By Rev. W. J. Enright
"None are so apt to build and plant for future centuries as noble spirited men who have received their heritages from foregone ages."
In rural Quebec, some thirty miles in a southeasterly direction from the quaint old city of the same name, there is a locality, which has an irresistible fascination for me - Frampton.
It has a magnetic atmosphere, a spirit of its own, and a community soul; briefly an indefinable something that satisfies, soothes and charms. My partiality to that hallowed spot can be explained in one brief sentence: It is the place where I was born.
Breathes there the man with soul so dead,
My annual visits there afford me that nostalgic pleasure that comes from stepping again into the footprints of a foregone existence, from retracing the days of childhood, from reliving the carefree scenes of long ago.
Originally, Frampton was a township. When England took possession of Canada in 1763, the seignorial regime pursued by France in allocating tracts of unbroken woodland was abandoned. Townships supplanted seignories, or fiefs. However, the authorities continued the practice of carving on the map precious portions of the virgin forest with which to dower the elect of the administration, or those who had served in the army. That system was not abuse-proof. Colonization was being retarded by speculators cornering, and holding, vast areas of arable land, in the sordid hope of enhancing its value. As a remedial and preventive measure, it was decided not to concede any more townships to individuals, but only to associations composed of a certain number of members each of whom would receive 1,200 acres of land.
The outstanding personages in the association of the Frampton township were the Henderson brothers, William and Gilbert, and Pierre Edouard Desbarats. The prospect of having to hew their domains out of the aboriginal forest had no appeal for the veterans of the War of 1812. Accordingly most of them sold their claims to the Henderson brothers, and to Mr. Desbarats, who took advantage of the influx of immigrants from Ireland in 1815 to secure settlers for the nascent township. A few years later, around 1830, another exodus from that country brought many more Irish families to East and to West Frampton.
History supplies the explanation of the departure from Erin's sorry shores, both in 1815, and in 1830, of thousands of her sons and daughters. On the 29th of June, 1886, in his Liverpool speech, Mr. Gladstone, making a retrospective survey of the Irish question, said: "In 1815, it (the English Parliament) passed a law most oppressive to the Irish tenant." Years before Mr. Gladstone's blunt declaration, in 1830, Mr. Doherty, the Irish Solicitor General, told the House of Commons, that there was then in Ireland "the existence of a condition of things which the lower animals in England would scarcely endure and which, in fact, they did not endure."
However, the purpose of this sketch is not to stir up in the hearts of its reader's resentment against the oppressors of their forebears. Therefore, the foregoing citations represent an impassive indictment of the probable historical reason why our forefathers left the Emerald Isle, and not an attempt to retard the progress of time in its obliteration of those melancholy memories. Let eternal silence reign over wrongs, which can never be righted by the vengeful recounting of them.
Mr. Desbarats promoted the colonization of the western section of the township on the left shore of the Etchemin River, while the Henderson brothers fostered the development of the eastern portion, known today as St. Malachy.
As a matter of interest to the reader, we must mention here the fact that the Etchemin and Abenaqui Rivers which cross the township of Frampton are reminiscent of the two great Indian Tribes of the same names who swept their savage way over those tributary water routes to the lordly St. Lawrence long before the axes of our pioneering ancesto9rs had awakened the echoes of those primeval forests.
Messrs. William and Gilbert Henderson and Desbarats were distinguished for their learning, patriotism and foresight.
Mr. Desbarats was Assistant Registrar of the Legislator Council, Crown Printer, Justice of the Peace and Lieutenant Colonel. He died in Quebec City, April 23, 1828, at the age of 63. At his own request, his remains were taken from Quebec to Frampton to rest among his beloved colonists in their tiny newborn parish in the wildwood.
William Henderson was born in 1783, at Papa Stour, one of the Shetland Islands. He came to Quebec in 1799. Besides being an explorer and a colonizer, he was also a man of letters. In 1853, he received the Award Medal of the Quebec Historic and Literary Society for an essay on the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. He died in 1883, exactly forty days after passing the rarely-reached hundredth mark.
His brother, Gilbert, was born in 1786, at Papa Stour. Three years after his coming to Quebec, he played a brilliant role in the War of 1812, as colonel of the Third Regiment. His death occurred in 1876. He rests at the side of his brother, William, in the cemetery of St. Paul's Protestant Chapel in St. Malachy.
The memory of these three stalwart men deserves perennial fragrance in the grateful recollections of the now flourishing parishes that owe their existence to their indefatigable industry and prophetic vision.
