An Article of Interest

The Belanger Family

by Marion Belanger

Alexis Belanger who came to Byng Inlet in 1866 was the great great great grandson of Nicolas Belanger who arrived in Canada from St. Thomas de Touques, Normandy, France in the year 1659. Nicholas married Marie de Rainville and the couple settled in Beauport just down the river from Quebec City. The stone farm house is still standing today in the centre of this modern industrial city. The original furnish-ings have been removed and donated to the Sigmand Samuel Canadiana Collection of the Royal Ontario Museum. If one visits this museum on University Avenue in Toronto, and travels to the third floor, a replica of this farm house can be seen with the original furniture displayed.

Nicholas and Marie had twelve children whose descendants spread out from Beauport and populated most settled areas of Quebec. They have become members of all professions, leaders in several of Quebec’s major industries and pioneers across Canada.

In the late eighteenth century, Joseph Belanger and his wife Josephte Fournier were living in Levis, Quebec when a son Alexis was born to them in 1814. He grew up learning the trade of boat building and before 1845 he left Levis and journeyed up the Ottawa River to Ile du Calumet. On January 26, 1846 he married Catherine Charbonneau at Ste. Ann’s parish. By 1849 their eldest son Joseph was born and the family now lived in a log house in Westmeath Township, Renfrew County, Ontario. Shortly after this they left and settled in the village of Mattawa where the other four children were born.

In 1866, Joseph now 16 years old, heard about a lumber mill opening at Byng Inlet. He convinced his father to move and they got canoes and Indian guides who led them down the French River to Georgian Bay and south to Byng Inlet. Alexis died that fall and Catherine was left alone with five children from 5 to 16 years of age. They remained there for about five years until the girls were old enough to marry. Catherine with her two daughters and youngest son emigrated to Hartford, Conn. in 1870 and all contact with them has been lost.

Two sons, Joseph and David remained in the Byng Inlet area and James who went with his mother returned later. James died in Britt as a bachelor.

Joseph the eldest son married Catherine Vasseur of Penetang and settled on a farm where the coal piles were later to be located. Joseph became very active in community affairs and was one of the group who petitioned for a Byng Inlet North school. He died in 1924 and left a family of seven children who married other familiar names of the area.

The third child of Alexis and Catherine was Andre “David” who married Josephine Lamore in 1886, one of the French families from Three Rivers. They had sixteen children with the youngest few still living in Britt. David died in 1943 and now this generation of pioneers was almost gone.

Descendants of Alexis still inhabit the area and have erected a monument to his memory in the little cemetery at Britt across from the church.

This article first appeared in the November 1988 newsletter, Volume 4 - Number 2