Articles d'histoire / History Articles, etc.

On the road to Odelltown: November 1838

William Barr’s Account

Introduction and Annotation by Mary Ducharme

February, 2021


 Hemmingford Athletic Association, early 1950’s.

Back row, left to right: Walter Smith, Allan Radley, Wilfred Kiernan, Maurice Patenaude, Jean Beliveau, Denis Clairmont, Edwin Keddy, Raoul Dumouchel, Jacques Viau.

Front row: Leonard Berthiaume, Harry Warner, Alister Somerville, Walter Keddy, Father Rene Langlois, Ben Berthiaume, Norman Fortin, Gilles Fortin.

Sixty Years Ago Already!

by Mary Ducharme 15/09/2011

 Every now and then a photo turns up in the Archives that proves to be somewhat of a puzzle. Here is a group of men, and we know all their names (at least we think so, spellings uncertain for some), but what is the occasion of the photo?  Where is it taken?  When?  Consulting with two area seniors who know the community, we may have found the answers.  But we would welcome any further information that our readers may be able to provide.


From the information so far available, it appears that this was a banquet at the Frontier Inn in celebration of the installation of lighting in the ballfield behind Académie Langlois. It was no small feat since all the postholes had to be dug by hand, and anyone experienced in postholes knows there is sweat equity in that exercise. After work, Réal Menard brought his Shawinigan Power Company truck to hoist the poles and rig the wires. 


The Athletic Association was very active in this era, playing to packed stands and loyal followers in the home field and in regional tournaments.  They played softball and hockey.  The Montreal Canadiens Hockey Team had a “fast ball” team that came to play the home boys in Hemmingford.


In the photo we find Alister Somerville; Father René Langlois who was pastor of St. Romain Parish; and Raoul Dumouchel who was the owner of the Frontier Inn at the time. Of the players, to the best recollection of our informants, it is believed that Wilfred Kiernan was manager;  Edwin Keddy was captain;  Marcel Fortin was left fielder; and Bill Hawkins  (not in picture) was catcher.


Do you have any interesting stories to add about this photo or about the Athletic Association  or sports events in this era?  We would be delighted to add your information to our Archives collection.

 Contact:  Mary Ducharme at


From the Archives 

by Mary Ducharme 06/02/2011

The St. Jerome Bible Mystery

The four families of Ryans who came to Hemmingford beginning in the early 19th century are connected in intricate ways. These Irish Catholic farmers, some with roots traced to Tipperary and Wexford in the old country, often married French Catholics. The Irish-French marriages included the Curê/ Priest family, ancestors of Edmond Priest.


Catherine Fleming (1846 -1934) married William Ryan (1847 - 1936), and they lived in the log house on 462 Champlain Avenue with three children, none of whom had progeny.   Researching this family at the request of Edmond Priest,  Dan Mark found that Catherine Fleming’s brother Michael married Ann Ryan, a case of two siblings in each family marrying.  Connection to the present Priest generation is through Ann.


The Bible of Catherine Fleming Ryan came into the possession of Edmond Priest, along with a large collection of papers and memorabilia yet to be studied. On the fly leaf of the Bible are hand-written records of family births, and other information, but it would take more research on the Hemmingford Ryans to shed light on the entire family history.


Aside from unidentified tintype photographs mounted in the Bible, is the mystery of references to the parish of St. Jerome.  The earliest family entry is for Joseph Ryan, born April 17, 1878 followed by the words “Parish of St. Jerome.” The last entry on that page is the birth of Margaret E. Ryan, December 20, 1884, after which is written “Parish of St. Jerome all in Hemmingford.”


Yvon Paquette of the Archives checked St. Romain parish registers and found no clues for the reference to a Saint-Jerome parish.  The children recorded in the Fleming Bible were all baptised in the Saint-Romain parish, but the records predate the present church building which officially opened in 1895. However, the name for the parish of  Saint-Romain came from the 1853 consecration of the parish by Monseigneur Ignace Bourget on August 9, the feast day of St. Romain.


