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Sunday, 28 June 2015

Eleanor, Part 1: Journey to the Coast

We are forged from our genetics and our experiences. Knowing where we come from, our ancestors and their stories, can help us understand who we are. This knowledge can empower us to be our best selves.

I enjoy helping others to tell their stories of courage and hard work. Every story is one from which we can learn something valuable. Therefore the next number of blogs will be about an incredible person we have come to know in Prince Edward Island. She has a connection to Newfoundland as well which makes her part of our geographical family.

The choices of our ancestors have a huge impact on the generations which follow. Such was the case for our friend, Eleanor Bursey Gallant and she has an amazing story which she is sharing this week. My family is happy to call Eleanor a friend and I am honoured to help her tell this story.

This part of the Bursey Gallant story begins with Eleanor's great grandfather Ebenezer Bursey. His family originated in Ireland and settled in New Chelsea, Trinity Bay, Newfoundland. At that time in Newfoundland history, the lack of fish in the bays forced men to travel to Labrador, some by schooner, to catch fish. Some fishers stayed on the boats all summer while others fished from a land base along the Labrador coast. It was along that coast where Ebenezer met his future wife, Susan Belbin. They eventually married and settled in New Chelsea. There they raised a family and one of their sons was Reuben, born 1884, Eleanor's grandfather. Reuben became a seamen as well.

       Reuben Bursey

As still happens today, sometimes people who travel for work decide to make a permanent move rather than continue to commute to an area. This is what Reuben did in the early part of the last century. As a teenager, he left Newfoundland and moved to Old Fort, along the Lower North Shore of Québec, commonly called the coast.
When Reuben left his home, it was not yet a part of Canada. His journey to the Lower North Shore, took him to Canada and a job with the Hudson's Bay Company, a business synonymous with fur trading in that country. Fur trading was an important part of the Canadian economy for many generations and Reuben became a part of that history. He captained a ship which collected furs along the coast.

In Old Fort, Reuben met Suzanne Robin who was in service to the Goddards of Stick Point Island. Suzanne's father was from Jersey in the United Kingdom. She and Reuben married and eventually moved to St. Augustine where they raised eight children, four boys and four girls. Later, these children, including Eleanor's father, John(Jack), settled in St. Augustine and raised their families there. 

Suzanne is pictured below with sons Jack and Dan.

 Jack Bursey, Suzanne Robin Bursey, Dan Bursey

On her grandmother's side, Eleanor's family was from Québec. Her grandmother, Mary Ann Robin married Frank Driscoll and had five children. Frank died and Mary Ann married Henry Maurice with whom she had six children. Eleanor's mother was Julie Maurice, a middle child of this second family.

To be continued...

Thank you to Eleanor Bursey Gallant for the pictures and the information.

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