Touring the Upper Ottawa River: Sheenboro Township in Quebec

June 9, 2012

I am still sharing my May 21, 2012 experiences exploring the area above Allumette Island called Chichester and Sheen Townships.  There have been challenges to keeping up on this trip but don’t worry you will hear about my adventures, all three weeks, HA!

They call them municipalities. Everything is changing in Ontario and Quebec with the government districts and maybe all over Canada, so you will have to be diligent in your research of the locations if your family comes from here. They are consolidating and discarding the old names. This means that if you look at a map of today or the future the area you are looking for may have disappeared. These two archives can help with the new designations for the government districts.

The Upper Ottawa Valley Genealogical Society: http://www.uovgg.ca/

Pontiac Archives: http://www.pontiacarchives.org/

After visiting the Holy Spirit Missionary RC Cemetery in Nicabeau (Nicabong), I headed west on Ch. de L’Eglise.  According to my map it turned into Ch. Sullivan and Meehan. It was a long gravel road with no sign of habitation and a thick grouping of trees lining the side of the road.  It seemed longer but it was probably a little over 5 minutes and I came back to the Chapeau-Sheenboro Hwy.  I made the mistake of turning left. After a few minutes it became obvious that I was going east so I had to do a turnaround at a connecting road.  There was a white picture fence along this road, which was curious?

I headed northwest up the Chapeau-Sheenboro Hwy and passed the Sheen welcoming sign.  It was not long after that I came to Sheenboro itself.

Sheen Municipality Sign

The highway called the Chapeau-Sheenboro Hwy and becomes Ch. Sheenboro after the sign to the municipality. You pass several houses and buildings and the big white parish meeting-house and right behind all these buildings to the left is the cemetery.

Sheenboro, looking south, southeast

The church and its sign – St. Paul the Hermit

From the Back of the St. Paul the Hermit to the northeast

It is very easy to find.  In the above picture you see where you enter between the church on the left and the parish meeting hall on the right, then you follow the road down till you turn and yo see the car sitting there.  It is very easy to access this cemetery and the road through it means not careful maneuvering.

The cemetery is in a big meadow which has room for future burials.  When I visited again later in the week someone was firing what might have been a  canon?  It went off about three times with a loud “Ka BOOM!  I could not see anything because there is a thick grouping of trees and what looks like a stream that goes along the back of the cemetery.  I could hear the cattle making their complaints.

St. Paul the Hermit Overview

My goal was to find the particular gravestone of John McDonell (McDonnald)and Julia.  I found the tombstone after a little dithering and it was in great shape. It was in the northeast corner of the cemetery closer to the parish meeting hall.

John McDonald and Julia Record Tombstone

I believe this John McDonell to be the older brother of my great-grandfather Archibald McDonell.  He died in 1873. He was coming home from a little enjoyment of alcohol and must have fallen and cut himself.  They ruled it an accident.  This came from his obituary which was found by my cousin at a church archive in Pembroke.  Nothing more was said about his life other than his immediate family.  I had hoped it would reveal where he came from but it concentrated on the accident instead.   See my posted dated March 31, 2012, A Discovery:  Archie’s brother John McDonell, living next door in Sheen?

Julia’s last name is a problem.  I was talking with a genealogist in the Cornwall area and she is bilingual and said that LeCour could be mispronounced as “Record or Ricard” if said in French?  So she played with it switching from English to French? My cousin and I have the following names for Julia: Tebeau, Lacour, Record and Ricard.  This same genealogist was looked through a big book of marriages edition for male and female and we were not finding LaCour but we were finding LeCour. AUGH!

UPDATE July 7, 2012:  Here is a complete set of the photographs I took at St. Paul the Hermit Church and cemetery.  These are just overview photographs with some specific tombstones.  Go ehre for more individual tombstone photographs of the area:  http://www.gravemarkers.ca/quebec/pontiac/index.htm

St. Paul the Hermit RC Church & Cemetery

My next target was to see Fort William which is a historical site.  It was once a fur trading post. This article from Wikipedia is not too bad and describes the area:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheenboro,_Quebec

So I turned the car down Ch. Perrault another gravel road closed in on both sides by trees and not a living soul around. At least it seemed that way. The drive took about 5 minutes till I came to an intersection in a wooded area.  My first reaction was “oh dear,” what do I do now?  I then spotted signs by and on the tree across the intersection.  Nothing fancy, but good enough to tell you to go in that direction.

Fort William is across the Ottawa river from Petawawa or actually the Canadian Forces base above Petawawa. This is a very wide part of the river.

