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Albertine Lapensée - The Miracle Maid

by Jennifer Conway - Women's Hockey
Submitted by Wendy Anctil
b. 10 Aug 1898 in Cornwall to parents Philip and Metilda Lapensée

As Canadian men traded their hockey sticks for guns and headed to the battlegrounds of Europe, hockey began to suffer. In Montreal, the Wanderers made the patriotic gesture of offering free tickets to soldiers and their families but only if the soldier was wounded. Clearly hockey needed help, and women skated in to fill the gap. "Perfect ice is promised, and it is probable that the match will attract the largest crowd that has ever witnessed a girls' game in Ottawa," claimed the March 4, 1916 Ottawa Citizen. The reason? The woman called "The Miracle Maid," Albertine Lapensée. The twenty-six year old Miss Lapensée played for her hometown Cornwall Victorias. Her hockey debut came in January 1916 against Ottawa and she scored five of the six goals in the Cornwall victory. Immediately after her debut game, Ottawa players complained that she was really a man. Suspicions and accusations dogged her the rest of her hockey career.

A week after her debut, Lapensée scored four goals in an 8-0 shutout against the Montreal Westerns. A crowd of about three thousand turned out to watch her play. Having been warned about the strength of Lapensée's shot, the Montreal goalie chose to wear a baseball catcher's mask to protect herself, which places her ten years ahead of Elizabeth Graham, who is usually credited with wearing the first goalie mask. The Montreal players also yanked off Lapensée's toque at one point in the game to see how long her hair was. She had braids that fell past her shoulders. The continuous rumors about Lapensée caused the Cornwall Standard to vouch for her. Miss Lapensée, it seems, "played more with her brothers and other boys than with her girlfriends, and this accounts for the masculine style of play she has developed." Further more, "scores of people in East Cornwall have known her since her infancy." Albertine played on, indifferent to the rumors, and the fans didn't seem to mind too much either, as a reported crowd of three thousand once came to watch her play. In one game she scored fifteen goals, and when the Victorias agreed to play against the Ottawa Alerts the Vics' manager had to guarantee Lapensée's appearance by contract. She even behaved like her male counterparts off the ice. She once refused to play until she had been paid, which nearly caused a riot.

She also wasn't afraid to fight. During one game against the Westerns, Lapensée was checked early and often by a Miss Deloro. After one particularly hard check, Lapensée took off her gloves and told her opponent to knock it off. Miss Deloro then challenged her by saying, "I'm not afraid of you, even if you are from Cornwall. I'll be glad to meet you after the game and we'll settle this the way men do." The promised fight didn't take place, as the victorious Cornwall team had to rush to catch their train. Frustrated by their inability to stop her and in an effort to find an answer to the Miracle Maid, the Montreal Westerns found Ada Lalond. Thought to be a prodigy one day, the next day hope was shattered when it was revealed Lalond was actually a boy hoping to play against Lapensée.

Although scoring records for the time are incomplete, they indicate Albertine scored 80 percent of Cornwall's goals in the 1916-1917 season. The next season, Lapensée led her team to an undefeated season. After two spectacular seasons, Albertine Lapensée vanished. There is no record of her playing hockey again, at least as Albertine Lapensée. Family legend says she went to New York in 1918 and had a sex change operation. She then married, and settled down to run a gas station near Cornwall, all under the name of Albert Smyth. Truth or just legend? No one seems to know for certain, not even her family. All that's left is the faded memory of the Miracle Maid from Cornwall.

Miss Lapensee Alone Beats The Alerts

Ottawa Journal, 20 January 1917
Submitted by Wendy Anctil

The speed and stickhandling of Miss Albertine Lapensee was too much for the Ottawa Alerts, and the Cornwall Ladies Hockey Club won the match at the Arena last night by the score of 6 to 3. Miss Lapensee notched five of the six goals her team secured, and during every minute of the game was head and shoulders over her opponents and team mates alike.

The Cornwall girl proved a wonder at the game last winter, but she is much better this season. She has had all the rough edges smoothed off in her skating and stickhandling. Time after time last night, though checked by three or four of her opponents, she would get away and go the length of the ice to drive the rubber at Miss Laberge.

