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Loyalist treasure: the Munro papers: discovery of Loyalist records.

On a winter day in early 1998, too cold stormy to even contemplate a visit to his beloved sailboat, Leon Codebecq of Salaberry de Valleyfield turned at last to explore the contents of a metal box of old family documents entrusted to his care several years before by his mother, and thereby opened the door into history and the past of a notable Loyalist family. Held close within the confines of an old tinware can were jammed more than 300 assorted documents varying from letter fragments to oversize land titles and official papers weighted with brittle wax seals. Spilling onto his desk were papers in English centring on the life of ancestors beating the old Scots name of Munro -- his little known maternal heritage -- and an even stranger collection of yellowing paper with spidery French, spelling out business ventures dating nearly as far back as the beginning of New France. Leon wondered if this old tin was going to be a treasure-trove -- or a much regretted Pandora's Box !

Nearly overwhelmed with the sheer extent of the collection, a preliminary reading finally sorted them into rough categories:

(1) 17th century French business papers relating to later Munro marriages

(2) Munro family correspondence dated during the French & Indian War

(3) postwar settlement and land records in New York Province

(4) Provincial business records representing other Scots kith and kin

(5) Revolutionary War and military correspondence including the original Captain's Commission Paper for John Munro in the King's Royal Regiment of New York, and his muster rolls and records of his Company

(6) personal correspondence within the extended Munro family in America and Scotland

(7) land and business records of the settlement in Upper Canada and Munro Loyalist Land Grants

(8) Munro connections with the North West Fur Company

(9) business and family letters of Captain John Munro's eight children until 1860

(10) personal and business papers relating to Dr. Henry Munro and his children.

Although Leon Codebecq, growing up in provincial Quebec in a typical French environment, was well aware of his French heritage he had less opportunity to question his seemingly French mother's Scottish roots. Francoise Charlebois, the youngest of the two surviving children of Marie Munro and Leon Charlebois, was less than a year old at the time of her father's death when her Munro spinster aunt and bachelor uncles came to join forces in raising the Charlebois daughters in their Montreal home. Francoise enjoyed some customs of a Scottish heritage although she was already four generations removed from the Scottish culture in a family thoroughly immersed in the French community from the 1809 marriage of Dr. Henry Munro to Marie Josephete Serindac, daughter of a notable New France family. In her youth she remembers well seeing her Munro uncles perusing these same old papers as the family discussion passed over previous generations and elusive family relationships.

Part of Francoise's Munro legacy was an excellent grounding in the English language as well as an appreciation of her Scottish ancestry. She studied Fine Arts in Montreal and showed much talent in the creative fields including drawing, painting and dimensional arts. After her marriage to an attorney, Charles Codebecq, in the 1940s they removed to Salaberry-de-Valleyfield where he was a clerk in the city for 40 years. M. Codebecq was an expert on Municipal Law and was the author of several published books of law as well as a small history of the city.

Knowing only the basics of his Munro heritage and seeking reliable information on appropriate measures for evaluating, indexing and preserving the collection of papers, Leon eventually contacted David Anderson UE, curator of the Thompson-Bethune House Museum and the Norwester Museum in Williamsburg, Ontario. Anderson, well known in the Loyalist organization and with extensive experience and ties relating to Loyalist and Canadian history, immediately recognized the importance of the Codebecq Munro Collection. In a happy coincidence David Anderson also recognized the Codebecq connection to Henry Munro UE of Washington State who had been researching and reconstructing the extended family of Loyalist Capt. John Munro for several years and so was instrumental in uniting these descendant cousins. (See The Loyalist Gazette Vol XXXIV Fall 1996 21-23 for information on Loyalist Capt John Munro and descendants.)

While the Codebecq Munro Collection is still in the process of being indexed and evaluated for preservation -- and so unavailable for individual research -- copies of pertinent documents have been made available to established researchers. Records of Capt John Munro's Company of the King's Royal Regiment of New York will aid Gavin Watt in the revision of his book on that Regiment. Munro family records in America will be authenticated and expanded with the pertinent newly available documents. Even Munro connections in Scotland will be further amended and documented by the genealogist of Clan Munro in Scotland. Leon Codebecq -- some time in the future when not so occupied as an architect -- looks forward to compiling a detailed history of his own Codebecq-Munro heritage. He may be contacted by e-mail: lcodebec@rocler.qc.ca

Family details contained within these long-lost Munro letters and documents will be of especial interest to descendants and their families who have established their Loyalist connections and are now or were previously members of the United Empire Loyalists' Association: Henri de Lotbiniere Harwood, Vaudreuil, PQ (deceased), Heritage Branch; Richard Hubert, Greenwich, CT, (deceased) Heritage Branch; Robert C. Munro, Milton, ON, St. Lawrence Branch and Henry D. Munro, Orondo, WA, St. Lawrence Branch.

Leon Codebecq graduated from a classic course at College Jean de Brebeuf and obtained a BA in Architecture at the University of Montreal in 1972. During his 1973-74 internship at Lemay & Leclerc Architects he participated in the sketches and execution drawings for the Olympic Basin and annex buildings for the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.

A member of the Order of Architects since 1976, he practises in the region of Valleyfield and Montreal designing a wide variety of buildings. Concerned in the patrimony, for Park Canada his projects include the renovation of the Barracks at Carillon and works for the Interpretive Centre of the Battle of Chateauguay; preparation of several exhibits including one on traditional furniture and another on the canal at Beauharnois. In 1982 he won the contest design for the Interpretive Centre for Fort Coteau du Lac -- unaware until this time that his ancestor, Capt John Munro, had been in command there over 200 years ago !

Leon has designed several banks and office buildings including a large service centre for Hydro Quebec, construction and renovation in different schools and colleges and hundreds of other dwellings. He recently completed the renovation of B block of Valleyfield Hospital, a ten million dollar project, as well as the Nuclear Medicine addition there. The present projects of the Codebecq-St Jean Firm include a ten million dollar spectacular natural timber and glass hotel under construction in the Matawinie area.

Beside his professional activities Leon has been interested in Marine Architecture with several sleek sailing sloops to his credit, aeronautics, computer innovation, and most recently in his family genealogy. Leon and his wife, Isabelle, have three children -- Laurence and Leonie attend school at Valleyfield, and Marie Aude is a student at the University of Montreal.

Descendants and researchers of Loyalist Capt. John Munro (1728-1800) are invited to contact Henry & Vallena Munro at 16 Munro Drive, Orondo, WA 98843 (509) 784-1935 (summer) or 1440 N. Warner Drive, Apache Junction, AZ 85220 (602) 982-0489 (winter) e-mail: Valmunro@aol.com

The Munros are also interested in other Munro lines who have not been able to establish their lineage.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Author:Munro, Henry; Munro, Vallena
Publication:The Loyalist Gazette
Date:Sep 22, 1999
Words:1260
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