistake.

According to the newspapers, the Montreal Police was recruiting hoping to prevent the spread of the epidemic. Was Charles hired before the disease got out of hand? Was he out of work as a carter? From what I have read, the Police was implemented in the City in 1843. I doubt I can get anything as I am not sure a paper trail still exists. Nonetheless, during my summer vacations, I do plan to go to the Archives of Montréal to see if I can discover anything on policemen working for the city in 1847. I think it’s worth a try.

To learn more on the 1847 typhus epidemic, click here and here.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #10 Alexandra Forget (née Tourville) (1863-1891)

Have you ever heard of the well-renowned Montreal’s photographer, William Notman (1826-1891)? Thanks to the McCord Museum Website and its online database, you can take a look at the wonderful portraits taken by this great artist who has welcomed in his studio many famous people of the time.

If it hadn’t been for my passion for genealogy, would I have been able to identify “Mrs. R. Forget” as being Alexandra Tourville, wife of Rodolphe Forget?

1886 Tourville Alexandra

Source:, Photograph | Mrs. R. Forget, Montreal, QC, 1886 | II-81633.1

Born in 1863, Alexandra was the daughter of Louis Tourville, co-founder of the Banque d’Hochelaga (known today as Banque Nationale du Canada or National Bank of Canada), and Célina St-Jean. Alexandra was married to Rodolphe Forget on October 12, 1885, in St. Jacques’ Catholic Church, in Montreal. This picture was taken one year after her wedding at the age of 23 years old. In 1889, she gave birth to a daughter, Marguerite Marie-Louise. Alexandra died at age 27 years and 11 months.

La Minerve, May 14, 1891 - TRANSLATION: Death- FORGET- At 86 Cherrier St. on the 12th, at age 27 years and 11 months, died Alexandra Tourville, wife of Mr. Rodolphe Forget, of L.J. Forget et Cie. The funeral will be held on Monday the 16th, at 8:45 am at the Gesu. Family members and friends are requested to attend.

La Minerve, May 14, 1891 – TRANSLATION: Death- FORGET- At 86 Cherrier St. on the 12th, at age 27 years and 11 months, died Alexandra Tourville, wife of Mr. Rodolphe Forget, of L.J. Forget et Cie. The funeral will be held on Monday the 16th, at 8:45 am at the Gesu. Family members and friends are requested to attend.

If the name of Rodolphe Forget rings a bell, well he’s the one! He married his second wife Blanche McDonald in 1894. One of their children was Thérèse Forget, more commonly known as Thérèse Casgrain.

I thought, what a shame I am not related to that great pioneer of the Women’s rights movement. Well, I was wrong, we are related. Rodolphe Forget’s direct ancestor is the brother of Élisabeth Forget, wife of Augustin Tourville. Aren’t we all cousins?


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #8 Antoine Tourville (1779-~1813)

Picturing the lives of the people in our family trees between 1780 and 1820 in what is now the Province of Quebec is no easy task. The parish records may provide some hints about their relationships but without a census and no indication about the date of death, there is not much to write about. That is when the notary records come in handy.

It seems that some people had a close relationship with their notary. In small villages, their names keep coming back when reading the notary’s minutier (repertoire). Buying and selling lands, taking care of business; going to the notary’s office was no big deal for them. For others, it was a lifetime event, as it seemed to be the case for Antoine.

But first, let’s take a look at what the parish records tell us about him.

His parents, Joseph Tourville and second wife, Françoise Daunay, were married in 1766 in Lachenaie. Antoine, who was baptized on May 30, 1779 in Terrebonne, was the youngest child of the couple as my research led me to find two older sisters, Marie-Angélique, who probably died at a young age as there is no trace of her, except for her baptismal record in 1770, and Marie-Louise, who was born in 1773 and died in 1832.  Antoine had numerous half-siblings, including Joseph Tourville, my GGG grandfather, married to Marguerite Fortin, and Michel Tourville, married to Catherine Marié.

Antoine was not even three years old when his father died in 1782, at age 62. In 1789, a few months before his 10th birthday, his mother passed away at age 54.

