Being the child of a military member has one huge drawback – we didn’t have any control over where we lived, when or for how long. As a result, contact with family members was infrequent at best and I do regret not getting to know our relatives better.
My grandparents on my father’s side were Henri Joseph Turmaine (Henri) and Marie Marguerite Rose Amande Emery (Rose Amande).
Rear l-r: Patricia-Gail (Gail), Gerard Ronald Joseph (Gerry), Rose Amande Turmaine; Front: Christine Blythe (Turmaine).
Dad, Gerard Ronald Joseph Turmaine (1934-2005) was the youngest of three children who survived infancy. Dad’s brothers and sisters included Albert Joseph Turmaine (1923-1966), Rose-Marie Azilda Thérèse Turmaine (1929-2003), and Marianne Claudette Andrea Turmaine (1937-1937).
Turmaine Family: Theresa, Henry (Grandpère), Gerard (Dad), Rose (Grandmère), and Joseph.
Ma tante Thérèse Paquette and Christine Blythe (Turmaine) circa 1989.
I was too young to remember much about my grandfather Henri as he died in 1966 in General Hospital in Toronto. I know I saw Grandma Rose quite frequently within the first few years of my life, but again, I was too young to remember much. When I turned 10 in 1970, however, that all changed since we were transferred from Ontario to Comox, British Columbia. We took the last opportunity to visit everyone we could that summer on our trip across the country.
I can remember one particular visit where we were permitted to stay at the cottage of cousins, the Pollaris, at Loon Lake in Ontario. What a beautiful cottage it was, too. A semi-circle shape, the front circular side rested on posts in the lake shore, extending over the water. That entire side of the cottage was one big great room and standing in it felt like being in motion on the lake.
I do remember being awestruck in Grandmère’s home. She was a highly devoted Catholic and as soon as we walked in, we were overwhelmed by praying hands, her obsession. There were praying hands statues, prints, and paintings everywhere. I can remember being told when I was young that Grandmère’s ambition was for Dad to become a Catholic priest and how disappointed she was when he opted for the military instead and married my mother. Knowing my father, he definitely chose the path that suited his own nature and ambitions, especially considering his naughty, rather raunchy sense of humor. Somehow, I don’t think it would have gone over very well as a priest.
A couple of years later, we saw Grandmère Rose one last time in about 1972 when she came to visit us in Comox. She passed away in 1978. Tante Thérèse came out in 1987 for my sister Andréa’s wedding, in 1989 for Renée’s wedding and in 1991 for my own wedding to Mark. She passed away in 2003 in Chateaugay, Québec. It may seem odd that I haven’t mentioned Dad’s brother, my uncle Albert Joseph, but unfortunately, he had committed suicide just prior to Grandpère Henri’s death in 1966.
Grandmère Rose’s father was Charles Albert Emery, who was born in about 1870 in Vermont, United States and died in about 1915. Her mother was Émilie Labelle, born about 1870 in St. André Avellin, Ripon, Papineau County, Québec to Antoine Labelle (1820-1890) and Joséphine Périllard (born 1844), both of Québec. In addition to Grandmère Rose, they had four other children, of whom one was Pte. Joseph Philias Albert (1889-1917) who was missing in action and presumed dead at Vimy Ridge during WWII. His name is only one of many immortalized on the Vimy Ridge Memorial in France.
Oddly enough, my father’s grandfather Herménégilde (father-in-law to Grandmère Rose) took Marie Joséphine Azilda Labelle as his second wife in 1911. Azilda was sister to Joséphine (and Rose’s grandmother).
Antoine Labelle (1820-1890) was the son of Antoine Labelle and Marie Isaac Duplanty dit Héry of Québec, and had been married twice, first to Émilie Fournelle and second on November 23, 1863 to Joséphine Périllard (my great great grandmother), born 1844 in Ste. Magdeleine Rigaud, Vaudreuil, Québec to Michel Périllard and Zoé (Madeleine, Michel) Demers. The 1852 Census of Canada East shows Joséphine Périllard with her parents, brothers and sisters living in 274 Petite Nation Parish, St-André Avellin, Ottawa County.
Antoine and Joséphine’s six children included Émilie Labelle (born 1870), Antoine Labelle (1872-1944), Célima (Délima) (born 1874), Joseph (1877-1944), Marguerite (1880-1960), Azilda (1884-1933).
During my extensive research into my French Canadian ancestry, I’ve come to realize one thing – there are no surprises. Families remained close in proximity and emotion, and marriage within the inner circle – and yes, family, according to the laws of consanguinity of the Catholic church was commonplace.
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