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Record of paternity: at the time of our great families

An Olympic Paternity Record

Text of the Press, Perspectives, the 25 September 1976
by Jean Hêtu

At the time of our big families

In Quebec, our parents knew what homes were filled with children. A few 5413 families had thus deserved free lands towards the end of the last century, under a law of 1890 which the Mercier government had passed and which was entitled: "Act giving privilege to fathers and mothers having twelve live children ".

The world paternity record, even if not inscribed in the Guinness Book of Records, belongs to Jean-Baptiste Lepage, better known as Pierre Lepage, plumber, roofer and farmer in Saint-Colomban, Irish colony

In 1940, a diary written after an interview with the happy father, aged 68, that it was the 43e child in 51 years of marriage. the priest of Saint-Colomban, Father Jean Jenson, also said that he had heard the almost Olympic figure of 43.

Having checked the records and if we add the premature and unviable births that were reported to us by Mrs. Lepage-Bernier, daughter of Mr. Lepage, we get the grand total of 42 births.

First wife, Rose-de-Lima Campeau and her children: Rose-de-Lima, Laurenza, Pierre-Jean, Edouard, Ulric and Louis

Second wife, Parmélia Brière and her children: Olivine, Lucienne, Lucien, Cordelia, Jeanne, Blanche, Lorette, Eglantine, Albert, Patrick and Henri

Third wife, Rose-de-Lima Francoeur and her children: Roger, Louis, Laurentine, Arthur, Colette, Fernande, Leopold, Jeannine, Raymond, Jacques, Fernand, Maurice, Denis, Denise, Monique, Andre, Bernard and Thérèse.

25 children still alive in 1940, there remained 17 1976. Mr. Lepage died in 1948 at 76 years and his wife in 1949 at 50 years. Mr. Lepage did not deserve free land. He received only a few checks of family allowances, a federal program in effect in 1945. Benefits ranged from $ 5 to $ 8 per month. The allocation was reduced by 1 $ from the 5e child, 2 $ for 6e and 7e, 3 $ for 8e and the following ones. This restriction was likely to affect francophone families in Quebec. The name of Pierre Lepage deserves to be known. He is a national hero. Everything suggests that the feat of Pierre Lepage is not about to be repeated. It's a big challenge.

NB see pages 719 and 720 of the Genealogical Dictionary of Lepage (2e 2004 edition)

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