During the 4th of July holiday, Steve and I took a trip to Montreal to see the Jazz Festival. It was my first trip to Montreal, and while we were really there to visit a friend and take in some good music, we couldn’t help but take the opportunity to visit the hometown of one of our progenitors, Francois Primaut. According to the family history on this blog, Francois and Marguerite (2nd generation) settled in an area close to Montreal called Chateauguay.

When we told Yvan, our friend who we were staying with, that we wanted to go to Chateauguay, he was amused. Although he’s lived all his life in Montreal, he couldn’t recall ever setting foot in Chateauguay. He laughed, saying it was just a suburb that had nothing going for it. It became a running gag, in fact, with everyone we met. “So, what do you plan on seeing while you’re in town?” “We’re going to Chateauguay!” Which would always be met with looks of bemused disdain. One of Yvan’s friends called it “An ugly little town.” But of course, we had to go!

We set out Sunday afternoon (July 4th), armed with Yvan’s GPS set on English to help us find our way. Chateauguay is only about a half an hour outside of Montreal, which is an island set between two rivers: the St. Lawrence and the Prairie. Here is a map from the 18th Century of Montreal and its environs:

Map from Inside St. Joachim Church, Chateauguay

We found our way to Chateauguay, which is, indeed, an ugly little town. There is really nothing too distinguishing about it. It looks very much like any small American town, riddled with strip-malls, with little sense of history. And then, we came upon this:

Saint Joachim de Chateauguay

A gorgeous church, that dated to the mid-18th century. The door was open, and when we walked in, there were two ladies inside who were very happy that we stopped by. I told them I was a Primeaux with a Louisiana background, and they looked at each other and smiled. Both nodded vigorously. “Oh yes, yes, yes. There are many Primeaus here. Many Primeaus.” One of the ladies told us where to find the cemetery, and we signed the guest book.

We made our way to the cemetery, and although we didn’t see any gravestones that were older than the early 20th century, we did find these:

The name on the very bottom: Marie Primeau

I felt connected to all of these people–after all, they are distant cousins. After leaving the cemetery, we found ourselves on this street:

And driving further, near the Chateauguay River, a St. Lawrence River tributary that runs through the town, we found a house for sale. Interested? Give Ginette a call:

Our Canadian Primeau history confirmed, we made our way back to Montreal.

Louisiana – Quebec bonds were strengthened when we finished our Jazz Festival experience by seeing Allen Toussaint, who gave a masterful, warm performance. It was a complete joy to see him. If you come across his new album, The Bright Mississippi, check it out. I highly recommend it. Here are additional pictures proving our Canadian heritage (from Old Montreal):

Canadian Crawfish? Who knew?!?

Love to you all, Michelle

Advertisements