Newspaper Nuggets — Médard Tourville (1822-1872): His Disappearance from Records Explained

The name of Médard Tourville was challenging me on my Most Wanted List for way too long. Still, I knew he died between 1871—he was listed on the Canadian Census for that year—and August 1873, when his son Olivier was married.

The Ottawa Daily Citizen newspaper spilled the beans!

Médard was born in Lachenaie on June 7, 1822, from Louis Tourville and Élisabeth Lamoureux. His family—one of the first from the Hubou-Tourville clan to settle in Montréal—is listed in the 1842 Canadian Census for Montréal.

For the record, Médard Tourville, a carpenter, was the husband of Émilie Moyen whom he married on January 29, 1844, at Montréal Notre-Dame Church. The couple had ten children, four of them making it to adulthood: Alphonse, who married Valérie Rose on October 21, 1867 (they will later move to Nebraska); Émilie, who—that very same date— married John Leathead; Olivier, who despite marrying twice, died childless; and Amédée, who also married twice, but only had surviving children by his second wife, Georgiana Vincent.

Please note that in the article, Saint-Jean-Baptiste is said to be located near Québec City, it is rather the former village of Saint-Jean-Baptiste—back then a suburb of Montréal, now located in the heart of Plateau Mont-Royal borough—where the family lived.

From the Ottawa Daily Citizen, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada,
Tuesday, October 22, 1872

Probable Suicide

A Shantyman in Delirium Tremens Suddenly Disappears — Another Text for a Temperance Lecture

On the third instant a gang of men employed by Messrs. Hamilton Bros., to work on their limits on the Dumoine River for the winter, arrived at the depot of the firm. On the voyage up to Ottawa, one of their number, an active, able-bodied French Canadian named Medard Tourville drank very freely, and was in constant state of intoxication from the time he left this city until he reached the shanty. On the night of his arrival at the limit depot, he showed symptoms of delirium tremens, frothing at the mouth and swearing at imaginary demons about him. A watch was set upon him to prevent him from doing any injury to himself or to his fellow workmen. He passed the night without sleeping, and seemed to be in mortal terror of the creatures of his imagination. In the morning he was somewhat quieter, and the shantymen relaxed their vigilant watch over him. While they were at breakfast, he slipped out of doors and was never afterwards seen. As soon as he was missed, his fellow workmen turned out en masse to search for him, but without finding any trace of him until about a week afterwards, when his hat was picked up in the woods, near the river. It is supposed that the unfortunate man plunged into the river to escape from the demons that he supposed were pursuing him, and his remains are in some deep hole at the bottom of the river. After searching eleven days for the body, and failing to find any further trace of it, the terrible news was telegraphed to Mrs. Tourville, who resides in the village of St. Jean Baptiste, near Quebec.

4 thoughts on “Newspaper Nuggets — Médard Tourville (1822-1872): His Disappearance from Records Explained

  1. Congratulations on the find, Diane. I wish a similar newspaper article on my 2nd great-grandfather would turn up. He is supposed to have died in a logging accident about 1867. One of these days…maybe.

    • Thank you, Cathy! Don’t give up, sometimes you found when you aren’t searching 🙂

  2. It is a horrible death, but the definition of delirium tremens seems to be withdrawal from alcohol, not drunkeness. And Wikipedia says usually showing up 3 or 4 days after withdrawal. So there’s still a mystery there.

    • Hi Vera, horrible indeed. At least, I know what happened to him. What I found fascinating is that a man whom I thought lived in Montréal was maybe spending his winters on shanties away from his family.

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