Red River Ancestry
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(Last Updated: March 13, 2016) 


Ventrice (FIDLER) THOMAS was born on June 23, 1893 at Rat Portage (later Kenora, Ontario), an illegitimate child of Caroline SAYER (1873-1948) and James FIDLER (1870-1929). ** MORE ABOUT CAROLINE & JAMES FIDLER

Ventrice was a descendant of Mary MACKAGONNE, a Cree woman from York Factory, and Englishman Peter FIDLER of Bolsover (1769-1822), the famous Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) surveyor and explorer.



On his mother’s side (Caroline SAYER), Ventrice was also a descendant of OBEMAU-UNOQUA, daughter of a famous Ojibway War Chief, MAMONGAZEDA or Chief BIG FOOT, and her husband John SAYER (1750-1818), an English free trader and later a shareholding partner in the North West Fur Company (NWC). ** MORE ABOUT JOHN SAYER


In 1898, at the age of five, Ventrice was adopted by Margaret (nee MOORE) and Thomas THOMAS (1845-1926) who lived near Matlock on the southwestern shore of Lake Winnipeg, north of the mouth of the Red River. Ventrice and all his descendants thereafter would bear the surname THOMAS. ** MORE ABOUT THOMAS THOMAS


By the 1900's, railway trains and steamboats had replaced the canoes and York boats of old; but there were still no motor cars, tractors, airplanes and very few horses. Most of the people were using oxen and dog teams (oxen were the order of the day), with which they hauled their cordwood and did their farm work. Ventrice grew into manhood learning the traditional skills of fishing, hunting, trapping and farming from his adoptive parents. He later became a carpenter, and this would be his primary occupation for most of his life.

There were very few qualified doctors or veterinarans in remote villages in those days, but villagers often had their own 'Medicine Men'. Ventrice developed a good knowledge of natural remedies (homeopathy) and he was superstitious in many ways. He was also a 'horse doctor' of sorts; neighbours often called on him for advice when they had a sick horse.. If he saw a white owl (a snowy owl) it meant that three deaths, of relatives or people he knew, would soon occur. (Snowy owls were only rarely seen this far south. Their natural range is in the Arctic and only when lemmings and other prey became scarce did they come south in search of food). He often asked me to find him some 'red willow' so he could make tea from the inner bark for medicinal purposes


World War I


On Aug 4, 1914 Great Britain declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungary to uphold treaties with France and Belgium which were under German attack. This marked the beginning of World War I. Although Ventrice was 21 years old when the War broke out he did not enlist himself, but several of his relatives did. On Nov 17, 1915 his future step-father, Howard WATERS enlisted. On Feb 7, 1917, his Uncle Duncan SAYER enlisted. On Apr 23, 1918, his 'half-brother', 20 year old Martin ANDERSON enlisted. On May 21, 1918, his Uncle Donald SAYER enlisted.


Ventrice learned to play the fiddle and became very good at it; he acquired a violin that had a ‘Stradivarius” label inside; he hand-hewed a wooden case for it himself. (This of course was not a real Strad, but rather a copy made in Czechoslovakia).

Across from Matlock on the east side of the Lake and a short distance up the Winnipeg River was the Fort Alexander Indian Reserve (Sagkeeng First Nation). Most of the natives from Fort Alex were of French-Métis descent while those of the Matlock area were mostly English Half-breeds. Fishermen from both sides frequently met around the south end of the lake and along the Red River for social gatherings, particularly country dances (barn dances), where Ventrice was often part of the band that provided the music. It was probably at one of these gigs that he met and fell in love with Catherine GUIMOND from Fort Alex. This would have been about 1918.


Catherine GUIMOND was a daughter of Marianne FONTAINE and Joseph GUIMOND (born 1875) from the Fort Alexander Reserve. On Jan 15, 1919, Catherine gave birth to a son, Donald THOMAS.



Marriage to Catherine GUIMOND


On Aug 18, 1919 Ventrice& Catherine were married.


On Feb 10, 1920, daughter Peggy was born; on Sep 3, 1922, son Raymond was born.


In 1922 Ventrice’s step-father (Caroline SAYER’s husband) Anthony ANDERSON died in Selkirk. On June 5, 1924, Widow Caroline re-married to Howard WATERS and they built a home on Pacific Avenue (not far from the Railway Station).


Move to Selkirk


It was probably around 1925-26 that Ventrice moved his young family to Selkirk. He built a house next-door to his mother on Pacific Avenue.




