Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Who Owned the Plaines of Abraham? My Ancestor

Today, for some reason, I got the urge to clean out an Edwardian-era secretary I have in the living room. It was full of crap. I found this pic of my grandfather, Jules Crepeau, at about 24 years old.

I had forgotten about it.

He's very French-looking, no?

The son of a house painter, at the time this photograph was taken Jules had already been 15 years at Montreal City Hall!

He was married in 1901, or is it 1900, to Maria Roy. Maria, the daughter of a Master Butcher, brought a 40,000 dollar dowry to the marriage which allowed him to build a new house on Amherst.

I have two crystal urns that was one of their wedding presents. I have them in the bathroom, as decorations.

Maria's mother, Melina Gagnon Roy, lived with them on Amherst in 1902.


I have just decided to write a book, Montreal 1928, about Jules. In 1928, he was Director of City Services, a big and powerful position.

Jules was involved in numerous scandals that year, too: the  controversy around the 14 million dollars Montreal Water and Power Purchase; the fall-out from the fatal Laurier Palace movie house fire in 1927; and yet another typhoid epidemic.

A couple of years before, Jules'  name had been brought up during the Coderre Commission into Police Malfeasance and Impropriety. Apparently, he was BOSS over the police, telling them what to do.

At that inquiry, a certain Constable Trudeau would testify that my grandfather forced police to look the other way when movie houses made infractions against the by-laws.

Trudeau did  not like children attending movies. "One day, there's going to be a catastrophe," he said. "One day there's going to be a fire and people won't be able to get out."

I suspect this was a threat against my grandfather, on behalf of organized crime. Trudeau was a crooked cop who 'lent' the Chief of Police money on numerous occasions.

Two years later, new populist Mayor Camillien Houde would force my grandfather to resign, and he told a rowdy session at City Hall that it was because 'the people' wanted revenge for all the above issues, none of which had much to do with my grandfather, but hey.

My grandfather would negotiate a huge life pension of 7,500 a year. He had leverage of some kind: that pension would leave him the second highest paid person at City Hall, without having to work!

During the Depression, in 1937, the city would suspend Jules' pension as part of an emergency measure.

Two weeks later, my grandfather would be hit by a car in NDG, not far from his home, driven by an out of work policeman. His leg would be broken.

(I wonder whom he threatened.)

He would die a year later from complications from X-Rays, bone cancer.

 Grandpapa on a City Hall legend. Middle bottom.

 with family
In a tall hat with city alderman on a hunting trip, I think.

Anyway, I've been doing my family tree, and I managed to trace Jules' paternal line back to Maurice Crespeau from Poitou Charentes, France.

His mother, Vitaline Forget's side,  I traced back to Abraham Martin of  the Plaines of Abraham fame, the well-known pioneer or "L'Ecossais" who owned the place where the iconic battle took place.

It's easy to trace the trees of French Canadians thanks to Catholic Church records. I'm having trouble with the Roy line, though. It stalls (or hits a brick wall)at a few generations back.

 I've turned to DNA. I found Maria Roy's birth certificate and see that her Godfather was a Philias Roy. That's a rarer name than her father, Louis Roy.  I went on GEDMATCH and found some people with a Philias Roy in their trees, and, yes, I get substantial DNA matches. The problem is, these trees don't indicate  know what part of Quebec he is from.  I think this Maria Roy line goes back to Le Roy from Britanny, tho.