Previously there was a small fieldstone Catholic church built in 1840.  Was this church known as “St. Jerome”?  And did some families prefer to use the old name?  Or were the Fleming Bible entries simply mistakes repeated? Is there some other explanation?  It is hard to imagine devout Catholics in a small community not knowing the name of their own parish.


Further information is requested on the Ryan families; the St. Jerome reference;  and the history of the house on 462 Champlain Avenue.


Contact: or Edmond Priest at

Le nez dans les Archives

Mary Ducharme

Translation by Michele Fairfield

Saint-Jérôme dans la Bible : un mystère

Les quatre familles Ryan établies à Hemmingford au début du XIXe siècle sont reliées de multiples façons. Ces agriculteurs irlandais catholiques, dont quelques-uns remontent à Tipperary et Wexford dans le vieux pays, ont souvent épousé des catholiques françaises. Les mariages entre Irlandais et Françaises comprennent la famille Curê/ Priest, ancêtres d’Edmond Priest.

Catherine Fleming (1846 -1934) a épousé William Ryan (1847 - 1936). Ils ont vécu dans la maison en bois rond du 462 de l’avenue Champlain avec leurs trois enfants, dont aucun n’a eu de progéniture. Dans ses recherches à la demande d’Edmond Priest,  Dan Mark a découvert que Michael, le frère de Catherine Fleming, a épousé Ann Ryan. Un frère et une sœur d’une même famille ont donc épousé une sœur et un frère d’une autre. C’est Ann qui assurera le lien avec la génération actuelle des Priest.

La Bible de Catherine Fleming Ryan s’est retrouvée dans les mains d’Edmond Priest, avec toute une collection de documents et de souvenirs à étudier. Bien que la page de garde de la Bible renferme un compte rendu écrit des naissances et autres données, il faudrait plus de recherches sur les Ryan de Hemmingford pour mettre en lumière l’histoire de toute cette famille.

Outre quelques ferrotypes non identifiés dans la Bible, il y a le mystère des références à la paroisse de Saint-Jérôme. La première inscription est pour Joseph Ryan, né le 17 avril

1878, avec les mots « Paroisse Saint-Jérôme ». La dernière inscription concerne la naissance de Margaret E. Ryan le 20 décembre 1884, toujours avec l’inscription « Paroisse Saint-Jérôme à Hemmingford. »

Yvon Paquette des Archives a vérifié les registres de la paroisse de Saint-Romain et n’a trouvé aucune référence à une paroisse Saint-Jérôme. Les enfants inscrits dans la Bible des Fleming ont tous été baptisés à la paroisse Saint-Romain, mais les registres sont antérieurs à l’édifice actuel de l’église, dont l’ouverture officielle a eu lieu en 1895. Toutefois, la paroisse Saint-Romain a reçu son nom de Monseigneur Ignace Bourget le 9 août 1853, jour de la fête de Saint-Romain.

Auparavant, il y avait une petite église catholique en pierre des champs, construite en 1840. Portait-elle le nom de Saint-Jérôme? Est-ce que certaines familles ont préféré utiliser l’ancien nom? Ou alors les inscriptions dans la Bible des Fleming étaient-elles tout simplement une série d’erreurs? Y a-t-il une autre explication? On imagine mal que les catholiques dévots d’une petite communauté n’auraient pas connu le nom de leur propre paroisse.

Il faudra davantage d’information sur les familles Ryan. Sur la référence à Saint-Jérôme. Et sur l’histoire de la maison sise au 462 de l’avenue Champlain.



by Mary Anne Ducharme

An old flag, a hand-made regimental colour, was bestowed upon the Canadian Historical Society in 2003, with large sections missing or in shreds. Realizing its fragile state, the Society gave the flag to the Canadian War Museum (CWM) in Ottawa in the hope of restoration. Its significance was not lost to Eric Fernberg, the collection manager of dress and insignia at the CWM: it represents an early nineteenth century militia unit connected with the Lower Canada Rebellion (1837-1838) and is one of the first flags to bear the monogram of Queen Victoria, who was then 18 and officially crowned in 1838.     