I proceeded down the road and spotted the gate with stone pillars.  It was closed up.  So people were parking their cars in the shade of some big trees and bushes and carrying their items to the beach area.  There was a sign on the gate stating that the Pontiac Hotel will open in June. You do have to walk a little ways to the beach area but if you are into beach bumming it is a good thing.  I am afraid my fair skin will not allow too much sun without burning.

People were enjoying the lovely hot sunny day and several boats were moored along the beach.

The road into the Fort William area after the gate

The beach

The Pontiac Hotel and beach area

The Fort William Beach

The Pontiac Hotel

There is a little church called St. Theresa of the Flower but I did not go there because at the time I had forgotten about it or did not realize its significance.  It is old and once was run by the Olate Missionaries.  Lachlan Cranswick has pictures of it on his website which I have mentioned before. http://lachlan.bluehaze.com.au/chalk_river/2006/jun2006/11june2006a/index.html

The Municipality of Sheen website has pictures of this church and more:  http://www.sheenboro.ca/community/churches.html

There is a two set publication at the Upper Ottawa Valley Genealogical Society Group library in Pembroke under the area of their publications. It is available for review:  http://uovgg.ca/index.html

Crosses & Shamrocks, Souvenir of St. Paul The Hermit Parish 1872 – 1997 Sheenboro, Quebec and St. Theresa of the Little Flower 1857-1997, Fort William, Quebec.  The second volume is an Appendix – Family Trees.  In the first booklet they give the history of these two churches.  The second volume has family pedigree charts with no sources and no index but they are families of the Sheen Township.

After I spent some time enjoying the people enjoying the beach at Fort William I made my way back along the road to the same intersection and decided to turn right.  Well this was Ch. Fort William and it came out at the place were I did my earlier U-turn to get to Sheenboro.  The one with the picket fence!  So if you are on the Chapeau-Sheenboro Highway and come to the Ch. Fort William take a left and you will be at Fort William a lot easier than me. Then at the intersection in the woods go left again.

Back on the highway of Chapeau-Sheenboro I headed east trying to find any openings in the trees and public areas where I could view the Culbute Channel but it was pretty densely covered from Chichester to Waltham where I turned and south – southwest and followed Hwy 148 over the bridge and back onto Allumette Island.

As you cross from Waltham to Allumette Island is the area that I believe was once called Church Point.  It is where the first church was located.  It is privately owned so you can’t really do any exploring without asking permission. I saw from the highway just a thick bunch of trees. My friend Elaine Brown said she was all over the area thoroughly  when she was putting her book on the St. Alphonsus church records together and didn’t find anything, it was lost to time.  Apparently when they built the bridge they destroyed the old burial ground in the process.  There had been a fire that swept the island and so they moved the church to a mid-point on the island, location unknown to me.  It was about the middle 1880’s that the St. Alphonsus Church in Chapeau was established.

Driving down Hwy 148 on Allumette Island is easy and the road is smooth.  You see a little more of the island’s beauty.  I did not get to Lac McDonald but I am told there were two, one in Chichester and one further up in Sheen.  Anyone want to go and take a picture and contact me?


Touring the Upper Ottawa: Chichester Township, Pontiac County, Quebec

June 4, 2012

My great-grandfather Archibald McDonell settled in Chichester Township.  His brother John McDonell lived in Sheen Township which is farther west but they are right next door to each other.  When Archie married Mary McDonell in 1861 he added more family and a great many of them lived in Chichester and on Allumette Island.

The bridge from Chapeau takes you into Chichester township and over the Culbute Channel.

Chichester Township Sign

Once passed the sign you come to a three corner area with a big sign pointing to the right (east)  for Waltham and to the left (west) to Chichester, Nicabeau, Sheenboro.

Highway signs for Chichester and others

When I was preparing for this trip I was all over Google searching for information about this area.  There was a lack of travel information but there was one person a Lachlan Cranswick who had posted photos and information about his visit to this area.  Lacklan was from Melburne, Australia and unfortunately he died suddenly but someone has preserved his website.  The photos are a little big and take a while to load.  So you do need to be patient.  His website explains his death and more.  His photos were a big help. There is a warning that the information may be old.

http://lachlan.bluehaze.com.au/chalk_river/2006/jun2006/11june2006a/index.html

I used other methods to learn about this area like Google Earth, Google Images, my Streets and Trips mapping software and other Google searches like finding Lachlan’s website.  I even went on a search for Quebec road signs so I could see what they looked like using Google images.  I was surprised to see that other people are just as fascinated. My Dad would be proud!

