The POTVIN family
Pioneers in the Ottawa, Canada area
April 26, 2016::
THE POTVIN FAMILY IN OTTAWA
Jean D Amour
The first family link to the Potvin name that can be found is Jean D Amour who was born in 1680 in Niort,
Deux Sevres, Poitou-Charentes, France .
Joseph Jacques Damour Poitevin
His son, Joseph Jacques Damour Poitevin was born on April 15, 1710 in Poitou-Charentes, France. He married
Francoise Prieur-Lafleur on September 17, 1733 and died in Montreal on February 6, 1786. Francoise was born
in 1710 in Poitou-Charentes, France and died on December 19, 1785 in Montreal.
Pierre Damour Poitevin
The next generation (and the first to be born in Canada) was Pierre Damour Poitevin who was born on October 30,
1742 in Montreal, Quebec. He married Anne-Marie Legault Deslaurier on October 22, 1770. Pierre Damour Poitevin
died on November 29, 1806 in Quebec. Anne-Marie Legault Deslaurier was born on May 12, 1712 and died on June 15, 1829 in Quebec.
Pierre Edouard Damour Potvin
Their son, Pierre Edouard Damour Potvin was born on October 13, 1773 in Lachine, Quebec. He married
Francoise Milville on October 17, 1803 in Saint-Benoit, Quebec. He was 30 years old and she was 23 years old.
Not much is known about Pierre Edouard or Francoise other than that Pierre Edouard Damour Potvin appears to
have lived with or near his son-in-law Henry Albert east of Dow's Lake. Pierre Edouard brought
the Potvins from St-Benoit via Argenteuil at the time of the canal construction. Pierre Edouard Damour Potvin
died on October 18, 1853 and it is assumed that he is interred at Notre Dame Cemetery in Ottawa.
In the 1851 Census the family name was spelled Podvain. His occupation is shown as a Labourer and he is shown to be
92 years old. His neighbours (Welsh / Walsh, Albert) are shown on the same page and confirm that they lived on the east
side of Dow's Lake as shown on the 1847 Dow's Lake Area map.
Joseph Potvin was the next generation of the Potvin family in Ottawa. Joseph Potvin was born on September 2, 1807 in
St. Benoit, Quebec. Why there is a name change or "misspelling" is unknown and has been lost through time. It may
never be known why this happened. Joseph Potvin married Philotee (Felicite) Labreche, the daughter of Joseph Lebreche,
on August 22, 1831 in Ottawa.
Joseph Labreche, also called Dugas and called LeBrush on the 1847 Dow's Lake Area map (shown below), was the
noted living son of settlers at Nouvelle-Longueuil and had himself been a day labourer in the Argenteuil seigneury
in 1814. He lived in Clarence Township in Russell County from 1823-1825 and in 1829 we find him working on the Rideau Canal near Bytown. The two French families (Potvin and Labreche) lived near Hog's Back in 1847. Many of the immigrants at work on the Rideau Canal were married men with families who were anxious to obtain farmland in the proximity of the works.
Joseph Potvin, (shown on Lot K of the 1847 Dow's Lake Area map west of Burrows), was Labreche's son-in-law.
Joseph Potvin bought the widow Donnelly's interest within the canal reserve about 1838 and it is his holding shown on
Lot K on the 1847 plan. Joseph Potvin got work as a lock labourer at Hog's Back and most of the numerous branches
of the Labreche, Potvin and Renaud families moved into the working-class suburbs of Rochesterville and
Mount Sherwood, located on Lots 39 and 40, just to the north of Dow's Lake, and found work in the mills.
The 1861 Census showed Joseph Povtin (Putva) to be aged 54 and working as a farmer.
Joseph Potvin died on November 8, 1881 and was buried on November 9, 1887. The Registration of burial indicated
that he died of old age (vieillesse) at the age of 80.
His wife Felicite Labreche died at age 72 on September 1, 1887 and was buried on September 2, 1887.
Both are buried in an unmarked grave at Notre Dame Cemetery in Ottawa in Lot 461.