Throughout the years of 1929 to 1939, there was a world wide Depression and Canada was one of the worst affected countries. Financially and economically the country began to collapse regardless of what was done by political power.


On July 22, 1927, .daughter Doris was born; on Jan 10, 1929, daughter Ramona (Mona) was born; and finally, on Apr 20, 1934, son Stephen (Steve), their last/ youngest child together.


Adoption of Edison TAYLOR-THOMAS

In 1936 Ventrice & Catherine adopted Edison (b-1932), a four year-old illegitimate child of Edith TAYLOR, daughter of Clara SPENCE & Edward TAYLOR (1870-1925). ** There had to be a pretty strong reason for them to adopt this child right in the middle of the Depression when they already had young children of their own and were living near the poverty line themselves. There almost had to be some sort of a family connection. My own theory (an educated guess) is that his father  may have been Charles “Charlie” FROST (1899-1937) who died a young man; son of Caroline TAYLOR & Henry FROST (1869-1959). Charlie FROST lived only a few blocks away and was an intimate friend of Martin ANDERSON, Ventrice’s ‘half-brother’.

After Edith TAYLOR gave birth to Edison she married Archie DEMERIA (1907-1978) and they lived in the Lac du Bonnet area. Family rumor suggests that DEMERIA was abusive to both Edith and Edison; and that the adoption by Catherine & Ventrice was essentially a rescue event to prevent further mistreatment of the youngster.


Ventrice Thomas Edison-Catherine-Mona-Steve

Around 1939-40: Left: Ventrice Thomas – Right: Edison, Catherine, Mona and Steve

(far right Abe CHAMBER, a friend)


World War II


In the fall of1939 The Second World War began.Son Donald THOMAS was about 20 years old at the time. Don enlisted in May of 1940 (Royal Canadian Engineers). I was told that he became a Sniper during the war. Son Raymond was only about 17 years old; too young to enlist, but enlist he did (on Jun 14, 1940) by adding a couple of years to his age. He served in the UK and continental Europe. Daughter Peggy served briefly (a few months) with the Canadian Women’s Army Corp.


Donald ThomasRaymond Thomas in uniformPeggy Thomas in uniform

Soldiers Don, Ray and Peggy


At some point during or after the War, daughter Peggy married Nelson SPENCER. I cannot find any information regarding Nelson’s origins, except that he was born around 1917..


Family Break-ups


The Depression and the War meant hard times for young families such as Ventrice’s. Job’s were scarce and it was not easy to keep ‘food on the table’. To add to his difficulty, Ventrice lost one eye in a construction accident (a chip of cement flew up when he was chiselling), rendering him unable to work for a time. All this contributed to the stresses that brought about a marital break-down that would end in a divorce. Alcohol was undoubtedly a contributing factor. They had to deal with children who were reaching that rebellious and mischievous age and it is well known that some of them were heavy ‘boozers’. Family squabbles frequently developed.


It was in the early 1940’s that Ventrice began a connubial relationship with Irene (born DICKINSON) MOORE-ZALISKO. Irene was the estranged wife of Stephen ZELISKO (1910-1967). She had also recently gone through a family breakup; her husband had essentially abandoned her and her three young children. They were then living near Ridgely, about six miles west of Selkirk, and Ventrice met her when he was ‘peddling fish’ in the area.



Understandably, Ventrice’s children were resentful of their father when he began his relationship with Irene, regardless of the circumstances. It was only natural that their sympathies were with their mother, Catherine. It would take many years of healing before they began to accept the new family relationships. It must have been particularly difficult for young Steve, who was only about 6-8 years old around that time.


Steven Thomas

Youngest child, Steven Thomas (1934-1987)


After the War


On May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered and the war in Europe ended. On August 14, 1945, Japan surrendered. The Second World War is officially over.


Son Ray received a military discharged on Dec 13, 1945; Don was discharged in July of 1946.


After the War, Ray THOMAS moved to Beardsmore, Ontario, to work in the Gold Mines. In the summer of 1948 Ray moved to Salmo, BC, to work in the mines there.


At some point daughter Peggy and Nelson SPENCER became the surrogate parents of Edison (now THOMAS). With no other information to go by, perhaps the above picture would suggest that this happened after the family break-up. Peggy & Nelson apparently never did have any children of their own but they seem to have adopted children, eventually moving to Geraldton, Ontario, taking Edison with them.


