In Loving Memory Of
Anita Lottie Melanson
January 1, 2020

 Anita Lottie Melanson
1917 ~ 2020

Anita Melanson, 102, passed away peacefully at the Villa du Repos in Moncton, on Wednesday, January 1, 2020.

She was the daughter of the late Arthur Honore LeBlanc and Marie Cormier.

She was predeceased by her husband Arthur; her son, Robert and her daughter, Joan.

Anita is survived by her son, Paul (Alma); her brothers, Leo (Evelyn), Ronald (Camilla); her sister, Theresa (Archie); several grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Cremation and private pastoral blessing have taken place. A family memorial gathering will be held at a future date. Interment will take place in the spring.

The family invites you to sign an online book of condolences at:

Funeral arrangements under the professional care of
Passage Funeral Co-operative and Cremation Centre
3754, Route 134, Shediac Bridge, NB, E4R 1T3
Tel: (506) 532-1050

Anita Lottie LeBlanc Melanson: Oral History and Reflection
April E. Bergeron

Since I was born, I have never lived in close proximity to my grandparents. I have always been saddened by not having been able to experience this relationship more frequently. I didn’t feel I could complete this task, adequately, over the phone, so I asked one of my friends if it might be possible to interview her grandmother. Both Sue (my friend) and her grandmother were delighted at my interest. The three of us spent a quiet, intimate Saturday afternoon while Anita Shared her life with us.

Anita Lottie LeBlanc was born on April 25, 1917 in what she calls “a little hick town”, Dieppe, New Brunswick, Canada. She came from a large family of six sisters and three brothers. They were all about one or two years apart in age, except for her baby brother Ron, who was born after a nine year lapse.

Anita who grew up during the depression, recalls an impoverished and restricted environment, during her childhood. Her earliest happy memory was of Easter because she “could have all the eggs I wanted” and an abundance of anything to eat was rare. The Roman Catholic Church was a powerful force in their lives. Anita recalls that they went to mass every day and “said their Rosary Beads” every night. At Christmas time her family never had a tree because at this time, the Church was against this practice. There were never any presents for the children because there wasn’t enough money. Anita recalls one Christmas when her mother put one peanut in a brown bag for her sister and told her that was all Santa left because she had been so bad that year. Anita remembered a lot of such bickering in her family.

During the depression, Anita’s father was only able to find seasonal work. He worked primarily starting in the late spring and ending in the early fall. During winter her family had to charge their groceries. They were only able to eat meat once a week. Anita’s father frequently cooked their meals because her mother was sickly. Anita remembers the doctor saying “she had too many kids”.

Anita would walk to and back from high school every day. The school was three miles away. Anita was taught in French and didn’t become bilingual until she moved to the U.S. Anita continued her schooling until she graduated from high school. Her mother was adamant that she finish because her two older sisters had dropped out after eighth grade. Anita remembers her school days, fondly. She says” had fun and did well”. She graduated from high school in 1936.

After high school, Anita explains that she had trouble finding a job because she was French. She said that most of the jobs were filled by the English people. Her first job was working for a handsome doctor, on whom she said she had a “crush”. Anita eyes light up when she remembers this point in her life. She proudly proclaims that she “went dancing three nights a week” and insinuates that she was pretty popular with the men.

Eventually, she got a better paying job, working for the Eaton Co., which was a department store. She was placed in the billing department. She explains that this was boring and less favorable job. Again she claims that this was because “the worst jobs were saved for the French”. It was at the Eaton Co. where she met her husband. They were married in 1940. At this time, she had to quit her job because it was against the law for businesses to employ a married women.

Anita had three children, Paul was born in 1942. Robert, born in 1943 and Joan, born in 1946. Her second child, Robert, died at the age of 16 months from whooping cough. Anita mourned the loss of Robert deeply and is still saddened by the thought of her loss. After Robert’s death, Anita and her husband sought to leave their sad memories behind and decided to move to Massachusetts.

Anita remembers World War II clearly, although, she doesn’t have many poignant memories of it because it coincided with a difficult time in her life. Her husband did not have to be drafted because they lived in Canada. Anita has more meaningful memories of the depression when food and money was scarce for her family. One recollection was that she had to wear “hand-me-downs” from one of her cousins during high school. Everything was BROWN. Anita says she still hates the color brown, to this day.

Talking to Anita and listening to her stories was very enlightening experience for me. I think we tend to think that all older people have these wonderfully happy stories about gentler, easier time. I was shocked to learn that in the 1940’s it was illegal for married women to work! Anita who planted a warm kiss on my cheek when we first met, has a zest for life. She openly admits she’s given all her love and worldly goods to her children and grandchildren, to make up for what she lacked in her childhood. Seeing her speak of Sue with pride in her voice and tears in her eyes is an attestment to the truth in her admissions. I guess I’m a little envious of the time I got to share with Sue and her grandmother today, because I’ve never had the opportunity to develop this relationship and learn about my past trough an older family member. Next time I have the opportunity to spend time with my grandmother (my grandfathers are no longer alive) I am seriously considering taking time to write down their oral histories. This would give my son a chance to learn about his heritage and his great grandmothers, even if he never has the privilege of meeting them.

I think this is an invaluable tool to use in the classroom. Writing an oral history certainly provides an answer to “why study history”. Children will be compelled to conclude that history is an integral part of who we are and how fascinating it is to lean about ourselves. I think an oral exercise, such as we have done, is an excellent way to begin a year of historical investigation. I would allow those students that want to share their experiences with the class, to do so. This exercise is a beautiful way to encourage children to appreciate the elders in our society, a population that is growing rapidly and that we seem to devalue at an ever growing rate. Children might be encouraged to pursue further research into an area of history about which they were told or even to invite their grandparent (or as in my case, newly found friend) into the classroom to share their histories. In the way, children can compare how different these histories might be. There are endless possibilities.

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