Once Upon a Time: ‘Captain Frank’s Courtship’


Born in 1856, Frank Granville (Gonneville), a well-known captain of the Great lake schooners, “Ontario” and “Hattie Hutt,” was raised in Southampton. Widowed in 1894, he was left with three small boys who were cared for by his aging parents. Having connections with the French community of St. Joseph, south of Goderich, it was there he sought a suitable bride. It is said that he and his future wife, the widow, Marguerite Denome Aubin, met only twice before they were married on January 7, 1897. This is an account of their courtship as recalled by Marguerite’s daughter, Anne, in a letter to her half-sister, Rita, a child of this second marriage.

Dear Rita:

I must keep my promise and write to you about how my mother and my step-father met. A neighbour of ours, Joe Denomy, lived about two miles from us. He had never visited us before but one day in late fall we saw him drive up to the barn and talk to Grandpa. The two men then came to the house where Joe briefly met mother. The men then went into the kitchen and closed the door. I guess Joe decided that mother would make Captain Frank, his brother-in -law, a good wife. She had been a widow since I was five. There were five of us women living in the house, including Grandma, a dear soul, who smoked a clay pipe but only around family.

One day later, Joe came back. Had a strange man with him. They went to the barn to meet grandpa who happened to again be there. Sure enough, they then came to the house to visit and have supper. The mystery deepened. After dinner Mr. Granville went home. I believe he later started to write my mother, but I’m not sure. Next summer, father came by himself from Goderich where his ship ”Ontario’ was docked to unload. He came in a hired rig to see mother. After his visit, he didn’t know how to hitch the horse to return to Goderich so I did it for him. A twenty-five mile journey! Later, after they were married, he told me he had fallen asleep on the ride back.

Mother and I were weeding in the vegetable garden when out of a clear sky, she said to me I was going to have a new father. Would it please me? Of course I said yes. She said we would live in a city where houses were close together. We went home in silence. I was happy.

To be Continued next month — the Southampton homecoming.

By Patsy Lou Wilson McArthur:  first written for the Bruce County Historical Society’s 1999 Yearbook and adapted by Bob Johnston