Civil Records, Oral History

When did my maternal grandparents meet?

My maternal grandparents John (“Jack”) Eugene McGlade1 and Delia Lucie Derouin were married on 10 February 1931, at St. John Chyrostom RC Church in Arnprior (Renfrew Co., Ontario). My grandfather lived in his birthplace of Perth (Lanark Co., Ontario) at the time, but was married at his bride’s parish, as per custom and tradition.

Until recently, I hadn’t given too much thought as to when my maternal grandparents might have met, though I had certainly wondered about where (he being from Perth, she being from Otter Lake…).

Advert in the Perth Courier, 2 June 1955
Advert for McGlade’s Service Station, Perth Courier, 2 June 1955

My grandmother was born in 1902 at Otter Lake (Pontiac Co., Québec), the eighth of the nine children of Joseph Derouin and Mathilde Dubeau. Around 1920 or so, she moved to Arnprior (Renfrew Co., Ontario) with her parents and at least several of her siblings. Family tradition has it that before she married, she lived in Carleton Place (Lanark Co.) with her younger sister Anne (Anna Matilda Derouin).

My grandfather was born in 1900 at Perth (Lanark Co., Ontario), the eldest of the eight children of Arthur Joseph McGlade and Catherine Honora McCarthy. He lived in Perth for most of his life, though he died in Ottawa (1964); but he had earlier (early to mid-1920s) spent some time in Renfrew County (and perhaps also in Lowell, Massachusetts?),2 learning about (apprenticing to?) the textile trade. For reasons that remain, well, murky to me at best (but which no doubt had to do with family finances), he never realized his dream of going into a partnership (perhaps with the friend cited below?) in the textile business. Instead, he owned and operated a service station in Perth, at the corner of Gore and Craig Streets (where there is now a Tim Hortons).

In any case, the marriage record of a friend of my grandfather indicates that my grandparents had at least met one another by October 1925 (though they did not marry until 10 February 1931):

Marriage of William Thomas Erwin and Mildred Margaret Wesley, 28 Oct 1925
Marriage of William Thomas Erwin and Mildred Margaret Wesley, 28 Oct 19253
On 28 October 1925, William Thomas Erwin, son of Thomas John Erwin and Louisa Jane Kimberling, married Mildred Margaret Wesley, daughter of Thomas Wesley and Margaret Bertha Moore. In the Ontario civil registration of the marriage (see above), William Thomas Erwin’s occupation is listed as “Loom-fixer,” and Margaret Mildred Wesley’s as “domestic.” Both parties are listed as “Methodist” in religion, and they were married at the United Church in Carleton Place (Lanark Co., Ontario). The witnesses to the marriage were John E. McGlade of Perth, and Delia Derouin of Carleton Place (which would seem to confirm the family lore of a Carleton Place address for my grandmother before she was married).

Note that both witnesses (my maternal grandparents, that is) to this Protestant marriage were Roman Catholics. Could William Thomas Erwin or Margaret Mildred Wesley have returned the favour and served as witness to the marriage of Jack McGlade and Delia Derouin? Could a Protestant serve as a witness to a Catholic marriage, in other words? In terms of Catholic canon law, the answer is “yes:” a witness had to be knowledgeable (had to have knowledge of the facts at issue) and trustworthy, but there was no requirement that he or she be a Catholic. In terms of custom and tradition, however, a Protestant witness to a Catholic marriage was probably quite unusual, at least until the 1960s and Vatican II. Of all the RC parish marriage records I have looked at (and I’ve looked at hundreds), I have yet to find a Protestant signing the marriage register, though admittedly my sample is highly specific, not to say idiosyncratic, as to ethnicity and as to time and place: Irish Catholics and French Canadian Catholics of the Ottawa Valley region, pre-World War II.

When William Thomas Erwin died (at Perth’s Great War Memorial Hospital) on 30 April 1954, the pallbearers at his funeral included my grandfather Jack McGlade (Perth Courier, Thursday, May 20, 1954).

Oral history note on when and where my grandparents met, which also has to do with the under-researched topic of women and sport:

One day, many years ago now, my sister P. and I were talking to our grandmother about she and our grandfather (who had died before we were born: we never met Jack McGlade), and she said something about one of them attending the other one’s hockey games. Well, I forget just how she phrased it, but the point is: P. and I initially and just immediately assumed that our grandmother had stood in the stands cheering while our grandfather lived his real life on the skating rink. But no, not at all. I recall being surprised and intrigued to be disabused of this notion by our sometimes feisty and always dryly ironic grand-mère: it was not our grandfather who had played while our grandmother cheered him on in the stands, but the other way around. Apparently my grandmother, in the early- to mid-1920s, I suppose, played on a hockey team, and it was my grandfather who used to come and watch her play.

  1.  My grandfather was probably named after both his paternal and his maternal grandfathers: John after John McGlade, and Eugene after Eugene McCarthy.
  2. As per oral tradition, not yet documented.
  3. William Thomas Erwin-Mildred Margaret Wesley, Ontario marriage registration 1925): microfilm MS 932, reel 719, Archives of Ontario; database, (
    accessed 17 December 2012), Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1801-1928.

One thought on “When did my maternal grandparents meet?”

  1. Kathryn Fowler says:

    This is a great story! Thanks for sharing it. You grandmother sounds like quite a woman…Funny how our assumptions can get turned on their ear!

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