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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Ernest Bernier chaired Sacred Heart Roman Catholic School board of trustees for 28 years

Ernest Bernier, who arrived in Chapleau in 1898, worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway as a conductor, receiving his 50 year Gold Pass at a Snowdrift Lodge Number 246 banquet in 1954.

However, Mr. Bernier was also active in community life serving 28 years as chairman of the board of trustees of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic School which is truly a long time in any public position. 

He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus and a Grand Knight in the early 1900s. 

While working for the CPR  Mr. Bernier was a conductor on the Royal Train in 1939 as it headed to Vancouver with King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on board. 

But according to an article written by his daughter Lucille (Bernier) Lefebvre for the Festival of Pioneers, her father had no plans as a young man to come to Chapleau. Born in Levis, Quebec, in 1881, he started studying medicine at Laval University, but as the oldest in the family her had to leave university so that his sister could continue her studies in medicine.

By 1903, with his brother Arthur, he was building a house at what became 98 Birch Street East, which took about two years to complete.

About this time, he met his wife Mary Elizabeth Tremblay, who was living with her sister Mrs. Noel De Tilley in a house adjacent to Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church. 

As an aside, Chapleau got its name from Mrs. Noel De Tilley in honour of Joseph Adolphe Chapleau. He had served as premier of Quebec and in the Sir John A, Macdonald government as secretary of state during construction of the CPR. Apparently she was asked to give the community its name by a CPR civil engineer.

When Mr. Bernier first met his wife she was the organist at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church. They were married on February 25, 1906 by Rev. Father Paul Lefebvre.

Mrs. Bernier was born in Quebec City on November 1, 1877. When she was five years old her father, who was captain of a ship bringing goods from overseas to Canada, died when his ship hit an iceberg near Greenland.

Part of the ship , the Alpha, was recovered, and is in the Marine Museum in Halifax.

Mr. Bernier's ancestors came to Canada from France and ireland while Mrs. Bernier's were from France, and the United Kingdom.

Mrs. Bernier died in 1949 at the age of 72, having lived in Chapleau for 68 years. Mr. Bernier died in 1955 in his 74th year.

My email is mj.morris@live.ca 

1 comment:

Mary-Ann Merrick said...

Thank you so much for this! This is my Grandfather, whom I never got to meet. My Mother (Lucille) never told me about all this. It's a history I will pass on to my son, Curtis. I only know bits and pieces about my Grandparents. My brother Paul knows all the history, or at least, most of it. I should get him to write it all down some day. My Mother would have enjoyed seeing the article about her parents immensely. She passed away in 2010 just after her 89th birthday. - Mary-Ann Merrick (née Lefebvre)

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