Sunday, February 9, 2014

Alfred Esdras Blagdon (born 1866) and the Blagdon Family in Quebec and Ontario

Alfred Esdras Blagdon in about 1885-1890.
The Blagdon family of Quebec and Ontario may go back to Dorset, England. It is not clear whether they have a connection to the many Blagdons who settled in Newfoundland. The name is often confused with similar-sounding surnames like Blackton.

The earliest certain ancestor of Alfred Esdras Blagdon, father of Margaret (Blagdon) Hood, is Edmund Blagdon, born about 1785, possibly in Dorset. In 1812, he married Priscille Piuze, who was born on August 30, 1791, daughter of doctor Liveright Piuze and Marie Anne Aubut. (Liveright Piuze is credited as being the first Polish-born settler in Canada, who left considerable records of his eventful life.) Here is her baptismal record:

Their marriage license states that: "Edmund Blagdon, Master of the Schooner Harriet, aged about twenty-six years, and Priscilla Peuze of Quebec spinster, aged about twenty-one years, were joined in marriage by License from His Excellency Sir George Prevost at Quebec this twenty-fourth day of July one thousand eight hundred [...] by Alex Spark miss. witn: Edmund Blagdon, Priscile Piuze, ChP H. Gauvreau, R. Piuze - Presbyterian, Saint Andrew`s Church" (available in the Drouin Collection). The couple had several children, including François Edmond, Émelie, Élisabeth, Marie Flavie and John.

Ship Arrivals at the Port of Quebec for 1827 list a Blagdon as master of the schooner Cornelia, laden with rum and sugar coming from St. John, New Brunswick.

When he was about 50, Edmund made an (unsuccessful) attempt to become lighthouse keeper on Anticosti Island. The original version of his petition is deposited in the Canadian National Archives in Ottawa. It reads: "Québec 10 October 1835: Edmund Blagdon prays the appointment of Keeper of the Light House on the East End of the Island of Anticosti (answered by Litt & Sutter, 21 Oct.). To His Excellency, The Right Honourable Archibald, Earl of Godford, Captain General and Governor in Chief, in aug (?) over the Province of Lower Canada, The Petition of Edmund Blagdon of Québec, Master Mariner – Humbly Shreweth, that for the last Twenty Years, Your Petitioner has sailed, in the capacity of Master of a Vessel, out of the Port of Québec; that from his long experience at sea, Your Petitioner is well acquainted with the nature of the duties of a Light House Keeper; that understanding that no keeper has, as yet been appointed to the Light House on the East End of the Island of Anticosti, Your Petitioner respectfully presents himself as a Candidate for the situation, and in so doing, ventures to solicit the favorable consideration, by Your Excellency, of the testimonial herewith transmitted, and in duty bound, he will ever stay (Québec, 10th Oct 1835) Edmund Blagdon."

Edmund Blagdon's signature on his petition to become a lighthouse keeper shows he was at ease with a pen.
A note in the Colonial Gazette (July 5, 1845) reads: "The case of Thomas White was first gone into, and the ship's articles having been put in, and the contract proved in the ordinary way, Mr. Pelham said he was instructed to resist the demand, on the ground that White was utterly incompetent, as a seaman – remark which would apply equally to the eight other men, and formed the chief ground of defence. Mr. Edmund Blagdon, chief mate of the Erin, said that White told him two days after he came on hoard that he was ill, and could do no work. White was no seaman, and was quite useless. The complainant said lhe hurt his legs by falling over a gun, but at the same time admitted that he had been in the hospital, and could do very little work. Mr. Broderip dismissed the case."

Edmund Blagdon died before 1862; the legend is that this ship's captain drowned in a stream.

Edmond Blagdon (1817-1902)

Edmond Blagdon
Edmund Blagdon's son François Edmond was born on February 25, 1817 in Rivière-Ouelle, Quebec.

On February 13, 1844, he married Marie Obelinne Lemieux at Notre Dame de Quebec in Quebec City.

The 1851 Canada Directory for Rivière Ouelle lists "Edmond Blagdon: general store". The 1852 Census lists him as a merchant living with his wife and their fisrt child, daughter Sara.

