1. Jean Baptiste Raientonni Canadien (Big John) & Malvina McComber of Kahnawake | Series: Families of Caughnawaga
A few weeks ago reader Shawlee Canadien came across my vintage postcard of Big John of Kahnawake negotiating the Lachine Rapidsand left the following comment: I just stumbled across your site. Big John is my great, great, great…. grandfather. My name is Shawlee Canadien. I was hoping you might know about my family, and could tell us more. It was such an honour to hear from a descendant of one of Caughnawaga’s most historically prominent peopleand since I noticed that you can read alot online about Big John’s achievements but there’s no extended discussion of his family’s genealogical roots, I’ve prepared a series of posts exploring some pre-1920 genealogical information about –
The Canadiens – a Mohawk Family of Caughnawaga/Kahnawake
The First Generation
1.According to hismarriage certificate, Jean Baptiste Raientonni (aka Big John) was the son of Ignace Briwakennhen Canadien and Louise Konwanonwehon. Jean Baptiste was born in 1843 in Quebec and died on February 16th, 1919. He married Malvina McComber on 16 Feb 1863 in St-Francois-Xavier Church in Caughnawaga (Laprairie Quebec, Canada). Malvina was a member of another well-known Kahnawake family – the McCombers. Her parents were Gervais McComber and Agathe Pauline/Hyppoline Vincent DeJean. Malvina was born in 1845 in Kahnawake and died after 1911.
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Children from this marriage included:
+ 2 M i. John Ariwakenha Canadien – born 1866, Quebec(m. Marie Karakwiio French) + 3 M ii. Joseph Atihentonko Canadien – born 1869 Kahnawake (m. Anne Katsitsioronkas Diaume) + 4 M iii. Alexandre – Louis Tonaokate/Tanahokathe Canadien – born 1871, Kahnawake (m. Celine Guerin) + 5 M iv. George Kasennakeron Canadien, born 1875 , Kahnawake (m.Marie Karonhienhawe Laforce) 6 M v. Thomas Anenharison Canadien born 1880 Kahnawake + 7 F vi. Cecilia/Cecile Tierente Canadien – born 1874, Kahnawake (m. Ignace Skahetatii Jacobs) + 8 M vii. Jean Baptiste Lindo Tiohatekwen Canadien – born 1884, Kahnawake (Anne Tekonwakennion McComber) 9 M viii. Frank/Francois/Xavier Canadien – born 1887 Kahnawake. (Note: Birth dates extracted from various census documents are notoriously unreliable, but good indictors of birth order)
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Jean Canadien and Malvina Mcomber’s Family in Quebec Census Records
At the time of the 1871 census, the oldest I’ve examined for far for this couple, the family consisted of Baptiste Ariston-ne (30 yrs.old) and Malvina Maccomber (25yrs. Old) and two girls; 17 year old Marie and 11 year old Amanda. Malvina was listed as Scottish while her husband and children were identified as Native American (Sauvage). Others in the household included 41 yr old Pauline Vincent (of French origin) and two little boys – 6 yr. Old Johnny and 2 yr. Old Joseph Maccomber. I presume that this Pauline Vincent is Malvina’s mother Agathe Pauline/Hyppoline Vincent de Jean. They were all living in the Mohawk (Iroquois) community of Caughnawaga – now known as Kahnawake. this is the most exciting census documents I examined because in these, Jean Baptiste’s occupation is “voyageur”. What a great peek back into Native and Canadian history!
At the time of the 1881 census Jean Bte and Malvina Canadien were still living in Caughnawaga but now had six children. Their eldest son (15 year old John A.) was working as a clerk while their younger children 12 yr old Joseph, 10 yr old Alex, 8 yr old Celere and 6 yr old George) were still in school. There was also had a little baby in the home – Thomas Canadien. The last person in the household was Malvina’s 54 yr. old widowed mother Agathe McComber (born 1827). Jean Baptiste, his children and Agathe McComber are described as Indigenous while Malvina is listed as of Scottish origin. Jean Baptiste is now described as a “navigateur” – which translates as navigator or pilot.
By the time of the 1901 census Baptiste and Malvina Canadien’s household had shrunk. They were living with three children: Cecilia, Baptiste and Frank. Malvina was still listed as being of Scottish origin (Ecossaise) while the rest of the family was described as Indian (Indienne). Jean Baptiste’s occupation was “labourer”
By 1911 John and Malvina Canadien had only one of their children living with them – their son Francois (known in the previous census as Frank). Their other offspring were living in separate households and will be discussed in the next post in this series.
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Canada Census 1871
Canada Census 1881.
Canada Census 1901.
Canada Census 1911.
Canadien, Shawnee ( confirmation of Native Surnames)
Le Centre de généalogie francophone d’Amérique. Groupe BMS2000
Registres: Paroisse St-Francoix-Xavier, Co. Laprairie, P.Q.
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Comment from descendant John Borrello
My Great Grand Father was Anton Canadien/ grand father Jean Canadien Aka Canadian …. My Grand farther Jean Canadian married His wife My grand mother Rose Cross …. I Know she was First Cousin to chief Poking Fire From Kahnawake ( George Mccomber…was his given name at birth).
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