Please note: One of my loyal followers emailed to me asking for a clarification about some data on my last blog. They are correct; in the first sentence of the article below the picture of St. Michael’s School, the original author wrote that “she interviewed PM Beaupre in 1948 and that he was 98 at the time”. He may have looked 98 , but actually he was only 88. Perhaps it was a typo. PM Beaupre died in 1956 at the age of 96. Thanks so much for your question.
I am sure every family passed down it’s sayings from one generation to the next and ours was no exception. My mother, Claire Beaupre, seemed to have a saying for every occasion. I find myself frequently repeating these sayings and have heard on numerous occasions my siblings doing the same. The following is a list of these much beloved terms:
Bless Your Little Pointed Head….her standard reply after we couldn’t find the object right in front of our nose or when we uttered something particularly idiotic.
You Have To Be Dead To Be A Martyr….. although normally a very kind and loving mother, her patience would wear thin at times when we would complain bitterly at our lot in life
No Sense No Feeling……when we would walk around with our coats flying open and no hats or mitts in cold weather
I Love You All Dearly, But Next Time Around It’s Goldfish….. this was a certain indication that we were skating on very thin ice
They Have Guardian Angels and Insurance Policies…..this was uttered in answer to someone asking Claire why she didn’t seem worried that we were playing on the railings of a bridge.
A male friend would ask my mother how she was feeling? Her instant reply (with a twinkle in her eye) was always, “Fine, Want To Feel?”
When anyone would express concern about dying and going to Hell, my mother would just laugh and say “Don’t worry, they’ll have to stoke Hell a lot longer to get it hot enough for you”, OR, “Well at least you’ll be warm”.
As a teenager, when I would ask her to buy me another pair of shoes, she would inevitably say… If They’re Looking At Your Feet, Then You’re Doing Something Wrong.
Another gem when things were going right: God is good and the Devil ain’t bad
We often had guests at the dinner table, but when it was just the family, we were allowed to pick up a steak or chop bone so that we could enjoy every morsel….but only to a point. If we were knawing too long or too noisily, Claire would lean over, look us straight in the eye and say…would you like to take that down on the floor?… A clear signal to put the bone down.
Claire’s best advice to us was Be Careful What You Wish For, You’re Almost Certain To Get It!
Claire probably heard some of these saying from her parents. Helen Magdalene Small, nickname, Henner, her mother, also had some special phrases:
Just An Inch To Say I Tasted It……. her standard reply when asked if she would have dessert. I understand she would then proceed to eat the entire dessert with enthusiasm.
I Never Closed My Eyes…… when asked if she had a good night’s sleep. On at least two occasions my father, Basil Derek Keane, found this most frustrating as the family pub, which Henner lived above was vandalized twice over the years and when asked if she heard anything she replied…I didn’t hear a thing!
What Would The Neighbours Think!…..this was very common of this and previous generations. What the neighbours thought was of paramount importance, and to act in a refined and upstanding manner was everything.
Indulge me now as I step outside Beaupre family content to add some of my father’s line. The Keane’s were from London England and before that Ireland. In London my father’s family lived in a district of London where they would have been considered Cockney. I assume some of his mother’s sayings, and his, were derived from London and Ireland.
Eat It Against Ya Do…..this is still one of my favourites. It meant, I know you don’t want to eat it, but be quiet and eat it anyway.
Put That In Your Sky Rocket…… when handed something from my father that he wanted us to put in our pocket. I know this was part of the Cockney rhyming slang.
Tell Me What It Is And I’ll Tell You What It Eats! ……..usually heard when we were behind a slow driver and my father was anxious to get home to his lunch after church on Sunday
The Pig Will Be Up In A Minute…..another one of my father’s gems which he said every time he burped. I’m still not really clear about that one.
If any family members can think of any other sayings, please add them in the comments and I’ll include them in an updated version. Thanks!
I was lucky enough to purchase a copy of “Celebrating the Centennial The Church of the Good Thief 1894-1994“. It contains a wealth of family history as well as stories about the Village of Portsmouth. One of the chapters outlines the “Chronology of St. Michael’sSchool“. “ The first record of a separate school in Portsmouth dates back to 1850 when one was established in a frame house on Richard St. near the waterfront. The next school, on McDonald St was built in 1859. A subscription list was put out at the time to which many citizens, both Catholic and Protestant, contributed…… The subscription list was carefully preserved by P.M. Beaupre, whose grandfather, Edward, was one of the original subscribers and an officer of the local school board. The recording of donations was in pounds, shillings and pence.” P.M.Beaupre is Claire’s father. And of special note, Edward Beaupre was P.M’s father, NOT his grandfather. This is a perfect example of why researching the past can be so tricky.