Peggy Thomas & Nelson SpencerDoris & Peggy Thomas

Left: Peggy Thomas & Nelson Spencer Right: Doris & Peggy Thomas


Catherine GUIMOND-THOMAS &  Edgar Lawrence SMITH


Around 1942 Catherine re-married to Edgar Lawrence SMITH. Lawrence was born in 1894, a son of Hannah Sarah FRANKS and William Robert Pemble SMITH (1855-1901). He had been previously married to Christina McLENNAN by whom he had two daughters (Beverly & Christina). ** MORE ABOUT LAWRENCE SMITH


I need marriage dates and more information about the following marriages:
Daughter Peggy married Nelson SPENCER
Daughter Doris married Len JOHNSON.
Daughter Mona married Oliver McEVOY.


On Feb 10, 1943, daughter Eldred THOMAS was born to Irene & Ventrice; Patricia "Pat" was born in 1946. In 1952 son Alvin THOMAS was born in Selkirk, their last/ youngest child.


Eldred Thomas in 1949Eldred & Bay Patricia ThomasEldred & Baby Alvn ThomasEldred Thomas in 1951

Eldred Thomas 1949 – Eldred & Baby Patricia – Eldred & Baby Alvin – Eldred 1951


In 1948 Ventrice’s mother, Caroline WATERS died in Selkirk at the age of 75.


In 1950 son Raymond married in Nelson, BC, to Doris WOIKEN.


In 1952 Edison THOMAS married Pearl McALLISTER.


Wedding of Edison Thomas & Pearl McAllister

1952 wedding of Edison Thomas & Pearl McAllister
With them are Oliver McEvoy & Mona Thomas


Edgar Lawrence SMITH died on Aug 31, 1957; Catherine (nee GUIMOND)-THOMAS-SMITH died in 1961 (a car accident near Clandeboye).


Around 1968-69 daughter Patricia married Norman PRUDEN, son of Emma WILSON & Edgar PRUDEN (1900-1973). ** MORE ABOUT EDGAR PRUDEN


Ventrice Thomas with Fiddle

Ventrice and his ‘Stradivarius’


I started courting Eldred around 1969-70.  I often visited and chatted with Irene and Ventrice (he was about 76 yrs old then), while waiting for El.  I found Ventrice to be a handsome, likeable old gent (a big, stocky man with tanned features that hinted of his native ancestry; a good head of white hair in his old age; one eye, no teeth, wore glasses but refused to wear dentures).  He showered love and affection on his second wife, Irene and their children (Alvin, Pat and Eldred) as well as his many other children & grand-children.  He was good-natured and fun-loving.  We often talked about the "old days" (it was during these conversations that I learned some of the info that led to the genealogy herein).


On Apr 17, 1971 daughter Eldred THOMAS married me (Gary STILL). ** MORE ABOUT ELDRED & GARY STILL


Ventrice & Eldred Thomas at her Wedding

Eldred & Ventrice at her Wedding


On June 21, 1975 youngest son Alvin THOMAS married Debbie SAREAULT, daughter of Florence SCHRADER & Rene SAREAULT; her step-father, Jack FEDYK (1936-2003).


Ventrice died in 1985 (he was 92 yrs old), while at a Care Home in Selkirk


Eldred, Irene, Alvin & Patricia Thomas

Eldred, Irene, Alvin & Patricia


In 1991 Irene (a resident at Red River Place) died in the Selkirk General Hospital (she was 81). 
Both Ventrice and Irene are buried in the St Clements Cemetery, Mapleton.


Ventrice & Tena Gravestone


Please post comments and queries at this link: FORUM DISCUSSING the VENTRICE THOMAS FAMILY


============================ Family Details ============================


Children of Ventrice & Katherine GUIMOND:

1. Jan 15, 1919 DONALD THOMAS (m. Sylvia Unknown)

2. Feb 10, 1920 PEGGY THOMAS (m. Nelson SPENCER)

3. Sep 3, 1922 RAYMOND THOMAS (m. Doris WOIKEN)


4. MARTIN THOMAS (Died as baby)

5. Jul 22, 1927 DORIS THOMAS (m. Len JOHNSON)

6. Jan 10, 1929 RAMONA JOYCE "MONA" THOMAS (m. Oliver McEVOY)

7. Apr 20, 1934 STEPHEN (STEVE) THOMAS (m. Yvonne JELINEAU)

Adopted by Ventrice & Catherine:


Children of Ventrice & Irene MOORE:

1. Feb 10, 1943 ELDRED MERLE THOMAS (m. Gary Norman STILL)


2. Dec 9, 1946 PATRICIA GERALDINE THOMAS (m. Norman Allen PRUDEN)


3. Apr 8, 1952 ALVIN THOMAS (m. Florence "Debbie" SAREAULT)