Welcome to the Beauce Valley

Thanks for stopping by and exploring the Pioneers of the Beauce, a fertile valley in southern Quebec.

The Beauce Valley was originally populated by Abenaki, Algonquin and many other smaller First Nation bands.  This region of Quebec slowly grew from the 1800s with a constant influx of immigrant French, English, and Irish. People from the many villages of the Beauce include a strong legacy of determination, perseverance, and beliefs that live on today.  Today,  Beaucerons are the hardest-working people of Quebec.  Their reputation for conscientious and honest workers is known far and wide.

Going down the street to the center of Saint Joseph de Beauce.

Going down the street to the center of Saint Joseph de Beauce.

 

 

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The Land of Lost Time

In the quaint village of Saint Joseph de Beauce, the Chaudiere River runs north easterly, eventually joining the brackish waters of the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Like many earliest villages in the area, Saint Joseph de Beauce sits on the edge of this transport route. Although not deep, the Chaudiere with its white peaks, whips by at a fast pace. Its name means ‘boiling pot’ from the many rocks and rocky edges under the water that cause so many white caps. Its depth averages 3 feet, perhaps 6 feet in some spots.

the locals have named it the ‘land of lost time’

At the village of Saint Joseph, near the southeastern edge of the Chaudiere River, there is a piece of land that the locals call ‘the land of lost time’. It has probably taken a hundred years to figure out the cause of so many mysterious disappearances in this exact spot. Simple. It’s a bog. A bog hidden by tall, rich greenery that lines both sides of the river. Over and over, industrious men have wandered on the bog with cow, workhorse or tractor and just disappeared. No trace left.

The bog is probably safe 90% of the time but it’s that 10% that always gets you.

Looking down on the Chaudiere River in Saint Joseph de Beauce at the bog.

Looking down on the Chaudiere River in Saint Joseph de Beauce at the bog.

So the locals have named it the ‘terre de tempts perdu’ or the land of lost time. Regardless of how many hours a farmer had invested to reclaim that piece of land, the land has never accepted all the effort.

Deer, Elk and Wild Boar at the Hunter’s Farm in Sainte-Hénédine

In the southeast province of Quebec, there is a wonderful farm in Sainte-Hénédine known as The Hunter’s Farm.

The Hunter's Farm in Saint-Henedine, Queebec.

The Hunter’s Farm in Saint-Henedine, Queebec.

The owner raises wild boars and breeds elk and deer.

Where's the grass?

Where’s the grass?

The boars stay in very strong, fenced corrals inside of other fenced-in corrals.

Looking for lunch by the fence.

Looking for lunch by the fence.

They are extremely powerful and do not always play nice with their own kind.

Girls fighting for attention.

Girls fighting for attention.

Many boars have brown striping across their shoulder to hind.  In a series of nurseries, young boars work out who is top pig. This area of the farm is pretty noisy all day long.

Many baby boars have visible stripes.

Many baby boars have visible stripes.

In long, open spaces and shaded fields, deer and elk roam as they please.

Hey, I'm hiding under this tree.  Get your own.

Hey, I’m hiding under this tree. Get your own.

The owner also harvests meat and pelts himself, butchering and freezing product for the restaurant industry.

You can't see me, right?

You can’t see me, right?

When hunting season starts, he allows licensed sportsmen to come in and thin out his herd.

A corral of elk.

A corral of elk.

The owner also harvests meat and pelts himself, butchering and freezing product for the local restaurant industry.

The protective male raises his rack.

The protective male raises his rack.

I got a wonderful back scene view of the owner feeding deer and elk, cautiously walking all around my car within arms’ reach.  What a thrill it was.

Feeding time.

Feeding time.

Social Benefits of Religion

Because life was slower in the 19th century, attending religious services on a Sunday took on more traits than just tending to your soul. Men would meet before services to transact business, trade horses, discuss lending out a middle son for the next crop season. The same conversations would take place after the service as well.

Women used the time before and after services to catch up on family gossip, plan their weekly visits to the village, set dates for visiting guests. No Blackberry needed. No schedule book. Just your memory.

Because people depended so much on their memory, older male siblings would be reliable witnesses to many cash transactions. Older sons would stand by their fathers as one farmer traded livestock or maple syrup. If a farmer’s wife wanted support for a future event, she would invite 2 or 3 of her daughters into the conversation.  Life flowed more freely then.

When social or financial transactions needed some punch, a farmer might take one son aside and give him the role of bad cop.

“Object to everything I say.  Support Mr. Boulanger’s ideas.  Little by little I will agree with Mr. Boulanger and finally come around to his method of doing things.  He will think that he has persuaded me to his thinking.  This will please him immensely”, a farmer might say.  Persuasion and strategy.  

Good copbad cop.

Twenty men named Regis Poulin?

In French-Canadian culture, all males are named Joseph. They may have 2 or 3 other given names but the first is Joseph. All females are named Maria. They typically have 3 or more given names, but Maria is the first.

