Today is International Women’s Day. Genealogists know how important it is to tell the stories of the women in our family just as much as the men. Today I would like to share the story of my ancestor, Marie Euphemie Jalbert.

Euphemie was born at Cap St. Ignace in Montmagny, Quebec, 3 January 1806, eldest child of Abraham Noël Jalbert and Marie Élizabeth Bernier. Abraham was a fifth-generation Quebec farmer. Cap St. Ignace is on the southern shore of the St. Lawrence River, about 70 kilometers northeast of Québec City. Élizabeth’s mother’s family had resided there for generations. Her great-grandfather was a New England captive carried to Canada during Queen Anne’s War in 1704.

Euphemie’s baptismal record in the church of St. Ignace de Loyola at Cap St. Ignace.

Euphemie was born just over a year after her parents married. Two years later, on 4 April 1808, her sister Marie Orante was born. There is no further record of A year later they were joined by a brother on 12 June 1809. Unfortunately their baby brother lived for only two weeks, dying on the 28th of June. Euphemie had just turned eleven years old when her mother died at the age of 31 on 22 February 1817.

Her father married there second 24 October 1820 Geneviève Guimond, daughter of François Guimond and Marie Catherine Labrise dit Kirouac. Lydie Suzanne Jalbert was born to them 29 January 1822. Just a few months later, on the first of August, Abraham died. Her stepmother died 30 January 1825, and her half-sister Lidie joined her parents later that year on the 28th of September. Imagine how Euphemie must have felt as a 19-year-old girl who had seen her family die around her.

On 7 November 1826, Euphemie married farmer Jean-Baptiste Tondreault at L’Islet, just twelve kilometers northeast of Cap St. Ignace. She must have felt great joy when their first child, Marie Julienne, was born 2 October 1828. Unfortunately, the joy was short-lived. Little Julienne died the following March. I cannot imagine the heartbreak of losing your firstborn child, especially so soon after her birth. But the heartbreak did not stop the couple from trying again, and their next daughter, Geneviève, was born the first of February the following year. Sadly, Geneviève did not live to see Christmas, dying on 9 December.

Over the next 16 years, Jean-Baptiste and Euphemie would have nine more children. Three more of these babies would die before they reached the age of 2 years old. Certainly her six surviving children, Emérance, Césari, Jean-Baptiste, Charles, Zoé, and Damase, must have brought happiness to her. Unfortunately, she would not live to see them all grow up.

The parish church of Notre Dame de Bonsecours at L’Islet.

On 10 May 1851, Euphemie Jalbert passed away at L’Islet. She was 45 years old. Her funeral was held there two days later in the parish of Notre Dame de Bonsecours. This was the same church where she had married almost 25 years earlier. The same church where her children were baptised. She was laid to rest in the parish cemetery where her five children lay.

Her surviving children lived longer than she did. Although most died between the ages of 52 and 61, her daughter Zoé beat all the odds. Born 16 April 1842, she was eight years old when her mother died. She was 30 when she married her first husband, Damase Fortin, and 66 when she married second husband Onésime Garceau. Zoé died at Trois Rivières 17 January 1946, just weeks shy of her 104th birthday.

Life was certainly not easy for Euphemie. Her childhood was filled with loss. Despite this, she married and built her own family during the second half of her life. Continuing on despite the losses, she left behind a legacy of strength and perseverance through adversity. Euphemie’s son Jean-Baptiste Tondreault was my grandmother’s grandfather. And I could certainly see that legacy of strength in her.