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My SAR Journey: Service

Cover of Quebec During the American Invasion, 1775 to 1776, published in 2005.

Some French-Canadians joined the Americans in fighting against the British, fighting side-by-side with those who were not that long ago their sworn enemies. Many joined militias in the colonies that bordered Canada, especially in New York. Those who have French-Canadian ancestors who appeared early (prior to 1850) in the United States should look or evidence of military service in American militias.

One place to look is pension records. Those who fought sometimes received pensions from the states or federal government for their service. Another place to look is bounty land records. Search for soldiers or their children, who may have received land long after the revolution ended, in exchange for fighting the British. Many of their descendants have joined SAR based on this type of military service. This is not, however, the only way to be eligible for joining the societies.

In addition to military service, those who provided material assistance to those fighting for the cause of independence are considered qualifying ancestors. In looking at my ancestors, I discovered some who would provide such qualifying service. As the tensions were growing in the 1770s, Americans plotted an invasion. In the summer of 1775, American forces invaded Quebec. The majority of Canadians either supported the invasion or remained neutral. But ultimately, the British outwitted the Americans and convinced the French-Canadians not to join the rebels.

After the American retreat from Quebec, Sir Guy Carleton ordered militias to be set up. François Baby, Gabriel Tascherau and Jenkin Williams were tasked with touring the District of Quebec, setting up loyal militias in the towns and examining those who aided the Americans during the invasion. They visited more than 50 localities, keeping a journal of their activities. This journal is the best resource for individuals looking for those who provided aid and assistance to the Americans. Originally published in French in 1928, an English version has now been published: Michael P. Gabriel, Ed. Quebec During the American Invasion, 1775–1776: The Journal of François Baby, Gabriel Taschereau, and Jenkin Williams. East Lansing, Mich.: Michigan State University Press, 2005.  On Saturday, June 15, they visited the parish of Bécancour. A half dozen men were stripped of their commissions and condemned for their actions in support of the Americans: Joseph Levasseur, Charles Provancher, Laurent Tourigny, Pierre Cormier dit Perot, François Bourque, and Michel Bergeron.

With the exception of Joseph Levasseur, I am related to all of these men. But Charles Provancher is my sixth-great-grandfather. As such, his aid should qualify me for SAR membership. The next step will be to fill out the application.

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