The LaPortes of Manitoba and their Roots in Quebec and France

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Ben LaPorte of Inwood, MB

Back to his father Ernie LaPorte, The LaPortes of Inwood or to The LaPortes of Manitoba Family Tree
In 1914 when Ernie and Leah were expecting their first child, Leah went to stay at her parent's house in Wild Rice, ND.  At that time with the lack of rural medical facilities and the cost of city hospitals it was common for an expectant mother to be aided by her mother and the local midwife.  The baby was baptized Joseph Ulphie LaPorte at Wild Rice.  Joseph for Ernie's grandfather who had died in 1894 and Ulphie for Leah's father.  When Leah returned to Inwood with the weeks old baby Ernie was unhappy about the choice of names and insisted on calling him Benoit (pronounced Ben-O) which as a young boy became shortened by his friends as Ben.  Many years later when he needed to apply for a Canadian passport he was unable to obtain a birth certificate from the Wild Rice parish office for 'Ben LaPorte' the only name he had ever known but was advised that his name was actually Joseph Ulphie LaPorte.  He was able to get his birth certificate under that name, changed his name as a Canadian citizen and was able to get his passport.  He also obtained a rubber stamp for the name J. U. LaPorte, LaPorte's Garage, Inwood, MB to use in his business but he was still called Ben for the rest of his life.
Ben grew up in Inwood, the eldest of four children.  School in Inwood only went to Grade 9 after which many children there would remain on the farm helping their parents or seek some other employment but only a few from families who could afford it were sent on to higher education.  When Ben easily handled his Grade 9 schoolwork in 1929 his parents decided to send him to St Boniface College for a two year Commercial Course.  As his mother wouldn't allow him, at age 15, to be unsupervised in the big city she moved herself and his three sisters with him to rented rooms in St Boniface for two years.  The plan was for Ben to then return to Inwood to help run his father's businesses while Ben's secret hope was that he would find a job in Winnipeg after his graduation from the business school.  However when he graduated in 1931 the Great Depression was in full force and there were no jobs to be had anywhere.  Ben writes in his memoirs that several friends of his jumped onto freight trains to hopefully find jobs out West or back East where it was rumoured that things were better but that wasn't for him so he ended up back in Inwood after all. 
When Ben's eldest sister Hermina, called Toupie, finished her Grade 9 in 1932 she was sent on to the Catholic Girls School in St Norbert and his next eldest sister Leah was due to follow her there in 1934 but then tragedy struck the family.  That Spring Leah and the youngest sister Caroline were playing in the yard when they decided to try to collect the sap from a large maple tree in their yard to make into maple syrup.  Leah brought a chair from the house to stand on while she tried to attach a can to a lower branch of the tree. However in reaching backward for a branch the chair toppled over with Leah rupturing her spleen when she landed on it.  She died two days later.
In 1939 Ben was talking to a friend in Winnipeg about being taken on as an apprentice machinist but that plan was interrupted when Canada entered World War II that September.   Ben tried to enlist but failed his medical due to his bad vision.   He then wrote to his machinist friend to see if that plan was still workable but received an answer that his friend was now the Foreman of the machine shop at the Canadian Car and Foundry plant in Fort William where they were building Hawker Hurricane fighter planes for the Royal Air Force and Ben was offered a job there.  On Nov. 1, 1940 Ben moved to Fort William and, as he wrote, 'four days later I was busy building planes.  I was there seven years.  In my second year there I met Marion Bowles and we got married six months later.' 
When the war ended Ben with his wife and two children moved back to Inwood where he took over his father's garage where he would make 'a fairly good living' for thirty four years.  See The LaPortes Garage

This site was last updated 04/13/23