Pierre (Peter) Potvin, the son of Joseph Potvin and Philotee (Felicite) Labreche, was born on May 11, 1837 at Nepean
(Black Rapids) and baptised on May 12, 1837 with Simon (Samuel) Albert and Mrs. (or Mary) Chartrand as sponsors.
Pierre Damour Potvin married Marguerite Renaud, daughter of Joseph Renaud and Catherine Lalonde. Pierre and Marguerite
were married at Notre Dame, Ottawa on April 12, 1858. Pierre Potvin was 22 years old when he married Marguerite Renaud.
Marguerite was stated to be 16 when she was married. No witnesses were given in the Ontario Register at the wedding.
Marguerite Renaud was the daughter of Joseph Renaud and Catherine Lalonde. She was listed as being 16 years old at the
time of her wedding so she was born around 1842.
The first child born to Pierre Potvin and Marguerite Renaud was Thomas Potvin. He was born on April 2, 1861 and he
died on March 30, 1947 in Ottawa.
Three years later, a daughter was born. Marie-Marguerite Emma Potvin was born May 23, 1864 in Ottawa. She was baptized
on May 29, 1864 with Hyacinthe Carrier and Julie Charlebois as sponsors. She married Honore Lautier (minor son of
Jules Lautier and Adelina Fabe) (born at St.Philippe, d'Argenteuil, Quebec) on July 2, 1883. He was a labourer when he
married Emma Potvin. Pierre Potvin (father) and Lanier Vaillancourt were sponsors as they were both under age.
She died November 19, 1887. She was 23 years old. Funeral on November 23, 1887 with Honore Lauthier (spouse) and
Joseph Potvin signed as witnesses to her death.
Four more children were born to Pierre and Marguerite during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Alphonsine
Florence Flossie Potvin was born on June 7, 1869 and died on May 26, 1952. Marguerite Potvin was born on December 26, 1871.
Joseph Potvin was born on July 30, 1874. He was baptised on August 9, 1874 with Joseph Renaud and Genevieve Potvin
as sponsors. Joseph died before 1881. The final child born to Pierre and Marguerite was Marie-Alexina Potvin.
She was born on February 10, 1876 and died on April 15, 1940. She is buried along with her father at Notre Dame Cemetery.
1881 Ontario Census records show the following information:
Peter Potvin, 45, born in Ottawa, Ontario, Cath. French, Labourer, married;
Margaret (Renaud), 44, born Quebec, Cath. Fr., married.
Thomas, 20, born Ont.
Emma, 17, born Ontario
Classia, 12, born Ont. (probably Flossie)
Maggie, 9, born Ont.
Alexina, 5, born Ont., going to school;
Alexander 14, born Ont.
It seems odd that Alexina, being only five years old, was the only one going to school. Peter Potvin, age 63, was shown to
be a labourer earning an annual salary of $200.
It is uncertain what happened but it appears that Marguerite passed away sometime between 1876 and 1891.
Peter Potvin lived at 5 Emily Street in 1890.
Peter Potvin married a second time after the death of his first wife, Marguerite Renaud. Her name was Henriette Aubin
dit St. Louis and her date of birth is unknown. On July 20, 1891, Pierre Potvin, widow of Marguerite Renaud married
Henriette Aubin dit St Louis, widow of Olivier Beauchamp at St. Jean Baptiste Church with Jean Baptiste Potvin
and Gilbert Aubin dit St Louis as witnesses. Rev. Father: J. A. Dallaire O. P. presided. Henriette was age 45
and a widow. She was from Hawkesbury and she was the daughter of Hyacinthe Aubin
dit St. Louis. The wedding ceremony was presided over by Rev. Father: J. A. Dallaire O. P.
Pierre became a widower once again. It seems that after 10 years of marriage to his second wife, Henriette passed away.
The funeral for Henriette Aubin St. Louis, spouse of Pierre Potvin, was held at St. Francis d'Assise, Ottawa, Ontario
on October 24, 1901. She was 56 years old. Witnesses were Pierre Potvin (spouse) and Honore Beauchamp (stepson).