Whether at home or abroad, the scions of those toilsome pioneers who metamorphosed its sullen wilderness into smiling meadows while its tempest-riven hills reverberated their happy songs, have no doubt often wondered, in their fanciful recreations of the primitive paternal land, how Frampton came by its name.
The scholarly William Henderson had a predilection for the writings of one Mary Frampton who enjoyed a great literary reputation in England around the year 1820. He conceived the idea of crystallizing his admiration for that writer by giving her name to the township he was fashioning in the New World.
The township of Frampton was opened in 1815 and the site of the first chapel was selected by Bishop Plessis on Quebec, July 20, 1825. That plot of ground was situated on the "3rd range" of the township. (A range is demarcated by a highway intersecting abutting farms." The new chapel was blessed in 1826 by Rev. Hugh Paisley, a Scottish priest who was curate at Saint Rock, Quebec City, at the time. From then until 1829, it was looked after by clergymen from Ste. Marie de Beauce.
The first settlers of Frampton were mostly Irish. In 1913, under the heading "Historical Notes," L'Action Sociale, a Quebec City French daily, published a series of sketches on the early history of Frampton from the pen of Rev. Theodore Gagnon, then curate in Frampton. In the November 14th issue, we read the following: "The first inhabitants to settle in Frampton around the year 1815 were Irish." This statement can be verified by a glance at the names of the signatories of a petition addressed to the Bishop of Quebec, likely in 1824, requesting episcopal authorization to build the first chapel. They are: Peter Murphy, Andrew Murphy, Robert Sample, Michael St. John, James Farrell, Richard Ayler, Patrick Byrne, Denis Kelly, Edward Brennan, William Maher, Patrick Devereux, Joseph Sutton, Mrs. Bogne, Patrick Bolger, Matthew Reid, Myles duff, Martin Murphy, James Fitzgerald, Walter Fitzgerald, William Doyle, William Whealan, James Boyle, Denis O'Neil, James Shea, Myles Murphy, James Nevil.
However, they were not exclusively Irish; for in the above-mentioned petition, it is stated that the non-Catholic people had offered to assist in the construction of the projected chapel. According to the reliable testimony of Mr. W. J. Doyle, the first Protestant settlers were the Hodgson, Johnston, Owen and Sutherland families. From the opening of the settlement down to the present day, there have always been a goodly number of Protestant families. In my day, the Protestant elements of Frampton and of St. Malachy were ministered to by a highly cultured and most genial gentleman - Rev. Mr. Hibbard. Mr. Hibbard commanded the respect of all, regardless of their racial origin, or, of their religious convictions. At the present time, he resides in Quebec City.
The isolation of the early settlers in their woodland retreat stimulated the social instinct (always dynamic in the Irish), linked them heartily together, so that they formed a convivial fraternity. They lived in the "pre" days: Pre-radios, pre-highways, pre-motor cars, even pre-horse and buggy. Their entertainment was of their own creation. As a result, scores of them became raconteurs of no mean merit. I still have vivid recollections of how, as children, we used to look forward to the periodical visits of a septuagenarian named Michael Maher. Mike had learned the art of spinning mystic yarns from the original denizens of the realm. For hours, he would hold us spell-bound with the most amazing assortment of weird tales. The only drawback was that our subsequent slumbers were troubled with fantastic visions of banshees, ghosts and what not.
In 1829, the first resident pastor of Frampton was appointed. However, at the risk of being chronologically unorthodox, I shall give the complete list of pastors down to the present incumbent inclusively:
Before 1840, there were very few French-Canadians in Frampton. From that year onward, their numbers increased rapidly and the Irish population dwindled annually, trickling off mostly to the New England States, and to Western Canada. Today Frampton is overwhelmingly French. It is gratifying to be able to state that harmonious relations always existed between English and French, Catholics and Protestants. Were the Christian spirit prevailing in Frampton diffused throughout the entire country, Canada would be an example to the nations of the world. The civil decree erecting Frampton into a parish was published in the Official Gazette on the 15th of May, 1858.
Frampton's first settlers had fled from persecution and famine in Ireland. However, their refuge in the New World was no land of plenty. In 1832, we find the parish priest, Rev. Fr. Robson, asking the Bishop whether or not his parishioners who lived on oatmeal, potatoes and water, were bound to keep the Lenten fast. What differentiated their condition in Canada from their status in the Old Country was freedom from the obsession of despair. At least, they felt that they owned their own souls.
