Of Huguenot descent, John Mark Crank Delesderniers was born near what is currently Windsor, Nova Scotia. Proficient in English, French and several Aboriginal languages, he worked throughout the years as a trader, surveyor, mill owner, "Agent of the Crown" to the Iroquois and Algonquins, customs official and sheriff.
Then in 1795, he and his family moved to the area of what is now known as Saint Anne-de-Bellevue. There he opened a trading post and served as the crown agent in charge of the Two Mountains Mission (Oka).
Within a few years, Mark sold his house in Ste Annes and moved to Cavagnal (later called Como, now Hudson) where he acquired Lot #15 from the Seigneur of Vaudreuil. Here he and his father-in-law built a house they named Swiss Cottage which was completed in 1805, this location being more convenient for his trade with the Indians at Oka than at Ste Annes. He soon built the first store in the area on land just to the west of Swiss cottage.
In 1821, he bought the Sabourin lot, added to the farmhouse and opened a general store. Mark now owned a very large tract of land. Each lot was four fields wide and 11/2 miles deep.
A few years later in 1824, his son, Peter Francis Christian (Frank, as he was called) Delesderniers and his 16 year-old bride, Amelia Rice, moved in and took over the business. Their only child, Mary Cecilia, was born there in 1826.
Life was prosperous for the family. There was another expansion to the home/store in 1840 to accommodate the first post office in the area. Frank, of course, was its first Postmaster.
Amelia also has a special spot in Phoebe Nobbs Hyde's ancestral history. She was the one who gave Greenwood its name.
Her inspiration was the "greenwood tree", a large elm tree on the property. In a poem, Amelia and Frank expressed their wish to be buried under this tree.
The mausoleum, across the road from Greenwood, stands guard over their graves.
There is a little-known story connected to this elm tree. It had a chain around it until, at the age of at least 150 years, it succumbed to disease in the 1960s. Legend says that as John Mark Crank Delesderniers was dying, a dispute arose amongst his children about how to best save his soul. (Some of them were Roman Catholic and others were Protestant.)
Mark spoke up and told them that he would be "saved" as long as the tree was healthy. On the night of his death, there was a storm during which the tree almost split into two pieces. His children reconciled their differences and tried to save the tree (and their father's soul!) by wrapping it together with a chain. The next time, you drive past the mausoleum on Main Road, imagine a stately elm tree nearby and the heavy responsibility it bore for so many years!
Peter Francis Christian Delesderniers died in 1854. His wife lived six more years without him. Both, however, were alive when their daughter, Mary Cecilia, married Captain Robert Ward Shepherd in 1847.
In the next part of the story, we will discover more details about the lives of Mary Cecilia and Robert. He was a pioneer in the development of steam navigation on the Ottawa River. You will also find out why the area along the Main Road, from St. Mary's Church down past the Royal Oak Tennis Club, was sometimes called "Shepherd Village".