Enregistrement par Cornelius Jaenen d'un interview avec Vermander. This recording is of an interview session with [?] Vermander. Vermander was the postmaster for St. Boniface between [years] and was the Post Office Inspector for the Winnipeg District from 1934 to 1955. Vermander begins by telling the immigration story of his family from Belgium to Manitoba starting in 1889. He provides the reasons for immigration and talks about the death of his father to typhoid. He outlines his personal education and employment history, sharing stories about his extensive experiences in the postal service. Vermander provides a glimpse into the cultural experiences of the Belgian community in St. Boniface and St. Boniface itself in the first half of the twentieth century, speaking to a wide range of topics, such as labour, local economics, religion, language, music and Metis-Francophone relations. The last twenty-five minutes of the interview focus on his experiences in the...
Ce document a été traité le 10 octobre 2019 dans le cadre du projet de numérisation des enregistrements sonores par Sarah Story. Story a créé le journal d'enregistrement sonore en 2020.
Le projet de numérisation a été financé par Bibliothèque et Archives Canada.
Scope and Content
Enregistrement par Cornelius Jaenen d'un interview avec Vermander. This recording is of an interview session with [?] Vermander. Vermander was the postmaster for St. Boniface between [years] and was the Post Office Inspector for the Winnipeg District from 1934 to 1955. Vermander begins by telling the immigration story of his family from Belgium to Manitoba starting in 1889. He provides the reasons for immigration and talks about the death of his father to typhoid. He outlines his personal education and employment history, sharing stories about his extensive experiences in the postal service. Vermander provides a glimpse into the cultural experiences of the Belgian community in St. Boniface and St. Boniface itself in the first half of the twentieth century, speaking to a wide range of topics, such as labour, local economics, religion, language, music and Metis-Francophone relations. The last twenty-five minutes of the interview focus on his experiences in the postal service and he shares several stories from his years as postal inspector. [-74:47] Interview begins. [-74:40] Vermander explains that his ancestors from Flanders, Belgium immigrated to Canada to better themselves. He claims that the first people in his family that immigrated to Canada were two brothers [names]. They wrote letters home in “such glowing terms about Manitoba and the beautiful sunshine” that additional family members also immigrated in August of 1889. One year later, Vermander himself arrived from Flanders to Manitoba “during a huge snowstorm”. [-73:35] Vermander shares the reasons why his family immigrated to Manitoba. He talks about the affordable Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) rates and the land offering. He compares the cost, resources and population to Flanders. [-71:30] He explains why his father immigrated to Canada. His explains that his father was a teacher in a Catholic school and the church schools were condemned in Belgium and replaced by public schools. [-70:20] Vermander says that his father came from Passchendaele. He explains that his father farmed at St. Pierre, Manitoba prior to moving to St. Boniface where he found work at the brickyard. [-69:10] Vermander talks about a typhoid fever epidemic of 1892 that affected newcomers more than it did Canadians as they lacked immunization. His father died as a result of contracting typhoid. [-68:30] Vermander talks about his education in Flanders and at the Provencher School in Winnipeg. [-68:10] Vermander explains that at the age of 14 or 15, he quit school to go to work in an overall factory. A year later, he got a job at an office in St. Boniface. On April 1st, 1909, his boss sent him on an April Fool’s joke to his uncle, the postmaster, who offered him a position at the post office at a rate of $100 for the first 3 months. [-66:20] Vermander talks about getting a job at the Banque Canadian, which required a Flemish speaking teller. Five years later, he was appointed to the postmaster for St. Boniface. In December 1934, he was appointed Post Office Inspector for the Winnipeg District where he worked for 25 years. He retired in 1955. [-65:25] Vermander describes the early difficulties he had speaking the French language. [-64:00] Vermander talks about what struck him the most about Manitoba upon arrival. Then he explains that he had enough French to quickly immerse into society. [-63:00] Vermander shares a humorous story about attending an English language Sunday mass at St. Mary’s Parish. He talks about cursing as common on the streets. [-60:52] Vermander talks about problems with the street cars in Winnipeg. [-60:07] Vermander recalls the reaction of Winnipeggers to the announcement of WWI. [-58:42] Vermander explains the cultural groups that he encountered in St. Boniface and says that the new immigrants were from the “Old Country”, e.g. Walloons, and that these people were accepted by residents of St. Boniface. [-57:45] Vermander responds to a question about the 1919 Strike and explains that it was a dishonour to join the strike at his job. He recollects that most activity continued as normal in St. Boniface and that residents were not actively engaged. [-56:06] Vermander talks about the waves of immigration from Belgium. He