We then fast forward to 1925, which is about the time young Claire would have started school. “In 1925 the building was enlarged to accommodate junior classes. Prior to this time the junior students had been taught in a nearby house, which was also the home to the Sisters of Providence who taught in the parish”. The house they are referring to is behind the Church of the Good Thief. Less than a decade ago, that same house came up for sale. I was living in Vancouver at the time and joked with my husband that we should buy it. He said he wouldn’t take the chance because we would probably be struck by lighting as I was a fallen away Catholic!
1934Until 1934 the school had two schoolrooms and two teachers. From 1911 onward, teachers had been provided by the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul, who by this time resided at St. Mary’s of the Lake in Kingston. The Separate School Board had requested the sisters to teach at St. Michael’s School the pupils from the orphanage at St. Mary’s of the Lake.
After graduating from primary school, Claire then attend The Notre Dame Convent at the corner of Bagot St. and Johnson St. in Kingston. She had many stories to tell about her education with the nuns. My favourite is when Claire and her all female classmates approached one of the younger more “progressive” nuns to ask if the nun would approach the Mother Superior to obtain permission for the graduating class to hold a dance in honour of their graduation. This had never been done before, and to even ask was considered outrageous. The class said they would make all the decorations. cover all the expenses of the entertainment and even pay to have the gymnasium floor redone after the dance. After many sleepless nights, and much toing and froing, permission was finally granted. I guess the young nun was pretty persuasive because the Mother Superior even declared that the other nuns could stay up late, bedtime was usually 9:00pm, to see the girls in their dresses etc. The whole Convent was thrown into a hive of excitement and activity. After months of preparation and anticipation, the big day was only a week away. Everything was ordered and arranged, all the dresses were made and all the corsages were ordered. And then in one moment it all came crashing down. One of the older nuns had overheard two of the girls talking about their dates. Practically fainting on the way, the nun went straight to tell the Mother Superior what she had heard. The decision was swift and final…the dance was cancelled!!!! In all the planning and preparations, no one had thought to mention to the nuns that there would be boys attending. As far as the girls were concerned, that was a given. But of course, the nuns saw it differently. The idea that men would be walking the halls of the Convent was just too terrible to contemplate. No amount of pleading could change the Mother Superior’s mind. The dance was cancelled and there would be no more discussion. It was a very disappointed graduation class that year. I know the younger generations reading this story will be baffled, but that’s just the way it was in 1930’s!
In Claire’s day, they had different terminology to describe the various grades. It was something like Junior Matriculation and Senior Matriculation. If any of my followers remember the correct names and to which grades they referred, I would love you to share in Comments. Thanks.
The picture above was taken at the backdoor of her home in Portsmouth, Frontenac County, Ontario. Claire was 19.
Happy Birthday to my mother Claire Beaupre Keane born on April 27th, 1918. She was the youngest of 15 children to Peter Moffat Beaupre (1860-1956) and Helen Magdalene Small (1882-1969). At the time of her birth her father was 56 years old and her mother was 36. Her eldest brother Stanislas John Beaupre (1881-1949) was 37. Peter Moffat Beaupre had 2 wives, Claire was born the youngest child of the second marriage.
Claire was the apple of her father’s eye, probably because she was the baby and because the 5 children before her were all boys. Claire once told me that her mother, Helen preferred girls, so that each time she became pregnant she would pick out girl’s names. When the children turned out to be boys, she just saved the chosen girl’s names so that when my mother was born she was named Claire Zita Martina Teresa Helen Bridget Mary Ann! Of course officially she was christened Claire Zita Beaupre. When Claire’s older siblings went traveling or off to war, they would write home to little Claire and address the envelope with all 9 of her names.
When the picture above was taken, her father was 6’4″ in a time when the average height of men was 5’7″. Her mother was approximately 5’8″ when the average height of women was 5’5″. Claire by this time had grown into a statuesque beauty of 5’10”. An amazon in her generation. Lucky for her, she met and married Basil Derek Keane (1920-1972) who was 6’4″ tall.