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?


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