The only girl on the ice that was in her class at all was Miss Edith Anderson, of the Alerts. Miss Anderson was much the best of the Ottawa team and scored all three goals that they secured. Outside of Miss Lapensee, the Cornwall team was outclassed by the Alerts, and the latter would have won away off only for the sensational "Miss".

Cornwall -- Miss Dawson, Miss Carpenter, Miss Lapensee, Miss McDonald, Miss Lefebvre, Miss Bourgeon and Miss Masson.
Alerts -- Miss Leberge, Miss Hagen, Miss Murray, Miss D. Quinney, Miss Brown, Miss H. Quinney, Miss Edith Anderson, Miss Bessie Ault, Miss Eva Ault, Miss Lill McCarthy, Miss Loasby.

Lucie Leroux (Amell/Hamel)

© Down The Lane by George Wilson
The Cornwall Standard, 21 September 1934
Submitted by Wendy Anctil
b. 10 Sep 1853 in St-Andrews

Aged Lady Has Watched City Progress From Village Stage
...81 years behind her and in the enjoyment of splendid health, the mother of 12 children, ten of whom are living, is the pleasant experience of Mrs. Lucy Leroux of 5 Walton Avenue, who has had a residence in Cornwall of close....

Mrs. Leroux's 81st birthday occurred on September 10 and on the previous evening she was surrounded by members of her family who reside in Cornwall and a few intimate friends, and a family dinner was partaken of at the home of one of her daughters, Mrs. Allan Sabourin, 24 McConnell Avenue North, whose home is next door to that of Mrs. Leroux. The vulnerable lady, despite her age, was as young in spirit as the youngest member of the party, and enjoyed the assembly of her family and friends immensely. To mark the happy anniversary, Mrs. Leroux received many nice gifts from her family and friends, as well as the congratulations of all, with the added wish that she should be spared to enjoy, in her present good health, many more birthdays. The mailman brought her a good many birthday cards and letters, and altogether, her 81 st birthday was indeed a happy one. Attending the dinner from out-of-town were Mr. and Mrs. Adrien Dextras, Armand Leboeuf and Miss LaRose, all of Montreal.

Mrs. Leroux was born at St-Andrews, a few miles North of Cornwall on September 10, 1853, a daughter of Louis Amell and his wife Mary Gadbois, her maiden name being Lucy Amell. At the age of 19 years she was married to Daniel Leroux on September 30, 1872, at St-Andrews, by Rev. Father Hay. Mr. Leroux died in Cornwall on May 7, 1893, in his 44th year so that Mrs. Leroux has been a widow for over 41 years. After their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Leroux resided in Alexandria for a number of years. They then moved to Seward, Nebraska, where they made their home for five years. Then they moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where they remained for three years, afterwards returning to St-Andrews to the old home section. In the fall of 1888 the family decided to come to Cornwall. Some of their children were growing up and facilities for school and employment were greater in Cornwall than in the smaller community of St-Andrews and these facts prompted Mr. and Mrs. Leroux to make the move. That was 46 years ago and Mrs. Leroux has made her home here continuously...

...became ill and five years after taking up residence here, he passed away, leaving his wife to bring up the large family. She measured up to the task which lay before her in a manner most creditable to her, and it is little wonder that her children show great reverence for her as the years creep along, for she surely was a good and brave mother...

...46 years of residence in Cornwall, Mrs. Leroux has seen the town make advance after advance. Each improvement in living conditions came as a welcome advancement in the home, as the turn of an electric light button was a great help over cleaning chimneys and filling lamps with coal oil. as was the advent of the waterworks system to residences instead of hauling water in a pail from one's own well or that of a kindly neighbor. The electric street cars, too, came as a boon to pedestrians, as people were enabled to go from one point in turn to another for a mere five cents, where, under the old rule, an hour's laborious walk might be necessary to reach ones destination. Even yet, Mrs. Leroux finds the electrics quite handy when she has occasion to go up town, as her home on Walton Avenue, is separated by a considerable distance from Cornwall's Broadway. For shorter walks, such as to points in East Cornwall, or to attend to her religious duties at the Church of the Nativity, where she is a faithful and regular attendant, she covers the distance to and fro on foot, being still quite smart and active, for which she is truly...

