Grandma's Apron by Anglea Wood

Image - Lucie Choque-Bedier - 1955

Lucie Choque-Bedier

My paternal grandmother, Lucie Therese Choque was born on April 14, 1882 in Battincourt, Luxembourg, Belgium. Her father, Nicholas Choque, a laborer in Belgium had died on January 30, 1890. So in 1891 at the age of 9, Lucie, her widowed mother Catherine, and siblings Andre age 17 , Celestine age 15, Michel age 9 , Marie Rosalie age 6, and Marie Barbe age 3 left Belgium. Like so many immigrants before them, their trip was a very long one, leaving Belgium for Liverpool, England first. They spent almost a year in Liverpool, until they finally boarded the HMS Carthaginian of the Allen Line, in March of 1892 for their destination of Halifax, Nova Scotia, but by way of Baltimore, Maryland. From there they had an equally long train ride arriving finally in Holland, Manitoba.

HMS Carthaginian

Image - HMS Carthaginian

Little else is known about Lucie until she married Prosper Bedier on 27 July, 1903 in St. Alphonse, Manitoba.

Image - Prosper & Lucie's Marriage

Prosper & Lucie's Marriage

They soon started a family, however Maria Rosa Bedier who was born 20 February 1904, passed away on 24 August 1904 of cholera. Joseph Prosper Bedier was born 05 November 1905. In March 1906 they decided to move to what was then called New Luxembourg, North West Territories (later to be named Hafford, Saskatchewan). They soon started homesteading, built their two room house, and later the “Bedier” house. A story I recently heard from my cousin is that when Grandma first arrived in Hafford, with her 4 month old son Joe and realized that there was no farm, no house, basically nothing except flat prairie; she had a very difficult time adjusting to her new way of life. Considering what they then went on to build, I think that speaks volumes of the quiet character and fortitude of this woman.

Image - Grandpa Bedier standing in front of house 1920

Grandpa Bedier standing in front of house

During that time, the family continued to grow, with Rose being born 08 September 1907, Emma on 26 January 1909, Edouard on 07 Dec. 1910, Antoine on 27 July 1912, Celestin on 24 January 1914, Jean on 12 December 1916, and Pierre on 09 December 1918. It soon became evident that the family had outgrown their two bedroom house.

In 1919, while visiting a friend in the area, a carpenter from Quebec, by the name of Joseph Canual, met Prosper & Lucie and agreed to build a house for them. The house that was built was considered at that time to be somewhat of a mansion being over 1800 square feet. It was a huge two story house with five bedrooms, and totally constructed of hardwood, with a cement foundation, and inside walls of plaster. It was a beautifully built house with the final construction costing approximately $12,000.00.

Cecile born April 16, 1920, the youngest of the children, was the only one born in what was to become known as the “Bedier house”.

From that time on, her home and her family were her life, and Lucie spent the rest of it constantly surrounded by family. Her love of cooking soon became well known, and the Bedier house was often the center of many family gatherings and celebrations. A relative was quoted as saying: “And Grandma Lucie fed us all. She would open her kitchen up to all her guests, and although meals were simple, good taste and plenty of it would satisfy the palate . . . she could put a meal together real quick and everyone always ate with appetite.”

Image - Grandma in her apron

Grandma in her apron

There were frequent parties at the Bedier’s, with everyone eating and dancing, and the music continuing well into the night, and often lasting a few days. However, according to Celine Poty-Gray, in her family history book “Tom & Jinx”, “When World War II began, a lot of the young men we knew joined up to fight, including John and Peter Bedier, and the parties ceased”.

When I found this story in an email, I knew I had to include it as it was almost written for “Grandmere”. As we all know Lucie was seldom without her apron, and took it off only to go to church, and for very special occasions.

Grandma’s Apron The principle use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few. It was also because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material. But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven. It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears. From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven. When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy children. And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms. Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove. Chips and fire wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron. From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls. In the autumn, the apron was used to carry in the apples that had fallen from the trees. When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds. When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner. It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that “old-time apron” that served so many purposes. People today would go crazy trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron. I know I never caught anything from an apron – but love!

Letter from Andre Choque

Image - Letter from Andre Choque