Ferdinand Roque, forefather of
all the Roque families of Killarney
Ferdinand Roque
          Born 1827, Boucherville, Quebec
          Married Marguerite Recollet on 29 January 1849 in Wikwemikong, Ontario
          Died 26 January 1907, in Killarney, Ontario
From the writings of Father Paquin, Jesuit missionary at Killarney for many years:

"Ferdinand Roque was rightly called the Patriarch of Killarney for his long service to the community and his beneficent influence. He was born at Boucherville, P.Q. At the age of 11 years he volunteered to follow Father Proulx in his missionary travels, serve his mass and help him in various ways. He remained some time at Toronto and Sandwich, as servant of the priests, and came to Wikwemikong with Father Chome in July, 1844.

He had learned thoroughly the Ojibway language and rendered very valuable services in the capacity of interpreter. He followed the missionaries for many years in their travels, all over the Georgian Bay, in search of Indians scattered along the shore from Owen Sound to Sault Ste. Marie, acting as guide, cook and manager of the encampment.

He was a good teacher also, and helped out many young missionaries in mastering the difficulties of the language. But it is in the task of interpreter that he excelled. At Wikwemikong he was for three years the medium between the Indians and Father Point, the resident missionary, who never knew a word of Ojibway. He would repeat in Ojibway a sermon in French or English, sentence by sentence, or the whole of it in one dash. A witness told how, in his old age, at a confirmation service at Beaver Stone, he interpreted a long sermon of the Bishop word for word and with as great a display of oratory as the preacher himself.

He was blessed with the gift of meekness and a great spirit of charity. Although he shared the labours and intimacy of many missionaries, he had never a word of blame or disapproval for any of them. He ever considered in them their sacerdotal character. Yet he had a keen power of observation and could paint a vivid picture of each one's character.

In 1849 he married a half-breed girl, Marguerite Recollet, and settled at Wikwemikong. He moved to Shibwaonaning in 1862 and became the father of nine boys and five (sic) girls, all but one of whom have made their home in Killarney. He adopted besides five or six orphans, boys and girls, who shared the blessings of his home. Both he and his wife were genuine Christians, and raised their children in the fear of the Lord and the practice of Christian virtues. Their influence in Killarney was as good as that of the priest. They always stood for the glory of God and strict Christian morality. For any years Ferdinand Roque, in the absence of the missionary, rang the bell on Sundays to call the people to church. He led in the recitation of the Rosary and a couple of hymns were sung, and thus they made up for the absenceof the priest. Even after his marriage he continued for some years to accompany the missionaries to their missions. Until his death he faithfully took up the collection on Sundays. He had a knack of waking up the people to the realization of their duty, by shaking the coins in the plate, his face expressing his approval or diapproval of the amount contributed. He earned the living for his numerous family at fishing. In his last years he received a small salary from the congregation for taking care of the church and the grounds. He died in the peace of the Lord on June 26th, 1907 at the age of eighty years, leaving behind him ten living children, seventy-seven grandchildren and fifty-two great-grandchildren.

His wife, who lived afterwards with her daughter, Mrs. A.J. Lowe, followed him ten years later. She was born at Penetanguishene in 1827 and came to Shebwaonaning in 1840 with her father, Joseph Recollet, who remained there eight years in the employ of Etienne de Lamorandiere, the trader, and then moved to Wikwemkong. She was a woman according to the picture drawn in the Proverbs XXXI, 10-31, a valiant woman, a staunch Christian, a devoted wife, a loving mother; she was loved and respected by all."

Photograph of Ferdinand Roque
Ferdinand Roque's last letter to his children.