Biographie Alexandrine Normand

Biographie Alexandrine Normand

Written by Jeannine Gratton

Adalbert, known as Albert Gratton, was born in Montreal, Quebec, on July 17, 1888.  He was the fifth child of Sulpice and Angelina (nee Aveline) Gratton.  Sulpice and Angelina had nine children; Joseph, Delphis, Marie-Louise, Anespha, Albert, Ernest and Adelard (twins), Agathe and Sulpice (Ti-Pete).  After Albert was born, he and his family moved to a farm at Ste. Agathe des Monts in the Laurentians.

As soon as the boys were old enough, they would work in the lumber camps, usually in Michigan, U.S.A.  One summer, they returned home saying there was work out West in Sasktachewan.  Free train pasage was provided for young men interested in working the harvest.  In 1907, five of the Gratton boys decided to head West; Joseph, Anespha, Albert, and their twin brothers, Ernest and Adelard, whe were barely 17 years old at the time (Delphis came a few years later).  Their mother wept bitterly as they left thinking she would never see them again.  Upon arriving in Saskatchewan, they were very disappointed to find there was no work.  Due to a very heavy rainfall, the farmers were unable to harvest their crops.  However, for half fare, they found they could continue on to Edmonton where they got jobs cutting railroad ties for the C.N.R. during their winter in Alberta.

At ths time, land was being settled in northern Alberta and homesteads could be bought for $10 each.  Doing as everyone else, the Gratton boys decided to each fle for a homestead, site unseen.  Joe's homestead was in St. Vincent, but the others were all near Therien.  Albert's homestead was located at NW33-60-9-4.

Early in 1908, they set out to claim their homesteads.  They took the train to Vegreville and walked the rest of the way.  Wildlife was plentiful.  Partridges, prairie chickens, ducks, rabbits and even fresh duck eggs in early spring provided them with their main source of food.

For the next 10 years, Albert remained a bachelor working a various jobs, on the railroads in the mountains, at a brick factory in Edmonton (Strathcona), and at various bush camps in the winter.  He usually worked as a blacksmith or as a repairman around the camps.  Some summers, he spent time on his homestead clearing the required 10 acres and building a cabin to obtain his land title.  Albert often returned to St. Vincent between jobs to visit his brothers, especially Joe where he always felt at home.  During one of these vistis he met a local girl, Alexandrine Normand, the eldest child of Michel and Marie Normand.

Albert and Alexandrine were married in St. Vincent on May 21 1918.  Upon getting married, Albert decided to farm his homestead, however the cabin was hardly liveable.  Since Anespha was moving his family to Marengo Saskatchewan and his house was located close to Albert's homestead, Albert and Alexandrine decided to live in Anespha's house.

During the first winter, 1918, Albert and Alexandrine, like many of their neighbours, became very sick with the Spanish Flu.  Alexandrine's father, Michel Normand, came every day from St. Vincent to do the chores.

On June 1 1919, Alexandrine gave birth to their first son, Roger.  After trying to farm for one year, Albert resolved to become a blacksmith.  They rented a small house in St. Vincent.  Albert went to work in the blacksmith shop of Lymburner and Georges Thibodeau to learn his trade.

In the years 1922 to 1923, much speculation was going on as to where the railroad would pass.  It did seem probable that it would pass four miles north of St. Vincent (Old Therien).  Albert and Alexandrine decided to move there so that they could own their own blacksmith shop and home.

In 1924, Albert and Alexandrine closed their house and shop and moved back east to Ste. Adele (close to Ste Agathe) where they lived barely one year.  They returned to Old Therien, where they remained for the next four years.

The railroad finally came through in 1928 and it ran even further north of Old Therien to bypass Moose Lake.  Everyone was once again on the move, some to Mallaig, and some to form the new town where Therien is today.  Albert and Alexandrine chose to move to Therien.  In late winter, before the snow melted, with the help of relatives and neighbours their house was lifted onto sleighs and slowly pulled by sixteen horses to it's new location.  Their blacksmith shop was taken apart and rebuilt as a small barn.  A new blacksmith shop was built.  This was the second business to come to Therien.

Eight years later on August 7 1936, their second and last son Lucien, was born.  Ten years later, on Setember 25 1946 at 49 years of age, Alexandrine passed away after being accidentally burned while lighting the kitchen stove.

Several years after this sad event, Albert married Emma Joly from St Paul.  Albert retired at his house in Therien where he loved to garden and visit with family and friends.  He passed away of cancer on June 28 1963, at 75 years of age.



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