The Burke Family of River Bourgeois (later, of Louisdale) begins...

Follow these links to see the ancestry of the Burke family, and the Burke family's Acadian roots...

For information on Abraham Alfred Damien Burke and descendants, please see below...

To jump to the page about Fred and Ellen Jane's children, click here...

Abraham Alfred Damien Burke

Fred Burke, circa 1908.

"Fred" Burke was born in River Bourgeois, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, on February 14, 1884. Fred was the first-born child of Eugenie Landry and Damien Burke. Fred's only sibling was Celeste Anne Burke. Fred and his family are descended from Antoine Bourg and Antoinette Landry, and are historically Acadian.

From the transcribed River Bourgeois church records... (This link was found by searching for RBParish.html. Should it change, try the search.)

Born : Bourke, Abraham Alfred, Feb 14, 1884, to Damien Bourke & Eugenie Landry

Fred's godparents were Abraham Bourke and Anne Landry.

Fred married Ellen Jane Thibeau (born November 23, 1886) from nearby Thibeauville, which is north off the highway between River Bourgeois and St. Peter's. In the River Bourgeois church records, you can find their marriage record - Alfred Bourque, son of Damien Bourque and Eugenie Landry, marrying Helene Jeanne Thibaut, daughter of John Thibaut and Anne Robertson, January 8th, 1908, witnessed by John P. Bourque and John Thibaut. The priest's name was J. Chouinard.

Up until c1905, Fred would have lived with his parents on the inherited land passed on from Urbain Cordeau (his grandfather's father-in-law) to his grandfather, then on to his father. When the family moved to Pointe à Bouleau (c1905), the inherited land remained the property of Fred's father. In the 1911 census, Fred was listed as head of a household, married to Ellen Jane with two children (Lillian and Angela). They would have been living on the lot two over from where Damien and Eugenie were, on the point.

Census reports...

In this snippet from the 1911 Census, the family name is spelled "Bourque". Lillian and Angela are mentioned. Fred and father Damien are both noted as being fishermen. Family members are noted as being French Roman Catholics. Note: "Cannes" is a municipal division of River Bourgeois, on the south side.

To view the 1921 and 1931 census reports centered upon Fred and Ellen Jane, open the census reports page.

Photos of Fred and Ellen Jane...

Fred and Ellen Jane - wedding photo, 1908

Above is the house Fred and Ellen Jane lived in while in River Bourgeois. Later, Fred and Ellen Jane settled in Louisdale. Below are pictures of the house in Louisdale, with more pictures on the Louisdale page.

Continued history...

Urbain Cordeau, Fred's great grandfather, had left his land grant property to two of his sons - Damien (Sr.) and Cyprien. Damien Jr. inherited the land from his father. After moving from this land to Pointe à Bouleau c1905, Damien Jr. must have turned title of the land over to Fred. In 1917, Fred sold the land to Peter Landry about the time he married Fred's sister Celeste Anne.

Fred had taken a job with Stewart's store (which probably preceded moving to Louisdale, and was probably the reason for moving there). Fred must have become something like general manager as he was making very good money for that time. The family was quite well off, never wanting (per daughter Theresa).

Between 1909 and 1927, Fred and Ellen Jane had thirteen children (see details below). Ellen Jane took care of the household with the assistance of her daughters, a maid named Belin (who lived across the street) and a gardener. The Burke household was a mix of English and French. Their religion was Catholic. Sometime before the birth of their son Bernard (in December of 1921), the family moved to Louisdale from their home on Pointe à Bouleau (in River Bourgeois).

Fred worked at Stewart's store (above) until something "political" happened. Stewart was a conservative. Bets were on during an election at the time as to who would win. When the liberals won, Fred was fired. There is something about an impromptu parade through the town, cheering and a team of oxen wagered, when the election was decided. Fred then went on to open his own store on the Burke property in Louisdale, apart from the existing house, at the roadside.

In recorded history, liberal Mackenzie King was elected in 1921 (to 1926), again in 1926 (to 1930), and again in 1935 (to 1948). In 1935, Theresa Burke was 10. When asked how old she was when her father started the store, she thought 10 (without prompting), so the store seems to have been opened in 1935. Theresa said that the store did not last too long, perhaps 3 or 4 years. Her father had gone on to a job as car-ferrier in Port Hawksbury, and her brother Herman began running the store. It reportedly went under due to customer debts. Herman turned it into a pool room and it stayed open as this for a short time.

