Episode 20: The Ties that Bind, The Marie Line
Updated: Dec 20, 2022
In todays episode I am going to tell you another migration story, in that way it is the same. It is also similar to prior episodes in the sense that it is about resilience. The 2 central figures in this story are Olivier LeTardiff and Roch Manitoueabeouich. Both men seem to thrive in the war-torn frontier landscape that existed during the 1600s. Of course they experience challenges, but they always seem to be able to adapt quickly and find new ways to move forward. I found their stories to be inspiring for the current challenges we face in society today.
Welcome to the Maple Family Treehouse, I am Kael, your host. The story I am bringing you today is as complicated an immigration and or migration story. In the end though, I hope to illustrate one simple truth – the relationships of my ancestors, friendly, business, romantic and political have influenced my identity and sense of place today.
The story begins around 1602, When Henry IV of France put Samuel D. Champlain in charge of mapping the waterways in and around New France. Aymar de Chaste, governor of Dieppe had obtained a monopoly of the fur trade and set up a trading post at Tadoussac where the St. Lawrence River meets the Saguenay River. He invited Champlain to join an expedition he was sending there. Champlain’s mission was clear; it was to travel the waterways in New France and choose a site for a large trading post further inland via waterways. Source: https://www.historymuseum.ca/virtual-museum-of-new-france/the-explorers/samuel-de-champlain-1604-1616/
Champlain set about his mission. He hired an assistant, Olivier LeTardif, my 10th great grandfather, LeTardif, partnered with Roch Manateoubewich, my 11th great grandfather.
It was documented in Jesuit journals that during the earliest days of the fur trade, Champlain placed young men to live at Huronia, a Huron, Ouendat community (near current day Penetanguishene, Ontario). The intention was for the young men to learn the Algonquin language to assist trading. This documented strategy makes it likely that Olivier Le Tardif, who was known to have spoken some Huron, Algonquin, and Montagnais languages was also placed at Huronia where he learned these languages. Once the young men were conversant, they became interpreters for the 100 Associates Company. LeTardiff was chosen to be and a personal representative and interpreter for Samuel de Champlain.
Roch Manitouabeouich’s history is not well documented, however, the most reliable sources state that Roch was born around 1600 in an Algonquin village on the shores of Lake Huron, Ontario. It has been surmised by his Christian name, Roch, that it’s in reference to St. Roch the patron saint, implying he had been named through the baptismal ritual. Also, we can deduce that he had been in the company of Jesuits. Being baptized, he would have understood and could speak at least some French—to meet the prerequisite religious teachings as well as comprehension of same—prior to the baptism.
Both men, primed and ready for the job ahead of them, scouted out locations for trading posts to support the expanding fur trade. Although, LeTardif was experienced” in the Montagnais, Algonkian, and Huron languages, it was Manateoubeouich who acted as interpreter for LeTardif. Together they both scouted the region from Quebec to Lake Huron. Source: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/letardif_olivier_1E.html
The two men travelled for many years as representatives of the company, Roch as interpreter and Olivier as company man. One can only imagine the types of dangers and adventures they had, and the people they met and interacted with. Their travels were highly successful, and eventually, Olivier LeTardif was given a promotion to Head Clerk of the Company of 100 Associates, forcing him to settle down into a more sedentary life in a more administrative position. Roch also settled down, going to join his people at the Aboriginal settlement at Sillery near Quebec. Source: https://omfrc.org/2016/11/church-company-special-child/
It is at the Sillery where Roch met his significant other, Outchibahanouk Oueou and fell in love. The Sillery, was a place where Jesuits attempted to convert Aboriginal people to Catholicism. The aim was to instill an agricultural lifestyle in the hopes of replacing the semi-nomadic life of the Algonquin and Innu people in order to more easily evangelize them. The land was granted as a seigneury to Christian Aboriginal people under Jesuit supervision. By the 1670s, alcoholism, epidemics and the difficulties of adapting to a sedentary lifestyle had depopulated the settlement until a number of Abenaki refugees from New England sought shelter there. By the late 1680s, the last Aboriginal peoples had left Sillery, driven away by epidemics and unproductive agricultural lands. The Jesuits remained and built the Jesuit House, which is now a museum in the town of Sillery, Quebec.
As you might expect, the Jesuits kept some records of some baptisms and weddings between Native people, but there is no documented marriage record for Roch and Oueou.
