Antoine and Angele (Latraverse) Cournoyer

This is a photograph of an old photograph of my great-great-grandparents, Antoine and Angele (Latraverse) Cournoyer of Sorel, Quebec and Tweed, Ontario. There are many unanswered questions about this picture. I have no idea where the original is now located, or if it still exists. My father, Gordon Courneya, took this photo of the original picture, probably in the 1940s. It was then in the hands of Margaret Davis, who was, I think, a widow of a clergyman, and who lived in Toronto. She must have died some time ago, and I don't know if she had any children to inherit the picture. Margaret was my father's father's first cousin. In this photo, the original had been stuck to the wall with a piece of tape. It had suffered a fair amount of what could be water damage to the bottom right at some point. Margaret identified the couple as her paternal grandparents, though she didn't know their names. Margaret was the daughter of Charles and Margaret (Foley) Cournoyer. She was born on August 4, 1886 in Tweed. Charles was born on September 27, 1847 to Antoine and Angele (Latraverse) Cournoyer of Sorel. That identifies the couple in the picture for us.

I have been told that the original photo was a type called carte de visite, which was first taken about 1860. Antoine was born on October 10, 1811 to Antoine and Veronique (Tessier) Cournoyer in Sorel. He would have been 49 in 1860. Angele was born on March 9, 1813 to Pierre and Catherine (Gauthier-Delisle) Latraverse, also in Sorel. She would have been 47 in 1860. I have often thought that they look younger than 49 and 47 in this photo. My original thought was that this must have been taken when they were married, in 1835, but I have heard that the earliest photographs in Canada date back only as far as 1839. When I first saw the photo, I assumed that it had been taken outdoors with what appeared to be a Quebec-style house in the background. However, apparently these carte de visite photos were always taken indoors against a backdrop. In spite of the mystery over their young appearances in this photograph, I do think that these two people were indeed Antoine and Angele. I have one other very blurry photo (below) known to be of Antoine, taken some time after their move to Tweed about 1860. In spite of the poor quality, this does appear to be the same man as the one in the above photo, but much older.



Antoine and Angele appear in the 1881 census for Tweed but not the 1891 census, so I have assumed that they died in between. I have not been able to find any stones for them in the cemetery records for the Tweed area, so it is likely that they were buried without stones. As neither one could read or write, this is perhaps not surprising.

My father's grandfather, Simon, died in 1925 when Dad was only five years old, and too young to remember him. Simon was the son of Antoine and Angele. From what Dad had heard from his family, Simon was born about 1841 in Sorel, and came to Tweed with his family when he was two years old, in 1843. As no one seemed to remember the names of Simon's parents, in 1947 Dad wrote a letter to Sorel asking for information on the parents of a Simon Cournoyer born there in 1841. He received a reply from a man named Charles Cadoret who was with the City of Sorel, in the library department. He had looked through the church register and found a Simon Cournoyer who was born April 30, 1841 to Charles and Rose (Masse) Cournoyer. Of course, it was the wrong Simon. Dad may have given out that incorrect information to a number of people over the years, and I know that he also gave out copies of the first picture above, labelled Charles and Rose (Masse) Cournoyer on the back.

In the late 1980s, I started researching the Cournoyer family tree, armed with the information that Dad had accumulated. I found the Loiselle marriage index at a local LDS library, and soon found marriage records of children of Charles and Rose (Masse) Cournoyer. One problem was that these sons and daughters were married in Quebec years after the family was supposed to have moved to Tweed. The other problem was that their first names did not fit with what Dad knew of the siblings of Simon. It was clear that something was wrong. A relative, Harry O'Rourke, gave me some more information, including the names of the four Cournoyer men who had come to Tweed from Sorel. I found their marriage records listed in the LDS International Genealogical Index, and that gave me a location: St. Pierre-de-Sorel. I was then able to order in the microfilmed church records for that parish, and there I found the marriage records for Antoine and Angele and the others, and also the baptisms for their children. The Cournoyer families I was able to put together from these records matched the ones I later saw in the 1861 census for Tweed.

It is truly unfortunate, but quite understandable, that Charles Cadoret found the wrong Simon. Our Simon was actually born in 1846. As is not unusual, his age was exaggerated as he got older, and so he was said to be 84 when he died in 1925, when he was really 79. I found the baptism record of the 1841 Simon in the St. Pierre-de-Sorel records, and realized that he had been baptized the same day as his twin sister, Marie. If Charles Cadoret had given Dad that additional information, then perhaps it would have made Dad realize that it was the wrong Simon, as he didn't know of a sister named Marie and certainly had never heard that Simon was a twin. As noted above, Dad had been told that Simon moved with his family to Tweed when he was two years old. In fact, the St. Pierre-de-Sorel registers make it clear that the family was still there for the birth of their youngest son in 1857. He was baptized Dieudonne but called Denis. Denis could have been about two years old when the family moved to Tweed, so the story may actually be referring to him rather than Simon.

This incorrect identification of Antoine and Angele as Charles and Rose is undoubtedly still out there, in family trees and on photographs. That is my reason for making this information available on the Internet.

Caren (Courneya) Secord,
daughter of Gordon and Doris (Webster) Courneya,
granddaughter of Felix and Matilda (Brioux) Courneya,
great-granddaughter of Simon and Mary (Goulah) Cournoyer,
great-great-granddaughter of Antoine and Angele (Latraverse) Cournoyer