Theresa remembers... The Louisdale house's kitchen pantry with bins full of sugar, flour, and other staples. They had a wood/coal stove for heating, and a pump in the sink area for "running" water. She remembers her grandmother coming over to spin yarn every year, which Belin and the Burke sisters would knit into quantities of sweaters, leggings, mitts, scarves, and other clothes. The Burkes had a car with a radio in it - which is how, on a drive to Arichat, she and her father first heard that Canada was going to war. (They had driven up some hill to look out over the ocean as her father took some time to think about the news.) She remembers her brothers and sisters sharing rooms as they grew up, until each in turn moved on and out - the older boys went off to war, and the girls went on to work locally and in Halifax - all but Frances and Donald to eventually marry and start families of their own.

Theresa remembers... her father and mother being quite charitable, giving of what they had - in goods and store credit - to families in the area. This contributed to Fred's ultimately having to close his store when, during and following the depression, many bad customer debts accumulated.

Theresa remembers... While the Burke family was well enough off, many families in the vicinity were not. A heartfelt incident that she remembered all her life was the time a poor father happened into the family store where a container of molasses had tipped over and spilled its contents onto the sawdust-covered floor. The man saw that the molasses was going to be thrown out after it was cleaned up, so he asked if he could have it - with the intention of filtering out the sawdust and removing the dirt somehow so he could feed it to his children.

Ellen Jane took ill from Bright's disease, a disease of the kidneys, and what probably became chronic depression.

Theresa remembers... that her mother may have been ill for as long as two years, spending most of her time upstairs in a bedroom. She was still managing the household to a great degree by having people and information brought to her. Jean was her primary caregiver. As the disease took more and more from her, Ellen Jane became less able, and more disassociated.

Ellen Jane later suffered a stroke and finally died May 10, 1942, at age 56. She is buried in Louisdale.

Cam's note: Ellen Jane's mother Annie Thibeau died at age 54.

Fred re-married - a woman named Annabelle Perrin from Port Hawkesbury. He and Annabelle moved to Port Hawkesbury where Fred had taken a job on the car ferry that ran from the mainland to Cape Breton Island. The house was left to different members of the Burke family to live in, notably Herman and his family. Herman passed the house on to Bernard, who sold it to the local government as part of a land acquisition deal for a proposed new highway. A story goes that everything valuable in the house was removed, including some windows. The house was burned down shortly after.

Fred and Annabelle had three children : Patsy, Herman, and Gerry.

Annabelle died c2002.

Fred died in 1957, in Port Hawkesbury, at the age of 74. He is buried in Louisdale.

The children of Fred Burke and Ellen Jane Thibeau...

Fred and Ellen Jane had thirteen children - in order of birth : Lillian, Angela, Frances, Arthur, Garvey, Cecilia, Donald, Jean, Herman, Helen Jeanne, Bernard, Theresa, and Lou.

Follow this link to a page about the children and their families, including many photos.

Photos from Bob Marchand...

The photos in this group all include Abraham Alfred Damien Burke. These photos have been provided by Bob Marchand (son of Angela Burke and Clarence Marchand).

Abraham Alfred Damien Burke

The photo was provided by Noreen, daughter of Clarence and Nora Landry. It was in her father's collection. ("Nanny" would be Celeste Anne, Fred's sister.)

The back of the paper frame for this portrait circa 1920 (seen also at the top of this page) has the address of the portrait studio.

What is difficult to see is the faded script above the address. It is believed to say "Keep. It's memory, olden times."

Cam's note: the address of the New York Portrait Studio is likely the modern 311 Market Street North, Wilmington, Delaware. With Google streetview, one can see that, although the building there has been torn down, a turn-of-the-century photo studio would have fit right in.

Speculation... If this portrait was taken when Fred had his store (or was working at Stewart's), perhaps he was in Wilmington sourcing or buying product. The area of 311 Market Street was considered the commercial heart of Wilmington for both trade and manufacturing.

This file last modified 8/23/2023...

: Home :