When the century was nearing its halfway mark and the colonists, in the bosom of the wilderness, were still subsisting on the most frugal fare, an epochal discovery was made in one of the Pacific States of the American Union, which had repercussions even in the remote isolated settlement of Frampton. Suddenly, the forests, hills and valleys rang with the melodious echoes of a siren-song from the new-found gold fields on the banks of the American river in sunny California. The lure proved irresistible to a considerable number. Consequently scores of Framptonians were among the 80,000 "Forty-Niners" whom a mighty tide of immigration swept into the enchanted region. Exactly how many people left Frampton at that time, we do not know. What effect the exodus had on the little community is indicated by what the pastor, Rev. O. Paradis, said in his 1856 report to the Bishop. "The cream of our youth," he writes, "emigrated to California five or six years ago. Frampton has not yet recovered from that loss."
Evidently the "Forty-Niners" were not the first to leave for the U.S.A. As early as 1840 Father O'Grady complains to the Bishop that 30 or 35 families were leaving that same year for the "States."
Father Theodore Gagnon, in his afore-mentioned "Notes" says that they went to California in search of gold. With all deference to Father Gagnon's historical integrity, I fear he has been guilty of an anachronism. It was not until 1848 that James Marshall discovered gold in California. Therefore, the migration of 1840 must be attributed to another motive than the quest for gold. I would suggest that it was a legitimate craving for a change of diet.
A new church was started, three miles away, in 1860, on a plot of ground donated by Mr. Michael Fitzgerald, and Mrs. Myles Duff (widow). It was blessed on the 3rd of May, 1863, by Rev. Cyprion Tanguay, pastor of Saint Henedine, and was not completed until 1885. Like the first chapel, it is located on the "3rd range" except that it fronts the main highway bisecting the parish. The same building stands there today. For four score and seven years, it has been overlooking the village with the cross surmounting its lofty spire gazing out over the outlying districts, the sprawling acres of which come swooping to its feet from distances of six or seven miles.
In 1898, Father O'Farrell lengthened the church and added two side altars. Nothing more was done to stem the ravages of time until 1938 when Father Humphrey was appointed pastor. The latter inaugurated his regime with a thorough renovation of the church from which it emerged rejuvenated in appearance and sparkling with a freshness it had never enjoyed before, not even at the dawn of its existence.
The church and cemetery are about the only remaining identifying marks by which the returning Framptonian of yesteryear can recognize the land of his birth. The tide of time has swept practically all the others into the realm of memory. A familiar landmark to disappear within the last quarter of a century was "Doyle's Store." I use the word "disappear" in a qualified sense. The material construction is still there, perhaps more ornate than ever, the volume of business is possibly larger than in the days of which I speak; but when the name "Doyle" was deleted, to an annual visitor like me, at least, the soul went out of the place. "Doyle's Store" was more than a regional emporium; more than a haven where Framptonians: English, Irish, Scotch and French, Catholic and Protestant fraternized while they disposed of their farm products or purchased their food supplies; it was an institution. The vitalizing spark in that unique miniature world was Mr. W. J. Doyle. Besides being a shrewd businessman, he was a community adviser. Few Framptonians made any momentous decisions without previously seeking his counsel. His genial manner and scintillating wit made it easy to approach him and his business acumen coupled with his extensive knowledge rendered the advice he gave both sound and practical. His lively interest in public affairs never waned. Whether acting in the capacity of Mayor or of a private citizen, his whole-hearted support was always vouchsafed progressive communal enterprises.
As was to be expected from among such duteous population, God selected his quota of young men and women to serve him in the Apostolic Field. Somewhere in the late '70's, a youth named Miles Duff, following the urge to embrace the priesthood, betook himself to the theological seminary in Montreal. When nearing the realization of his lofty ambition, and still in the soft bloom of youth, he was stricken with the dread disease that subsequently carried off all but one of the eight children in that pious family. His death was a stunning blow to his good parents who had made heavy sacrifices to enable him to answer the Divine Call. However, their robust Irish faith was equal to the ordeal, and they bowed to God's will with edifying resignation.
A few years later, Myles' younger brother, Patrick, born on august 21st, 1864, took the road to the "grand" in Montreal to pursue his theological studies. A serious, though kindly young man of studious habits, he made a brilliant course. On the 21st of December, 1889, he was ordained to the priesthood, becoming the first native priest of Frampton. The fields of his apostolic labors were the diocese of Portland, Maine, where he did missionary work (1890-1891), and Taunton, Massachusetts, where he was serving as curate when the grim reaper felled him January 1st, 1894, in the golden season of his sacerdotal life after less than five years of ministerial activity.
