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Jean-Baptiste Adam


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I was a little girl when my grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Jean-Baptiste Adam, my uncles and aunts, and my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Albert Adam, came West to settle in St. Vincent.

After their arrival, they built a large house and the whole family lived together, seventeen in all. Nearly every Saturday night, the neighbours would gather at Grandfather's. In those days, people would make their own fun and as most of them came from cities, many could play the piano, violin and guitar.

My grandfather was an actor and so were his children and my mother played the organ in church.

Mother had taught piano in Montréal and Father had been a bank manager. Grandfather had owned a shoe factory but how their life changed when they came to St. Vincent in the year 1908! My uncle Eugene Jeanne Adam's father had worked with the Trappistes Fathers at Oka, so he could learn something about agriculture.

The Adams had taken homesteads which were not cleared and life was hard for them. The money they had saved was soon spent. Father had two brothers who were of courting age, so the dances started then. Grandfather, who also loved company, soon lost control.

I remember, we, children, sitting on the stairway steps, with our ears and eyes wide open, watching the nice young girls and gentlemen dance to the sound of an improvised orchestra. The older people would play cards.

In the summer evenings, by moonlight, there would be games in the yard and everyone would sing. No one would think of sending us to bed so we'd take advantage of it to sample the food.

There were many bachelors in the area. They had come West while still young men, but by the time they had made enough to support a family, there were no girls left in their age group, so quite often they married young girls of fourteen or fifteen.

Mr. Lapaime, Mr. Turcotte, Mr. St-Jean, Mr. O'Brien, Mr. Sottiaux and Luc Bouchard who lived in the area would liven up the parties with their songs, recitations and stories. So would others who came from neighbouring parishes. Many of them played a musical instrument and whole families would come to our big house.

The children would be put to bed and all the people would dance till the wee hours of the morning, except those who prepared the lunch. Sometimes the men who had celebrated too much would be fighting outside in the winter cold, only in their shirt sleeves.

There were liquor traffickers who kept the police quite busy, but as there were no telephones, the men would have time to sober up, to make peace and to hide their liquor.

There was a bootlegger who made his own liquor. One time a trick was played on him. This moonlit night while he was selling his liquor, the clients paid him with green coupons that used to be in flour sacks and which looked like dollar bills. What a surprise the next morning when he found his pockets full of those coupons!

Life was very pleasant till my father's death in 1914. After his passing away, things changed. Grandfather and the family moved to Saskatchewan, Mother remarried and the relatives were scattered but life continued on, filled with events of joy and sorrow.

A short time later, St. Vincent was quite prosperous with its two stores, a hotel, a pool-hall, a blacksmith shop, a post office and two doctors. Dr. Desrosiers came in 1921 and Dr. L'Asnier arrived with his family in 1923, but he only stayed a short time and left in 1924.

The railway going through Mallaig and Thérien caused many changes in the St. Vincent parish.

Source:
  • Author: Cecile Bouchard
  • Reprinted with permission of the Saint Vincent Historical Society
 
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