What happened to Antoine after his parents died? In fact, we would be in the dark if it wasn’t for a notary act telling the story of two major events of his life.

Picture him, on that Friday, November 22, 1799, walking to Notary Joseph Turgeon’s office in Terrebonne, accompanied by his godfather, Joseph Limoges, the Town’s Militia Captain.

On that day, Antoine is signing an agreement passed between Michel Rochelau dit Morrisseau and himself. Antoine thereby agreed to be his engagé (servant or laborer) for the next four years, from November 20, 1799 to November 20, 1803, which means he accepts to do whatever task Michel will ask him to do and, in return, he will get free room and board in Michel’s house as well as an annual salary of 132 pounds. The contract also states that Antoine is satisfied with the agreement as he has been living in Michel’s house for 16 years.

We therefore presume that, around 1783, Antoine is three or four years old when moving in with Michel Rochelau who got married with Marie-Archange Charpentier in 1782, the year Antoine’s father died. Maybe Françoise Daunay went there to work as a servant and she and her children went to live with that family.

The notary’s act furthermore indicates, by a addenda to that act, that Michel and Antoine returned to Notary Turgeon’s office on April 30, 1803 when Michel agreed to pay Antoine what was due to him and cancel the agreement before the November 20, 1803 deadline. You may wonder why? A very simple reason. Three days later, Antoine married Josephte Amiot-Villeneuve in Mascouche on May 2, 1803.

Montréal, vers 1800. Panorama depuis un flanc du mont Royal. Archives du Musée McCord / Richard Dillon, (1772-1856), dessin (détail). By Philippe Du Berger [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Montréal, vers 1800. Panorama depuis un flanc du mont Royal. Archives du Musée McCord / Richard Dillon, (1772-1856), dessin (détail). By Philippe Du Berger [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

 Antoine and Josephte are the first Montrealers of the Hubou-Tourville family in the 1800’s as evidenced by two baptismal acts found with respect to the couple in Notre-Dame church in Montreal: Joseph, born in 1803, and Josepthe, in 1805. These acts do not indicate the father’s occupation but when his son as well as his daughter got married at the said church, the records state that their “late father was a baker of the parish of Montreal”.

The only clue pointing out that Antoine lived no longer than 33 years is to be found in Josephte Amiot-Villeneuve’s second marriage record on February 2, 1813, whereby she was identified as Antoine’s widow. On the day of the wedding, she declared residing temporarily at l’Île Jésus (now Ville de Laval) but was a parishioner of St. Joseph Church in Rivière-des-Prairies (on Montreal Island).

There were a lot of notaries in Montreal in the early 1800’s, so who knows? I may find some other clues about Antoine’s life. And who would have guessed that this man’s grandson, Louis Tourville, would be the co-founder of the Banque d’Hochelaga, now the Banque Nationale du Canada (National Bank of Canada) which, as you may know, is a major Canadian bank, in addition to being a very successful businessman in the late 1800’s, as well as a politician? I do have more than 52 ancestors to write about.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #6 Evelina Bissonnette (née Tourville) (1879-1956)

Evelina Tourville Bissonnette (1879-1956) - Sarah Di Lallo collection

Evelina Tourville Bissonnette (1879-1956) – Sarah Di Lallo collection

I wrote in a previous post about the tragic death of Evelina’s mother in the spring of 1880. Let’s now tell the story of Evelina’s childhood, the baby mentioned in the newspaper clip.

Evelina was born on August 31, 1879, from the marriage of Moïse Tourville and Malvina Hogue, in the village of St-Henri, in the district of Montreal. She was baptized the next day, her uncle Néré Leclaire and her aunt Evelina Tourville as her godparents.

At the time of her birth, her father Moïse was a clerk. As you may know, Moïse lost his wife about nine months after Evelina’s birth. We should expect to find Moïse with his daughter Evelina in the 1881 Canadian Census but we don’t. In those days, young widowers with a baby either remarried quickly or left the child with a family member. So, in 1881 Moïse is shown as having returned to live with his father. But Evelina is nowhere to be found in 1881 nor in 1891.