Mrs. Leroux's twelve children, in the order of their birth, are as follows: Hubert Leroux, born in Alexandria who died at the age of 11 months. Louis D. Leroux, born in Alexandria, now an employee of the Cornwall Electric Street Railway Company and conductor of a passenger car. Mary Elizabeth Leroux (now Mrs. Frank Blanchette, of Massena, NY), born in Alexandria. Julia Ann Leroux (now Mrs. Norman Taillon, of Williamsburg, ON), born in Alexandria. Magdaleine Leroux (now Mrs. Louis Banville, of Cornwall), born in Seward, Nebraska. Margaret Adda Leroux (Mrs. James Gagnier, of Valleyfield, QC), born in Seward, Nebraska. Moses Leroux, born in Lincoln, Nebraska, died in Lowell, Massachusetts March 19, 1930. William Albert Leroux, known to his friends as "Dan" Leroux, of Cornwall, born in St-Andrews. Catherine Sophia Leroux (Mrs. John Lemieux, of Cornwall), born in St-Andrews. Sarah Amelia Leroux (Mrs. Allan Sabourin of Cornwall), born in Cornwall. Josephine Leroux (Mrs. Philip Lapensée, of Falher, Alberta), born in Cornwall. George Angus Leroux, of Cornwall, now manager of the Canadian National Telegraphs, born in Cornwall.

Mrs. Leroux has a long lineage. She has 42 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren. If she and all her children and her children's children were gathered in one community, they would form a respectably good sized village, which might very aptly be termed Lerouxville. One of her grandchildren is Kenneth Leroux, second son of Mr. and Mrs. George Leroux of Cornwall. A peculiarity of grandmother and grandson is the fact that both celebrate their birthday on the same date, for Kenneth was also born on September 10. When Mrs. Leroux was observing her 81st birthday, Kenneth Leroux was quietly celebrating his 16th birthday the same day, so that double congratulations were quite in order, though there is a difference of 65 years in their ages. Mrs. Leroux is not only Kenneth Leroux's grandmother but she is also his...

