In honor of Canada Day, I introduce my last ancestor to live and die a Canadian: Leon Chicoine, who was baptized Joseph Leon Chicoine on 12 April 1785 at St-Charles-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, the son of Francois Chicoine and Marie Elizabeth Tetreault.1
Little is known of Leon’s early years. By the time he was twenty-five, he had made his way to Longueuil, located on the south shore of Montreal. It was there that he married Longueuil native Marie Varry on 17 September 1810.2 Their marriage took place at the impressive Cathédrale St-Antoine-de-Padoue in a ceremony led by Father Augustin Chaboillez, who, according to contemporary accounts, managed his parishioners with a firm hand. In fact, earlier that same year, he had a parishioner jailed for daring to interrupt his sermon!3
Leon and Marie did not remain there for long; they soon settled in St-Marc-sur-Richelieu, a rural community just across the Richelieu River from where Leon himself had been born. They remained in this area for the rest of their lives.4 Family lore states that Leon served in the military during the War of 1812.5 Then, twenty-five years later, war came to St-Marc when British troops defeated a number of Canadian rebels there during what is known as the Patriot War.6 Leon was in his fifties at this time; might he have participated in the futile attack? We may never know for sure.
In any case, the majority of Leon’s life was likely spent in a more peaceful manner as a forgeron, or blacksmith.7 He fathered at least thirteen children, including my ancestor Marguerite Chicoine, although not all survived to adulthood. Sadly, Leon’s wife, Marie, passed away before she was forty; Leon remarried to Francoise Desautels in 1829.8
Leon Chicoine would live to the age of ninety two. When his granddaughter recorded his death in January 1877, she noted that he was by that time the grandfather of fifty-six grandchildren.9 His burial occurred at his birth parish of St-Charles-sur-Richelieu, likely in the churchyard of the striking eighteenth-century stone church located on the banks of the Richelieu River.10
Copyright © 2015 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.