The French Line
Lavant Township, Renfrew County, Ontario, Canada



May 20, 2004:

Here are a couple of pictures from last week's trip.

The French Line is in Lavant Township, about 75 miles west of Ottawa. 
It's an area of primarily Scottish settlement but a community of French Canadian settlers located there after the
Rebellion of 1837 in Lower Canada (now Quebec). These new settlers had been "exiled" from Lower Canada.

Some of the local names of pioneer families on the French Line are Major, Lalonde, Larocque and Ranger. It's possible
that the Major (also spelled Majore) pioneers were related to the Major family 
around Fitzroy Township.

St. Declan's is one of the prettiest churches in the Ottawa area. Beside it is the 
original drive shed where the horses were tied - the longest drive shed in the Valley.

The cemetery has been recorded by the Lanark County Genealogical Society.

Many of the horse-drawn buggies had large wheels on the back and smaller
wheels on the front. A common practical joke during mass was for a couple of
the male parishioners to slip out "for a smoke" during the service and switch
the wheels on someone's buggy. They'd put the two small wheels on the left 
side of the buggy and the two large wheels on the right side. My grandfather 
always said that when they went to church, he would always drive "the horse with
the buggy behind"!! Got a million of 'em!

St. Declan's Church
The lake below has lots of Speckled Trout. The day we were there, only the black flies were biting. This is either in Western Lanark County or Southern Renfrew County, in either Lavant Township or Darling Township -- no more hints. My fishing buddy, Chris, and I used to take a canoe and fish in this area, up as far as Calabogie. One day we were fishing on the lake in a canoe. Chris had his new eight-week old Black Lab, Molly, on her first trip. Chris caught a two and a half pound speckled trout off the point on the right. No kidding. We were excited and both jumped up to land the fish and took on almost a foot of water in the canoe before we netted it. Molly swam contentedly around inside the canoe until our hearts stopped pounding. The best of days in one of the best of places.
A Trout Lake

January 11, 2006: Hello Al The picture of St Declans Church in Darling Township brought a rush of family memories. My Aunt, Katherine Majore {Manion} married Harry Majore [deceased]. Harry was most active in organizing the annual St Declans bean supper. I have been doing research on my Thibeault {Thibault] ancestors who resided in Curran, Prescott County between 1840/1890. My next project is to is to identify the Manion/MacFarlane line of my Grandfather John Manion and Grandmother Esther MacFarlane. The "speckled trout" lake, appears to be what we commonly called "Joe's Lake" at Flower Station. (close, about a mile away ... Al) Regards, Marv Thibeault ______________________ Hi Marv: Thanks for your interesting e-mail. It's a small world. My wife's ancestors farmed about a mile from Curran on the Scotch River starting in about the 1820's. There are some pictures of the cemetery on the Maurice Shane page. I think that Curran is in North Plantagenet Township. There is a book called "Fournier" which was written to celebrate the 100th or 150th anniversary of that village and it contains histories of many of the families in the Curran area. It may have some info regarding the early Thibeaults in that area. It was written in the 1980's. The name Manion is familiar in the Ottawa area. The first Manions were in Huntley Township east of Almonte about 1822. A lot of them later moved up to Renfrew County where the second generation pioneered. It's possible that your Manions were in the Almonte area in the 1820's and 1830's. There were also Majors there too. Do you mind if I add your e-mail to our web site? We may hear from others researching your surnames and you may be able to help others as well. Please let me know. Thanks again for this. ... Al Lewis ____________________

Hi Al Yes I would be most happy to hear from anyone who is interested in unravelling these wonderful family mysteries. Some of the other surnames i.e. Foy / Ranger / Morrow attached to the Manion / MacFarlane surname may also have left tracks in your Bytown web. Thanks for your help and encouraging tips. Marv
April 30, 2006:
Thibeault, Manion, MacFarlane, Morrow, Thomas, Holmes and Foy
Hi: I am related to these families and do have a fair bit of information to share if anyone is interested please contact me. You may add my e-mail to your site. Hope to hear from anyone who is interested. I have 4 binders full of information on the Morrow family. Of course I also have a binder for the McFarlane Family, Thomas Family etc. Bye for now, Sharon ________ Sorry I forgot something, my youngest daughter married into the Holmes family and her husbands mother was a Thibeault. She has some history on this family that I am sure she will share. Sharon
March 26, 2011: A student is doing an essay regarding the history of the French Line: Hello, Thanks for your e-mail regarding the history of the French Line. The Gillies Lumber Company began timber operations in that area in 1842, quite early in our history. The French line was originally settled by Scottish pioneers from the Lowlands of Scotland. They sailed from the Clyde River in Scotland - this is where our Clyde River gets its name. The French Line runs close to and parallel to the Clyde River here. If I remember correctly, the French Line starts at the village of Brightside and runs up to Joe's Lake, a distance of about 12 kilometres. It crosses the Clyde River not too far from the crossing at Brightside. Beginning in 1842, the Gillies Family acquired the timber rights to cut white white pine and oak from this area. Gangs of men would spend the winter living in the shanties on the French Line, cutting logs which they floated down the Clyde River in the spring, during high water. This whole area produced some of the best timber in Canada at the time. The logs were floated to the Mississippi River, then out to the Ottawa River and then were sawn into 2x4's, 2x6's, etc. in Ottawa for export to build houses in the Ottawa Valley and in the USA. It was a very large operation and there is still logging carried out along the French Line. The logs are moved now by huge logging trucks. You will see that that St. Declan's Church on the French Line, was the home of some of the early French-Canadian families (Ranger and Majore). Marv Thibeault may have other French surnames for you. It's likely that some French and some Irish settlers got land along the French Line, which is where the name comes from. You may find other material for your project by going to our Lanark County page at www.bytown.net/lanark.htm and out page for Hopetown at www.bytown.net/middlevillelanark.htm . There are also some very good books regarding the history of Lanark County. One of the best is called Lanark Legacy, written by Howard Morton Brown. Good luck with your project. ... Al Lewis
New April 12, 2015: Hello, I found your sight while looking up Darling, Ontario which is listed in some family history as the birthplace of my paternal grandmother, Evangeline Mary Fraser (Ranger). Her mother was a MacFarlane but that's all I know about that family. These Rangers may have come from the North Bay area - a small city. I have also been told that E.M. Fraser was born on The French Line or at Flower Station and that's how I found your site. It's very exciting to see the names Ranger, MacFarlane and Manion - cousins - my grandmother's sister married into that family. My Grandfather was Jack Fraser of Ardoch, Ontario near Plevna. I have the Fraser Family history going back to John (Daniel) Frasier who moved to Barnard, Vermont, USA in 1784. I'm happy to share this history with anyone and would appreciate more information on the Rangers and MacFarlanes. Regards, ... Peggy Fraser ______________________________ Hi Peggy: I was just looking through the book The Lanark Society Settlers, by Carol Bennett. This book contains details regarding the early Scots settlement (c. 1820) and the name MacFarlane appears often. Also mentioned are the Ranger and Holmes families. I'll have a look through the book this evening and see what I can find. When our kids were young we had a camping trailer which we parked for the summers at Green Lake, just west of the road between Ardoch and Ompah. The First Nations harvest rice from the Mississippi River which flows through Ardoch. ... Al

E-mail Marv Thibeault, Sharon, Peggy Fraser and Al Lewis

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