Sunday, February 5, 2012
My grandfather Jean Claude Hébert was just 51 when he passed away forty one years ago today. Weaken by TB which he contracted while fighting in the trenches in WWII, he suffered a number of heart attacks before he finally succumbed to heart disease on February 5, 1971. Claude was born in 1919 in Brownsburg Quebec, the second of seventeen children born to Emile Hébert and Marie-Rose Drouin. Two sisters died at birth but the remaining 15 all grew up to have families of their own- my mother has 52 first cousins on the Hébert side alone!
Keeping track of such a large family must have had its challenges but if there's one thing the Héberts were good at, it was family. In the 1930's, Emil bought land on Lac Louisa in the Laurentian Mountains and built a large log cabin that became the camp where the family gathered as often as possible. As the siblings grew up and married, each got to have the camp for a week in the summer but on Sundays, everyone was welcome. As families grew even larger and more dispersed the 'shares' were sold off one by one until the camp is now owned only by one of the siblings, the youngest brother. However the family as a whole is still very close and to this day there's at family reunion every summer, and every five years a 'big" reunion is held, including other Hébert descendants of Emile's siblings.
To keep the multiple generations abreast of each other, there's even a numbering system that goes back 4 generations from mine, and books listing all the family members are updated every few years. My number as the first child (1) of the second child, my mom (2), of the second child, my grandpa Claude(2) of the third child Emile,(3) of Augustin Hébert and Rose-Anna Meyer . Numbers are listed in descending order so my number is 188.8.131.52. I also have 'no de filiation' - I am the 129th descendent of Augustin and Rose-Anna and I have a certificate to prove it!
Compiling this side of the family won't be much of a challenge for me - my great uncle Yvon Hébert has already traced the families back ten generations, to the 1600's in what was then called New France! That is one of the many blessing of being part of a large French Canadian family- the Catholics sure know how to keep good records!