Not much is known about Oueou’s early life, but it is in Sillery, Quebec, where Oueou meets Roch Manitoueabeouich. [*Abenaki peoples migrated to New France because white settlers encroached upon their traditional territory, the Abenaki gradually withdrew from the coast of Maine, USA to New France (today Canada). For the most part they settled at Bécancour and Sillery, the latter being afterward abandoned by them for St. Francis, near Pierreville, Quebec. The Abenaki formed an early attachment with French missionaries and became entangled in frequent war with the English until the fall of New France. But as I have learned, writing stories about many of my ancestors, that love blooms amidst the most chaotic circumstances. While there is no marriage record for Roch and Oueou, there are records of the births of their children.
Their first child was Marie-Olivier-Silvestre [Manitouabeouich] who is my 10th great grandmother.
Allow me to digress here, I named my daughter the name Marie. It is my mother’s name. At the time, I had no idea of the origins of the name. Marie Olivier Silvestre seems to be the original Marie, who initiated the traditional use of Marie in this branch of my family. Hence the reference to this branch of my family tree as the Marie line. And NOW I understand the origins and I am excited to pass this story onto my mother and my daughter.
With such historic significance, it is no wonder that the name Marie has been passed down to almost every successive generation to the present day. There is, no less than 9 Marie’s in this line. My daughter’s middle name is Marie, after my mother, whose mother was also named Marie-Yolande, and my maternal grandmother, and so on, back to Marie Silvestre. Of course, beyond my family Tree, the origin story to this name is religious – the name Marie, is shout out to the virgin Mary. As stated in Marie Olivier Silvestre’s baptismal record. But back to the story…
Roch and Olivier LeTardif remained close friends even after their business together ended – years of travelling and working together had forged a strong bond between the two men. Olivier attended Marie’s baptism, and chose the name Marie in honor of the virgin Mary. LeTardif was named the girl’s Godfather, and as was custom at the time for a Godparent, he conferred his name “Olivier” onto Marie. The missionary performing the girl’s baptism added another name, Sylvestre, meaning “one who comes from the forest. Source: https://omfrc.org/2016/12/marie-olivier-sylvestre-special-name-history/
Marie’s early childhood would have been one filled with family, likely in a Longhouse built near Jesuit buildings in the settlement. Religion was an important part of life at Sillery, as was trade, and most of the Hurons at the settlement also had small farm plots to work.
As Marie reached the age of 10, she was legally adopted by Olivier LeTardif. Roch’s old friend was generous and knew that Marie had the best chance of success if she was educated and reared in the same way as a French girl of means. Olivier placed her as a live-in boarder and student with the Ursuline Nuns at the Ursuline Monastery. This school was founded by a missionary group of Ursuline nuns in 1639 under the leadership of Mother Marie of the Incarnation. The school is one of the oldest institutions for the learning of women in North America and is still in operation today.
After some time at the Ursuline school, Marie was sent to live with Guillaume Hubou and his wife, Marie Rollet. Guillaume Hubou was a company man, working with the Company of 100 Associates for some time and even receiving a land grant from Champlain. Olivier LeTardif knew Guillaume likely because of the company association and considered him a close personal friend. Guillaume’s wife, Marie Rollet, had been a widow, and when she married Guillaume, she was much older than he was. Being past child-bearing years, the couple had no children of their own, but housed many orphans and Native children being taught by the Jesuits. Marie Rollet is listed as a godmother to many converted Native children. Source: https://omfrc.org/2016/12/marie-olivier-sylvestre-special-name-history/
Once Marie Sylvestre was educated in how to run a homestead, she eventually married Martin Prevost.
This marriage marked a first in the history books of Canada. Source: http://www.leveillee.net/ancestry/martinprevost.html
Where, at the time, there was a disproportionate number of men to women, so eligible women were often contracted to come over from France to marry colonists. There were without a doubt couplings and relations between male settlers and indigenous women, many of the couplings between the French and Natives were not “officially documented”, but on November 3, 1644, when Martin Prevost married Marie Olivier Sylvestre, it was the first official documented marriage between a French person and a Native person in Canada. Source: https://omfrc.org/2016/12/marie-olivier-sylvestre-special-name-history/
Martin and Marie settled down to start their own family, enjoying high status within their community at their home in Beauport. The land had been granted to Martin by the Company of 100 Associates. Martin’s job as clerk meant that he was likely the very person who put together the equipment and supplies for the Maisonneuve expedition that established the colony at Montreal. It was a tumultuous time, with pressure from warring indigenous tribes, the ongoing war with the English, and competition for resources, it became more and more difficult for the Company of 100 Associates to maintain their monopoly. Still, Marie and Martin had 8 children together, but a series of tragedies left their mark on the couple.
