Family Stories

The Story of Joseph Longe’s Death at Sauble

Many, many years ago, my father John Eldridge was asked to take the census of the Saugeen Indian Reserve.  It was in 1891 and he and the interpreter started out in the early spring.  When they saw smoke curling over the trees they knew they would find the Indians making maple sugar. It was very difficult to find out their ages.  Some said they were “so” many moons old. Others said they had been born at the time of the big fall down of the stars!  The Indians did not like people asking questions.

Once, when they visited a home a big black pig walked in, and the Indians shouted “Get out Peter”.    The new baby in the house had not yet been named, so my father suggested calling the baby Peter after Saint Peter and the pig.  And that is what they did.

The Indians made excellent maple sugar and kept my father well supplied.

During the census he found there were 50 Catholics in the Reserve and though the Protestants had a minister, there was no priest.  Father sent word to Wekwescomk and in the fall Father Dufreanie was to stay with the John Cameron family on the Reserve; but when my father drove him the 20 miles to the place, all the Indians were fishing at Lake Huron.       John Cameron came forward to welcome them, and to ask the priest to visit the old French man who was dying. The old man was in an ancient log house on the bank of the Sauble River, where many cottages are built now.

His name was Lounge and word was sent to his sister Annie Lounge at Southampton. When she knew he was so ill, she walked in her bare feet the entire distance to be with him.  The Indians went with my father and the priest and when they reached the hut, the door was open, and the sick man was lying on the bed.  As they entered, their shadows fell across the room and the sick man sat up saying, “A Black Robe!” as if he could not believe his eyes.  The Priest prepared him for death, and he died just as the sun was sinking into the lake. The Indians felt this was an omen, for a soul released at this time goes straight to Heaven.

So far as I know Father Dufreanie was the first priest to come to Sauble Beach.

On the Indian Reserve now, there stands a little stone church, built by volunteer labour under my father’s directions, except for a stone mason who was hired.  Stones for the walls were taken from the fields in which the stone church stands, and both Catholics and Protestants helped, so that the little Church, when complete was free of debt.  The Indians themselves did much of the work, and did not want any pay.

Captain Frank Granville’s Courtship and Marriage

Dear Rita,

Chapter One
I must keep my promise and write about how father and mother met. Mary Tanguay’s father, Joe Denomy now passed away. (He was such a nice person) He and his big family lived about 2 miles from us. While we were friendly with him like all the other men, he never came to our house. A lot of visiting among the men was done waiting for church service to start. One day we were all at home when one of us saw Joe Denomy drive up to the big gate. He got out and drove his horse to the barn where he saw grandpa there. Well we all wondered peeking at him in the windows what should he have come for. He and grandpa visited a bit and then they came to the house, (more mystery) I can see Joe where he sat then. He asked mother, or that she could write him an answer to a french letter he had rec’d. Most of us knew everybody’s business who could that letter be from. Mother said yes she could. She started to get writing paper. He put his hand to his top coat pocket and said, I brot some writing paper but of course I have no pen or ink. They both proceded in what was then the dining room of the kitchen. The door was closed. Finally both came out of the room. In silence we all wondered. Joe stayed for supper and visited a bit in the evening. I was only 16 then. “None of my business eh!” Father was then visiting at Joe Denomy’s who’s wife was I believe father’s sister. Anyhow. Poor father then a widower with 3 boys was looking for a wife. Mary Tanguay can tell you if I am right about the relationship. I guess Joe D. scratched his head and decided mother would make father a good wife. She had been a widow since I was 4 or 5 and had never gone with any men. Poor Aunt Josephine was an old maid, with Aunt Lena coming close behind her. She had a real love affair but her sickness prevented her from marrying. Aunt Josephine went for several years with a first cousin and of course couldn’t marry. There was the 5 of us women in the house counting grandma who was the dearest soul living, she wouldn’t hurt a fly. Smoked a clay pipe just in presence of her family.

Chapter 2
One day later. Goodness looking out of the window we saw Joe Denomy coming to our place. Had a strange man with him. They drove to the barn and visited with grandpa who happened to be there again. This all happened in the late fall both visits. Of course we kept our eye on them and wondering if they would come to the house. Sure enough they did. Visited and had supper with us. Mystery was to a few of us getting deeper. Mother must have told her secret maybe to Aunt Josephine I really don’t know. Nothing was ever said. Mr. Granville left for his home after his visit. I believe he started to write mother. I am not sure. That following summer father came by himself in a hired rig from Goderich to visit mother.