explains the supports given to newcomers and how they established themselves. He states that they were able to established themselves so well that they founded the Parish of the Sacred Heart, which operated in Flemish. [-54:00] Vermander explains that of the Belgians that came between 1890 and 1904, he could not find more than 10 or 12 people who became office people; they were primarily labourers. People with good positions in Belgium did not immigrate. [-53:04] Vermander explains that many Belgians from St. Boniface worked as labourers in Winnipeg, e.g. construction, brickyards, flour mills. Few worked on dairy farms. [-52:11] Vermander talks about the post-WWI economic conditions and Belgian workers. [-51:17] Vermander is unable to speak to the economic experience of WWI veterans, but mentions that he believes they suffered a lot. [-50:27] Vermander talks about the long-term impact of the Great Depression on his life and talks about his long struggle to pay off his mortgage, interest, and penalties. [-46:37] Vermander explains that before the Great Depression, many owned lots on Richot Street with the intention to build homes but were unable to pay taxes so they lost their lots to the city. [-44:50] Vermander describes the impacts of the flood of 1916 on the sewer systems and states that for many years, residents would not build near St. Boniface Hospital until the land had been protected. [-43:54] Vermander shares a story about the men that rode the rails during the Depression. He expressed his sympathy for the men. [-40:48] Vermander talks about the role of music in his family. He tells a story about his grandfather and the band in St. Pierre. He also talks about the first Belgian band in Western Canada being started in St. Boniface. He talks about taking music lessons, becoming a band master and his music gigs. He talks about his love of music. [-37:06] Vermander states that he was not involved with the Belgian Club due to the age difference. His friends were local Francophones. [-36:18] Vermander describes his involvement in organizing and playing Belgian band music at community gatherings, events, picnics and parades. He also speaks about music competitions and the history of band music in Belgium. [-32:20] Vermander says that Archbishop Tache signed his father’s death certificate and that he knew Bishop Langevin. [-31:56] Vermander says that Louis Riel was often spoken about among the Metis and Francophones. He tells a story about attending a meeting of the Winnipeg Historical Society and challenging a historian. He mentions the anti-French and anti-Catholic sentiment present in society, particularly in Ontario. [-29:52] Vermander recalls St. Mary’s Academy being located near the Frontenac Hotel. [-29:12] Vermander speaks about how he learned about the history of Louis Riel prior to coming to Canada. He attended school with Metis boys at the Vermette School. He was on intimate terms with Alexander Riel, the brother of Louis Riel. He had also visited the Riel family home several times and met Metis leaders. He met famous Ambroise Lepine when he was the age of 77. [-26:50] Vermander states the Louis Riel history was not taught in the schools because “of you taught Riel history you had to show your sympathies.” [-26:20] Vermander explains that he was sympathetic for the Metis people as he had two uncles (Charles and Felix Minu) who married Metis women and were close with the Metis people. Their relations included Andre Benoit Lavoie LaRiviere, the interpreter between Chief Sitting Bull and the Canadian Forces in Saskatchewan. He talks LaRiviere’s death. [-24:45] Vermander speaks about his work travels after the Great Depression. [-22:45] Vermander explains postmasters and inspector relations. He also talks about the efficiency of the postal system. [-20:45] Vermander tells a story about a postal robbery and his response to the situation. [-13:44] Vermander explains that he travelled much with his job as an inspector. He talks about his travel by train and his experiences on the road. [-11:46] Vermander talks about mail delivery and the road conditions in rural and Northern Manitoba. He shares some stories about his experiences with the post offices and interactions with postal workers. He tells a humorous story about used stamps. [-1:44] Vermander tells about getting the stamp machine in St. Boniface. [-1:14] Vermander talks about the “dirty” letters sent to government leaders and clergy. [-0:00] Recording ended.
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Keywords: Belgian history, Francophone-Manitoban history, Metis history, immigration, postal history, post office, postal inspection, labour, working class, factory, housing, flood, music, epidemics, WWI, 1919 Strike, WWII, Great Depression, post-war years, language Names (business): Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), Banque Canadian, Canada Post, Names (people): Archbishop Tache, Bishop Langevin, Andre Riel, Charles and Felix Minu, Andre Benoit Lavoie LaRiviere, Sitting Bull, Ambroise Lepine, Louis Riel, Alexandre Riel, Names (places): Belgium, Flanders, Passchendaele Manitoba, St. Pierre, Winnipeg, St. Boniface, Saskatchewan, Tache Names (other institutions and associations): Provencher School, Parish of the Sacred Heart, Canadian Forces, Winnipeg Historical Society, St. Boniface Hospital, Belgian Club, St. Mary’s Parish, Frontenac Hotel, St. Mary’s Academy, Vermette School
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