In 1661, Marie and Martin lost three children in 1 year. A girl, 12 years old, died in January, and two of her younger siblings, a 6-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy passed away on the same day in March. With all the comings and goings to the settlements and the lessened immunity of children with indigenous heritage, it’s likely that an epidemic of some sort killed the children. There were many young people who died in this area during the same time. It must have been devastating for the couple to face this loss while still needing to continue with their lives and raise their surviving children. Surely, this loss and the difficult times took their toll on Marie. She gave birth to Marie-Therese (my 9th great grandmother), the couple’s youngest child in 1665 – and barely three months later, Marie Sylvestre passed away. She was in her late 30’s.
Martin must have been crushed. Not only was he trying to provide for his family in this difficult world, but he had also lost three children, his wife and now, he had five small children to raise on his own. The Company of 100 Associates was in serious financial straights, but fortunately, Martin was already established as a farmer and a trader in the community. When the Company of 100 Associates dissolved in 1663, their charter having been revoked by the church and crown, it opened trade to an extent that had not been before experienced in New France. Martin continued his work, remarried and lived to be 80 years old - a ripe old age for the time. He stayed at his home in Beauport until he became too ill to be alone and was moved to the Hotel Dieu. Martin died there on January of 1691. Source: https://omfrc.org/2016/12/marie-olivier-sylvestre-special-name-history/
The story does not end there though. To bring things full circle. Martin’s daughter Marie-Therese married Michel Giroux on 18 August 1683, in Beauport, Québec. They were the parents of at least 7 sons and 5 daughters. One of those daughters, was Marie Giroux who married none other than, Francois LeTardiff, the grandson of Olivier
LeTardiff. Their marriage brought together two families with a long associated history and bound them together as a family. I think Olivier LeTardiff and Roch Manitoueabeouich would have been smitten to see their grandchildren brought together in marriage. Source: https://ancestors.familysearch.org/en/LJLK-SMC/th%C3%A9r%C3%A8se-pr%C3%A9vost-1665-1743
The early setting of this story means that there were no signed treaties. What was in place at the time, was the Dish with one spoon wampum belt.
The wampum belt was, in effect, a record of a diplomatic agreement. Like all diplomatic agreements written on paper its purpose was to ensure that the parties would “keep to their end of the bargain.” They were also intended to ensure that memory of the agreement would be preserved. Perhaps the best-known wampum belt is the one that symbolizes the treaty made between the Haudenosaunee and the Anishinaabe peoples prior to the coming of the Europeans. One of the more important peace treaties between these peoples was ratified in Montreal in 1701. The dish with one spoon wampum treaty - The Anishinaabeg (the Ojibwe, Odawa, Potawatomi, Mississauga, Saulteaux and Algonquin nations) refer to “a dish with one spoon” or “our dish” as “Gdoo – naaganinaa.” The “dish” represents the land that is to be shared peacefully and the “spoon” represents the individuals living on and using the resources of the land in a spirit of mutual co-operation. One of the core values within the idea of a dish with one spoon is that those who use the land should not abuse the land. In other words, individuals and groups should only take what they need from the land and care for all of the living beings on it.”
Given the hunting and trapping by Europeans for profit, and so much displacement of Indigenous communities by war and European settlement, it is safe to say that the Dish with One Spoon wampum treaty was not being upheld. On the other hand, relationships like that of LeTardiff and Manitoueabeouich give hope that mutual respect is possible. In the age of reconciliation, I admit, I sometimes wondered if there was ever any friendly relations to even restore. But, this family story gives me hope that reconciliation is possible not only on a systemic level, but in our hearts. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/a-dish-with-one-spoon
Sources https://www.many-roads.com/2016/12/31/marie-olivier-sylvestre-manit8abe8ich-manitouabeouich-manitouabewich/ https://omfrc.org/2016/12/marie-olivier-sylvestre-special-name-history/ http://histoiregenealogie.ca/marie-olivier-manit8abe8ich-algonquine-ou-huronne/ https://lindaseccaspina.wordpress.com/2021/03/08/six-degrees-of-separation-carman-lalonde-and-marie-olivier-sylvestre/ https://www.wikitree.com/photo/png/Manitouabeouich-9 https://www.myheritage.com/names/marie_manitouabeouich