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Joseph Bilodeau

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Bilodeau

My parents were born at St. Honore de Shenley in 1884 and 1887 in the lovely Beauce region. Life wasn't easy for them for they came from large families.

My mother, Ida Pouliot, lost her mother when she was sixteen years old. She took care of the family, the youngest being only two. Four years later, her father remarried so she went to work at Lewiston, Maine.

My father was a butter-maker by trade. When he was twenty-one, he left for Dawson City where he worked for six years. It was at the time of the gold rush. He saved a few thousand dollars, which was quite a sum in those days.

From Dawson City he visited the Canadian West and he found the Alberta climate favorable. He bought a quarter section in St. Vincent, the NE 34-59-94. Then he went back to Lewiston, Maine to visit his parents.

While in Lewiston he met mother. They were married on February 4, 1913, and left to live on their new land. Even though life was hard, father was greatly attached to his new land.

In 1917, father sold his quarter section to Louis Mercier and bought one three miles (4.8 kilometres) west of the village.

Mother wanted her six children to be educated in French and we were far from school. Ten years after having come to St. Vincent my parents had an auction sale. Mother and we the children left to go back East, to Sherbrooke, Québec. Father didn't come to join us.

We three girls received our education from the Sisters of Mont Notre-Dame and the three boys from the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.

As it was the Depression we had to leave school early, each our turn, to go to work; Camille apprenticed as a typesetter with the Tribune Newspaper; Phillip worked as a carpenter; Olier worked in a grocery store; Eva worked in a tailor shop; Marie and I, in a wool factory until I was married to Denis Belanger in 1943.

Mother worked very hard; she was happy when she could be of help. She would do anything; sewing, looking after the sick and many other things. She was in good health till the last two years before she died at the age of 89 years. My father died in 1964 surrounded by his family. He had come back East before his death.

When Mr. Bilodeau bought the farm three miles west of the village, he built a new house on the quarter and started farming. He started breaking horses and became quite well known in the area for his well-trained teams.

During the Depression Camille returned to St. Vincent "riding the rails" which was quite a popular way of travelling then. Phillip returned a few years after Camille, using the same method of transportation and he, in, was followed a few years later by Olier.

When World War II broke out, Camille was called into the army. Phillip joined up as soon as he turned 18 and was sent overseas. Camille was discharged due to illness. With his two older brothers gone, Olier returned to Québec. Phillip came back from the war, an invalid. He died in 1967. Olier died suddenly in 1972.

While on the farm, Mr. Bilodeau, Camille, and Phillip were part of Robitaille's threshing crew. They never hesitated to lend a helping hand or a milk cow to someone who needed one for a while. Mr. Bilodeau was also known for his excellent butter.

Mr. Bilodeau sold the farm around 1950 to Hubert Adam and moved to Calgary, then on to British Columbia. Camille worked at various jobs around Alberta always returning to St. Vincent to visit old friends until he retired in St. Paul.

The farm is now owned by the Langevin brothers.

  • Author: Aline (Bilodeau) Belanger and Marguerite Robitaille
  • Reprinted with permission of the Saint Vincent Historical Society
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