Would you date this man?

1 johnbedard one1 johnbedard oneWould you marry him? This letter started it all. Throughout all of her travels and change of households, my mother took care to save as much as she could, especially letters.

To the uninitiated, letters are what people used to write when they could not speak, text, or email each other. Letter writing was a skill learned and perfected. In this case, the letter was used to capture the attention of the “weaker sex” while extolling the virtues of the Ice Capades and the pitfalls of the Montreal tramway system. It worked.

Read about it on ennui.press.


Father Pierre-Célestin (aka Achille Therrien)

Note: The following history was taken from an Assumptionist website, featuring short biographies of some of their most notable brothers. You can access the Assumptionist link here.

You can read about Achille’s letter he wrote to his sister Emérentienne here.

First Canadian Assumptionist

Achille Therrien was born January 3, 1898, in Saint-Adrien d’Irlande, Quebec, Canada.  He received his elementary education with the Sisters of Saint-Louis de France in Saint Adrien.  After his secondary education with the Brothers of Christian Schools in Thetford Mines and at the Petit Seminaire de Quebec (1914-19), he entered the Assumptionist novitiate in Saint Gérard, Belgium, where he received the religious habit on November 4, 1921, under the name of Brother Pierre-Célestin.  At the time, there was no Assumptionist novitiate in North America.  Annually professed March 19, 1923, he was sent to the house of studies in Louvain for theology (1923-27).  Perpetually professed in Louvain June 24, 1926, he was ordained a priest July 24, 1927, thus becoming the first Canadian-born priest in the Congregation.


Upon his return to North America, Fr. Pierre-Célestin was assigned to Assumption College in Worcester (USA) as a teacher.  In 1930, he was appointed to the important position of Dean of Discipline. Equal to the task, he knew how to combine strength with esteem, as . . . Click here for the full article

The Mourning Dress

A Letter to Emérentienne Therrien Roy from Achille Therrien – 1916

Was Fr. Pierre-Célestin, aka, Achille Therrien, a saint? He inspired Therese Roy in life and liberated her through his death. The letter to Emérentienne Therrien Roy from Achille Therrien, written in May 1916 was a sketch for what was to follow.

You can read the letter here.

You can read about Achille Therrien here.

By most historical accounts, Thetford Mines in 1916 was a wide open city, full of new opportunity and relatively economically advantaged. Asbestos was a needed commodity. The First World War was in full throttle for the Canadians who’s flag still sported the Union Jack in the upper left corner. As in World War II, Canada joined and ended the war as British subjects. Antonio Roy, her eventual spouse who she married in 1920, had enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in November 1914 had likely left with the Royal 22ieme regiment in 1915 for action in Europe.

What messages to learn from the past? Someone died, we are not sure who for certain and a brother wrote to a his sister about dealing with death in May of 1916. The past is an awful lot like today. In translating my . . . Click here for the full article

Une lettre pour Emérentienne – 1916

This gallery contains 9 photos.

Translated text of letter from Achille Therrien, boarder at the Petit Seminaire de Quebec, to his sister, Emérentienne Therrien, of Thetford Mines, Province of Québec, Canada dated 2 May 1916. Translated by Pierre Bédard.

Dearest sister,

I remember well when an old beggar named “Bonhomme Vallé” baptized you “Mademoiselle la Tanante.” It would please me to call you that today, if the black angel of death had not come to deploy his wing to darken your beautiful forehead and in one eternal night take away someone so close and near in your future family.

Yes! Your dear father-in-law left us for the other journey. I’m sure you went to his cold tomb to spill the last tears supplied by your poor heart, oppressed by pain. It seems to me that you are like Calypso, after the departure of her dear Ulysses, nothing written below can make you smile or console you from such a heavy blow to your daughter-in-law’s heart!!!!!

If you read Telemachus by Fénelon you would see that it begins as such; “Calypso could not console herself when Ulysses left, she found herself unhappy to be immortal because she was a goddess.” But you, who is but a mortal thinks that one day, your thoughts, harvested by the same pitchfork, will let you fall back . . . Click here for the full article

Bonjour de la Californie

pierre therese spikepierre therese spikeBonjour tous le monde. Je vous envoie un portrait de Therese, Pierre, et Spike (aka Mimi).

I was in Orange County yesterday and after we went to the beach and lunch, we grabbed the bad dog Spike and went for a walk in our old neighborhood to the Corriveau’s old house at 340 Olive Street. The house, built in 1923 has been designated part of historic old Orange. If you look at the top of the picture, it has a brass medallion on it. The current owners have done a good job on the trim, it’s a very colorful picture.

