History of Joseph Edward Drouillard

Historical Atlas of Essex County

Joseph Drouillard
Born 1843
Hotel Keeper
P.O. Address, Sandwich
Native of Michigan
moved here with parents in 1845

DROUILLARD, JOSEPH EDWARD (father of Joseph Louis (William) Drouillard) was probably the most difficult to trace. He wasn't a farmer so his roots weren't planted in the ground that was passed on to him by his father. (Corny, I know). Joseph was a Hotel Keeper.

In each of the 1881, 1891 and 1901 census' Joseph was listed as a Hotel Keeper or Tavern Keeper. Some other interesting notes taken from these census' were:
Joseph was born in USA in about 1844 and moved to Canada in 1846 (2 years old)
Emilie was born in USA in about 1846 and moved to Canada in 1870 (24 years old)
All their children were born in Ontario
Joseph's father was born in Ontario, his mother was born in USA
Emilie's father was born in USA, her mother was born in USA

I made a few assumptions from this information...some turned out to be true, some not. One assumption was that when Joseph moved to Canada in 1846 he had to be with his father and mother. But how could his father move to Canada if he was born in Canada? His father must have moved to the USA before Joseph was born and moved back after. I was a little stumped.

There were a couple Josephs in the 1871 Ontario Census but none seemed to match (my) Joseph. A few of the pages for Sandwich West Township were missing so I figured that's where he was listed. I went to the 1861 and 1851 Census' and found a Joseph of the correct age as a child of Edward and Clara Drouillard. This family was not in the 1871 census either but it was a family I could made a note of.

A family similar to this one was noted in Denissen's book "French Families of the Detroit River Region". See the similarities.... But no Joseph!

I went back to the parish records of St. Joseph in River Canard. Starting with William's baptism, I searched backward and I found other children born to Joseph and Emilie. I searched back to the beginning of the Parish, 1864, hoping to find Joseph's marriage but was unsuccessful. The youngest child found was born and baptized in 1872.

I learned that one of the customs of the time was that couples were married in the bride's parish. Since Emilie moved to Canada in 1870, I thought maybe Joseph went to the USA, Emilie's parish, to marry her.

Before heading across the river I decided to re-check the Ontario Census' one more time because I had another line of Drouillard's to research on my grandmother's side and wanted to go over there with all my questions. I recorded all the Drouillard families found in all the census' and kept my eyes open for that other line. I linked up most of the families from the 1851 to 1861 to 1871 to 1881. There were a couple misplaced and those that may have been recorded on the missing pages of the 1871 census were found again in 1881. Joseph and Emilie were not found before 1881 and Edward and Clara (the couple that Joseph may have belonged to) were not found after 1861.

I did some checking on the family that was in "French Families", Edward Drouillard. Of the ten children listed with Edward, I managed to find seven baptized at Assumption. Two of them, the oldest two, had their mother listed as Justine Cousineau and five of them, the youngest five, although their names didn't quite match perfectly, had their mother listed as some variation of Clare Cousineau. My thought was that Justine changed her name to Clare or maybe Clare was her middle name or something. No baptisms were found for three of the children...Joseph being one of them. Looking a bit further back in the Assumption Parish records, I found the marriage record of Edward (spelled Edourd) Drouillard and Justine Cousineau. Assuming the two families were the same, something had to fill the gap between two of the children. There was still no link between (my) Joseph and Edouard.

What I had to go on so far was....
Edward and Clare were the only family in Ontario in 1861 with a son named Joseph of the correct age.
Edward Drouillard was born in Canada, married in Canada, had two children in Canada.
There is a gap from 1841 to 1849 in the children of Edward Drouillard listed in "French Families" and a gap in the children found in the Assumption parish records.
Edward may have had two children born in Canada, moved to USA and had two or three children and then moved back to Canada and had a few more. It was possible too that he may have adopted the three children not found in the parish records.
Joseph's birth year was 1844 so that might explain him moving to Canada with his father if Edward and Clare moved back to Canada in 1846 with Joseph and their other children.
Another explanation might be that Edward and his family were listed on those "missing" pages but that wouldn't explain why he wasn't in the 1881.
Joseph might have met Emilie Lapointe in USA around 1870, married her and then moved back to Ontario.

