Marie Honorine Labonté (Maisonneuve) was born on June 2nd, 1915 in Morinville. Her parents, Theodule
Maisonneuve and Hectorine L’Abbé were one of the first pioneers of the community. Life was not easy for her. At the age of 10 she lost her mother, and by age 15, she and her older sister had taken over the household chores. This included making bread, butter, cooking meals, washing clothes by hand, sewing, gardening, canning, and milking cows.
During the Great Depression, at the age of 20, she married Lucien Labonté. As she says, “there was no money in those days”. She talks about her engagement and wedding band costing a total of $18 (she still wears today).
Her wedding gown (displayed at Morinville Museum) cost her $1 a yard. She remembers her trousseau costing $10. When she first started her married life, her furniture consisted of a straw mattress and a homemade rocking chair. During their first year of marriage, Honorine and Lucien trapped and skinned muskrats to help buy staples like sugar and flour. She remembers going to check on the traps as a special time with her husband.
Even though everyone was poor, Honorine remembers happy social times: dances, church socials, “Des Rigadons” (evening of French songs) and card parties. “We worked hard but Sunday was our day to relax and enjoy with family.”
Honorine remembers bringing in the crops. “Then came threshing time; that for me was the worst. We were up at 5 a.m., breakfast at 6 a.m., and the men in the field by 7. We then had to have sandwiches at 10, lunch at 12, and another snack at 3:30 and a large supper at 7 p.m. Dishes were washed by hand. It was a full day’s work! A little later, when the babies started to come, we also had to take care of them and wash diapers with the washboard.
I do not remember how we did it! Somewhere in that day, we also milked cows and picked eggs. It sure was not my favourite time. ”
Honorine and her husband raised 11 children on a farm east of Morinville. She has lived her whole life in the Morinville area. Her legacy to her children, her 36 grandkids, her 59 great grandkids, and her 8 great, great grandkids is her determination, strength, unconditional love and her faith.
Honorine has seen the world change dramatically. From a simple life, with horse and buggy as a means of travel, to the world today of technology and space travel. She lived through the Great Depression, 2 World Wars, and many other events all over the world.
She attributes her long life to hard work, family, and her faith. “We ate everything fresh. Vegetables and fruit we grew, meat from the farm. We had no chemicals in anything. I think that has helped me to remain healthy in my life.” Honorine also says life was much simpler, and did not have the stress of todays fast pace world.
Honorine (Mary) is celebrating her 100th birthday with her family and her friends.