A very religious family
Alfred and Éliane were well-known at church, and their faith occupied a large part of their lives. They named their farm Santa Maria, in honour of the Virgin Mary; they blessed the seeds they planted every spring; and a crucifix hung in every room in the house. They strictly observed the teachings of the church and their children attended Saint-Jude Catholic school, located at the intersection of Route 139 and Chemin Pinacle East.
Morning and night their girls and boys walked more than a kilometre to get there. From first to seventh grade, lessons in the little school were taught in French in a single classroom that housed both boys and girls. Having neither running water nor electricity, the classroom was heated in winter by a wooden stove that the schoolmarm kept going while teaching the children.
The former Saint-Jude School is a private residence today.
When they reached high school, girls had to board at the Sœurs de la Présentation de Marie convent in Sutton (what is today the Villa Châteauneuf). Boys had to leave Sutton to continue their studies.
In 1950 Alfred built a roadside cross at the intersection of Chemin Alderbooke and Chemin Perkins. Agnès and Céline describe the event:
The blessing of the roadside cross
The cross in 2021.
Their faith was a great comfort for the Larouche parents during difficult times. “I think it was their faith that got them through things,” Agnès says. One of the worst times was the death of Françoise.
A scarlet fever epidemic hit Sutton in the autumn of 1943. The Larouche house, like many others, was boarded up while the sick and their families lived in quarantine. No one went in or out; the grocer had to leave his order outside on the porch and mail had to be sterilized. Éliane, who often wrote to her family and friends, disinfected letters and envelopes with Lysol steam before mailing them.
In the foreground, Françoise; beside her, from left to right, Agnès, Suzanne (holdingGermain), Gaëtan and Jean.
Despite these precautions, Françoise, the family’s second daughter, died from the sickness on 4 February 1944. She was only 14. Her death was a terrible blow to Jean and Gaëtan.
The parish priest administered the last rites, the parents’ room was emptied and she was laid out there in her coffin. Back then the deceased was never left alone; someone stayed alongside her 24 hours a day. Farmers from the area all came, even those who weren’t Catholic. The neighbors brought sandwiches, cakes and pies to feed the visitors.
“After she died, my father used to invoke Françoise’s memory whenever he had problems: “She helped him to find a solution.”