To add to the confusion, when an infant died, the next born child of the same gender was re-named – you guessed it – the exact same name. Like these people were trying to get the name to take. Like they were throwing death of an infant into the face of God. Here, take that. I lost one Joseph Herve Gabriel Poulin, but here – here’s another one.

Many cultures in the world do not diversify their given names and their surnames. Once the population grows a few generations, you could have 20 men named Regis Poulin within 40 miles of each other.

To help with the confusion, if a farmer named Evariste had a son named Nazaire but there were other Nazaire’s around, one might say: “Have you seen Nazaire? Evariste’s Nazaire?”

If this would not bring the results you wanted, you could refer to a third generation instead. The conversation might be” “Have you seen Nazaire? Nazaire from Evariste? Nazaire from Evariste from Elie?”

Marie-Ange Vachon

Marie-Ange Vachon married a master carpenter, Alfred Jacques. By showcasing his skills in his own home, this house was his calling card, and it resulted in lots of work for Alfred over the years.

The house of  Alfred Jacques

The house of Alfred Jacques caption]

I feel so fortunate to have been a guest in that wonderful house a few times. The first time I met Marie-Ange,  I was impressed by her workaholic habits, so familiar in my own parents and grand-parents. On one occasion when we were fed a fabulous meal, Marie-Ange washed the dishes and Aurora set the table with all the dishes that was dried moments earlier.

“To keep the flies out”

She finished the task by covering the table with a clean, cotton tablecloth. “To keep the flies out”, Aurora said as I watched her with fascination.Marie Ange Jacques and daughter AuroraOne evening, Aurora came down from her bedroom wearing a mink wrap. How I envied her, this grown woman in her early 30s with this luxurious mink stole. We all walked to Saint Joseph’s Church for a special evening prayer, and both Marie-Ange and Aurora both wore mink wraps. The women laughed and laughed as we walked slowly on the street. Memories of these visits play back in my mind like it was yesterday. Life was so simple; everyone was so content.Marie Ange Jacques with daughter Aurora

David Vachon

Joseph David Vachon and his wife, Celanire raised at least 17 children.

Joseph David Vachon and wife Celanire.

Joseph David Vachon and wife Celanire.

In census reports, he is listed as a farmer, but with a stump foot his income must have been hindered as walking was almost impossible. How his foot must have hurt each and every day and night of his life.Joseph David Vachon with stump foot

David Vachon was born in 1836 and died in 1907.
Celanire Vachon dit Pomerleau was born in 1847 and died in 1928.

Their children in birth order were:
Joseph
Jean Alphonse
Jean Napoleon
Jean Alphonse
Jean Omer
Marie Delia
Marie Malvina
Marie Lydia
Arthur
Marie Rose Victoire Desneiges
Arthur
Thomas
Gedeon
Joseph Arthur
Joseph Arthur
Marie Anne Bertha Alberta
Joseph Adolphe

Gaudias Poulin

Fourth son of Evariste Poulin, Gaudias was to leave home as a late teen with his younger brother Romeo, travel for work and eventually find gold in the Yukon along with thousands of other men. He would work most of his lifetime and return to the village of his youth as a poor, dried up miner with full-blown TB.

Gaudias Poulin about 1898.

Gaudias Poulin about 1898.

Most of his siblings dead, not knowing any of his living nephews and nieces,. Gaudias’ fate was to live his remaining years in Villa Mastai, the Tuberculosis Sanitorium in Beauport. Today, this facility is the prestigious Mental Health University Institute of Quebec (L’Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Québec). Of all Evariste’s sons, Gaudias was the most world-traveled, and the son who opened up the most gold mines in the Yukon in his lifetime.

Romeo Poulin

With curls to die for, Romeo Poulin was son # 3 of Evariste. He left home as an older teen, searching for seasonal work when he and brother Gaudias heard of the Klondike Gold Rush and joined the stampede north. Romeo took two wives during his lifetime. The first was Anna Pasteels, a Flemish woman from Belgium that naturalized in Canada in 1900. She died from alcoholism, pregnant and with TB. The second wife, Mary Smith, a Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation woman, was the daughter of the distinguished local constable in Dawson City, Sam Smith. Mary bore Romeo a son, Arthur (named after Romeo’s brother) and a daughter Florence (named after Romeo’s sister). Romeo died of TB. Fifteen months later, Arthur died at 22 months of age. Ten days later, Mary died. The only remaining member of the family was Florence, now an orphan at 30 months of age.

Romeo Poulin about 1897.

Romeo Poulin about 1897.

Evariste Poulin

Joseph Evariste Marc Poulin also established a farm at a young age, married and was widowed within 2 months. After this difficult start, Evariste married again, and issued forth at least 12 children. Late in life a farming accident left Evariste with a “frozen claw” injury to one hand, making farming impossible as a trade. At that point, his youngest son, Raoul, managed the farm for him for many years.

Evariste Poulin with claw hand.

Evariste Poulin with claw hand.