In focus

First families

In her study of Bytown’s French-Canadian pioneers, Georgette Lamoureux gives an account of the first baptisms of Francophone children registered in Ottawa’s Notre-Dame Parish. They are “Émélia, born in 1824, and her sister Sophie, born in 1825, daughters of Joseph Prévost, of Hamilton, and of Ellen Lalande.”1 These registers pre-date 1827, when construction of the Rideau Canal began. As such, they also date back to the period before the first priest was established in the region, and are therefore likely the work of a missionary. “The record which follows is that of Maria Anastasia, born in 1828, daughter of John Bélisle and Marie-Louise Beauchamp.”

The next name is Émélia Pinard, born June 25, 1829, to Lewis (Louis) Pinard and Catherine Alexandre. With respect to the Pinard family, Georgette Lamoureux states that six of the sixteen children born to Joseph-Marie Pinard and Françoise Côté of Nicolet settle in Bytown. A seventh moves to Hull. Louis comes to Bytown during the canal construction period, and his brothers and sister join him later.

With the exception of Louis, who was an innkeeper, the Pinard brothers worked in trades which were sought after at the time: carpentry and cabinetry. They were skilled craftsmen. The descendants of these pioneers became actively engaged in federal and municipal politics, and the boards of directors of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste and the Institut canadien-français. They were, in fact, involved in all French-Canadian movements in the city. Many worked as civil servants or merchants, others as dentists. Albert became a member of parliament and Alfred a long-time municipal councillor, with a short street in the parish of Sainte-Anne named after him.2


1 Georgette Lamoureux, Bytown et ses pionniers canadiens-français, 1826-1855. Histoire d’Ottawa, tome 1, revised re-edition, Ottawa, G. Lamoureux, 1984, p. 299 (translated from the original).

2 Ibid., p. 340.