Prominent parishes mentioned in the book, "French Families" and the different articles I read about Drouillards of the area were Assumption, Sandwich, Ste. Anne, Detroit, St. Antoine, Raisin River, Michigan, St. Jean Baptiste, Amherstburg and St. Mary's in Monroe, Michigan. After checking through all the research material available at the Windsor Library regarding Ste. Anne Parish in Detroit, I headed over to the Detroit Library to view the parish records of St. Antoine, Raisin River. The Raisin River area is also known as Monroe, Michigan. Unfortunately, St. Antoine's wasn't listed with the microfilms available at the Detroit Library so I headed down to the Monroe Library.

I was unsuccessful in finding the marriage record for Joseph and Emilie in the St. Antoine/St. Mary's parish records. (The reason I didn't see St. Antoine in the microfilm list at Detroit was because its name changed to St. Mary's.) However, my trip to the Monroe Library proved to be well worth the time. When I told the librarian I was searching for Joseph Drouillard and Emilie Lapoint, he suggested that I look in the parish records for St. Joseph in Erie Michigan. The Lapointe name was more prominent there. We quickly checked the "Marriage Records of Monroe County" and found Joseph and Emilie were married in Vienna by Rev. Charles Thomas. "That's St. Joseph, Erie, MI". Within minutes I found the marriage record for Joseph and Emilie on the parish microfilm...WOOHOO!!! A little bit more searching and I found the baptismal records for Joseph and his sister Angelic...two of the three mystery children from the Ontario Census. A little bit more searching and I found the marriage record for Edouard Drouillard and Clare Cousineau. So now I have two marriages for Edouard. All the records were written in Latin so more careful reading and translating would be needed. As always, I was running out of time and would have to make another trip to Monroe later. I photo-copied the records, thanked the people at the library and headed back to Windsor.

After closer examination of the parish records I copied from St. Joseph, Erie, Michigan, I was able to piece together more information about Joseph Drouillard and Emilie Lapointe but had another mystery to solve in regards to his father Edouard. Read about that in the "History of Edouard Drouillard"

As tough to find was information about Joseph's life. Little clues were dropped here and there but until I could zero in on who Joseph was, I couldn't claim any of the information. Below are a few articles I found about Joseph Drouillard and Emilie Lapointe.

Malden Halfway House

Halfway House once famous meeting place

HALFWAY HOUSE...Photo about 1909...courtesy of Mrs. A. Pare, River Canard. This is the original inn, which once stood on the west side of Malden Road in Sandwich West Township, opposite the end of Canard Drive (Snake Lane). Left to right - in cutter are two Drouillard men; on the porch are two unidentified women, D. Bergeron, Frank Renaud and one unidentified man.

On the night of February 1, 1933, the once-famous hotel known as Halfway House on the Malden Road, Sandwich West township, was gutted by fire, leaving but a heap of crumbling walls and charred debris. One of the landmarks of the county, scene of political battles, and a popular meeting place in bygone days, the hotel stood for years as a link with the past. The building was owned by Leo Bondy, and for many years before him by his father, Laurent Bondy, who died in 1932. The following brief historical sketch was compiled from material preserved in The Echo morgue:

".....The fire was discovered by one of the old-timers of the district, Albert Dufour, who was making his nightly visit to the hotel to meet the boys. He saw smoke when crossing the road, and raised the alarm. A group of men who were playing cards in the sitting room rushed out of the building and saw smoke, but no fire. They entered the building again, and discovered the kitchen in a mass of flames. Leo Dufour was sent to call the Sandwich fire brigade which arrived on the scene about seven minutes after the call. A heroic effort was made by the fire brigade under the leadership of Fire Chief J. B. Seguin, and four wells in the vicinity were pumped dry, but a high wind and the swift progress of the flames rendered their efforts futile. They were successful, however, in saving the nearby buildings, which were endangered because of the showers of sparks which were shooting from the flaming structure. Arsene Bondy, who lives two and a half miles from the scene of the fire, also saw the flames spouting from the roof of the hotel . . . Leo Bondy, owner of the building, was in the bar-room shaving when Dufour raised the alarm. His face was only half shaved when he was compelled to rush from the room and endeavor to save the contents . . . but the dense smoke prevented them from entering the upper stories of the hotel, and they were able to save only part of the furnishings on the main floor, mainly tables and chairs. The main article of value to be brought from the burning building was an electric piano that has chimed out tunes that were sweet to the ears, and to which numbers of gay couples have glided over the floors of the ancient structure . . . Two mirrors which were the pride of the hotel, were prey to the flames. One ran the length of the bar-room and the other was in the dining room . . . Albert Dufour, who has always resided in the district, appeared stunned at the loss . . . "Oh, I am awfully sorry she's gone. You know, I used to come there every night and talk with the boys. We settled all the government affairs there, I can tell you. I have been going there for many years".