The historical record shows that Pierre Potvin married for a third time in Ottawa on April 20, 1903. Pierre Potvin
married Henriette Goyette. Peter Potvin, age 60, a widower, labourer, married Henriette Goulet, age 55, widow, at Ottawa.
Her parents were Amable Goulet & Olivine Proulx. Witnesses to the marriage ceremony were Amable Goulet & Joseph Marshall.
The 1901 census showed that Peter Potvin was 63 years old, married and worked as a labourer. The census also states
that he earned $200 annually and could not read or write. He did speak English and French.
His wife Henriette died on October 23, 1901 at age 56. She suffered from paralysis for 4 years.
Peter Potvin died on November 7, 1922 at age 86 years old. The primary cause of death was listed as bronchial pneumonia
and the secondary cause of death was arterial sclerosis.
He died at the home of his son, Alexander Potvin at 97 James Street, Ottawa. He lived there for approximately 2 years.
He was buried November 9, 1922 at Notre Dame Cemetery Ottawa. The cause of death was recorded as Bronchial Pneumonia
with Arteriole Sclerosis as a contributing factor. Pierre and Marguerite are buried in the grave of their daughter,
Alexina and her husband, Henry Brown. Their names are not shown on the tombstone but it has been confirmed that they
are buried in this plot.
The third child born to Pierre and Marguerite was Alexander Potvin. Alexander was born on January 14, 1867 in Ottawa.
His baptism is recorded on January 20, 1867 with Xavier Belleville and Anastasie Belleville (might be Bellefeuille) as sponsors.
Alexander married Caroline Smith on September 25, 1886 at St. Patrick's Church located on Kent Street. Of German heritage,
Caroline's maiden name was originally Schmidt or Schmit according to her son Alec. Her father was John George Smith and
her mother was Bridget Rush. They were married on August 15, 1859 in Brownsburg-Chatham, Quebec. Bridget Smith died on
November 15, 1880 at Brownsburg-Chatham, Quebec and was buried at St. Patrick's church.
Shortly after being married, the Potvins began their family. First to be born was Alexandre Jr. born January 30, 1887.
He was baptized on February 6, 1887 with Johnny Harris and Kate Smith as sponsors.
Tragedy struck the family when you Alexandre died on July 6, 1887 at the age of 6 months. The funeral was held at
St. Jean-Baptiste Church. Alexander Sr. signed as the witness to the death. He was buried on July 7, 1887.
A sample of the 1911 Canada Census Record showing the following statistics:
Name: Alexander Potvin
Marital Status: Married
Birth Date: January 1867
Family Number: 96
Relation to Head of House: Head
District: Ottawa City
District Number: 105
Sub-District: Dalhousie Ward
Sub-District Number: 22
Place of Habitation: 165 Bell
Alexander Potvin 1/1867 44
Caroline Potvin 10/1868 43
Thomas Potvin 4/1888 23
Emma Potvin 11/1890 21
Florence Potvin 11/1893 18
Cecila Potvin 3/1896 13
Margaret Potvin 12/1900 10
Alexander Potvin 11/1907 4
The couple had a total of 10 children; three having pre-deceased them. The mortality rates at the end of the nineteenth century
and the beginning of the twentieth century were quite high.
The low mortality rates in modern times can be explained by the near elimination of deaths from infectious diseases,
formerly the most common cause of death, since the young are most susceptible to infection.
Alex, or "Frenchy" as he was known, was a fireman with the City of Ottawa. He began his career
on January 1, 1890 at age 22 and worked at Fire Station No. 7 located at the corner of Arthur Street and Somerset Street.
He was promoted to Foreman at No. 8 Station located near the existing National Arts Centre in 1900 and then to Captain in 1906.
The 1909 Ottawa City Directory shows Alex living at 165 Bell Street and working at No. 7 Station.
Some of the more notable fires that Alex was involved with were the West Block fire of 1896, the Lebreton Flats fire
of 1900, the Post Office fire of 1901, the Centre Block fire of 1916 and the Russell Hotel fire in 1929.