Considerable time elapsed between Father Duff and the next aspirant to the sacerdotal state. In 1916, Patrick Brennan, a graduate from Levis College, decided to join the Redemptorists. After his novitiate in DeSoto, Missouri, he went to Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, to begin his theological course. While still in his first year (December 28, 1918), he fell a victim to the influenza epidemic that spread consternation and mourning far and wide. His death was a shock to his relatives, friends and acquaintances, for all were aware of his athletic ability and exceptional strength. In his Alma Mater, he is remembered as a pious, industrious and cheerful student, as well as a crack hockey player.
Pat's example had a great deal to do with interesting me in the Sons of St. Alphonsus whom I joined in 1918. After managing to survive the severe tests, spiritual gymnastics and mental ordeals, I reached the grandiose climax on the 14th of September, 1924, when his Eminence Cardinal Hayes of New York conferred Holy Orders on me.
The next Irish Framptonians to reach the priesthood are children of the "dispersion" in "Western Canada. Both were born in Frampton, but when they were quite young, their parents moved "out west." One, Reverend Gerard Redmond, became a Redemptorist and is now evangelizing the Caribou district in British Columbia. The other, Rev. Walter Fitzgerald, son of James Fitzgerald and Mary Ann Cullen (A438) is a member of the Archdiocese of Edmonton, Alberta, and is curate at the Sacred Heart Church in that City.
Not until time is no more will Frampton be able to measure accurately the spiritual glory accruing to her little Irish population for its magnificent contribution to the Sisterhood. The noble deeds of those Brides of Christ will never be shrined in ode and epic and history, but they will be heralded in heaven. The Book of Life will chronicle their myriads of selfless acts performed in the brooding silence of that sacred tomb, the cloister. But no other earthly acclaim will be vouchsafed them save the saddened chant of shrouded figures kneeling before the sculptured Nazarene.
Three daughters of Michael Fitzgerald and Hannah Duff (B305) who were among the first to settle in Frampton, entered the Good shepherd Order. Helen, in religion Sister St. Bernard, entered in 1859, and died in 1899; Winifred, sister St. Bonaventure, Joined her sister in the religious life in 1866, and lived 'till 1926; Anastasia, sister St. Winnifred, became a nun in 1869, and breathed her last 12 years later in 1881. All three honored their state by their unswerving fidelity and cheerful courage amid incredible trials. Sister St. Bonaventure, particularly, was distinguished for her remarkably long religious career of over sixty years, and the admirable work she did in many parishes of the Archdiocese of Quebec.
A cousin of these three Fitzgerald girls who became Good shepherd nuns, Margaret (B450), daughter of Thomas Fitzgerald and Ann Duff (B308), joined the Sisters of Charity (Grey nuns) of Quebec, taking the name of sister St. Marcella. She held many responsible offices in that Order. Wherever she labored, she was admired for her efficiency, revered for her saintliness, and beloved for her kindliness.
Now we come to a family that has a very rare, if not a unique record. Successively all the sisters, six in number, of the fifteen children of Thomas Duff and Cesairie Allaire (B440), heard and answered the biblical summons: "Go you also into my vineyard!" The community that five of them entered, "The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary" has overseas dependencies and ramifications penetrating even into Pagan lands. The bilingual training and hereditary buoyancy of spirit of the Duff girls made them precious assets to the missions to which they were assigned. Following is the order of their entrance.
Marcella (deceased), in religion Sister St. Winifred of Jesus, entered the Good Shepherds, August 20th, 1896; the other five joined the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary: Margaret Mary, Sister Mary Edith of the Cross, August 12th, 1902; Mary Rosina (deceased), Sister Teresita of Jesus, July 9th, 1905; Ellen (deceased), Sister Mary Cesairie of Jesus, July 9th, 1907; Winifred, Sister Mary of the Cross, September 6th, 1913. (Deceased last Fall, October or November in Ste. Anne de Beaupre.)
Of the two still living, Sister Mary Edith of the Cross is stationed in Ste. Anne de Beaupre at present; and Mother Mary of the Cross is Provincial of the Mission in China where she survived the woeful experience of the Japanese occupation. It is only fair to state that the mother of these girls was a French-Canadian.
