|Date of Birth||June 1, 1879|
|Place of Birth||St Jacques le Mineur, Quebec|
|Next of Kin||Ernestine Menard, wife, Fisher Branch, Manitoba|
|Trade / Calling||Labourer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Date of Enlistment||May 1, 1917|
|Age at Enlistment||38|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||March 30, 1960|
|Age at Death||81|
|Buried At||Assumption Roman Catholic Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Plot||Garden of Gethsemane Lot 89 Grave 2|
Joseph Delphis Menard was likely born on 1 June 1879. The parish register from St Jacques le Mineur in Quebec gave his baptism date as 2 August 1879, the month possibly an error as all other baptisms on the pages were from late May and early June. Both of his parents Joseph Simon Menard and Euphemie Martin were from St Jacques le Mineur, a pastoral community about 40 kilometres south of Montreal. The couple married on 29 October 1878, with Delphis their first born child. They farmed in the area for a short while, giving birth to Artemise (1880). They then moved to Montreal, with other children born in Quebec being Marie Louise (abt 1883)), Joseph Pascal (1884), and Alexina (abt 1885). The 1891 census found the family living in Belcourt, Lisgar in Manitoba, Simon listed as farmer and daughter Anna Bertha (1890) having joined the family. According to a family history, the family lived in St Eustache before moving to St Ambroise near the south end of Lake Winnipeg. The 1901 census listed the family in the RM of Woodlands, Selkirk with Simon working as a fisherman. Moving further north, by the 1906 census they were living in Lundar and would later move to the Fisher Branch area. Children born in Manitoba were Joseph Arcade (1891), Joseph Eugene Ernest (1893), Antheme (1894-1896), Marie Amanda (1896-1910), Joseph Xenophile Arthur (1898-1898), Simon Eustache (1899), and Marie Olive (1901). Delphis’ mother Euphemie died in 1918 in The Pas, Manitoba, with his father Simon marrying Marie Cardin, widow of Jean Baptiste Savoie, in 1919.
On 21 January 1902, in St Laurent, Delphis married Marie Catherine Ernestine St Godard. Born on 15 September 1882 in Winnipeg, Ernestine was the daughter of Pierre St Godard and Marie Louise Granger. At the time of the 1901 census her family was living in Portage la Prairie where Pierre was working as a fisherman. Delphis and Ernestine gave birth to son Leo in late October in Portage la Prairie followed by Archille (Archie) in 1904 in the RM of St Laurent. According to a family history, fishing in 1901 and 1903 had been good, with Delphis making enough money to buy a hotel in Laurier, Manitoba, his start as a hotel keeper. Selling it, the family must have moved to Winnipeg, giving birth to Mary in 1905 and Hermina in 1907 in the city. The next year Delphis, Ernestine and other family members including his sister Alexina and her husband Al Gamache moved north to Broad Valley near Fisher Branch to build a sawmill, by all accounts a successful venture. Son George was born in 1910 in Broad Valley. By then Delphis had received a homesteader grant close to Fisher Branch. It appears that daughter Mary had died by the time of the 1911 census. Unhappy with farming and seeing the potential for this growing community, with help from his brothers and in-laws Delphis built the first hotel in Fisher Branch, opening around 1912. Descriptions vary a little but the hotel had around 20 bedrooms, a large kitchen, sleeping quarters, a dining room, a sitting room, a pool room with two pool tables, and a proposed bar/beer parlour. Son Oliver was born in 1914 and daughter Olive in 1916.
Delphis signed his attestation papers on 1 May 1917 in St Boniface, Manitoba. His occupation was given as labourer, his date of birth as 1 June 1880, and his wife Ernestine in Fisher Branch as next of kin. According to his son George he had been previously working as a recruiting officer. He left the care of the hotel to Bill Kilby, a permanent resident and recent immigrant from Britain, with Ernestine and the children moving to Winnipeg.
As an Acting Sergeant with the 258th Battalion, Delphis arrived in England aboard the Metagama. The battalion was absorbed by the 10th Reserve Battalion, Delphis reverting to the rank of Private, being over and above establishment. In May of 1918 he was struck off strength to the 22nd Battalion, and then on to the 24th Battalion, taken on strength in the field on 6 June. By mid August Delphis had sustained a contusion/injury to his back and was admitted to the No 6 General Hospital in Rouen on the 13th. He was invalided to England, spending time recuperating in the 1st Western General Hospital, Fazakerley in Liverpool, the Venice Street Auxiliary Military Hospital, also in Liverpool, and the Princess Patricia Canadian Red Cross Hospital Cooden Camp, Bexhill, discharged on 8 November. Delphis remained in England, embarking for Canada aboard the Olympic on 11 January 1919. He was discharged from service on 18 February in Winnipeg.
By the end of the war Ernestine and the children had moved back to Fisher Branch. Upon his return Delphis resumed his work as hotel keeper. With the end of the First World War and the troops that would be returning from Europe in mind, Canada’s 1917 Soldier Settlement Act, and its 1919 revision, made land grants and loans available to soldiers. A person who had been in active service during the First World War and who was eligible for a free homestead entry under the Soldier Settlement Act was known as a Soldier Settler. In October of 1919 Delphis applied for a land grant, the farm about a mile and a half north of Fisher Branch. He passed the farm on to his son George. Two more daughters were born to the family, Laurette in November of 1919 and Leah Delia in 1921.
Delphis retired from the hotel business in 1931, passing the hotel on to his son Leo. A 1935 Voter’s list for Fisher Branch listed Delphis as a bailiff for the town but by the next year he had moved to Kenora, Ontario. Daughter Olive, a graduate nurse, worked in the Kenora Hospital after graduation, leaving for a while to work as a nurse for Indian Affairs of Canada in Thunder Bay and Lake St Martin, returning around 1944 with her husband Laurence Horan. While in Kenora Delphis joined the Kenora Branch of the Canadian Legion. At some point Delphis and Ernestine moved to Winnipeg, living on Pinedale Avenue in St Boniface. Over the years he was more commonly known as Tom by family and friends.
Delphis died on 30 March 1960 in Deer Lodge Hospital in Winnipeg. His Veteran Death card listed his wife Ernestine Menard of Winnipeg as next of kin. He was predeceased by his mother (1918) and father (1931, Fisher Branch), son Leo (1954, Winnipeg), siblings Joseph Pascal (1933, Glendale, California), Artemise Bernardin (1940, Pine Falls, MB), Arcade (1948, New Westminster, BC), and Alexina Gamache (1958, Maillardville, BC). Siblings that later died were Marie Louise (St Godard) Beaudry (1970, Winnipeg), Simon (1979, New Westminster, BC), Ernest (1983, Winnipeg), Anna St Godard (1989, Flin Flon, MB), and Olive Hall (likely in 1989 in Alexandria, ON). Delphis’ wife Ernestine died on 25 August 1967 in Victoria, BC. At the time of her death she was survived by sons Archie and Oliver of Winnipeg and George of Piney, MB, and daughters Hermina Hoey of Sioux Lookout, ON, Olive Horan and Laurette Caldwell of Victoria, BC, and Leah Robertson of Calgary, AB. She was also survived by 13 grandchildren and 27 great grandchildren and a brother. Archie died in 1972 (Victoria), Oliver in 1978 (Winnipeg), George in 1983 (Winnipeg), Hermina in 1991 (Sioux Lookout), Leah in 1997 (Calgary), Olive in 2006 (Victoria) and Laurette in 2009 (Victoria). Delphis and Ernestine are interred in the Assumption Roman Catholic Cemetery in Winnipeg.
By Judy Stockham
Photos: A Place of Our Own/A History of No Ordinary People