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He Was a Local Legend

January 9, 2018

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Who Was Perry LaFortune?

January 20, 2017

Barbara A. Martindale- For What It's Worth March 17, 2014


LaFortune Park is in the news these days.


But there is some interesting information from two "For What it's Worth" columns written in 2004. Brigitte LaFortune of Quebec was amassing information about LaFortune Park for a LaFortune reunion she was planning on the property June 26 and 27, 2004.


The first column had to do with asking anyone who knew Perry LaFortune to let us know for Brigitte, and the second column contained information from Caledonians who knew.


Brigitte's background included the fact that there were four brothers from the original LaFortune Quebec beginnings who had come to South Walsingham, Ontario. Perry La Fortune was the grandson of one of those brothers. This was the main reason for planning the LaFortune Park reunion. Perry LaFortune was Brigitte's grandfather's first cousin.


Perry LaFortune, a bachelor, was known to be eccentric, wealthy, smart and he had lost touch with any family members.


In fact, he once owned two farms in Oneida, properties in Hamilton, his home at 66 Sutherland Street east in Caledonia, other properties and the Lots 38 and 39 Riverview Farm, owned by Perry LaFortune since 1947 that became LaFortune Park in Seneca. The Argyle Street north, east side structure named the LaFortune Building is a mystery.


He carried a little black bag with him always, even when he went to hospital in his last days. The little black bag contained his important papers, everyone presumed. He was known to carry mortgages for people, probably at a lower rate than what the bank could do or perhaps wouldn't. At the end, he was really sick, had blood transfusions and more at Henderson Hospital.


Perry LaFortune, born March 2, 1884 in South Walsingham died October 26, 1969 at the age 85. His will, documented May 12, 1969, stated he was a retired farmer, nominating Robin J. Blackwell, manager of CIBC at the time, and Dr. Harry Whitehead, physician in Caledonia, as executors and trustees.


Before the will was finalized though, Perry LaFortune advertised extensively in newspapers for relatives to come forward. The only one who answered was his niece, Jean Wilson of Pleasant Hill, California, who he named to receive income from his estate until her death. After that it would be paid to the Township of Seneca for maintenance and development of LaFortune Park.


The LaFortune name wasn't always a family name. The original LaFortunes in Quebec were LeTellier. The first known was a soldier by the name of Jean-Baptiste LeTeller born about 1644 in France.


When Perry's great uncle Louis married Adeline, he was listed as Louis Tellier changed to LaFortune in Ontario. Perry's father, Frederick, was married to Dorothy Secord. Perry was one of eight children. His mother, living on one of the farms in Oneida, died in 1957. In her memory, one part of Perry LaFortune's will was a payment of $500 to the Caledonia Baptist Church for which a "receipt from the Treasurer shall be a sufficient discharge to my Trustees." This denotes his careful detail when it came to his dealings.


Another detail he covered stated he was the "owner of a Crypt No. 50, Compartment C at Mount Hope Cemetery in the City of Brantford, and it is my wish that I be buried in such crypt," also quoted from his will. His longtime friend, Beatrice, her sister, Jessie, and Perry's sister, Ellen Hill, were buried in the crypt, too.


See Perry LaFortune's will online here

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