Lepine’s store is on your right.  I did not investigate his holdings but out front are all these machines and it looks like he also has trailers under the road signs.  I turned to the left and proceeded west.  It was not going to be easy to find vantage points of the Culbute Channel and any remnants of the old canal for there are houses and farms along the edge of the river and side roads like Riverside, Squirrel Point Road and Duck Lane.  I was a little hesitant about driving down them and opted for other areas that were more open like a boat launch off Ch. Chichester and took some photos of the channel.

Boat Launch of Chichester

Culbute Chnnnel, part of the Ottawa River

This Ch. Chichester is the name on the south side of the highway and Ch. Nicabeau on the northern side.  I turned right and headed north following the road to the right up to Ch. Malone and turn left up Ancien de Nicabeau road.  My goal was the Auberge Norfolk (County Kitchen).  According to my friend, and almost cousin Elaine Burns Brown, it is the former home owned by the Burns and McMahon family, her family.

My connection to this home is through Sarah Mariah Burns who married my great-uncle John Archibald McDonald (Jack), brother to my grandfather Ronald S. McDonald (R.S.), both are sons of Archiie and Mary McDondll.  Boy would I love to hear the story of home these two met.

Auberge Norfolk is in lovely country.

Norfolk Country Kitchen

The Main House for Norfolk

Maybe the kitchen?

In order to stay and eat there you have to call and make an appointment/reservation 819-689-2588.  They have a website:

http://www.aubergenorthfork.ca/index.htm

This link is at Elaine Brown’s website showing the Burns-McMahon home and the view taken in the Fall. It will also link you to her family history website regarding the Burns Grier families and more.  There is a Burns mountain that you can go up on and take photos but I was not familiar with were that was so mine are strictly from the Auberge Norfolk looking west.

http://www.personainternet.com/etbrown/map.htm

Here are my photos – just click on the photo to make it bigger and then use the back button to return to this post:

Looking west from Norfolk

Lovely views

The road to Norfolk

I headed back the way I came turning to the left as you see in the picture above. There is a lake as you drive this road but I am not sure the name of this one.  I thought it Lac Poupore but that might be a little further west.

Coming up on the mystery lake?

Lac Poupore, maybe?

Chichester the town/hamlet is about 2 kilometres west from the Chapeau bridge and what I call the three corners.

There are lovely homes and at least one grocery stores, maybe two, along the highway.  There is a small white house with a red roof and that is the Culbute Museum.  It does not open till June so I did not get to visit. I am told there is a giant family chart of the Poupore family up on the wall.  Across the street is a Stinson’s which is another big white house with the post office and it was also closed up tight but there was a friendly bear to greet you.

Culbute Museum, Chichester, Quebec

A little fun!

Chichester, Quebec

From the Auberge Northfolk and the lake I actually headed up to Nicabeau along Ch. Nicabeau to Ch. de Eglise (accent over the E) and turn right and went pasted the old weathered school building with a big sign – Stay Out!  I almost turned south on this road but when I saw that it was a dirt road with a grass median I decided to back up and do a U-Turn and that is when I spotted the Holy Spirit Mission RC Cemetery off the road across a field sandwiched between a building on the left and a farm on the right.

The Holy Spirit Mission RC Cemetery is a middle-sized cemetery.  It had a wire fence and a gate which was locked with a chain.  It was a good thing there was a fence for cattle were making their way along the northern side going west through the trees.  I didn’t venture too far for another cow was laying down chewing its cud and I didn’t want to spook it.   I don’t believe I have family in this cemetery.

Acoording to my map it is Ch. Poirier on the left where the cemetery is located. I believe another building was next to it that might have been a bible study church?  Ch. Poirier and Ch. de Eglise are one road with different names whether you turn right or left from Ch. Nicabeau.  Note there are various spellings for Nicabeau so don’t let that throw you.

There was no sign but it did look like it was being cared for the grass was cut.  The picture shows that it is set back from the road so note the tree on the right second over is about where the road is located.  So that means if you are driving east you need to look left.

Looking toward the road from the cemetery

Here are some overview photos of this cemetery.  The Upper Ottawa Valley Genealogical Group (see link on the right side of this blog) has publications covering this cemetery and more.  There are also photos online of the tombstones.  I will post more when I return home.

http://gravemarkers.ca/quebec/index.htm

Holy Spirit RC Cemetery

UPDATE:  July 7,  2012:  Here are the additional photographs for this cemetery.

Holy Spirit RC Cemetery

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