1852: The Charbonneau family of St. Eustache

Third in a series about my French-Canadian ancestor Laurent Charbonneau, who emigrated from Québec to New York State around 1852.

Just before he moved south to New York State, my great, great grandfather Laurent Charbonneau lived with his parents and siblings in the village of St. Eustache — located in the Québec county of Deux Montagnes west of Montréal .

That’s where he was enumerated in the 1851 Census of Canada East (Québec). (Due to delays, this census was actually enumerated during the following year — so it is interchangeably referred to as the “1852 Census.”)

The following brief summary of the Charbonneau family’s census entry — which spans page 7 and page 8 of the census taker’s log — provides a snapshop of my French-Canadian ancestors shortly before Laurent left the household.

1851 Census of Canada East (Québec) – Dist. 33 Deux Montagnes (county)  Subdistrict 524  – St. Eustache village (pages 7 and 8) – from AutomatedGenealogy.com/census52/

Pers. No. Name Occupation Age at next birthday Sex
13 Louis Charbonneau Aubergiste [Innkeeper] 50 M
14 Suzanne Marcille 47 F
15 Désiré Charbonneau Journalier [Day Laborer] 21 M
16 Laurent Charbonneau  Journalier [Day Laborer] 20 M
17 Elize Charbonneau 15 F
18 Léon Charbonneau 3 M





From blacksmith to innkeeper

The census lists the entire family as French-Canadian and Catholic. They lived in a one-story maison à charpente [frame house] — which was classified as an auberge [inn] on the second page of their census enumeration. Quite a change in two decades!

On Laurent’s 1832 baptismal record, his father Louis gave forgeron [blacksmith] as his trade. But by 1852, Louis was employed as an innkeeper — and most likely the owner (or at least sole proprietor) of the establishment, since only the Charbonneau family was living there when the census was taken.

The young Charbonneau brothers

Today St. Eustache is a suburb of Montréal — but when my Charbonneau ancestors lived there, it was a separate village.  The location seems to have brought success to my ggg grandfather Louis — but it may have offered limited job prospects for the upcoming generation.

At the time of the 1851 census, my great, great grandfather Laurent, 20, and his older brother Désiré, 21, were both working as journaliers [day laborers] — so they were not permanently employed.

They had also not yet started families of their own, which also suggests limited means. And there may have been other socio-economic factors affecting their generation as well.

A thwarted rebellion

Fifteen years before this census was taken — in December 1837 — St. Eustache was the scene of a significant battle in the Patriots’ Uprising against British colonial rule in Canada.

The rebellion of 1837-38 united the French-speaking population and English-speaking workers in a push-back against their common political and economic oppression — an uprising inspired in part by the American Revolution.

But unlike in the U.S., the rebellion was thwarted — a defeat that may have set the stage for an exodus to the south by large numbers of French-Canadians seeking equal opportunity in the U.S. border states.

Were these among the motivating factors in my great, great grandfather Laurent Charbonneau’s move to New York State? More in the next post.

To be continued.

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