Mme. Catherine Brouillard – My Longest, Most Frustrating “Brick Wall”

I am definitely still considered a “baby” in genealogical research compared to the Greats (Warren Bittner, Thomas W. Jones, Elizabeth Shown Mills etc.) so I know that brick walls can be unbreakable for many more years than mine.

Catherine Brouillard is my husband’s 2nd great grandmother and also a woman that I have been captivated by since the beginning of my family history journey. I am not sure why this woman has stuck out in my mind for so long. I have researched many, many family members but I keep coming back to her!

Catherine Brouillard was born on August 4, 1865 in Maniwaki, Quebec, Canada to parents Francois Brouillard and Mary Agnes Vanasse. She was baptised on August 5, 1865 and was the couple’s fifth child. Her godparents were Antoine Pakinawatik and his wife, Genevieve. ¬†Antoine Pakinawatik was the first Chief of the River Desert Reserve in Maniwaki. Further research has shown that during his time as Chief (between 1854 and 1874) he was the godfather to only 10 children (8 boys and 2 girls). 7 of these children had parents of Native descent. I have been unable to find any evidence that explains what ties Catherine’s family had with the Algonquin band.


7 more children were born to Catherine’s parents between 1865 and 1882.

All twelve children born to Francois Brouillard and Marie Agnes Vanasse are as follows:


The family all stayed pretty close to Maniwaki, only moving to surrounding areas such as Egan and Kensington, even to the River Desert Reserve.

Catherine was married on April 14, 1886 to Aime Alphonse Mercier who lived in Maniwaki as well but was originally from St. Michel de Bellechasse, Quebec.

Marriage Record - Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collectio(2)

Their marriage bore 6 children as follows:


In March 1906, Catherine’s husband, Aime Alphonse Mercier dies. In September of 1906 she married Frank Commandant.

Once she marries her second husband is when I lose her and her 2 youngest children. I have not been able to track the 4 of them into the 1911 Census of Canada. I tried to use the FAN method. I thought that I would try to track her second husband’s children from his first marriage with the assumption that he would stick close to his children. That did not work as all of his children (8 I believe) all died young,with his first wife dying months after their last child.

Catherine, Frank and her two youngest children show back up in the 1921 Census on the Reserve in Maniwaki.

They are then lost again and I have not been able to track down her death or Frank’s death.

My husband’s mother was born in 1937 and remembers as a very young child, visiting her grandmother on the Reserve and eating bear. This means that she must have been living into the 1940’s. I am hoping the 1930’s census will be able to shed some more light, but until then, she will continue to hide from me and I will keep searching.

I am sure I am missing something. I would appreciate any feedback or comments that you have!

Have a great day!