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23 Jan 2024
updated 23 Jan 2024

Maurice Arthur Renaud
(16 Mar 1907 – 7 Jun 1997)

As we've already seen in the family Connection, Maurice was born in London, during early 1907, to a French father (Émile), a chef by profession, and an English mother (Florence). They lived at that time in a five-roomed house overlooking Rayners Park, the next London Park out from the ultra-smart Holland Park, as viewed from Piccadilly Circus, the centre of the universe in those far-off days. Maurice probably grew up bilingual, but over the years I've found this to be an unwarrantable supposition in a number of family instances.

In 1912, when Maurice was 5, his father Émile decided that the grass was probably greener in Canada and duly emigrated. Florence followed with the children (Maurice, Violet and Claude) in June the following year. 1916 certainly saw them all in Calgary in the province of Alberta but by 1921 they had moved to Pointe Claire in the French-speaking province of Quebec.

That is the sum-total of what I can ascertain about Maurice before his marriage to Aunt Jane on 18 Oct 1991.

The rest of Jane's family likewise knew little if anything about him – except possibly her brother Sandy and sister-in-law Joan, but they can no longer be consulted. It's difficult, especially if you're British, to ask an Aunt of the opposite gender a direct question of a personal nature, but I did once get as far as enquiring how they had met.

Apparently they had both taken apartments in the same block on the southern side of Victoria, and there was an all-weather indoor pool in the basement. They were both in the habit of taking an early-morning swim, at which time of day one can legitimately make eye-contact and even, after a while, say Hello. And so, in due course, they got married.

Jane was a very fit and active 70 year-old, Maurice a slightly less energetic 84. But they had a lot in common: both were first-generation Canadians, of a very nomadic disposition, and both in their youth had been first-generation English – she from a Scottish background and he from a Gallic one. And both were very articulate, so that there was much of great interest to exchange with one another. Unfortunately, Maurice's tale can't now be handed down, but suffice it that in the Great Highland Fling of Life, they met and twirled merrily and then passed onwards.

He became increasingly infirm, and during Jane's last trip over to Europe in 1997 she had to cut short her visit and head back to Victoria BC to tend to him, but he died shortly afterwards.