The 1921 Census shows Alexander Potvin living at 97 James Street. His occupation is listed as Inspector. He resided with his
wife, Caroline, his father Peter, his son Alexander Napoleon and his son Thomas. Note that Thomas's children (Rose and Arthur)
are also living at 97 James Street. This is probably due to the fact that Thomas's wife, Rosanne LaFrance died in November 1918.
Also, Caroline Potvin's father's birth place is shown as Berlin confirming that the Smith family was, in fact, of
Alex Potvin was one of the city's first Fire Inspectors. He was promoted to Fire Inspector on December 15, 1919 and he held that title until his forced retirement on January 1, 1936 at age 69.Alex worked for the Ottawa Fire Department for 46 years.
According to his son, also named Alex, Alex Senior was also an avid Lacrosse fan and supporter. In addition, an
article in The Ottawa Citizen (January 3, 1936) featuring the retirement of Alex Potvin from the Ottawa Fire Department,
states that he was well known in the world of local sports as in the fire department. He was 17 years old when he
first played senior lacrosse and baseball. He played lacrosse in 1887 with Pastimes, and joined the senior company with
the Ottawa Baseball Club in the same year.
One of the highlights of Alex's baseball career was when he drove in two runs to give Ottawa a 9-8 victory in one of the
greatest games played in those early years in this city He also played in the City Baseball League and played lacrosse for a
number of different clubs in Ottawa.
Following the Great War, he continued to be interested in lacrosse in an executive capacity, being Vice-President of the
Senators lacrosse team in 1919, and President of the championship teams of 1920 and 1921. In both years the Ottawa team
won the Eastern title. He occupied the Chief Executive's post for five years and then dropped out of active participation
in the sport thereafter.
Alex was also an executive member of the Shamrocks when that club entered senior amateur hockey in Ottawa and continued
in that position for two or three years.
According to the author of "History of the Ottawa Fire Department" J. Bernard Matheson, the consensus of everyone from
the fire department and sporting community thought very highly of Alex. He had many friends and was known to always be smiling.
Alex and Caroline were known to have lived for a time somewhere on Cambridge Street in center town Ottawa, and also at
97 James Street.
Alexander Potvin passed away on May 5, 1949 at age 82. Alexander Potvin was buried at Notre Dame Cemetery alongside his wife,
Caroline and son, Thomas.
Alexander Napoleon Potvin
Alexander Napoleon Potvin was born on November 11, 1906. His baptism was held on November 18, 1906 with Napoleon Rousseau
and Isabelle Albert as sponsors. At the time of Alexander Napoleon's birth, Alexander Sr. was shown to be living at 758 Gladstone
Street. He was also shown as a fireman for his occupation and the physician presiding over the birth of Alexander
Napoleon was Dr. J.D. Baskin. Alexander Napoleon, known to all as "Pap", was born November 11, 1906.
On March 11, 1926, Alex, shown in the marriage record, as a Civil Servant, married Patricia Magdalen Burton, described as a
"Spinster and Printing Apprentice at R.L. Crain, Ltd. in Ottawa". Alexander was 19 years old and Patricia was 18 years old.
The marriage took place, in St. Patrick's Church on Kent St. in Ottawa. Witnesses to the wedding were Edward and Mary Dooley,
one of Patricia's seven sisters.
Patricia was the daughter of Katherine Leahy and Joseph James Burton, originally from London, England but then living in Ottawa.
Upon their marriage the couple first lived on Cambridge Street. Alex was employed by the current day Department of Public Works.
He started his career as an apprentice carpenter and cabinet maker at age 16, and at the time of his retirement was serving
as a Contract Investigator. The couple purchased a double at 245-247 Arlington Avenue, choosing 245 for their residence.
It was here that Alexander and Patricia raised their family of four.
Alex, the Third was born September 5, 1926. His baptismal sponsors were Alexander Potvin and Caroline Smith.
Claire Caroline was born November 29, 1932.
Catherine Faye. She was born on June 13, 1939.
Susan Patricia was born on January 9, 1946.
... Steve Morin
Note: There is more Potvin family information on our page for Henry Brown and Alexina Potvin.
E-mail Steve Morin, Taylor Kennedy and Allan Lewis
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