         The flag’s design and stitchwork was intricately embroidered by a Mrs. Gilchrist from Montreal, including the monogram on a royal blue field. The design included the Queen’s Colours in the upper left hand corner and the words “Presented by the ladies to the Hemmingford Loyal Volunteers Com.d by Lieu. Col. Scriver.” Scriver had been given the commission of Lieutenant-Colonel by the recommendation of Sir John Colborne, Commander of British forces in Canada, who personally thanked him for his role in the assisting the Regular forces. Scriver was also presented with a sword and scabbard by the Hemmingford Loyal Volunteers as a token of respect and esteem.

         John Peter Scriver (1792-1873) was one man among the thousands from Canada invading Plattsburgh in 1814 and he also was one of the sharpshooters at Île-aux-Noix when the American sloops Growler and Eagle were captured. The son of Loyalists from Rhinebeck, New York, he was known by the sobriquet of “Colonel” and was a key force in developing the community of Hemmingford just north of the border. A man of great energy and leadership ability, he touched almost every aspect of early development in the Hemmingford area.

         As a Major in the Hemmingford Loyal Volunteers, Scriver was also involved in what would be known as the Lower Canada Rebellion in its final confrontations.  This conflict between Loyalists and Patriotes threatened British control of Canada, partly the result of an economic panic that gripped American, British and Canadian banking. Even more important was cultural conflict between French Canadians and the British-dominated government, as well as  lack  of response to the urgent need for land reforms. Rebel rhetoric echoed the spirit of self-determination that then remained in living memory from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

         Not surprisingly, Americans along the border played an illegal but significant role in the Rebellions in both Upper and Lower Canada in the form of support of the Patriote insurgents. Despite Martin Van Buren’s Neutrality Law of 1838, secret societies provided arms, vehicles and supplies which flowed across the border along with armed men.

         The restoration of the 1838 flag at the Canadian Museum of Civilization was questionable despite its recognized value. It had been technically risky or prohibitively expensive to restore textiles such as the silky fabric of the Hemmingford Colours.

         Enter the Friends of the Canadian War Museum, who were looking at the time for a significant project to fund. The Friends provided the funding and the War Museum then approached conservators Julie Hughes and Megan Gruchy at its partner museum, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, to undertake the actual restoration of the Regimental Colour and a second flag, the Queen’s Colour, known by some as "The Union Jack". The Jack was used by the Hemmingford Loyal Volunteers during the Lower Canada Rebellion.

         Hughes and Gruchy came up with an innovative technique that has received not only Canadian attention, but international  notice as well. The printing of the digital image of the flag with UV-cured ink on silk crêpeline produced extremely impressive results, an innovation the conservators are now applying to the next project, a Union Jack also related to the Hemmingford Loyal Volunteers. The restoration required a number of steps, as described by Julie Hughes:

“First, the shredded original flag was removed from the netting support on which it had been sewn for stabilization in the past. Next, the creases in the flag were relaxed using conservation humidification techniques. Then new silk fabric was dyed to match the various areas of the flag. This dyed fabric was stitched onto the display mount (a rigid mount, padded and covered also with white silk), according to the original dimensions of the flag. The original flag was then placed on top of the dyed backing fabrics on the mount, so that it looked like a ‘whole’ flag again, and a digital photo was taken. This digital image was taken to a professional printing company, and printed on transparent silk crêpeline, a material similar to chiffon fabric. The crêpeline with the printed image of the flag was placed over the flag on its display mount. The crêpeline overlay was then stitched down meticulously along the seams and around the fragments of the flag. Finally, a Plexiglas cover was fitted which lightly pressed down on the finished flag, further keeping everything in place. The crêpeline overlay thus served both to stabilize the fragmented original flag, and to act as a barrier between the flag and the Plexiglas cover.”


 Webmaster's note: These are some links that refer to the above flag and the Lower Canada Rebellion:

The 1838 flag - photos and more details on this story.

Robert Sellar’s account of the 1838 Odelltown battles - from Sellar's History.

A gravestone of a fallen Loyalist Volunteer -

            I found this inscription after photographing the Douglass Cemetery, near Napierville. The inscription was enhanced for legibility.

            Includes other links to the history of the Lower Canada Rebellion.

Lower Canada Rebellion - Wikipedia

La Rébellion des Patriotes  - Wikipedia (français)