Chapter 3
Father Granville couldn’t hitch or unhitch his horse so I offered to do it for him brot the horse in the barn. Hitched it up for him then he was ready to leave I believe after supper. 25 miles to Goderich it was a long drive and after father and mother were married , father said, how he had fallen asleep he doesn’t know for how long, driving that horse on the way back to Goderich. The old Ontario was unloading there as a rule it took three days so father took advantage on the leave. Believe that was when he proposed to mother. They visit in the parlour. While he was visiting guess I just thot mother had a boy friend. It didn’t worry me in the least. Mother and I were weeding in the vegetable garden when out of a clear sky she said to me she thot I was going to have a new father. She said this man had been to see her twice. Would it please me. Of course I said yes. So she said this man’s wife was dead and had left him with three boys. She gave their age. I always did love children. I was so delighted when mother said the youngest one was only 6 yrs old. Frank 9 and Fred 14. My heart was immediately set on fire. She said we would live in a city where houses were close together. She indicated with her hands how close houses were. The news pleased me. We went back to the house in silence. I was happy.

Chapter 4
That fall father came back to get married. In those days, the man had to ask the consent of mother’s father and mother. Father was visiting one nite in the parlour. I was getting wised up. I listened when I heard father and mother go to the kitchen to ask consent. Poor father spoke such broken Franch. It must have been an awful task for him at their age. Imagine. Guess that is all a thing of the past now. No more consent. Grandpa and Grandma sat up for the occasion when other nites they went to bed early but you see we us old foggies had to be in bed. Out of hearring. Father walked back to Joe Denomy where he was again visiting.

Chapter 5
We didn’t know but he father had brot his sister Kate to be the bridesmaid, poor Aunt Josephine how she sewed and sewed making us all new clothes for the occasion. I can’t remember only that it was winter time. The wedding took place I don’t remember much about it but believe there was a breakfast served and Kate came then we got real acquainted with her. Joe Denomy drove us all to Hensall that afternoon to take the train for the new home. We had to lay overnite in a town. I have forgotten. Bell boy was to call us early. A rap came to our door. Me still a greenhorn nodged Kate I told her to say yes. Had breakfast at that hotel some occasion.

Chapter 6
We reached Southampton with our trunks and baggage. Big doings at our new home.  A big dance.  I’m sure you know of Uncle Bill Hazzard Aunt Lena husband who was father’s sister. Well Uncle Bill as I called him made quite a display of Capt. Granville arriving with a new bride. He hired a team of white horses he couldn’t drive very good himself and the horses felt kind of frisky pulling our double sleigh. We did get to our house where father’s father and his mother were there to welcome us. They had been keeping house for father after his wife died. They had their own little home at the back of our house were they went shortly after our arrival. Aunt Lena Hazzard and father’s brother Joe’s wife with some friends had arranged for a big dance that nite mostly Scotch fishermen. Very nice people. All square dances of course with some waltz and fox trot. It was surely a great nite. I loved the children. Louie as a toehead. Frank looked so much like his father. Fred in many ways was a Sorell on his mother’s side. We got early the next morning and made breakfast for everyone. Kate had stayed over nite with us. I know we had porridge maybe bread and butter and some fruit. Fred I guess you know knew most things so it was easy to get along with him. They were quiet boys. Father had a big barrel of oatmeal that we had every morning. There was also a barrel of sugar in a little store room next to my room. Mother and I soon got acquainted and on to the work. There was washing by hand no machines. No one had then. Mother was always very progressive so it wasn’t long until we got into the routine of living with a new family. Father was a darling step father to me. Mother and I soon loved the boys. Well dear I guess this all. It is cold. cold, windows are frosted. I love the new cashmere cardigan it is beautiful. Believe me I have worn it. Thanks every so much. Hope you enjoy this “Down my memory lane”. Annie. Write soon.

NOTE: ANNIE AUBIN IS RITA’S HALF SISTER – her parents were Marguerite Dénomme and Alex Aubin. (Page 229 T. W. Dénomme book)