Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sepia Saturday 147: 13 October 2012

Sepia Saturday’s participants use “old images as prompts for new reflections”. This week’s theme, like past ones, is open-ended: it could be “the military angle […], group photos, uniforms, medals and regalia, dapper caps, or even shiny boots” and much more. 




When I saw the photo prompt (above), I thought about the men in my family who wore uniforms. I was lucky to find a (rather grainy) photo of my Mom’s uncles Jean-Marie and Jean-Paul Beauvais in uniform. Aren't they a pair of young, confident men?

Jean-Marie and Jean-Paul Beauvais, 1940s.

Fraternal twins born in 1921 in Papineau County, Quebec, they were the youngest of 16 children of Joseph and Olivine (Hotte) Beauvais. Twenty-three years separated Jean-Marie and Jean-Paul from their eldest sibling, a brother born in 1898. Sadly, the twins lost their mother Olivine when they were five years old and their father when they were 16 years old. 

I know that Jean-Marie and Jean-Paul were soldiers in World War II, but I don’t think they went overseas. Mom believes that Uncle Jean-Marie was posted for a time at CFB Chilliwack (in British Columbia, Canada) during the War, where he helped build bridges. As for Uncle Jean-Paul, Mom doesn't remember where he was posted or what he did.

I met my great-uncles only 2 or 3 times, but each occasion was memorable. Jean-Marie (on the left, above) was the more extroverted of the two, but both he and Jean-Paul (on the right, above) were fun, sociable and generous men. They loved their family and especially liked visiting their eldest sister Juliette, my Mom’s sister.

Jean-Marie Beauvais with his sister Juliette Desgroseilliers, 1945.

Some years after the War, both men married and raised families. Jean-Marie died recently in 2010, while Jean-Paul predeceased him in 2003.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

19 comments:

  1. Ooo - I love the sound of all those French names. Your great-uncles sound like they were truly nice men. I enjoyed reading about them.

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  2. Thanks, Wendy! They were really nice; I wish I had known them better than I did.

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  3. Sixteen children in a family is amazing!

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  4. I am not saying 16 kids in one family was the standard here but certainly in the 19th and early 20th century is was not uncommon in RC families to have more than 10 kids.
    The sad thing of course is that they lost their parents so early.

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  5. That's a lot of brothers and sisters! Even grainy, it is a great picture of the brothers.

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    1. Thanks, Kathy! That picture and the one of Jean-Marie with Juliette are the only two I have of the twins in their WWII uniforms.

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  6. Poor Olivine - after all those pregnancies what must she have thought to find out she was carrying twins? However, the boys look as if they grew up happy and content. There's something to be said for large families after all!

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    1. Poor Olivine, indeed. I can't imagine what it must have been like to have 16 pregnancies in 23 years.

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  7. Oh they had such big families back then, and so many of the babies were so large when they were born too! Great photos, I'm still wondering how they managed to keep those hats on! What family treasures!

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    1. Olivine was one of 11 children, while Joseph, who was one of 7, came from a comparatively small family. But, yes, large families were the norm in those days among RC French-Canadians.

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  8. Quite the dapper pair indeed! Lovely photos!

    How very sad that these two lost their mother at such a tender age. I wonder if any of their older sisters helped to raise them following their mother's death?

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    1. I'm assuming that the twins and the other young siblings (in all, there were 7 children who were less than 14 years old in 1926) were probably taken care of by their elder sister Marie Louise, who was 23 years old and unmarried. (Juliette the eldest daughter was already married, and the two other daughters in the family were only 7 and 8 years old.)

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  9. Very well written big sis. I remember meeting them only once at their place. One was quiet and the other was much more outgoing. In those days all the older kids would help the mother with the child-rearing or more like, watching over the littler ones which helped her greatly. Feeding all those kids and washing all their clothes etc etc, phew.

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    1. Thanks little sis! The more outgoing one was Oncle Jean-Marie. You're probably remembering the visit to Gatineau in 1986 where we met both of them, but Jean-Marie visited us in Timmins in the early 1970s.

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  10. I can't imagine a family of 16; what a big home they must have needed. Two fine looking boys and sad to see they lost their mother so soon.

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    1. With 12 boys and 4 girls, I'm thinking they probably had dormitories for bedrooms :-)

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  11. Hello, Yvonne! I'm a Canadian as well, and can trace MY ancestors back to 17th Century France too! My French-Canadian roots are from the east coast, and the Acadians.

    I'm glad you were able to find a military photo and to share the story of your grand-uncles, Jean-Marie and Jean-Paul.

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  12. Thanks, Kat! I'm glad to know another blogger with French-Canadians roots. So far, I haven't found Acadian ancestors in my lineage, but give me time, lol.

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