Evelina Tourville and Albert Bissonnette - Sarah Di Lallo collection

Evelina Tourville and Albert Bissonnette – Sarah Di Lallo collection

The next clue comes from her marriage to Albert Bissonnette on April 19, 1898 in St-Henri. What happened between 1880 and 1898? Fortunately, I found two documents telling a little bit about Evelina’s childhood.

In September of 1894, Néré Leclaire, Evelina’s godfather, went before a judge because he felt that a tutor and a sub-tutor should be named for Evelina, then aged 14. He said that he took care of Evelina since she was a baby and brought her up like his own child.

You may wonder why Néré Leclaire has waited all those years to take care of the tutorship? Well, Malvina’s mother died without a will and her daughter Evelina has inherited from her grandmother and became the owner of 1/4 of her house.

In that tutorship request, we learn that Moïse has been out of the Province of Quebec for 10 years or so and has returned only once, four or five years before. From a deed of sale passed between Moïse Tourville and his father before Notary Faure in April 1883, we know that Moïse is residing temporarily in Pullman City, Illinois. We also know that Moïse married his second wife, Azilda Labelle, in December 1884 in Chicago and that he remained there until at least 1900 as his name is listed in the US Census for that year. While Moïse was naturalized in 1893 in Illinois he came back to Canada before 1907.

We may assume from said deed that Moïse left his daughter to his sister before going to Illinois. But why can’t we find the household of Néré Leclaire, Evelina Tourville Leclaire and their niece Evelina Tourville in the 1881 and 1891 Canadian Census? If the 1890 US Census had been spared, we might have been able to get an answer.

Ms. Sarah Di Lallo told me that her great-grandmother Evelina was brought up by a family member in Chicago. At first, I thought that maybe it was the other way around. Moïse left for Chicago and Evelina stayed in St-Henri with a family member. But as I have no proof of that, it might be both ways. Maybe Néré Leclaire left for Chicago as well but came back with his family at some point before 1894. For sure, we know that Néré Leclaire was a grocer in St-Henri in September of 1894 and that Evelina married in St-Henri in 1898. I also checked the Montreal Lovell Directory and Néré is there from 1894 to 1898. Unfortunately, it seems that St-Henri was not included in the Directory before 1894 (what a bad luck!).

Moreover, a thing that seems inconsistent to me is that Moïse Tourville was present at Evelina’s marriage but claimed he was not able to sign. Then, how is it that all other documents bear his signature? Was he actually there? I have yet seen his signature on quite a few documents.

From left to righ, Evelina, Marguerite, Aline, Pauline, Madeleine, Yolande, Cécile, Agnès, Henriette. - Sarah Di Lallo collection
[Updated] From left to right, the daughters of Evelina and Albert Bissonnette: Marguerite, Aline, Pauline, Madeleine, Yolande, Cécile, Agnès and Henriette. – Sarah Di Lallo collection

Evelina Tourville and Albert Bissonnette had eight daughters, Marguerite, Cécile, Agnès, Aline, Pauline, Henriette, Madeleine and Yolande. Aline died last year at 109 years old! She is at the top of my Website statistics for being the one who had the longest life.

Evelina passed away on April 17, 1956 in Montreal, just a year before Albert who died on June 26, 1957 and both are buried in Montreal’s Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges.

As for her Evelina Tourville Leclaire, she passed away in 1910 and strange enough, she was buried in the Church of St-Henri. I will definitely go to the BANQ (Montreal Library) to check for an obituary for her.

About a year later, Néré moved to Ontario where he married their former servant, Clara Deschamps, a native of that province, who lived with them in 1900. Néré died in Glengarry County, Ontario in 1915.

Sewing pieces done by Evelina at age 10 - Sarah Di Lallo collection

Sewing pieces done by Evelina at age 10 – Sarah Di Lallo collection

52ancestors-2015Thank you to Sarah Di Lallo for the pictures!