Sunday, March 25, 2012

Genealogical Road Trip - St Joseph de Beauce, Quebec

In early May of 2010 I tossed a travel bag into the car and headed north of the border to Quebec. After a long Maine winter, I seriously needed some road therapy to soothe my soul and decided a genealogical road trip to the ancestral homes of several relatives was a great way to spend a week.

Getting an early start, I drove northward into Canada via Jackman, Maine and made my way to Saint Joseph in Beauce County, Quebec, which is the ancestral home of my Gagne line, with my great grandfather Jean Evangeliste Gagne having been born there in March 21, 1848.

Saint Joseph is an idyllic little village nestled along the banks of the beautiful Chaudière River. Surrounding the village are acres upon acres of open verdant farmland. Several folks warmly waved to me as my car crawled through the town, my eyes taking in as much as possible.

Chaudière River in Saint Joseph with farmland in the background.

My first stop was at the parish office, which was closed for lunch. As I was about to head back to my car, I heard a joyful voice say “Bonjour!” I turned around to be greeted by a friendly and enthusiastic fellow named Andre Breton. He quickly transitioned from French to English as my French is poor on a good day and generously assisted me as my tour guide, companion and translator for the day in Saint Joseph which proved to be invaluable.

The village of Saint Joseph looking towards the church and parish office.

With Andre’s help I was able to locate the jail where Jean Evangeliste’s father Francois Xavier Gagne worked as a bailiff and also located the former site of Francois Xavier’s home. I wandered through the parish cemetery looking for grave sites of my ancestors. Unfortunately as many of the town folks including my ancestors were poor, instead of headstones, wooden crosses were often used to mark gravesites and unfortunately they disappeared many years ago making finding the exact location of my ancestors' final resting sites impossible. I did learn through parish records that despite not knowing the exact location, Francois Xavier, my great great grandmother Marie William (who was part German) and my 3rd great grandfather Laurent Gagne and 4th great grandfather Louis Gagne are definitely buried in the parish cemetery.

Saint Joseph Cemetery

Later, I walked through the town and stumbled upon the old rail line that used to run through town. This was the same railroad that brought Jean Evangeliste from this town and eventually into Lewiston. My Voyer ancestors from the little town of Saint Marie further north, must have also taken this same railroad line into the U.S in the late 1850’s with their hopes and dreams of a better life.

Former railroad line to the U.S.

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