I told the current owner about how the eight of us, Mom, Pop, Roland, Celine, Pierre, Lise, Marc, and I all lived in a one room carriage house at the back of the property. It wasn’t until later that Roland and Celine moved into the house pictured . . . Click here for the full article

Top 2013 bedard.com post: Reason & Doubt

It’s been a long year with lots going on. Thought you might enjoy a little “best of bedard.com.” Have a great New Year! 

This post is about a cousin’s birth announcement which came out during the heart of the Asbestos Strike of 1949 in Thetford Mines, PQ, a seminal event in Québec history.

Ephemera (singular: ephemeron) is any transitory written or printed matter not meant to be retained or preserved.

I found my cousin Maureen’s birth announcement in a pile of letters and ephemera kept by my mother (her aunt, Therese) in San Diego, kept intact and surviving the potentially cruel cut of the necessary triages before every family diaspora; from Montréal-Èst to Orange County (1964) to San Diego (1970) to Laos (1972) and back finally to San Diego (1975). The one cent stamp sports King George VI’s portrait and is war issue. These types of stamps used to come in rolls. The card and envelope have weight and gravitas, it feels good to the touch.

I went to Québec City last month intending to give Maureen the birth announcement. The card, in its original envelope, had traveled far, and it seemed right to turn it and some other photos over to some of the subjects of the photos, cousins, aunts, and uncles.

I left Québec the next day and resolved . . . Click here for the full article

Amabilis de Sainte Croix is the Québecois Anne of Green Gables!

51gCWuqc3pL._AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-51,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_51gCWuqc3pL._AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-51,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_The first reviews for Amabilis de Sainte Croix are in!

Amabilis de Sainte Croix  is the Québecois Anne of Green Gables!” Myles Ambrose, Stendhal Review

“I could not have told the story better had I lived it myself. I felt I was there for everything the arsenic poisoning, the births, the deaths, the drama of rural Quebec living. Well told.” Carl Chrastain, Santa Clara Valley Recorder 

“Historically impeccable, best first person memoir I’ve read in the last six weeks. Impressive.”  Candace Hsuang, Thunder Valley Reader

Here’s the introduction I wrote to her book:


Luck and fecundity

Between 1899 and 1904, five Hébert girls were born to Marie Zelphida Hébert, née Charest. Between 1924 and 1946, these five Hébert girls in turn gave birth to sixty (60) full term babies.

Amarilda, the eldest, had fifteen (15), Ida, the next, born in 1901, sixteen (16). Amabilis, the writer of these memoires had twelve (12), followed by Anne Marie . . . Click here for the full article

Virtual Publishing Party – Amabilis of Sainte Croix goes live on Amazon!

51gCWuqc3pL._AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-51,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_51gCWuqc3pL._AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-51,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Very proud to announce the publishing of my third book which just went live on amazon.com – Amabilis of Sainte Croix, a Québecois woman’s memoires spanning the experiences of four generations from the late 19th to the mid 20th century in rural Québec province. Amabilis’s point of view and perspective gives a fresh historical view to a turbulent time in Québec and Canada’s history. Included in the edition is her complete original memoires en français.

Click here to go to amazon.com and get the kindle edition.

If you’d like a pdf version, please let me know via the comments section. All comments are moderated by me and will never be posted. Thanks.


Paul Roy is one of my favorite uncles, and I’m lucky to have many. He was a sapper in the Royal Canadian Army during WWII. I don’t have all his service details, but he saw his share of action. Paul got very good handling explosives in the asbestos mines of Thetford Mines. It was said he could set off a charge next to a window without breaking glass.

He brought home a war bride, Vina, from the UK, who lived her life a delightful anachronism, an Englishwoman smack dab in the middle of Quebec’s asbestos mining region. She probably understood and spoke French, but she never let on.

Paul was also one of the “Lost Canadians.” Born in a mill town in the US (don’t know the detail), he found out he wasn’t Canadian when he applied for a passport to sail back to the UK with Vina. I’m guessing my grandmother, Emerentienne Roy, was one of the many young Québecoise who went south to work the mills in New England. It was on one of those trips to Manchester that Paul was born.

My father memorialized Paul’s citizenship issues in a chapter in his book, Border Guards. I also wrote about this . . . Click here for the full article

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