Five other Frampton girls, contemporaries of the Duff sisters, consecrated their lives to God: Alice Whealan, Sister Mary Kellan of the Sacred Heart, entered in 1908, and passed away in 1925; Nellie Fitzgerald, Sister St. Dunstan, daughter of Michael Fitzgerald and Ellen Colgan (B445), is now in Quebec City; Stella Golden, Sister Stella - all three became Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. The next two: Annie Falls, sister St. Bernard, daughter of Bryan Falls and Annie Fitzgerald (B456), and her cousin, Mary Falls, Sister St. Bridget, daughter of James Falls, joined the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary, and died relatively young.
Finally, two nieces of the late Sister Mary Kellan of the Sacred Heart, Alice P. Whealan (Sister Mary Stella) in 1932, and her sister, Marguerite (Sister Mary of Purity), in 1941, joined the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary. A third Whealan girl, Eileen, is a postulant in the same order (Sister St. Elizabeth).
The present parish of Frampton is the patriarch of all the parishes that have been carved out of the original township. They are: St. Malachy, St. Odilon de Cranbourne, St. Leon de Standon, and Ste. Rose de Watford. Apart from St. Malachy, all are called after towns in England.
ST. ODILON DE CRANBOURNE
Cranbourne, called after the town of Cranbourne in Dorset County, England, and placed under the aegis of St Odilon in honor of Father Odilon Paradis who fostered the development of the parish is Frampton's youngest offspring.
The census of 1851 shows 100 protestant and 180 Catholic families in the parish. A chapel begun in 1851 was completed in 1857, and in May of the same year was destroyed by fire.
Despite the fact that the loss of their place of worship constituted a major financial setback for those toiling colonists, they wasted no time in sterile lamentations, but began immediately to work on its replacement. By 1859, a sightly new edifice had arisen on the ruins of the original building.
The only Irish priests I know to hail from Cranbourne are three young Redemptorists: Fathers Leonard and Raymond Fitzgerald and Thomas O'Connor. The Fitzgerald priests are brothers of each other, and first cousins of Father O'Connor, and all three are grandsons of Martin O'Connor and Helen Fitzgerald (B449).
Since the other parochial offshoots of Frampton had very few, if any, English-speaking people, I shall refrain from any further mention of them.
Before bringing this sketch to a timely close, I wish to clarify a point, which might be confusing to its readers. When in the early part of the historical epitomy of Frampton, I mentioned 1815 and 1830 as the years when Irish immigrants poured into Canada, I did not wish to convey the impression that none came during the intervening years. The French-Canadian historian, Edmond Roy, says that each summer "hundreds landed in Quebec."
Whatever their racial origin or religious beliefs, the builders of the township of Frampton were stout-hearted, God-fearing men and women. Their patient and selfless toil extended the boundaries of civilization, and their faith in God and trust in their fellowmen gave to their adoptive country an inspiring record of Christian solidarity.
St. Malachy was founded in 1823. In his history of the parish, Rev. J. A. Korouac says: "St. Malachy owes its origin to a group of colonists, Irish immigrants, who came after the War of 1812, with Mr. Gilbert Henderson, to fell the first trees, and lay the foundations of a flourishing parish."
In 1841, St. Malachy was made a "Mission" of Frampton. The first Mass to be said in the embryo parish was celebrated by Rev. William Dunn on Sunday, the 11th of May, 1841, in the house of Mr. Timothy Connell. Before that date, those hardy pioneers, brimful of the faith of Ireland, used to cross the Etchemin River and walk nine miles through the trackless forest to hear Mass in the Frampton chapel. The first chapel in St. Malachy was built in 1845. Mr. Michael Quigley donated the land for that purpose. In 1857, the first resident priest, Rev. L. L. Rousseau, was appointed. The civil erection of the parish took place in 1874. St. Malachy made a generous contribution to the church in vocations to the priesthood, and to the sisterhood. The first son of that little parish to be elevated to the sacerdotal state was Rev. John O'Farrell, who honored the pastorate of Frampton for 33 long years, and left a name that will be held in benediction as long as there are in the parish of his devotion minds capable of remembering, and hearts capable of loving.
The two other distinguished priests who claim St. Malachy as their native parish are Fathers Myles O'Farrell (nephew of Father John) and Edward J. Humphrey, present pastors of Cranbourne and Frampton respectively.
According to records available to me, the following St. Malachy girls became nuns: two daughters of Edward Humphrey joined the sisters of Our Lady of perpetual help of St. Damien; Mary Ryan, Sister Ste. Juliette; Hannah Ryan, Sister Ste. Basilide; and Lizzie Ryan, Sister Ste. Mary of the Angels entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Quebec.
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