The beginnings in Sutton
Both born in 1902, Éliane Bédard and Alfred Larouche met at the Catholic church in Sweetsburg (now Cowansville). She was the organist; he was a singer. Éliane had a degree in music and was an accomplished pianist and organist.
They celebrated their marriage on 29 June 1927 in Marieville, where Éliane was born.
Éliane and Alfred at their engagement.
On their wedding day.
Alfred and Éliane bought a farm in Sutton on 2 August 1928 at the intersection of Chemin Alderbrooke and Chemin Perkins. They lived there with their first child, Suzanne.
Settling in Sutton at that time was like living out in the woods. The challenge didn’t worry Alfred, a tall and husky fellow who had lived on a farm with his family in Sweetsburg. But nothing prepared Éliane for a life living by candlelight and working fields of rocks. Born to a well-to-do family, Éliane had lived all her youth in town, and in comfort.
The farm was several kilometres from the heart of the villages of Sutton and Abercorn.
The tall elms have disappeared after falling victim to disease.
The depression struck in the fall of 1929. Life became harder and harder for everyone: francophones and anglophones from the neighboring rangs all worked together to get farm chores done … and survive.
Éliane was pregnant 19 times in 28 years; 13 of the children survived, and 11 grew to adulthood. Little Denis died in infancy and Françoise died at 14 from complications related to scarlet fever.
All the children were born at home, with help from by Dr. Noiseux. Agnès recounts how each birth was shrouded in mystery:
Éliane and Alfred proudly pose with their first child, Suzanne
To Agnès’ delight, Aunt Laurette (Éliane’s sister) lent a helping hand to the family each time a baby was born:
Éliane handles the bottle-feeding.
When she lost her status as youngest child following the birth of Renée, Colette adopted her new sister as her own.
Baby Renée sits on her mother’s lap
Éliane and Alfred’s family circa 1948 – in front are: Colette and Céline; in the middle: Agnès, Bernard, Denise, Jean and Germain; in the back are: Alfred, Gaétan, Éliane, Marie and Suzanne.