The Journals of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Quebec (Volume 1, p. 400-401) contain an anecdote in a statement of Henri Garon, Returning Officer for the County of Kamouraska, February 13, 1868 regarding a violent incident about an election that had been set for August 1868. "I believe that there were more than two thousand persons present at the village of Kamouraska on the day fixed for the election. [...] The group of rioters who attacked my house was large, and contained at least a hundred persons, with a ringleader at their head [...] Up to the time of the commission of the acts of violence detailed in my report, I did not think that the threats of violence of which I have before spoken would be carried out, but after the said acts of violence occurred, and when I heard on my return home from the hustings, that two persons, Louis Desjardins and Edmond Blagdon, supporters of Mr. Chapais, whom I had seen in the course of the day, had been mortally wounded, I became convinced that the information I had received respecting these threats was well-founded. I saw these persons myself on the same day, subsequent to my hearing that they were mortally wounded. Desjardins appeared to me to be in a very precarious position. The priest and the doctor had been sent for to him, and I myself was set to act, in my capacity of notary in the settlement of his family affairs. I have seen him since. He told me that he was pretty well, but that he could not work. He was not prevented from working,but he could not work so well. I have seen Blagdon, the other man that was wounded, since, and he is pretty well.

In fact, Edmond Blagdon did not die until April 29, 1902, at Fort Coulonge, Pontiac, Quebec.

Edmond Blagdon was father to six children:
This 1902 photo from the Musée du Bas-Saint-Laurent is captioned "Alexandre Lebel". Does it show a 51-year-old Sara Jane Blagdon?  
  • Rosanna, an invalid who died young, according to Margaret Hood. Perhaps she is the "Rose" Blagdon listed in the 1901 Census of Canada, living in Lévis, Quebec as a "pensionnaire" at the age of 49 in a home with about 30 other "pensionnaires, age 9 to 89. Her birthdate is given in that document as April 26, 1852.

  • This image from 1903 shows Télesphore Blagdon, his wife, her mother, their adopted daughter, Corinne, and the dog, Mignonne. 
  • Louis Télesphore Blagdon, born about 1856, married Isabelle Levesque (born in 1871). The couple adopted a girl named Corinne Florence Claire Blagdon (born in 1906; there seems to be another photo of her in the Musée du Bas-St-Laurent, which has quite a few Blagdon photos. She may have married a Jean-Louis Tarte and lived to be about 95). In 1919, as an employee  of the Clarendon Hotel (which still exists – it is the oldest in Quebec City), Télesphore died in an accident after being caught between the floor and the cage of an elevator at work.
  • Oscar: married Mary Louise O'Leary and had children named Cecilia, Gabrielle, Edmond Oscar Tom, O'Leary, Frederick and Louis.
  • Alfred Esdras (see below)
  • Wilhemina: Margaret Hood remembered her as a "smart cookie" who moved to the New York area to teach French.

Alfred Esdras Blagdon (1866-about 1937)

Alfred Blagdon was born on March 17, 1866 in Lévis, Quebec. 

He traveled to Montana and other parts of the U.S. as a schoolteacher in the late 1880s or early 1990s when a depression caused many Quebeckers to leave their home province. By 1892 he had returned to Toronto to work as a stenographer at the Gendron Manufacturing Company, where he met the Sauriol brothers and their sister Eugenie, whom he married in 1893.

Alfred and Eugenie Blagdon at 430 Summerhill in Toronto with granddaughter Barbara.
After their marriage the Blagdon family moved to Sturgeon Falls. Alfred worked in a shoe store, possibly called Hewittson Shoes for some years. He was always interested in making things. In 1908 and 1909, he tried to patent a design for gas burners. In the 1920s, the Sturgeon Falls area became logged out, the town “went bust”, and virtually everyone was forced to go on relief. The Blagdons returned to Toronto around 1930.

This seems to be a photograph of Alfred Blagdon with one of his grandsons, Alex or Hugh, possibly at Centre Island in Toronto.
In Toronto, Alfred Blagdon evidently took a great deal of pleasure in his grandchildren. He was remembered for his skills as a woodworker; he made intricate treasure boxes for the children, and also painted pictures. He died around 1937 in Toronto. His last words were “How’s little Alex?”, of his grandson.

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