A Woman of Valour
255 pages, 6 x 9
60 b&w photos
Release Date:01 Apr 2010

A Woman of Valour

The Biography of Marie-Louise Bouchard Labelle

Athabasca University Press
A Woman of Valour is the biography of Marie-Louise BouchardLabelle, a French-Canadian woman who found love with a priestthirty-three years her senior. Against all social convention, theylived, produced three children, and built a life together after fleeingtheir village.

However, after several years together, Bouchard’s husbandultimately chose to return to the priesthood, abandoning his family asa result. Through interviews and documentation, Claire Trépanier tellsBouchard’s story of survival while highlighting the history ofwomen’s stature in Canada, and raising a question about thecelibacy of Catholic priests.

This is the biography of an extraordinary woman who had the courage to fully embrace her love for a priest, knowing all the consequences. The author tells us the story of Marie-Louise Bouchard Labelle with respect and admiration. Thank you to Claire Trépanier for this touching narration and thank you also to Marie-Louise's children and grandchildren who told the author the story of their mother and grandmother. Laurier L. LaPierre

Claire Trépanier lives in Ottawa. Her interest intravel, teaching, and international development led her to participatein the conception and co-creation of the TV series Gensd’ici, Gens d’ailleurs, which aired on TCV Outaouaisfrom September to December 1999. A Woman of Valour is atestimony to her admiration of women's resilience, courage, anddynamic spirit.

Table of Contents




Family Trees

Family of Georgianne Tremblay and her two spouses

Family of Marie-Louise Bouchard Labelle and Joseph Ray


CHAPTER ONE: From Les Escoumins to Hanmer (1891–1906)

Marie-Louise Bouchard

Marie-Louise Labelle

Arrival in Hanmer

Life of Hanmer’s First Settlers

Marie-Louise’s Education

Primary School

Tough Love

And What of the Future?

Spiritual Life in the Hamlet

CHAPTER TWO: The New Arrival (1858–1906)

Father Joseph A. Roy

The Francophone Catholic Clergy in the Canadian West

Wolseley, Saskatchewan

Vernon, British Columbia

Hanmer, Ontario (August 1906)

First Meeting with Marie-Louise

CHAPTER THREE: The Turning Point (1906–1916)

Regular Meetings with Marie-Louise

Presbytery Maid?

Against All Comers


Impact of Their Departure

CHAPTER FOUR: Family Life (1916–1928)

New Identities


Rideau Park (May 1917)

Life as a Couple

Daily Life

Intellectual Life

Spiritual Life

First Return to Hanmer (November 1920)

Birth of Lorne


Gertrude’s First Communion

Facing Facts


The Big Decision (1928)

CHAPTER FIVE: “Widow” with Three Children(1928–1935)


Unexpected Visits

Living Day to Day

Free to Explore Life

Napoléon’s Visit

The Crash, 24 October 1929

Family Ties


Impact of Joseph’s Departure

Religion after Joseph’s Departure

The French–English Question

Life During the Great Depression

Bank Street (1930–1932) and Sunnyside Street(1932–1933)

Stanley Avenue (1933–1935)

Social Life

Convalescent Home


CHAPTER SIX: Living from Hand to Mouth (1935–1944)

James Street (1935–1936)

Lisgar Street (1936–1937)

Nepean Street (1937–1939)

Rideau Street, Corner of Chapel (1939)

Slater Street (1940)

Central Avenue (1941)

Acquaintance Changes (1942–1944)

CHAPTER SEVEN: Nanny (1944–1965)


Sewing and Knitting

In the Kitchen

 “Breaking Camp”


Jake and the Kid


Back to Ottawa (1957–1965)



The Countess of Ségur

A Busy Room (1962–1965)

The Secret

CHAPTER EIGHT: Return to Her Roots (1960–1964)

Graduation (1960)

The Two Gossips

Inner Peace

The Trip to the Yukon

CHAPTER NINE: Old Age, Humour and Tenderness (1965–1970)

A Time to Relax

Always Keeping the Secret

Reminiscences of Long Ago

The Bloomers

The Braid


CHAPTER TEN: Living in Peace (1970–1973)


A Time to Enjoy Life


A Time to Die




Appendix One: Arrival in Hanmer

Appendix Two: House in Hanmer

Appendix Three: Landowner

Appendix Four: Amour Immaculé / Immaculate Love

Family Documents

List of People Interviewed

List of People Who Helped Me in My Research

Abbreviated Chronology




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