THE NAME 'HALFWAY HOUSE' was probably derived from the fact that it was situated half way from Windsor and Amherstburg - nine miles from either place. It was a favorite inn for travelers and here also the old stage stopped at noon on its way to Amherstburg to carry the mail. It was always the meeting place for the men in the neighbourhood who, in the evening, came and sat on the wide verandah, smoked their pipes and talked over the happenings of the day. The old building held many romantic as well as political memories. After Rev. Father Marseilles had tied the marital knot for many happy couples the day would be incomplete if the wedding party did not pay a visit to Halfway. Long rows of buggies would wind their way to the hotel to be greeted by the smiling host and hostess; soon rounds of choice liquors would be passed during the intermission of a few cotillions of square dances. This was before the motor age, when honeymoon trips to distant places were not a common adventure, so that at that time a trip to Halfway House was almost an etiquette".

WHILE THE exact date of the original building is obscure, the architectural style would indicate that it was built in the late 1860's or early 1870's. Louis Drouillard was the owner in 1881, then Joseph E. Drouillard, and after him Pierre Drouillard, father of "Patsy", the boxer. Several had rented the hotel for short periods; among them, Joel Cousineau, Albert Hebert, Daniel Tremblay, and finally, Dolphis Bergeron, who died in 1909. Laurent Bondy purchased the hotel in 1910. In the ensuing years the old frame structure was raised and a brick main floor was built.

The most exciting times were during the election campaigns, as the principal meetings were held at the school house, P.S.S. No. 6, which was a short distance from the hotel. Mr. Pierre Drouillard was a highly respected taxpayer and he always addressed the meetings. After lively discussions by candidates or their representatives were ended, the crowd would walk together to the hotel, where their host, Mr. Drouillard, served all at the expense of the candidates. There were in those days many who carried homo a gallon pail of foamy beer, fresh from the tap, for ten cents.

For several years Mr. Pierre Drouillard had charge of the Canard River Post Office, in connection with the hotel. For fifty cents per year one had a private "pigeon hole" for mail; there were no locks or keys, so Mr. Drouillard handed out the mail. The only convenience was that at a glance one could see through the glass if the stage had brought him any mail. Around 1912 the Post Office was moved to a store near the church.

Article from The Amherstburg Echo, 22 April, 1981

Sixty-Fifth Wedding Anniversary

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph E. Drouillard, Malden Road, are a remarkable old couple. on Wednesday they celebrated the sixty-fifth anniversary of their wedding at the home of their son, William J. Drouillard, with whom they live on the old homestead. In spite of the number of years which rest upon their shoulders, they are both in excellent state of health and enjoy a game of cards just a little better than anyone else in the neighborhood. Mr. Drouillard will be eighty-eight years of age on the 19th of March next, and Mrs. Drouillard will be eighty-six on the 20th of March. Her maiden name was Millie Lapointe and they were married on the 27th day of January, 1867 (the year of Confederation) at Erie, Mich., as they are both American born and came to Sandwich West eight years later. They were the parents of five children, only two of whom are living, William J. mentioned above and Ernest, of the Huron Line. Mr. Drouillard has one brother, Felix of Detroit, and Mrs. Drouillard has two living brothers, Benson of Deerfield, Mich., and Sam of Erie, Mich. They also have seven grandchildren. Mr. Drouillard is well known among the older residents as he was one of the old time hotel keepers, owner at one time of the hotel at Leslie's Corners, Malden, and later of the Halfway House on the Malden Road. He perhaps is best known by his connection with the racing of horses on the ice of the River Canard. Years ago he got out very humorous hand bills in broken French announcing these races, the results of which were published in The Echo at that time. The late Albert Fox of Amherstburg was one of his chief competitors. They are both devoted members of the Loiselleville R. C. Church and their many friends wish for them further long years of happiness together.

Article from The Amherstburg Echo, 29 January, 1932

Joseph Edward Drouillard
Joseph Edward Drouillard Joseph Edward Drouillard Joseph Edward Drouillard
Joseph Edward Drouillard
More information about Joseph's family can be found here: Joseph6