Memories of Farran's Point, A Village lost forever

The House That Jack Built ©

by Joan Donnelly-Ellis

Fatigued from years of gleaning storms of snow, sleet, and rain,
I was yet an innocent and therefore unashamed.
Her smothered walls creaked and her shingled roof leaked,
The House That Jack Built some called it.
But that is where I enjoyed so much fun,
In spite of the scarcity of both grub and mon.
With Imagination as my playmate and Time as my friend,
I’d return to that humble shanty and explore once again.
I’d trade my white luxury for that battered tin tub,
Where I soaked clean after molding pies from mud,
On the threshold of The House That Jack Built.
The trip-provoking linoleum was cold ‘neath orphaned feet,
And while we youngest cuddled, the elders rose from sleep.
Grandpa whittled and kindled a fire, Ma saw Pa to his work day,
And soon the heated kitchen melted the window’s frost away.
The alarm that coaxed us wee tots from an iron-framed bed,
Was often the aroma of freshly baked bread,
The child who won the scramble downstairs to the main floor,
Was she whose feet claimed center seat on the open oven door.
Dreaded were trips to the outhouse during fierce wind or storm,
And when I’d race Fear back over the well-worn track,
To the cabin where I was born…
I grew fonder of The House That Jack Built.
It wasn’t unusual to answer a tap on the door to find a lonely hobo there,
Hungering for a meal when we had less than our share,
Still any drifter who approached was treated kindly,
While Ma delivered take-out meals only,
When Pa was home why he’d invite the tramp to tea.
Honoring The House That Jack Built.
When the calm replaced the storm of a July torrential rain, many kids would run,
To grass-lined, water-filled ditches and play,
Until intoxicated from over-indulgence of fun.
Those same trenches became skating rinks during Winter,
As did the dirt roads, St. Lawrence River, and winding creeks,
But bonfires raged aglow, easing the nip of ice and snow,
That clung to scarves, mittens, eyelashes, and seats.
Tiny fingers and toes lost battles aplenty with Ole Jack Frost as did many an ear,
But with painful unthaw of piggy, lobe, or paw, help was usually near.
Family member, friend, or neighbor would heal the bites,
With massage from hands that knew,
The shivering agony that Ole Jack Frost could put a winter lover through.
During Summer’s sweet vacation and sometimes on a school night,
When most were safe in Dreamland and the Village bathed in moonlight,
Friends would toss gravel near the bedroom window, and loudly whisper my name,
Then wait for me to join them in a majority-ruled game.
I’d crawl through open window and grasp ledge with strong hand,
Then grope for shoulder or ladder with dangling feet, before leaping to land.
Occasionally we’d chase lightning-bugs down to the river
Where sometime sailors were strolling about on anchored ship,
We could dive, swim, and play in the usual way,
But secretly ‘neath moon and starlight it felt more hip.
Oft times we’d pursue tree-climbing, racing as close to summit as we could,
It was on one such occasion I fell to the ground,
Disfiguring many branches on the way down.
It was awhile before I stood!
Almost crawled back to The House That Jack Built.
Grandpa would transform tree branches into bows and arrows,
And sometimes a nifty slingshot.
With jack-knife and chunk of wood he’d carve whistles,
And delight curious children with gifts of many a spinning top.
Each evening Grandpa would kneel by his bed I’d strain ears to hear his prayers,
Then he’d straighten his back and his bones would snap,
As I’d creep down the tattle-tale stairs of The House That Jack Built.
When Pa had time off from his Section man’s job with the CNR,
He’d begin some home improvement but rarely got very far.
Because a neighbor would often show up with a watch needing repair,
Or he’d be obliged to help dig a well or cut some fella’s hair.
Pa often labored long into the night with tools of slight degree,
With kerosene lamp as his only source of light by which to see.
With deep concentration and God-given skill, Pa persisted ‘til victory was won…
The time-piece was fit-as-a-fiddle before arrival of morning Sun.
The oldest girls helped nurse we younger four through measles and mumps,
With love, homemade chicken soup and Salada Tea.
After recovering our Great Lake Sailor brothers often rescued us
From branch of tolerant Maple or Willow tree.
When glass fragments or slivers pierced foot or hand,
Pa removed the party-poopers with tweezers and ease,
Then shoo patient away with a smile, making the injury somehow worthwhile,
I felt pirouetted and squeezed... there in The House That Jack Built.
Frequently we youngest four gathered bottles that were strewn in ditches,
And along the railroad track.
Gliding our feet over well-worn steel rails on our eager journey back.
We'd exchange empties for jaw-breakers and bubble-gum at Rose’s General Store,
And whenever I agreed to sing them a song,
We’d be given ice-cream cones for the deed that was far from a chore.
On the way home we’d pluck dandelions, buttercups, and daisies,
To present Ma with a colorful bouquet,
I’d add to it a rose or two if a certain neighbor was away.
If walls of home had open eyes and listening ears of course they’d witness and hear,
The muttered complaints and landing though faint of many a fallen tear.
Still, there was no television to carry us to places no child should go,
No boob-tube attempting to make us believe in all that just wasn't so.
We’d no telephone enslaving us in idle prattle-prat,
There was no couch-potatoing, no pigging out and getting fat.
We weren’t saints and some of our shenanigans surely caused the structure to tilt,
Yet we somehow felt all safe and secure in The House They Say Jack Built.
Then one day city slickers arrived at our door,
Said soon we would be living in Farran's Point no more,
The house where Ma had birthed nine,
Our Haven of Liberty that rested amid Willow, Maple and Pine,
Was part of some Seaway Power Project and Jack's House would be torn down
And we were forced to relocate , to leave our delightful riverside town.
Gone would be the tall, proud trees, wild berries , rolling hills, winding creek and close friend,
Gone the canal that ships sailed through never would I cheerfully view again.
Gone the long tall grass we'd run through barefoot after a swim at the River we cherished dear,
Gone the smiles from the faces of the Lost Villagers as eyes tried to hold back each tear.

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Stormont County GenWeb Coordinator - Wendy Anctil | updated May 2019

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