Monday, November 26, 2012

Cartes mortuaires: Funeral Cards of My Grandmother's Relatives

My grandmother showed me these funeral cards when I was a young boy. They seemed to come from another world, a context that had long-since faded away. They are a remnant of the Maine Franco-American culture as it existed in the early 20th century.

I am sure that many of my fellow Franco-Americans will nod in sympathy and familiarity with these cards, which they may have piled in a box or stuffed in a bottom drawer. 

For me these cartes mortuaires are precious relics. I can remember the reverence with which my grandmother revealed them to me, as if whispering a secret. Seeing them when I was young provided a small spark of inspiration leading me to take an interest in our family's past.

These cards represent my grandmother's maternal relatives all of whom came from what was then called the County of L'Islet, QC, the parish of Saint-Cyrille (also known as Saint-Cyrille-de-Lessard). The handwritten inscriptions on the cards are my Mémère's. She made these inscriptions in English so that her posterity would not forget her forbears.

I offer them without further comment, a moment of silence for our dearly departed.

I. Louis Bernier: uncle and godfather of Ida Lavigueur (Vermette)

II. Clarina Couchon: aunt and godmother of Ida Lavigueur

III. Arthur Bernier: grandfather of Ida Lavigueur

IV. Marie Saint-Pierre: grandmother of Ida Lavigueur

In October 2005 I visited Saint-Cyrille-de-Lessard for the first time and took the following photos. I'm not sure that any of the descendants of our line of the Berniers had returned to their ancestral parish since the times of our ancestors whose lives are commemorated above.

Here is a portion of the small parish of Saint-Cyrille seen from the hill on which sits the Church.

Aiming the camera just to left of the photo above, this picture shows a little of the Saint-Cyrille landscape.

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